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What do We do with the Evidence?

netflix-making-a-murdererFor the last five weeks the weekly blog has been looking at the evidence for God. We have looked at the evidence for creation over evolution, evidence for the history of Israel and the reliability of the Old Testament, evidence for Jesus life, death and resurrection. There are several reasons as to why we would look at this evidence and several responses that we should have to this evidence. The first reason that we have searching for this evidence is so that we can know that our faith is not a blind faith. Skeptics and haters of the truth are quick to say that Christians are just adhering to a blind faith and that the only reason we believe what we believe is that our parents brainwashed us growing up into this blind faith. But as we look at the evidence of God and analyze this evidence with an open mind and a good deal of common sense, we can see that there is so much more to this faith than that of a blind faith. There are mounds and mounds of historical and archeological evidence that show us that it takes much more faith NOT to believe in God than to believe in God.
Along those same lines, two of the biggest responses that we should have to this evidence come out of that same reason for searching the evidence. The first is that we can be sure in our faith and therefore sure in our salvation. We can know through this evidence that the Bible is true in saying that Jesus’ resurrection defeated death and that His death on the cross was the penalty that we deserved. We can also be sure of the love that God has for us. A love so strong that He would send Jesus to this earth to die.
With all of this evidence there is another response that the Christian should have; and this response is us telling people about Jesus. Due to all of this evidence we should be spreading the good news. We should be shouting from the roof top that Jesus loves us so much He died so we can go to heaven. In our society and culture now we are living in a post-Christian time where people do not believe in Christ. These are people that will never hear the gospel if we, as Christians, do not tell them. We have the greatest news in the history of the world, and we have the evidence to back up this great news, therefore we have to tell everyone that we come in contact with.
There is one more response that goes along this same thought and that is if you are not a Christian, if you have never made Jesus the Lord of your life, now is the time to do that. John 3 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” God’s grace is a free gift for all humanity, all that is required from us is that we believe in God and follow Jesus. If you have never claimed Christ as your Savior please contact one of the ministers at HCC. We would love to talk to you about having a relationship with Jesus.
The evidence that we have for God gives us a sense of security of our faith, causing us to spread the gospel to all we know. It is this amazing grace of God that we live in and lead people to.
God Bless.

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Evidence for God Part IV

netflix-making-a-murdererThis is the fifth and final installment of the Evidence for God. In the last three posts we have looked at the evidence for creation, the historical accuracy of the Old Testament, and the life of Jesus. Today we want to look at the evidence of the crucifixion and resurrection. Paul says in I Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” These may be tough words but they are so true. If Jesus did not defeat death then it doesn’t matter if He was a great person or if He even died. If Jesus didn’t defeat death then the Old Testament doesn’t matter and creation doesn’t really matter either. Our entire faith hangs on that one event. Jesus defeating death and coming out of that tomb gives us everything and everything hangs on that one event.

Before we get to the resurrection we need to look at the crucifixion. It is pretty difficult to come back from the dead if you didn’t die. Crucifixion was the most common form of execution used by the Romans in the first century. Crucifixion was used for the lower class, slaves, and treasonous people. Josephus said the Romans hated the Jews so bad that it was not uncommon for them to crucify a multitude of them at once. So the claims that Jesus died on a cross is pretty much not argued at all. Josephus wrote in The Antiquities of the Jews about Jesus, saying that He was a great man that did many miracles, and was condemned to death on a cross by Pilate. So we have a non-biblical account that backs up the gospel claim. But we also have more mentions by Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Mara Dar-Serapion and others. The fact that He was on the cross, put there by Pilate is one of the most sure things in all of ancient history. Jesus was on the cross and died on the cross. The fact that he died is a pretty sure bet still, first of all the Romans were professional crucifiers, and the gospel accounts say that when pierced water flowed out of the wound. This shows that the pericardium was punctured and that is unsurvivable.
So we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus died on the cross, but what about the resurrection? There are several common sense reasons that we can have great faith in the resurrection. First of all, the tomb was empty, we know that for sure. Where did the body go? Let’s think about it, if the disciples stole the body would they be willing to die for a lie? If the Jews took it why didn’t they produce it to completely kill this new rebellion. What motive would anyone else have to take it? The Romans would take it, that would just show that they messed up killing him. The only logical explanation for the body missing is that Jesus rose from the dead. Another common sense thing that is often over looked is the fact that the gospel account says that women found the empty tomb. This is a significant part of the story that often gets passed by. The fact that the writers said that women found it is important because women were second class citizens at the time. If a woman saw a murder they could not testify of that because they were not considered enough as a person to testify. So the fact that the gospel account says that women found the empty tomb gives it validity. If the disciples were making this religion up they wouldn’t have had women find the tomb.
The last piece of evidence we will look at is the appearances. Jesus appeared to people ten times in the 40 days from His resurrection to His ascension into heaven. He appears five times on resurrection Sunday to the women, disciples, and men on the road to Emmaus. He then appears eight days later to the disciples again. And over the next few weeks He appears to a large gathering on a mountain in Galilee. Paul said that Jesus was seen by over 500 people and Paul gave the names of some of those that saw Jesus. This may seem insignificant but it is huge because those names are like first century footnotes because then people could go to these people listed and ask if it was true. If those claims would have been refuted by those people in the first century that would have killed the rebellion right then and there, but here were are today.
There is plenty more evidence that we don’t have time or room to discuss. The point of it is this, God does exist, Jesus did die and come back from the dead. God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us to accept the penalty for our sins Next week we will look at what all of this evidence should mean to us and the implications that it should have on our lives, until then God bless.

