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Category Archives: Biblical History

The Church Age Begins With An Impatient Peter


colin hemer Book of Acts

I love the book of Acts! This post on the book of Acts will be just like the book of Acts–fast paced and quick! I will provide three thoughts for you as you read this wonderful book. First lets take a look at the New Testament Timeline. Pay attention to the book of Acts in Green on the picture below. We know that the Book of Acts was completed before 70AD and most date the book around 62AD. Why you ask? There are many reasons but one important reason is the fact that the Temple is still standing and the destruction of the Temple is never recorded in this history book. This is the seminole event in Jewish history and not recording it as a historian would simply not happen! Moreover, Jesus Christ predicted that the temple would be destroyed in Matthew 24 so not recording a fulfilled prophecy is highly unlikely.

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But why date the book of Luke earlier than Acts? Luke wrote Acts and he starts off Acts by saying “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach…” So this puts Luke earlier than Acts.

Acts is an incredibly accurate book especially when you consider the technology and type of traveling done during this time. In His book The Book of Acts in Hellenistic History Colin Hemer confirms that Luke named 32 countries, 54 cities, 9 islands, and hundreds of details without making a single error! Pretty amazing, eh?

Second, look at this chart for context! Notice that the New Testament is being written within the years covered by the book of Acts. This is very important!!!!!!

Acts and New Testament

This book is an action packed history of the church and there is no other book like it in the New Testament. What is often missed however is the fact that this is a history book of the Holy Spirit’s new role on earth as Jewish and Gentile believers come together in one body, the Church. No longer is the role of the Holy Spirit to fill only God’s chosen Prophet, High Priest or King. These offices of old have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ whom is out High Priest, our King of Kings, and final Prophet. As the book of Hebrews puts it:

In times past God spoke to our forefathers through the Prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son…” – Hebrews 1:1-2

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Up Dag-SquirrelSquirrel Moment: The verse above is an excellent verse to use when a Mormon comes to your door claiming to represent the restored church with a “living prophet”. Show him this verse and ask the missionary of the counterfeit Jesus the following questions:

1. When was the times past that God used the office of Prophet? Answer: Before the arrival of the Messiah Jesus Christ

2. Now all have direct access to God through Jesus Christ, why would God restore the old office of Prophet that pointed to Him? Answer: He wouldn’t!

If you didn’t get the “Squirrel moment” joke click the picture 🙂

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Third, God demonstrates to the Apostles and the people around them that the Messiah has come, the old sacrificial system and priesthood is to end. Now the Holy Spirit is establishing a church of Jews and Gentiles together! Even the Apostles had to learn that the old way of doing things was gone as you will see in Acts chapter 1. The book begins with Peter deciding not to wait on God and use old methods to choose the Apostle to take the place vacated by Judas:

Jesus’ Command in Acts 1:4-5 is go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. Peter once again jumps the gun and instead of just waiting for the Holy Spirit he decides to pick Judas’ replacement. Peter points to the Old Testament to justify his actions by quoting Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 in order to demonstrate his need to replace Judas:

“For, said Peter, it is written in the book of Psalms, “May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it” and, “May another take his place of leadership.” – Acts 1:20

Peter then comes up with a criteria that Judas’ replacement must fit:

“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” – Acts 1:21

Now here is the kicker: Peter is 100% correct in his use of scripture, 100% correct in the criteria above; however he is 100% disobedient! This will become clear in a moment. Jesus said go and WAIT for the indwelling of God! Instead Peter used an Old Testament method of casting lots during a New Testament period to make a choice that was not his to make. I ask you when you list the Apostles do you list Matthais? In fact this is the last time that you will see his name. Peter forgot one very important thing: the choice was not his to make. Jesus personally chose the Apostles and Jesus was going to personally choose Judas’s replacement.

Jesus chose Saul of Tarsus to take Judas’s place. At first The choice Jesus made seemed like trading one traitor for another. I believe that Jesus redeemed this position held by a traitor by filling it with a redeemed traitor. This is truly an amazing story of redemption as Saul the murderer of the first Christian (Acts 8) becomes the Apostle Paul who is himself murdered for being a Christian. Interesting fact that the Apostle Paul is the only Apostle both saved and called by the resurrected Christ. When I think about Paul I am reminded that I also am a traitor redeemed by Jesus Christ! Thanks Lord for redeeming traitors.

