Thought Provoking Questions: Lesson 18
ALLEGED CONTRADICTIONS IN THE BIBLE
I. The Bible is Under Attack!
A. Satan has attacked the word of God from the very beginning, and he continues the attack today.
1. Genesis 3:3-4 -- But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.
2. God said one thing -- and Satan tells us that God really meant exactly the opposite. That subversion of God's word by Satan continues today and is proclaimed each week from liberal denominational pulpits by preachers who tell the openly rebellious, "Ye shall not surely die."
B. Men have also long attacked the word of God.
1. In Jeremiah 36, King Jehoiakim takes a knife to the word of God, cuts it into pieces, and throws the pieces in the fire.
2. Docletian, a Roman emperor, burned so many manuscripts of the Bible that he erected a column that he called Extincto Nomine Christianorum or "The name of Christians has been extinguished."
3. Famous infidels thought they could do away with the Bible permanently.
a) Voltaire, the French writer and atheist, said "Fifty years from now the world will hear no more of the Bible." But 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society was printing Bibles in his former house!
b) Thomas Paine, who wrote The Age of Reason 200 years ago, once boasted, "When I get through there will not be five Bibles left in America."
c) Robert Ingersoll: "The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of the gentleman who reads it." He also once said, "I am going to put the Bible out of business." In 1879 he published a book entitled "Some Mistakes of Moses." One reviewer said a more accurate title would have been "Some Mistakes of Ingersoll"!
4. Political correctness today wants to do away with the Bible.
a) The so-called "hate crime" legislation being pushed today will be used tomorrow to persecute those who would dare read in public what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.
b) If you think that is unlikely, it has already happened in Sweden. They had a hate speech law that was originally intended to protect the Jews from Nazi sympathizers, but which was recently amended to include sexual orientation. In 2004, a Swedish Pentecostal preacher was sentenced to a month in jail for preaching a sermon and publishing an article that summarized what the Bible has to say on the subject of homosexuality. A local gay activist was quoted as saying that the sentence should have been much longer.
c) If you think that we will never face that type of hostility and persecution in this country, then all I can say is that I hope you're right -- but I think you are not.
5. Today the Bible is being attacked as much by its supposed proponents as by its opponents.
a) "Until recently the great controversy concerning the Scriptures was most frequently fought between skeptics outside the church and Christians. Now skeptics inside the church espouse the heresy that the Bible contains errors."
b) Theistic evolutionists, for example, tell us that while we can trust the Bible when it comes to theology, it is not to be trusted when it talks about our origins.
c) The Bible has suffered much abuse at the hands of liberal theologians. And their attacks have not been without effect.
d) In 1963, 2 of 3 Americans viewed the Bible as the word of God. That number had fallen to 1 of 3 in 1999.
II. We can respond defensively or offensively.
A. Sometimes a defensive posture is best -- and defending the word of God from the attacks of man is not difficult.
1. We are told that the Bible we have today is so different from the original manuscripts that we can never be sure of what God really said. Wrong!
a) The scribes who copied the scripture worked with extreme care -- checking and rechecking their work. Plus, because the Bible is vital to out eternal salvation and because Jesus promised that we could know the truth, we can know that God through his providence has given us an accurate copy of his word.
b) In the opinion of scholars, the Bible text that we have today is practically identical to the original. The text of the Bible has been established with greater certainty than any other ancient text.
c) This argument that we cannot know whether we have accurate copies of the original autograph copies of Scripture has been called a "theological scarecrow to frighten those who are not knowledgeable of the art of transmission of the Bible."
d) There are some minor variations among the manuscripts such as a wrong letter or vowel pointing or a wrong word ordering, but those errors amount to less than one word in a thousand, are easy to spot, and do not change the meaning of the verses.
e) If there was any doubt to some that we had accurate copies of the original manuscripts, that doubt should have been permanently removed in 1947.
(1) Beginning in 1947 in a region just west of the Dead Sea some 500 documents known today as the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. About 100 of the scrolls are Old Testament books in Hebrew representing at least portions of every Old Testament book except Esther.