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Evidence of God Part III

netflix-making-a-murdererOver the last two weeks we have looked at the evidence for our faith in God and for Christianity as a whole. The first week we looked at the scientific evidence for creation and the second week we looked that the evidence for the reliability of the Old Testament. Over the next two weeks we are going to look at Jesus. Today we are going to look at Jesus’ life and next week we will look at Jesus’ death and resurrection.

There is little debate whatsoever that Jesus was an actual human being that walked the face of the earth that is because of the amount of evidence that we have on the subject. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give a very detailed narrative of Jesus’ life and if that was all we had on Jesus then it would be easy to discount Him. But the fact is that there are many non-biblical sources that back up the gospel claims. There were first century historians that spoke of Jesus, Christians, and the early church. Historians such as Josephus, Celsus, Tacitus, Talmud, Pliny, and many more. It is through these writers that important information from the gospels is corroborated. Facts that He lived during Tiberius Caesar, He lived a virtuous life, ┬áHe was a miracle worker, He had a brother named James, He claimed to be the Messiah, He was crucified under Pilate on the eve of Passover, and much more that we will get to next week. So here we see that over and over the historians of the first century back up the claims of the gospel writers.

Another huge piece of evidence is that the New Testament is the most reliable piece of ancient literature. There are two factors that go into us (people in the 21st century) knowing whether a ancient document is reliable or not. The first is the amount of time from the event that is being written about to the time of the writing. And the second factor is the number of manuscripts and copies that have survived through the ages. For example, Homer’s Iliad was written 400 years after the events and has 1800 ancient copies in existence, because of such a short time between the event and the writing and the huge number of copies it is indisputable that Iliad is a reliable work of historical importance. So how does the Bible stack up to that? The entire New Testament was written within 60 years of the events and there are over 5800 ancient copies of the New Testament. This just goes to show that the New Testament is a massively reliable piece of ancient literature, in fact it is the most reliable. Pair that with the fact that archaeology has time and time again proven the Bible accurate and we can have full confidence of the New Testament writing.

So we can see that the New Testament is reliable and the fact that Jesus was indeed a human that walked this planet, but that does not necessarily mean that He is the Son of God and Messiah. There are two things that we can point to that shows that Jesus is the Son of God, the resurrection that we will talk about next week and the prophesies from the Old Testament that foretold of the Messiah. There are nearly 500 prophesies that point the Old Testament Jews the the coming Messiah and Jesus fulfilled every single one of them. Now before you dismiss this idea and not that big of a deal think about this. The mathematical probability of Malachi saying that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, a teeny tiny little town, over 400 years before the birth is one in 300,000. That is pretty impressive enough right there but that wouldn’t seal the deal fully. If you took just 8 of the prophesies that Jesus fulfilled the probability that one man could fill all of them is 10 to the 17th power, or a ten with 17 zeros behind it. That pretty much seals the deal there but remember that there were more than 8 prophesies, way more, nearly 500. So the probability that one man fulfilled all of these prophesies and is not the Messiah is zero. Jesus was a one and a billion, billion, billion.

Through all of this evidence we can have confidence in our faith and confidence when we tell people about Christ. Next week we will look at the death and resurrection of Christ. Until then, God bless.

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Evidence For God Part II

netflix-making-a-murdererLast week we looked and the scientific evidence for creation over evolution. When looking at that evidence with an open mind it is obvious that creation is the most credible for how we all got here. Today I want to look at the evidence that surrounds events in the Old Testament. The Old Testament spans a little less than 4000 years from creation to four hundred years before the birth of Christ. The Old Testament starts at the beginning of history, in fact some of the earliest recorded events in human history are recorded in the Bible. With all of this history being written such a vast number of years ago it is seemingly difficult to both understand and prove what was written 6000 years ago. Obviously in 6000 years things change, places that were busy cites at the time it was written were at some time reduced to rubble and buried, or even cities built on top of the ruins. So this makes it difficult when reading these accounts to believe that they are true and reliable. But thankfully, through history and archaeology a good majority of the accounts have been proven to be true and real.

There are thousands of mentions of people and places in the Old Testament so listing them all on here would be a laborious and fruitless exercise so I will just hit the high points. Let’s start with the flood found in Genesis six. This is obviously a heavily debated event from the Old Testament. Skeptics find it hard to believe that a flood covered the entire earth killing all of the human race with exception to one family. And if the account in Genesis was the only place in historical text that the flood was mentioned then it would be hard to believe. But in several different places in history other evidence of the flood has been found. In Sumerian & Babylonian history a massive world-wide flood is mentioned. In their account of the flood it is told that the only survivor of the flood was “Mesopotamia Noah” which would obviously corroborate the account in Genesis. The flood is also talked about in Greek and Roman history.