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

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Genesis 7 – Is There Evidence of Noah and a Flood?


Link to FREE Bible for Your Phone (select NIV): www.youversion.com

Link to Reading Plan: One Year Bible 2013

First, let’s look at the text and get at least one thing clear–this was not just rain for 40 days! The earth opened up from below and rain fell so there was chaos of epic proportions to include earthquakes which give us tsunamis.  We witnessed a horrific tsunami a few years ago in 2004 where according to the U.S. Geological Survey a total of 227,898 people died. 

Genesis 7:11-12 – all the springs of the great deep burst forth, AND the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

So imagine multiple tsunamis! Many scholars  who accept a global flood, yes they exist, and others who believe that it was very large but regional think that this may have been what killed of the dinosaurs. Food for thought, but not the purpose of this post. Let’s review the text below from today’s reading:

Genesis 7:17-23 – For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.bc  21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished — birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. 24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

A few points: (1) We have a complete flood that lasted150 days as the waters receded. (2) only Noah and his family survived (3) This was a complete judgment by God because after sin entered the world evil was running rampant.

We would expect that if a flood of this size really happened and if all people trace there roots back to the ark, then we should find historical references outside of the bible.  Do we find such references? The answer is yes!

There are over two dozen flood accounts worldwide by various cultures to include the Sumerians, Babylonians, Jews, Greeks, Chinese, Mexicans, Hawaiians and Algonquin Indians. Let’s take a look at two of them:

#1 Atrahasis Epic dated to the 17th century BC!

Atrahasis Epic Tablet

The 17th century BC Atrahasis Epic is one of the most complete flood accounts coming from Mesopotamian sources. The Babylonian story parallels the biblical account (Genesis 6-9) at several points:

(1) Humans have displeased the gods; (2) The gods give Atrahasis seven days warning before the flood; (3) The gods instruct him how to survive the coming deluge; (4) Atrahasis builds a boat andgathers animals and birds
#2 The Gilgamesh Epic dated 7th century BC

Gilgamesh Epic

This 7th century BC fragment of the Babylonian version of the flood was found in Meggido, Israel. It shows remarkable similarities to Genesis.

You have to admit that this is interesting!  There have been many searches for the Ark that have occurred in the 20th century. If you are interested in more information here is a link to a great place to start: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/category/Flood.aspx

Fox News a few weeks ago published a story where “Robert Ballard, the underwater archaeologist famed for discovering the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, claims to have found evidence of the biblical flood that Noah fled.”

Read more: archaeologist-claims-evidence-noahs-biblical-flood

May God enrich you faith through this year in His Word!

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 

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Mistake 15: Forgetting that Only the Original Text, Not Every Copy of Scripture, Is without Error


BIG BOOK OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES The One Year Bible Reading Plan for 2013 can be found here

Mistake 15: Forgetting that Only the Original Text, Not Every Copy of Scripture, Is without Error. When critics do come upon a genuine mistake in a manuscript copy, they make another fatal error -they assume it was in the original inspired text of Scripture. They forget that God only uttered the original text of Scripture, not the copies. Therefore, only the original text is without error. Inspiration does not guarantee that every copy of the original is without error. Therefore, we are to expect that minor errors are to be found in manuscript copies. But, again, as St. Augustine wisely noted, when we run into a so-called “error” in the Bible, we must assume one of two things-either the manuscript was not copied correctly, or we have not understood it rightly. What we may not assume is that God made an error in inspiring the original text.

While present copies of Scripture are very good, they are not without error. For example, 2 Kings 8:26 gives the age of king Ahaziah as twenty-two, whereas 2 Chronicles 22:2 says forty-two. The later number cannot be correct, or he would have been older than his father. This is obviously a copyist error, but it does not alter the inerrancy of the original.