(2) The manuscripts date from the last few centuries BC to the early part of the first century. In 1948, it was called "the most important discovery ever made in Old Testament manuscripts" and that designation remains true today. It has also been called the great archaeological discovery of all time.
(3) Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (AD 980), they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.
(4) To give a specific example, of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only 17 letters in question. Ten of those letters are simply a matter of spelling. Four letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining 3 letters comprise the word "light," which is added in verse 11, and that addition does not change the substance of the verse. Thus, after 1000 years of transmission, there is only one word in question in that entire chapter, and that word has no effect on the meaning of the verses.
2. We are told that the Bible is full of scientific and historical errors, and so -- while we may be able to trust it on theological matters -- it is not to be trusted on these other matters. Wrong!
a) There are no errors in the Bible, but that is not to say there are not difficulties.
b) "It is clear that there must be difficulties for us in a revelation such as the Bible. If someone were to hand me a book that was as simple to me as the multiplication table, and say, 'This is the Word of God. In it He has revealed His whole will and wisdom,' I would shake my head and say, 'I cannot believe it; that is too easy to be a perfect revelation of infinite wisdom.' There must be, in any complete revelation of God's mind and will and character and being, things hard for the beginner to understand; and the wisest and best of us are but beginners." --R.A. Torrey
c) Augustine: "If we are perplexed by any apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowed to say the author of this book is mistaken; but either the manuscript is faulty, or the translation is wrong, or you have not understood."
3. We are told that the Bible is full of internal contradictions and inconsistencies. Wrong!
a) As we will see in a moment, the Bible is a unified whole despite having been written by nearly 40 people over 1600 years.
b) Many excellent books have been written that explain well the truth behind the alleged errors and contradictions in the Bible. I recommend the books by Haley and by Dehoff, but there are many others.
B. Even though we may often find ourselves on the defensive, we must not neglect our other option -- go on the offense!
1. First we should point out the bias of the attackers.
a) "While insisting on their right to treat the Bible 'like any other book,' some critics proceed to treat it like no other book, by bathing it in the acid solution of their skepticism and historical pessimism."
2. Second, we should remind the critics of their own frequent errors. They have been proved wrong again and again in their attempts to discredit the Bible.
a) They once argued that Sargon never existed despite Isaiah's claim in 20:1 that he was King of Assyria. In 1843, Sargon's palace was discovered.
b) They once argued that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch because writing was not developed until long after his death. A discovery in 1949 established that the Hebrew alphabet dates back at least 3500 years. The well known Code of Hammurabi dates back several hundred years before the time of Moses.
c) They once argued that the Hittites never existed even though they are mentioned over forty times in the Bible. The Hittite capital was discovered in 1906.
d) They once argued that the Horites never existed even though they are mentioned twice in the book of Genesis. Evidence of the Horites was found in 1925.
e) Don't bet against the Bible! You will lose every time!
3. Third, we should remember that the Bible is powerful.
a) The Bible is not described as our shield, but rather as our sword.
b) Hebrews 4:12 -- For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
c) Isaiah 55:11 -- So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
d) Ephesians 6:17 -- And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
4. The Bible is unique among the religious books of the world.
a) Dr. Montiero Williams, professor of Sanskrit for 40 years, said the following:
(1) "Pile them, if you will, on the left side of your study table, but place your own Holy Bible on the right side, all by itself and with a wide gap between them, for there is a gulf between it and the so-called sacred books of the East that severs the one from the other utterly, hopelessly, and forever."
b) The Hindu writings tell us that the moon is 50,000 leagues higher than the sun and shines by its own light, that the world is flat and composed of seven stages (including one of butter and one of sugar), and that the entire earth is born along on the backs of elephants.
c) Ancient Indian creation accounts tell us that the earth is carried about on the back of a giant turtle.
(1) If you pick up a book on alleged Bible contradictions you will never read anything even remotely approaching the following: "The Bible says in Genesis that the earth rests on the back of a turtle. How can that be explained?"
(2) Instead, you find minute picayune details that someone somewhere has decided is wrong and has then tossed back on us to explain.
