How Can We Help?
Can we trust the Bible?
THE GOSPEL TRUTH
From time to time, a new attack always arises on the Word of God. In a variety of ways, the Bible is maligned for perceived historical inaccuracy, sneered at because of its version of Creation, dis-empowered as being seen as just another holy book, and discredited as a collection of allegory and fables. We should be very worried if this were not so, because satan is a deceiver and a counterfeiter. Because of his nature, he cannot help but to denigrate the authority of the Bible and present an alternative to that which is pure and true and comes from God Himself. We must always remember that for a counterfeit to exist, there must first be a real!
The composition of the Bible is also frequently brought into question. It’s not just the Gnostic gospels, the Apocrypha and the recently contrived documentary on the “Lost Gospel of Judas” that try to place question marks in our minds. It’s a lot worse than that! The battlefield is huge. The contest is life and death. After the tumult of conflict there will only be one victor.
Many major religions, and some “wanna-be’s” have their doctrines and belief system based on a holy book. Here is an incomplete list to illustrate the diversity of religious Scripture. Most people have no idea of the variety of writings which are ascribed as “holy” to their particular devotees.
|· Bhagavad Gita
· Bahai Texts
· Buddhist Texts
· Christian Fathers
· Confucian Texts
· Corpus Hermeticum
· Dead Sea Scrolls
· Divrei Torah
· Enuma Elish
· Ethiopian Texts
|· The Egyptian Book of the Dead
· Gnostic Texts
· Hindu Texts
· Islamic Texts
· Jain Texts
· 1st and 2nd Books of Jeu
· Book of Mormon
· Nag Hammadi Texts
· Old Testament Apocrypha
· Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
· Pistis Sophia
|· New Testament Apocryphal Acts
· New Testament Apocryphal Apocalypse
· New Testament Apocryphal Gospels
· Taoist Texts
· Sepher Yetzirah
· Shinto Texts
· Sikh Texts
· Tibetan Book of the Dead
· Urantia Book
· Zen Texts
· Zoroastrian Texts
This huge list of “Divine” writings has already divided the world into hundreds of splinter groups, who zealously believe in their holy book and the instructions contained within.
In the Western world the greatest confusion comes from writings which are close to the authorised Word of God. For instance the Talmud, the Book of Enoch, the Apocrypha and the above mentioned Gospel of Judas are the vines which will choke truth if we are not careful. Yet each of these have validity in the sense that they give illumination in various ways to history, lifestyle and spiritual thought without being Divine writ. Therein lies the danger.
We must be certain in our own mind what is inspired writing. When we are content in that, we become bullet-proof to all the confusion that other writings bring in claiming they are Divine. Is it possible to come to that place of knowing absolutely what was authored by God and what wasn’t? Absolutely! Let me lay some of that foundation for you.
IS THE COPYING CORRECT
In today’s world of Computers, photocopiers and printing presses we know that literally millions of the same document or book can be produced without a single mistake. It would only seem fair to ask then two very valid questions regarding the duplication of Scripture.
How accurate were the copyists ?
What guarantee have we got against mistakes ?
With regard to the Old Testament, the copyists were Jewish officials called ‘Massoretes.’ Fortunately today, we just happen to know the process and the rules by which they worked to, which were incredibly painstaking.
Accuracy was of the greatest importance, and to make sure that each book was reproduced in perfect fashion, a set of tables was devised for each book, showing how many times each alphabetical letter occurred in each book. When the scribe had finished copying a book, he then had to count up each individual alphabetical letter and compare his result with the Master List. One can only imagine what a laborious and time consuming task this was.
Only mistake free copies were allowed to replace the ‘standard’ copies when they wore out. Because of the painstaking method employed, the accuracy of the Hebrew copyists is proven to be outstanding.
Archaeology has since brought modern day proof to support the accuracy of Hebrew Scripture. In 1947, at Qumran, high in the Judean hills overlooking the Dead Sea, scrolls were discovered which contained much of the original Old Testament Scripture. When these were compared to the new Standard they were found to be as close to the original Massoretic text as to make no practical difference.
Although the New Testament copyists were nowhere near as accurate as their Jewish counterparts, the comparative accuracy of their copying has been protected by the sheer volume of manuscripts which exist today. Do we disbelieve Aristotle? Is Plato’s writings suspect? Of course not! When we look at the following list of existing manuscripts, we can see how much more we can believe in the accuracy of translation
Author Surviving MSS
New Testament 24,633
This shows an overwhelming number of manuscripts of the New Testament which have survived to the present day, compared with other contemporary writings of the day. The sheer size of the quantity involved has allowed tremendous comparisons to be made with reference to the accuracy of translation.
Consequently, we can conclude the following. Both the Old and New Testaments, by virtue of the stringent rules regarding the copying of the Old, and the sheer volume of copies of the New, come to us with a measure of accuracy unmatched in any other composite group of writings over the whole period of recorded history.
We cannot proceed further without referring to a group of books known as the ‘Apocrypha’. These are a group of Old Testament books which have for centuries been argued about as to their Divine inspiration – in other words, should they be included or excluded from the Bible as we know it.
In 1546 the matter was settled for Catholics at the Council of Trent, where the books involved were declared to be inspired, and therefore, Holy writ. The Protestant Churches never accepted this view and at the Reformation, returned to the Hebrew canon which is the Jewish Old Testament. The reasons to accept this view are overwhelming.
- The 1st Century AD historical writers had all long regarded the canon of Scripture as closed.
- The New Testament writers refer to the Old Testament as ‘Scripture’ or ‘as it is written’ more than 200 times, but not one mention is made by them of any writing in the Apocrypha!