Several things should be observed about these copyist errors. First of all, they are errors in the copies, not the originals. No one has ever found an original manuscript with an error in it. Second, they are minor errors (often in names or numbers) which do not affect any doctrine of the Christian faith. Third, these copyist errors are relatively few in number, as will he illustrated throughout the rest of this book. Fourth, usually by the context, or by another Scripture, we know which one is in error. For example, Ahaziah (above) must have been twenty-two, not forty-two, since he could not he older than his father. Finally, even though there is a copyist error, the entire message can still come through. In such a case, the validity of the message is not changed. For example, if you received a letter like this, would you understand the whole message? And would you collect your money?

“#OU HAVE WON THE FIVE MILLION DOLLAR READER’S DIGEST SWEEPSTAKES.”

Even though there is a mistake in the first word, the entire message comes through-you are five million dollars richer! And if you received another letter the next day that read like this, you would be even more sure:

“Y#U HAVE WON THE FIVE MILLION DOLLAR READER’S DIGEST SWEEPSTAKES.” 

Actually the more mistakes of this kind there are (each in a different place), the more sure you are of the original message. This is why scribal mistakes in the biblical manuscripts do not affect the basic message of the Bible. So, for all practical purposes, the Bible in our hand, imperfect though the manuscripts arc, conveys the complete truth of the original Word of God.

Thomas Howe;Norman Geisler. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation (Kindle Locations 254-270). Kindle Edition. [Emphasis Mine]

Notes:

Here is an example in visual form of the point that Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe are making:

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Here is the interesting part, take the information above and add to it the fact that we have more manuscript copies of the New Testament than any other book from the ancient world!  This is incredible, especially when you consider that Diocletian issued a decree in 303 AD to destroy every copy of the Bible. He later deemed t an impossible task, and here are the numbers in a chart. Notice why the task was impossible; look what we still have:

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Friends, we are still finding manuscripts of not only the New Testament but the Old Testament.  Here are some numbers from the famous Dead Sea Scrolls find:

Dead Sea Scrolls:

–       1/3 of all scrolls are copies of the Bible

–       Every Old Testament Book was found except Esther

–       All of them over 1,000 years older than Masoretic text

The Masoretic text refers to the oldest known copy of the Old Testament that most of our English Bible translations were based on until this find.  What is amazing is the fact that the little errors in a letter or number mentioned above is exactly what they found when there were some errors. For instance, the scroll of Isaiah found dates to around 100BC and the Masoretic text of Isaiah dated to 900AD.  Errors? 7 of the sort above that changes nothing in prophecy and doctrine!!!!  This is especially incredible given the fact that secular critics once assumed (before the finding) that there must have been TWO Isaiah writers.  Why this assumption? Because the prophecies in Isaiah were too accurate so they must have been written after the events.  Why do they assume that? Easy, because they assume that MIRACLES are impossible.  Ooops, sorry critics but when God exists miracles are a guarantee!

When you pick up your Bible to read this year, be amazed at the miracle of God’s preserving power to get these words into your hands and commit to never take His Word for granted again.

Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 

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Did Nicea Make Jesus God?


Continuity of belief in Jesus As God

One of the dopiest things that has been out there ever since the popular FICTION book & movie The Davinci Code is that through his power Constantine “Made Jesus God”. Now what makes this dopy is that it was thoroughly and easily crushed by scholars because we still have all of the writings from that time. ABC was embarrassed, and Tom Hanks and Dan Brown refused interviews that wanted to discuss the claims after the scholars came out of every crack.  Of course there were the classic Jesus Seminar types like Robert Funk and John Dominic Crossan that came out in favor.  As Bible expert Dr. Norman Geisler reports, the Bible was quoted so much by the early church fathers (Disciples of the Apostles) that the entire Bible can be reconstructed from their writings except for a few verses in 3 John. Now that is impressive!  So what was the purpose of Nicea?

First, here are the quotes from the writings of the early Church through the Council of Nicea that match the timeline above! (You can ‘click’ on it to get a larger view)  Please note how 140years after the Biblical Canon that the Gnostic texts appear. So which is more reliable simply using the historical rule that the closer the accounts to the actual event the more reliable the accounts of the event?

Notice that all of these is all long before Nicea!!!!!!