(3) When I read those books -- and I see the grasping at straws that goes on among the infidels -- my faith in the Bible as the inerrant word of God increases beyond measure! Is that the best they can come up with in their attack against a book that is thousands of years old, written by multiple authors over a large span of time?
5. The unity of the Bible is undeniable.
a) Who wrote the Bible? Two were kings, two were priests, one was a doctor, two were fishermen, two were shepherds, one was a Pharisee, one was a tax collector, one was a soldier, one was a scribe, and one was a butler. And those 40 or more authors wrote the Bible over a period of about 1600 years.
b) They wrote in different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) and from different locations across two continents.
c) With this being true, one might expect that so diverse a group writing about so many different topics over such a long period of time would have produced a tangled mishmash of books full of internal inconsistencies and errors -- but what you find is just the opposite.
d) They wove over those 1600 years a perfect, never contradictory theme. The Bible harmonizes perfectly from the first book to the last.
e) Finally, you cannot pick up a religious publication today in which it does not in some way criticize (and often rightly so!) the writings from some other religious publication. You never see that in the Bible.
(1) No Bible book ever criticizes another Bible book. Instead, they all with one voice tell us that what they contain are the very words of God.
III. What does the Bible say about itself?
A. The Bible says that it is one of two ways in which God presently reveals himself to man.
1. Romans 1:20 -- For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
2. God speaks to men through his world (natural revelation) and through his word (special revelation).
3. When we look at God's natural revelation we understand why it is that only a fool would say there is no God. And when we combine that natural revelation with God's special revelation through his word, we know that those who reject the revelations of God are most certainly without excuse.
B. The Bible says that it is the inspired word of God.
1. The Bible records the thoughts of God rather than the thoughts of men.
a) 2 Peter 1:21 -- For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
b) 1 Peter 1:10-12 -- Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
(1) That last passage is particularly instructive. The Old Testament prophets sometimes did not even themselves understand what they were saying would come to pass.
2. The Bible is the word of God rather than the word of man.
a) 2 Samuel 23:1-2 -- Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
b) Jeremiah 1:9 -- Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
c) Acts 1:16 -- Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
d) 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 -- Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which manÕs wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
e) John 17:8 -- For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
f) Matthew 10:20 -- For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
g) The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95:7 twice (3:7 and 4:7). The first time he attributes the words to the Holy Spirit, and the second time he attributes them to David.
3. What is inspiration?
a) The word "inspired" is used only once in the New Testament (2 Timothy 3:16), where it literally means "God breathed." What does it mean?
b) Let's begin with what inspiration does NOT mean.
(1) Inspiration is not a high level of human achievement.
(a) We sometimes say that the works of Shakespeare or of some other great artist are inspired, or that an artist was inspired to create some work of art -- but that is not how the Bible is inspired. It is not a work of man.
(2) Inspiration is not only in the thoughts of the writers.
(a) Some argue, for example, that God conveyed to Paul some thoughts about how great love is and then Paul filled in the details by writing 1 Corinthians 13. But again, that is not how the Bible was inspired.
(b) Phrases such as "thus saith the Lord" and "the word of God" appear over 3800 times in the Old Testament alone.
(c) If men took the thoughts of God and came up with the words themselves, then why the warning in Deuteronomy 4:2?
i) Deuteronomy 4:2 -- Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
(d) If men took the thoughts of God and came up with the words themselves, then how do we explain 1 Peter 1:10-11, which says that Old Testament writers sometimes did not understand the words that they wrote?
(e) If God supplied the thoughts but men suppled the words, then how can we explain the arguments in the New Testament that depend on the tense of a verb (Matthew 22:23-33) or the singular form of a word (Galatians 3:16).
(f) God revealed his thoughts in words -- and that is why we say that the inspiration of the Bible is verbal inspiration.
(3) Inspiration is not the act of God upon the reader.
(a) Some, particularly today, argue that inspiration is goose-bump inspiration or existential inspiration. That is, men are free to determine the meaning of scripture for themselves, whatever they determine it means for them becomes the truth for them (but perhaps not for others), and that act of interpretation is an act of God's inspiration on that person.