- Although Jesus Himself made much mention of the Old Testament Scriptures, He never once mentioned an Apocryphal book or reference.
- The Apocrypha abounds in historical and geographical inaccuracies, teaches false doctrine and advocates practices which are at variance with inspired Scripture. For instance in 2 Maccabees 12.45-6, praying for the dead is advocated. (refer to Luke 16.25-6 and Hebrews 9.27) Tobit 1.3-5 & 14.11 says that Tobit lived 158 years, but quotes him as being alive when Jeroboam staged his revolt in 931 BC and also alive in Assyrian captivity in 722 BC, which is clearly an impossibility. In Judith 9.10 & 13, the story has God assisting Judith in a lie, an event which just does not line up with the revealed character of God as displayed throughout the rest of Scripture.
- There are no discernible numerical patterns to be seen in the Apocrypha. (or the Gnostic gospels for that matter.) This is the icing on the cake in terms of real proof. So much so, that comment in fuller form must be made here.
So often we find that fact is stranger than fiction and this is certainly the case with the discovery of numerics as an irrefutable proof of the Bible being the Word of the Living God. Dr Ivan Panin (1855-1948) was a Russian-born agnostic and a mathematician. He discovered an amazing mathematical structure interwoven in the text and vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. In reading the first verse of the Gospel of John in the original Greek, Dr Panin was curious as to why the Greek word for `the‘ preceded the word for `God‘ in one case but not in the following. In examining the text he became aware of a number relationship which led to the beginning of discoveries that led to his conversion and the uncovering of an extensive numeric code beneath the original texts of the Bible.
Of his work Dr Panin once said: `If human logic is worth anything at all we are simply driven to the conclusion that if my facts I have presented are true, man could never have done this. Panin tried for a month to create writings containing a numeric pattern but gave up trying. Bible numerics is God’s seal of authenticity and his seal of authorship. It is His perfect signature! Just as a thread runs through paper money to prevent forgery, so does this complex and interlocking series of numeric sequences run through the Bible as God’s divine act against counterfeit.
This complex system of Divine numbering invisibly saturates every book of the Bible and when one considers the diverse authorship of the Bible (36 different writers) then the laws of probability are stretched to breaking point if we try and rationalise the authorship of the Bible as the work of man.
Simply put, if even one letter or word is added or taken away from the Bible, the whole numeric sequence breaks down.
UNDERSTANDING THE NUMERICS
In English, we express numbers by using the Arabic set of symbols or digits which of course run from 0 – 9. Every progression of 9 numbers results in the tenth having another number precede the first number in the same progressive way, so we have 20, 30, 40, etc.
The ancient Romans used alphabetical letters to denote numbers and so V=5 and X=10 while C=100. Even today we sometimes see Roman numerals used on the face of an analogue watch or clock as an alternative means to display the time rather than using the Arabic type symbols.
The two main languages the Bible was written in were Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. Interestingly, both Hebrew and Greek not only used alphabetical letters as numbers, as in the Roman system…
but EVERY alphabetical letter represented a number!
As a small example, let me give an example of how The number 7 is the most prolific of all the numbers which bind Scripture together. It appears nearly 600 times. Seven is known as God’s seal or watermark, or the number of spiritual perfection.
The very first verse of the Bible, found in Genesis 1.1 is where Panin found the first of innumerable series of groups of sevens.
“In the beginning God created heaven and the earth”
It contains over 30 different combinations of 7 beneath the surface. The verse itself is made up of 7 Hebrew words which total 28 (7×4) alphabetical letters. The numeric value of the three nouns, God, heaven, earth, total 777. Any number multiplied by itself or triplicated as this one is expresses fullness, the ultimate, or strong emphasis.
The early Christian Church was busy building up its own collection of sacred books which they added to the Old Testament, already accepted by them as the Word of God. The last word of decision as to what should be included was not spoken until about 393 AD at the synod of Hippo, and the decision was confirmed by the 3rd synod of Carthage in 397 AD.
The bulk of the New Testament was written by the disciples and the Apostle Paul. Some authorship is still in doubt, such as the book of Hebrews and the book of James, although we could take an educated guess as to their writers. However, once again the individual human element is not as important as the fact that God had used man as a channel to speak to all mankind.
Once again the writers used the same expressiveness as the Old Testament writers to show that they knew of God’s hand of inspiration in what they were writing. Some examples to show the continuity of this theme are listed….
‘If any man think himself to be a prophet,
or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things
that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.’ 1 Corinthians 14. 37
(In other words, when a person has been inspired by God, he will know it. )
‘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
(These two references come in like form from Luke 10.7, and Deuteronomy 25.4 which shows the recognition of Holy writing by the use of the word ‘Scripture.’)
1 Corinthians 12.7-10 and Hebrews 1.1 show us that God’s miracle power of discernment has amongst other things been made available to man to recognize new Scripture.
Alongside the reality of ‘inspiration from God’ as a means of recognition of new Scripture, lies the important test of apostolic authority. The Church was built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets and Christ had left them with the promise that He would, by The Holy Spirit, guide them into all truth !
If God has placed a watermark on His Scriptures and godly men down through the ages have received His inspired Word, knowing it to be God-breathed, then we need to take stock of what this means to us personally. We also need to run our own measuring rod over any other so-called inspired book in the light of what we have learnt, for the Bible clearly teaches that we face an adversary who is called ‘the father of lies.’ His job is to deceive and to lead as many as he can into error, and sadly today, this is the case for so many sincere people who have not rightly ‘separated the truth from error’ and are following the doctrine of demons, and the ideas of man.
Our only measuring rod is the inspired Word of God, which rings with a clear sound of truth.
In reference to the above the author supports the KJV