How do we know the Bible is true?

“Because the Bible is the Word of God, and God never lies” is the answer.  Next question: how do we know the Bible is the Word of God?  “Because it says so,” we answer.

If you don’t find that answer satisfying, we understand.  The Department of Motor Vehicles or the ticket agent at the airport doesn’t believe that I am who I say I am just because I say so.  They want proof, and the proof has to come from somebody other than me.

It’s understandable that people expect the same from the Bible.  Especially since, throughout the centuries, lots of people have claimed to have spoken or written words that came straight from God.  They can’t all be telling the truth.  How do I know that the Bible is?

First, there is much more evidence that the Bible is true than most people think.  For instance, the Bible was written over a period of 1400 years by more than 40 authors.  And yet, this book tells one story and has one message–one that people of all times, places, and cultures have found meaningful.  Notice also what a “survivor” the Bible has been.  Not only has it survived thousands of years of history.  It has also been the most violently attacked book of all time.  And yet, every year it tops the best-seller list by a wide margin.

Then there are the Bible’s fulfilled prophecies.  In the Old Testament you have a large number of predictions about what the Messiah would do.  In the New Testament you find them all fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.  Read, for example, Isaiah 53 (written in the 8th century before Christ) or Psalm 22 (tenth century before Christ).  You can’t help but be amazed at how these prophecies tell the whole story of the death of Jesus centuries before it happened.

Finally, not even this will convince somebody who wants corroboration from an outside source.  And that’s really the problem.  When we ask for an outside source to vouch for the Bible, we’re really looking for a higher authority than the Word of God.  And there is no higher authority.  For instance, who could corroborate the God’s account of how the world began?  Nobody else was there!

That’s why, ultimately, the reason we believe the Bible isn’t because we can use objective, external evidence to prove that it’s true.  It’s because the Bible’s message has conquered our hearts.  In the Bible, we’ve found a book by people we’ve never met, but who somehow seem to know us better than we know ourselves.  And we find a message that meets our deepest need:  the need for a Savior from our failings and guilt.

That’s why we say that the Bible is “self-authenticating.”  Read it for yourself, and we think you’ll see what we mean.

Who is God?

Among the Chinese there are some interesting man-made deities called “kitchen gods.” They are just paper images placed on a kitchen shelf. The kitchen, it is believed, is the best place to observe life. At certain times the Chinese family must burn its paper god so he can go back to heaven and report on the sins of that household. To insure a favorable report, the family will smear a little honey on the mouth of the paper image before it is burned. This, they believe, will sweeten the report.

We may look on such a practice in disbelief, but understand that most people believe that a supreme being rules all, and that people are accountable to him. Those who deny the existence of God are usually giving in to a bad conscience. It is no surprise that Psalm 14:1 insists that only a fool would say: “There is no God.”

Look out your window and see that God exists! The Bible says in Hebrews 3:4: “For every house is built by someone, but God is the Builder of everything.” Nature does reveal God’s power, wisdom, and goodness, but it does not reveal the identity of the true God. God’s power is seen in his creation of mankind, the animals, plant life, the solar system, the balance in nature, and so on. God’s wisdom is apparent as we study the body structure of man and animals, the power of a seed to germinate, reason in mankind and instinct in animals. Witness God’s goodness as he created things for people’s enjoyment: flavorful food, fragrant flowers, the song of birds, and brilliant sunsets. While nature shows us many things about God, it is still incomplete information.

God gives us a clearer description of himself in the Bible. While nature and the voice of conscience tell us there is a God, the Bible tells us who God is. The Scriptures reveal and elaborate on God’s qualities. More than that, they show God’s love in Christ, his desire to save mankind from sin.

As we study the Bible, we see that God has revealed himself as three Persons in one God (Trinity). In his love for all people, the Father sent his Son into our world. Christ lived, died, and rose from the dead to pay for all people’s sins. After Jesus returned to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit. The Spirit came to turn people’s hearts to trust in Jesus alone as the Savior.

This is what the Triune God has done for you! Open your Bible and read the wonderful message!

Does the Bible teach Reincarnation?