Ignatius (105AD):         “God himself was manifested in human form”

Clement (150AD): “It is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as God” —Apostle Paul’s coworker in Philippians 4:3

Justin Martyr (A160D):  “Being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God—Both the Lord of Hosts—The Father of the universe has a Son.  And he—is even God.”

**Irenaeus (180AD): “Our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King—He is God, for the name Emmanuel indicates this.”

**Tertullian (200AD):  “Christ our God.”  He often quotes Scripture

**Tertullian and Irenaeus are considered two of the “Anti-Gnostic Fathers”

Origen (225AD): “No one should be offended that the Savior is also God.”

Novatian (235AD): “He is not only man but God also.”

Cyprian (250AD):  “Jesus Christ our Lord and God.”

Methodius (290AD):  “He truly was and is…with God and being God.”

Lactantius (304AD):  “We believe him to be God.”

Arnobius (305AD):  “Christ performed all of these miracles…the duty of Divinity.”

Larry W. Hurtado, professor of New Testament language, literature, and theology at the University of Edinburgh, masterfully handles this issue in his scholarly work Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity.

Lord Jesus Christ- Devotion to Jesus in Earliest ChristianityIn essence, Hurtado demonstrates the swiftness with which monotheistic, Jewish Christians revered Jesus as Lord. This early “Christ devotion,” which entailed belief in Jesus’ divinity, was amazing especially in light of the Jewish monotheistic belief that was deeply ingrained in Jewish identity, worship, and culture. So what was the issue at Nicea?

In 325AD the Nicene Creed , based on a baptismal creed used at Jerusalem, is formulated in response to the Arian heresy which denied the full divinity of Jesus Christ. This same heresy is exactly what the Jesus Seminar “scholars” that you find on cable channels believe! You see, as different as things are today they are strangely the same.  What Arius asserted was that Jesus was a mere creature and not divine, to which the creed pointed to Jesus as having the same ontological (homoousios) identity as the Father.

The conception of Christ must meet the following biblical criteria as biblically known:

  1. His true and proper deity
  2. His true and proper humanity
  3. The union of deity and humanity in one person
  4. A proper distinction of deity from humanity in one person

The issue was not IF Jesus was divine, but HOW Jesus was fully divine yet fully human.

The Gospel Code - Ben Witherington“The issue at Nicea was how the divine Son and Father were interrelated and whether they shared the same divine substance; thus, the real question was, in what sense is Jesus Divine?” – New Testament Scholar Ben Witherington III, The Gospel Code; page 64

Futhermore, notice the slide above I have a reference to the Muratorian Fragment that pre-dates the time of the writings of the Gnostic gospels. The was discovered in 1740 and represents the oldest known list of New Testament books, and is dated at190AD.  Here are some of the things that are in the Muraturian fragment:

– It acknowledges the Holy Spirit as the source of the 4 gospels

– It acknowledges NT events of Jesus’ virgin birth, resurrection, second coming, and port-resurrection appearance on road to Emmaus

– It speaks of false letters attributed to Apostle Paul to the “Laodiceans” and “Alexandrians” promoting Marcion Heresy (declared OT as a separate God)

Wow, a list of books dated early!  In fact it was the Apostles and early followers that invented the early form of a book called a codex. What is interesting about this invention is that the fact that the Apostles were JEWS whom are used to Holy books in scroll form. The reason for this is the fact that they knew that they were writing Scripture because this is the New Covenant that was promised by God in Jeremiah 31 that would come. “Behold the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” – Jeremiah 31:31. A covenant has to be written and the Apostles were all alive together writing and collecting books that were inspired by the Holy Spirit as the written form of this New Covenant that God was making with both Jews & Gentiles through the Messiah. I have more information in a document here under the section “Got Questions?” and my message on “The Davinci Code“.

I believe that Jesus proved that He was God by His Resurrection from the Dead! Enjoy scholar Dr. William Lane Craig as he speaks about the resurrection of Jesus Christ posted below. There are quite a few to choose from as he recently presented and debated across England, to include my favorite Oxford. The videos can be found here.

Merry Christmas!  Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

 
 

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