(b) Krister Stendahl: "Thus we have in the Bible what is absolute only in and through what is relative. It is the work of the Spirit to make the word of man in the Bible into God's absolute word for us."
(c) We will have an entire lesson on this concept, which is sometimes call the new hermeneutic, but two verses are enough to see that it is wrong.
(d) Romans 3:4 -- Let God be true, but every man a liar.
(e) 2 Peter 1:20 -- Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
(4) Inspiration is not just something that applies to some topics in the Bible but not to others.
(a) This viewpoint might be called partial inerrancy. That is, the Bible is the inerrant word of God with regard to some theological matters, but it is the errant word of God with regard to other matters (which typically include science and history).
i) McGarvey: "Still another theory ... teaches that the sacred writers were guided by the Holy Spirit in all matters essential to the great purposes of revelation, such as matters of doctrine, morals, and faith; but in all other matters they were left to their natural powers, and that therefore they were, in regard to these, as liable to mistakes as other men."
ii) Rudolph Bultmann in his book "Myth and Christianity" argues that we must cut away the myths or demythologize the Bible so that we can discover the kernel of truth it contains.
(b) It is interesting to me that no one (as far as I know) has ever argued that the Bible is inerrant with regard to science and history, but it is not inerrant with regard to theology. Why is it that the partial inerrancy crowd seems so certain that the Bible remains inerrant with regard to theological matters when they believe it to be error-filled with regard to other matters?
(c) If the Biblical record cannot be trusted in areas of fact in which what it says can be verified by man, then how could it ever be trusted in areas where it cannot be tested?
i) Who would believe a prophet would purported to tell you what would happen a thousand years hence and yet could not accurately tell you who was at that very moment ruling as king in a neighboring country?
ii) John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
iii) The answer to Jesus' question is that if what he told us in his word about earthly things were not true, then we would have no reason at all to believe what he told us about heavenly things.
(d) If the Bible contains errors -- any errors -- then it is not something after which we should pattern our lives and upon which we would stake our eternal destiny.
i) And the Bible does not just contain the word of God -- the Bible IS the word of God. If it simply contains the word of God and also contains error, then there is no way we can know into which category each verse belongs.
(5) Inspiration is not mechanical dictation.
(a) The books of the Bible have unique styles and unique vocabularies appropriate for the backgrounds of the authors. Mark for example is written in simple Greek, while Luke and Acts are written in a scholarly style.
(b) How is this to be explained? I think the best explanation is what I call the "fountain pen theory." Just like we write differently with a fountain pen than with a crayon, God expresses himself differently with different authors. With some he can be more expressive than with others -- but he is doing the writing in each instance.
c) So what is inspiration?
(1) The Bible is inspired in the sense that each word of the original autograph copies of Scripture was a word that God provided and that was recorded through the use of a human instrument.
(2) 2 Timothy 3:16-17 -- All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
(a) Note from that previous verse that it is the Bible that is inspired or God-breathed rather than the authors of the Bible. We sometimes refer to the inspired authors of Scripture (and there is a sense in which that is correct), but technically it is not the author that is inspired but rather the words written down by that author at the direction of the Holy Spirit.
(b) Another interesting point is to compare God's special revelation with his natural revelation. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the former was God breathed, and Psalm 33:6 tells us that is also true of the latter -- and that the two are tied together.
i) Psalm 33:6 -- By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
(3) Inspiration requires inerrancy. Absent inerrancy there can be no inspiration.
(a) Hebrews 6:18 -- That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.
(b) Titus 1:2 -- In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.
(c) John 17:17 -- Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
(d) Psalm 119:160 -- Thy word is true from the beginning.
(e) 1 John 5:6 -- And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
(f) God cannot breath error, and that is exactly what one is saying when one argues that the word of God is anything but inerrant.