“The New Testament teaches reincarnation. It calls it by another name, ‘resurrection,’ but reincarnation and resurrection are really the same thing.”

Spiritists and some New Agers make this claim, but it’s utterly false. Resurrection and reincarnation are emphatically not “the same thing.” The resurrection of the body, which the Bible teaches is the restoration to life in glorified form of the same body that died and was buried, is exactly what happened with Jesus (See John 2:19-22 and John 20:19-31). Reincarnation teaches that only the soul survives death. After death, the soul enters another body to begin life over again as a new person, who (usually) has no memory of previous lives.

Not only does the Bible not support reincarnation; it strongly denies the possibility. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” the writer to the Hebrews says (Hebrews 9:27). In the context of this verse, the point is that Jesus’ work of redemption is as final and certain as the fact of death is for mortal man. Just as people die only once–not multiple times, as in reincarnation–so also Jesus did not have to submit to multiple crucifixions in order to save us. Once was enough.

And that leads us to the most important difference between reincarnation and the Bible’s teaching. In reincarnation, multiple lifetimes are necessary for individuals to finish paying for their own sins. Suffering is explained as a consequence of the accumulated sins of previous lifetimes. Given enough lifetimes, the theory goes, people will eventually finish paying off all their accumulated debt. They will then enter into a purely spiritual existence and won’t have to be incarnated again.

The root of this theory, like the root of most false teaching, is the idea that we have to pay for our own sins by what we do. The Bible rejects this idea completely. Jesus’ suffering and death paid, in full, for all sins committed by all people of all time. That means that the endless series of lifetimes proposed by reincarnation is not only impossible, it’s completely unnecessary.

How Does God Deal with Our Sin?

Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

“How far can you throw it?” That question when asked in the neighborhood, results in several kids lining up and taking turns to see who can throw the baseball the farthest. It’s friendly competition, but even as the contestants get older, the baseball never makes it more than a few backyards away.

Our sins never seem all that far away either. We try to forget them by thinking about something else. We try to rationalize our sins and make excuses for them. We try to pass the blame to others. We try to pretend that they never happened. But try as we might, we just can’t seem to throw them too far away from us. They weigh on our conscience. They float around in our mind and keep us up at night. We are often reminded of our sins by the hurt feelings and comments of others. Sin never seems too far away.

That’s where Jesus came in. He didn’t just pick up our sins and throw them a few backyards away. He has removed them “as far as the east is from the west.” Who can measure the distance from east to west? You can travel thousands of miles in either direction and still have just as far to go. God’s forgiveness for you in Jesus is immeasurable. His supply of forgiveness will never run out. When God removes your sin, he removes it completely. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus your sins are gone for good. They are not coming back. And trusting in Jesus as your Savior, you have an eternity in heaven to look forward to.

“How far can you throw them?” When it comes to sin, the answer is “not very far.” Our human ways of dealing with sin will always ensure that they keep coming back. Instead, lay your sins on Jesus and let him throw them away “as far as the east is from the west.” You are forgiven for all of your sins. In Jesus, they are nowhere to be found.

How can I be sure there is life after death?

The view that there isn’t a life after death is certainly a minority position. People disagree sometimes sharply on what life after death is like, but very few believe that this life is all there is.

Why is that? Perhaps one reason is that a thought like that is too sad to contemplate. The lack of permanence, the brevity of life, the desire for making a lasting impression–all that begs for something more.

Most people have always sensed this, and the Bible tells us why. It says God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

God created you with longings that nothing in this life can satisfy. He would be very cruel if he did not provide a life after death.

There is a much better way to approach your question.

Suppose that someone died in full view of people. Suppose he was certified to be truly dead, and that he was buried in a grave. Now suppose that, some days later, the dead man reappeared, obviously alive and well. Then suppose that he talked and ate with the very same people who had known him in life, some of whom had watched him die. Suppose that over 500 people saw this formerly dead man alive, and that these people spread the news of the miracle everywhere. Suppose further that they stuck to their story so stubbornly that some of them were martyred for it.

Your proof is the eyewitness accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus himself said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).

Do we have guardian angels?