Another debated topic that was ‘proof’ that the Old Testament was not reliable is the people group the Hittites. It was long thought that the Hittites, Genesis 23 and II Samuel 11, did not really exist and were fabricated by the authors. At the beginning of the 20th century, archaeologist found evidence that proved that the Hittites were in fact a real people group and that they did have dealings with the Jews.

There are so many more findings and evidence that continue to show that the Old Testament is reliable. There was a slab of hieroglyphics found in Egypt that put the Hebrew people in the Promise land earlier that 1200 BC. This is the earliest account of the Hebrew people being in that land that is found outside of the Bible. Another huge thing that archaeology has proven that shows the reliability of the Old Testament is the finding of the majority of the places listed in the Old Testament. Cities that have been found include; Jerico, Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shecham, Samaria, and the list goes on and on. Another piece of evidence are the tombs of the past kings of Israel. The most noted is the tomb of King Uzziah. The slab that covers his tomb is unmistakable in showing that it is the tomb of Uzziah from the Biblical account.

These evidences can go on forever but I believe with what is mentioned above shows just how reliable the Old Testament is. The more reliable the Old Testament account is the more likely it is that what is written in there is true. The Old Testament is such an important piece of our faith because it shows us where everything came from. The Old Testament shows us where sin entered the world and why we need a savior. The Old Testament also shows us how events unfolded perfectly for the birth of Christ. Next week we will look at Jesus and the evidence for His time on earth and his life. Until then, God Bless.

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Evidence For God Part I

netflix-making-a-murdererLast week our weekly blog focused on the hit Netflix series “Making a Murderer” and the case against Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Holbach. This documentary makes it look like there is no way that Steven Avery murdered this woman and that it is an obvious fact that the county set up Avery to take the fall. Thinking about evidence makes me think of the evidence that we have for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible and the truth of Jesus coming to this earth as a man dying on a cross and coming back to life.
So today what we want to look at is the very beginning. Today we want to look at evidence for creation over evolution. In schools today evolution is taught as a fact that is undeniable. People that do not believe in evolution are considered less intelligent and are sometimes mocked for their belief. But what hardly ever gets looked at is the evidence for creation. The reason that the evidence never gets look at is because any chance for the supernatural or God is discounted from the very beginning. When looking at the origins of the earth and where we all come from, scientist start with the false premise that there is no God and there is nothing supernatural, and because of this false premise they have to then come up with a theory as to where the universe and everything in it came from. But because they start with the premise that there is no God then the evidence that is obviously pointing them to God goes unnoticed and therefore they miss it completely. This would be like investigators in a murder case saying that it couldn’t be a certain person before they start the investigation, then no matter if all of the evidence points to that certain person, they will completely miss it.
But if we take the evidence that we have for the origin of the universe and view it with an open mind and keep all possibilities open, the evidence looks quite different. Now obviously there is much evidence and science to look at when considering the beginning of the earth and life but we won’t get into of that today, but I want to look at the most obvious evidence of God and creation. The most obvious evidence for God creating the universe and everything in it is design. Design is the most overlooked piece of evidence in the creation / evolution debate. Let’s quickly break this down, this world and universe are constantly working into disorder. Things in this world decay, they breakdown, they get worse. This is called the Law of Entropy, or the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This is also pretty common sense. We see it all of the time and it is not too disputable. But here is the important part, the entire basis for evolution is that the universe and all of the animals and people are constantly getting better. This directly flies in the face of the Law of Entropy and common sense.
Another huge part of the evidence for God is the intricate design that He used on the universe, the earth and us as human beings. There are so many intricate constants in our planet that it is impossible to believe that random chance and billions of years could produce them. Constants like; the oxygen level, atmospheric transparency, moon to earth gravitational relationship, carbon dioxide level, gravity, and many others. If any of these were off by the tiniest fraction of a percent then life on this planet would not be possible. I always find it funny when science comes out and say that they have found another earth like plant. They go on to say that it is the right size, the perfect distance from a large star, and that makes it earth like. The funny thing is that is about 1% of what it takes to sustain life on a plant. Astrophysicist Hugh Ross concludes that the probability of finding another plant with all of the exact constants of earth is 10 to the 138th power (That is 10 with 138 zeros behind it). So basically impossible, but if you read the news they make you think that it is one hundred percent certainty that they will find another one soon.
The other aspect of design is the design of the human body. All you have to do to understand this is to look at DNA. DNA is the genetic code that all of us have in our cells that tell us who we are and what we are going to be. The DNA code that is in just one cell is so complex that if typed out it would fill 1000 encyclopedias. To think that this code is completely random is lunacy. If you took a walk on the beach and saw words written in the sand, you would automatically know that someone wrote those words, you would never think that the wind and the waves wrote the words. It is common sense that if there is an intelligent message there is an intelligent author behind it.
These few evidences are obvious just the tip of the iceberg, and I wish I could go on and on but I don’t want to be too wordy. But the evidence for God is good. When we make common sense the common denominator it is pretty easy to see that God does exist and Genesis is a reliable account for where we came from.
For more reading, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” and “Case for the Creator”