C. The Bible says that God's word is unchanging and eternal.
1. Psalm 119:89 -- For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
2. Psalm 119:160 -- Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
3. 1 Peter 1:24-25 -- For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
D. The New Testament is Scripture just as is the Old Testament.
1. 1 Timothy 5:18 quoting Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7.
a) For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. (1 Timothy 5:18)
b) Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. (Deut. 25:4)
c) And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. (Luke 10:7)
2. 2 Peter 3:15-16 -- And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
E. Jesus is the word made flesh.
1. John 1:1, 14 -- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.
2. And for those who use John 1 to suggest that the written word is not all that important, they need to keep reading:
a) John 12:48 -- He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
IV. What does Jesus say about the Bible?
A. Jesus says that the Old Testament events were actual historical events.
1. Of the 1800 verses in the Bible that include direct quotations from Christ, 180 of them (one tenth) come from the Old Testament.
2. Jesus upbraided those who did not know the word of God, and said that was one reason for their errors.
a) Mark 12:24 -- And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
3. Jesus referenced many Old Testament events and characters:
a) Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:5)
b) Abel (Luke 11:51)
c) Noah and the flood (Matthew 24:37-38)
d) Eating manna in the desert (John 6:49)
e) Jonah and the fish (Matthew 12:40)
B. Jesus says that the Bible is true.
1. John 17:17 -- Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
2. We cannot have a divine Savior and an errant Bible because Jesus said that the word of God was without error.
C. Jesus says that the Bible cannot be broken.
1. John 10:35 -- The scripture cannot be broken.
D. Jesus says that the Bible will never pass away.
1. Matthew 24:35 -- Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
2. Think for a moment about what it would mean if the word of God did ever pass from the earth.
a) John 14:6 -- Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
b) Acts 4:12 -- Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
c) If the word of God were to ever perish from this earth, then the earth might as well end at that time because absent the knowledge found in this book not another person would ever be saved!
d) Henry Ward Beecher: "Sink the Bible to the bottom of the ocean, and still man's obligations to God would be unchanged. He would have the same path to tread, only his lamp and guide would be gone; the same voyage to make, but his chart and compass would be overboard!"
e) Sadly, the situation is no different if, rather than being tossed overboard, our Bibles are tossed on the shelf and never opened.
f) Amos 8:11 -- Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.
V. Why we can trust the Bible:
A. We can trust the Bible because it is historically accurate.
1. There are 29 ancient kings whose names are mentioned not only in the Bible but also on monuments from their own time. These 29 kings reigned over Egypt, Israel, Moab, Damascus, Tyre, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia. When the names on those monuments are compared with the 29 names from the Bible we find that they agree as to the name, as to the country, and as to the chronological order.
2. People who pit historical evidence against the Bible also seem to forget that the Bible is itself historical evidence -- and almost always the best historical evidence that we have.
a) "The BIble is itself an archaeological document of the highest caliber. It is simply crass bias for critics to hold that whenever a pagan record disagrees with the biblical account, it must be the Hebrew author that was in error. Pagan kings practiced self-laudatory propaganda, just as their modern counterparts do; and it is incredibly naive to suppose that simply because a statement was written in Assyrian cuneiform or Egyptian hieroglyphics it was more trustworthy and factual than the Word of God composed in Hebrew. No other ancient document in the B.C. period affords so many clear proofs of accuracy and integrity as does the Old Testament; so it is a violation of the rules of evidence to assume that the Bible statement is wrong very time it disagrees with a secular inscription or manuscript of some sort."
B. We can trust the Bible because it is scientifically accurate.
1. Job 26:7 -- He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
2. Genesis 9:4 -- But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
C. We can trust the Bible because its prophecies have never failed.
1. "Predictive prophesy is the highest evidence of divine revelation"
2. Daniel 11 is perhaps the most detailed prophecy in the Bible, providing minute details of the 600 years of history between the time of Daniel and the first century Roman empire.
3. We know that Daniel was written before any of those events transpired, but even secularists must agree that Daniel predates the days of those Romans emperors because copies of Daniel have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
4. Of course, there are many other examples of Old Testament prophecies that history tells us transpired exactly as we read in the Bible, including even names for people being written down long before their birth!
D. We can trust the Bible because we can trust God. And if we don't trust the word of God then it means we don't trust God either.
A. Perhaps the best way to end a class on alleged contradictions in the Bible is to end where the Psalmist began:
1. Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
B. We have that same choice here today -- will we sit in the seat of the scornful, or will we be among those who take their delight in the law of the Lord?
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)