Swim at Your Own Risk. No Lifeguard on Duty.

Those words might sound a bit perilous to a parent whose teenager is spending a lazy summer day at a lesser known beach. But to the teenager, the words call out, “Freedom!” No authorities within sight to spoil the fun. Now that’s a good time! Until help is needed.

Like lifeguards, God’s angels watch over us. Angels are spirit beings, without the earthly limitations of physical form, created by God as his agents for earthly missions. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).

Angels have been, and will continue to be, sent by God to battle evil and frustrate the ways of the wicked. For example, angels appeared in the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to announce their doom (Genesis 19). This mission of justice, though, falls in line with a greater purpose for which angels are created and called. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14)?

Just like we believe in a God whom we cannot see, we believe in angels whom we cannot see because the Bible convinces us so. Just like God cares for all people, but shows special attention to his children who love and believe in him, angels show the same special attention to believers. Every believer. Every minute. “Sent to serve.”

Is there a specific angel, a guardian angel, assigned to each believer? Jesus once taught about the care of God for children when he said that “their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). That doesn’t necessarily mean that one, specific angel is assigned to a believer for life, but it does mean that there are plenty of angels around and assigned to help. Also, those angels are holy, they are heavenly, and cannot lead us astray.

So put your faith in God to forgive you, bless you, and to take care of you not only with normal circumstances like lifeguards or a job, but also in his invisible, miraculous ways like sending angels. He remains superior to angels, by the way, so only God deserves your praise and prayers.

The Bible says that even angels praise him (Psalm 148:2)!

Who is Satan?

Have you ever seen the Loch Ness Monster? How about Sasquatch or Big Foot? These are only a few of the imaginary creatures we hear about. Their “sightings” make front page news in the tabloids.

There is a city in Northern Wisconsin that calls itself “The Home of the Hodag.” According to Eugene Sheperd, who supposedly discovered the hodag in 1893, it has “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end.” It’s a popular creature in the area. Even the local high school has the hodag as its mascot.

Some people see Satan as a fictional creature. He’s the little red man with horns and a pitchfork. Or he’s the ghost-like figure that can scare the bejeebers out of you in a movie like “Exorcist.” Or a normal good-looking person as he sometimes portrayed on TV or in movies.

So who is Satan? Or what is he? A monster? A mascot? A movie star? Satan may be all of these, but one thing he isn’t is imaginary. Satan is real. And he is a personal being—not with flesh and bones but a spiritual “being.” That might sound complex, but really it’s quite simple.

The Bible calls Satan a fallen angel. At first there were only good angels. God gave them a choice to serve him or serve themselves. Some of them rebelled against God and decided to serve themselves. Satan was a leader of this group and he led a large number of angels in a rebellion against God. The good angels stayed with God, continue to serve God, and enjoy God’s blessings. Satan and the evil angels rejected God, hate him with a passion, and serve themselves. (See 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6)

As an evil angel, Satan is pretty powerful, but not nearly as powerful as God. Jesus is proof of that. He took on the devil in one-on-one combat and it wasn’t even close. It turned out just as God said it would. Satan bruised the heal of Jesus, but got his head crushed in the process. That’s what the cross did.

The amazing thing is that Jesus crushed all our sins in the process. Like Satan, the bad things we do are real. Yet the cross is also real. And that is where Christ defeated Satan and won real life, real hope, real forgiveness.

 

What Is Sin?

The apostle John wrote: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” ( I John 3:4).  The apostle directs us to the law of God, not man-made rules and traditions, and teaches that whoever fails to do what God commands or does what God forbids is guilty of sin.

But what does God say in his law?  What does he command?  What does he forbid?  We might look at a list such as: honor your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony … the Bible, of course, does this in the 10 Commandments.

Jesus, however, summed up God’s law this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart … and … love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37f.).  Jesus’ reminder that God demands love reminds us that God’s law deals not just with outward actions like murder, adultery or stealing, but also condemns as sinful matters of the heart like hatred, lust and greed.

If even impure desires and unclean thoughts are sinful in God’s eyes, it’s no wonder that the apostle Paul heaps up all people on one big pile and says: “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22,23).  Paul means that there is no one who has ever achieved the perfection God demands inside and out, and so no one can expect God on the day he judges all people to say: “Way to go, you did everything I required you to do and you did it perfectly.”  Instead, we can only expect to hear God say: “Depart from me you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).  For the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

So far the news about sin is only bad.  But there is good news for sinners.  The good news is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).  God knew we couldn’t save ourselves by living a sinless life—so he sent his Son to do that for us and credits his obedience to us (Romans 5:19).  And because God in his love didn’t want us die eternally in hell for our sins, he sent Jesus to die for us on the cross and suffer the punishment for sin we deserved.  When God raised Jesus from the dead, he proclaimed that his work was complete and our sins were forgiven.

What wonderful news for people who know their sins and the punishment they deserve for their sins to have the Bible point us to Jesus and hear the Bible say: “Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life!” (John 3:16).

We are living in the end times. So what?

We’re in the thick of the “holiday season.” The commercials and holiday specials on TV attempt to dictate what life should be like this time of year. We often see families smiling and laughing. But how often do our lives really look and feel anything like those overly produced moments we see in movies and on TV? Is our holiday experience filled with laughter and delight, or is it mostly filled with stress and anxiety? The chaos of this life and the whirlwind of increasingly busy schedules can leave us with a sense of longing rather than fulfillment.

The pain and hardship of this life, whether in this time of year or anytime, should come as no surprise. We are living in the End Times, the last days before the end of the world comes. But so what? What difference does that make? God makes it clear that we shouldn’t be surprised when life isn’t the Hollywood ideal. In fact, because of sin in this world, God says that this life is going to be troublesome. He even warns us that wickedness will increase in the last days.

However, we live in the End Times like a child watches the calendar for Christmas. We wait with that same sort of eager excitement because we, too, are waiting for a gift. We’re not waiting for toys and games wrapped in shiny paper. There is something much better coming.  As the apostle Paul wrote in the Bible: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

God promised a Savior right at the scene of the world’s first sin. He followed through on that promise by sending Jesus to pay the price for everyone’s sins by dying on the cross. God’s forgiveness is ours now; trusting in Jesus we are God’s children! And as his children we stand waiting for the rest of that gift: rescue from this world of hardship to be brought to an eternal life where only good exists.

Jesus’ work for us, his death and his resurrection, assure us of his love. While there may be dark times in this life, none of those change God’s love. He is with us now to help us get through the rough times. Because of Jesus and the gift of salvation that he won for us, finally God will take us to be with him forever in heaven. These End Times will give way to an eternity of true joy!

Does God always answer my prayers?

In grappling with this fair question, we first need to remember that prayer is a privilege. Because of our sin God has every right not to listen to a single word we speak to him. However, because his Son, Jesus Christ, died for us and rose again, God forgives our sins. He has made us his children by faith in Jesus, and has given us the privilege of speaking to him in prayer. Through Jesus we may come to God the Father “with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12).

Our Father in heaven promises to hear and answer our prayers. Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). God’s ears are always attentive to our prayers. He is listening, and answering.

So why does it seem like God does not answer (at least sometimes). Since he promises to answer all our prayers—and he keeps all his promises—the problem might be with us. We need to evaluate ourselves.

Are we praying in faith? We might be approaching God on the basis of our goodness or the deeds we think will lead him to listen. Prayers not offered by faith in Jesus Christ are not answered.

Are we praying with improper motives? If we pray so that we might get something to merely spend on our selfish pleasures, the Lord will not answer. The Bible teaches, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:3).

Are we praying according to his will? If our requests are contrary to his will expressed in the Bible, then we will not receive an answer. So with every prayer, we have in mind the petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done.”

If we are following what God tells us in the Bible, yet our prayers seem like they are not being answered, then what should we think? We humble ourselves before God with the confidence that he still is listening and will answer. When he does not seem to answer, he still is—probably in ways that we do not yet realize. He is our loving Father, who will bless us in the ways he knows are best. We have that guarantee because he already gave his Son to claim us as his very own. How greatly our heavenly Father loves us to call us his children and give us the privilege to speak to him in prayer!