Several months ago I received a question from a man named Alfredo.
He had arrived at theism and now he was seeking specifics. Who is the creator? Is he the Christian Jesus? If so, what is the greatest evidence of this truth? Specifically he asked, “Is prophecy the greatest proof of Christianity specifically as truth, if so what specifically is the strongest prophetic evidence in your opinion? If there is some evidence greater than prophecy, if so what?”
I really appreciated him asking this question about proof and prophecy. Questions like his always cause me to think and rethink what and why I believe as I do. It is good for me to reevaluate from time to time. These reevaluations have even caused me to let go of tradition and cling to truth.
Well? Is prophecy the greatest proof of Christianity? In my opinion, no. Not the greatest. But it is pretty darn convincing.
I often say I want to yield to the creator of the peacock. When I stop to meditate upon the DNA needed to cause such a magnificent and complex array of pattern and color I am awed. Each feather a work of art. But the true beauty lies in the detail within the feather. Every vane has to change color at the precise length countless times in varying degrees of radiance to form the circles, blends, and patterns for which a male peacock is known. That is a magical feat. But when you look beyond that and take the varying sizes and placements of the individual feathers in the male peacock’s tail — approximately 200 feathers in all with roughly 150 of these tail feathers being the well-known eye-patterned variety — you will see how truly remarkable the creator of the peacock is. That is whom I wish to worship.
If another god can’t create a peacock in all its intricate beauty I am not much impressed with what they can do.
You have probably guessed I do not believe creation happened randomly once all the necessary elements aligned creating the perfect storm exploding in a big bang. I believe life has reason and purpose and intelligence behind it. The big bang theory, evolution, and all the other theories out there, come from the created, us, trying to explain the creation, everything, without acknowledging the truth that there is a creator, a living God. Ego, pride and vanity. We think we are so smart. Yet can the pot explain the potter? Can the created create a peacock?
But let me start my answer to your questions in the beginning.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. I don’t know any more about it than what is written in Genesis and a few references sprinkled throughout the Holy Bible.
The Bible in a nutshell
BTW, I study the King James Version of the Bible, not because I think it is any more or less accurate than any other version or translation of the scriptures. The King James just has a host of tools developed around the text that can be used to ferret out the treasures within; concordances, Bible dictionaries, Interlinear, online web sites. My favorite site when studying is www.blueletterbible.org. These tools are priceless to me in my quest to follow the example of the Bereans.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
I search the scriptures, almost, daily. I love the word and I am fascinated by the details. You may ask why I believe in what is written and trust that it is the Word of God. I find it too perfect not to trust and believe. The beauty is in the detail, much like the beauty of the peacock feather. It is through the Word of God I learn of God himself and His interaction with mankind. You see, I believe the Bible is the revealed word and will of God. And if it is the word and will of God then the details will speak to this truth. So I search.
Another reason I study the King James Version of the Bible is that the translators put words in italics when they added the words to the text for clarity. They didn’t always do this, but mostly. For example,
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
The word ‘duty’ in the King James is italicized, meaning it was added by the translators. The problem with this is that it often reflected the translators’ religious beliefs and not what the Word of God was actually saying.
In Ecclesiastes 12:13 it says man’s duty is to fear, or respect, God and keep his commandments. Duty is an obligation and nothing about the book of Ecclesiastes is talking about obligation, or duty. After King Solomon thinks upon and considers all great and small acts of man, man’s living and man’s dying, man’s accomplishments and failures, he sums it up with this conclusion — everything in life is empty without God. Vanities! All are vanities! Empty! Meaningless!
Man can do great things in life but without God it is meaningless, empty. He cannot take it with him when he dies. He leaves it to another to do with as the other wishes. This verse in Ecclesiastes is saying that in order for man to be complete, to be whole, to have true meaning, he must have God in his life. Respecting God and keeping His commandments is what makes man fulfilled, complete. It isn’t our duty, as the translators would have us believe, to fear God and keep His commandments: It is our completeness, our wholeness, it is what the heart of man craves.
When the translators added words, sometimes they got it right, sometimes they didn’t. In this verse they didn’t. Here is how it should read.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man.
I believe another important thing to understand about the Bible is that it is God’s written thoughts, God’s will. Job in his pain and agony cried out, “Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.” (Job 31:35) Job had wished his adversary had written a book, and why? Because then Job would have known what to expect and perhaps how to avoid it. But his adversary didn’t write a book. His adversary works in the dark. But God the Creator works in the light.
God put his words and his will in writing, and as we learn, we can say, as Jesus Christ did when he was tempted 40 days and 40 nights by the devil, It Is Written. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, he changes not. This means we can trust what he says. When we approach the Word of God with a humility and a willingness to know God, things will begin to make sense and great and wonderful things will take place in our hearts and lives.
I am sure you are aware that when you look at the Bible there is an old and a new Testament, with the Gospels separating them. The Old Testament is a history of man from ‘in the beginning’ up to the last recorded prophet in the Old Testament, who was Malachi. The Old Testament records God’s efforts to protect the Christ line, which will be discussed later.
The Gospels are records of the life of Jesus Christ from his birth through his ascension to the right hand of God. Each of the four Gospels represent an aspect of who Jesus Christ is; in Matthew he is God’s Messiah, in Mark he is God’s servant, in Luke he is God’s man and in John he God’s Son. The Gospels were written by four different guys with four different vocabularies and levels of education, focusing on four different aspects of whom Jesus Christ is. When harmonized you see a full and complete picture of Jesus Christ. And, in my opinion, the details paint a picture seldom seen in Christianity today.
God is the only author
There were 400 years between Malachi and the Gospels. Technically, the Gospels should be part of the Old Testament because Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, he is the end of the law to all them that believe. The new covenant, New Testament, didn’t begin until Acts Chapter 2 when the 12 Apostles received the gift of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost. That was the birth of the Christian Church.
The New Testament includes the book of Acts which is a history of the rise and expansion of the Christian Church, the transition from the old covenant to the new. The book of Acts begins where the Gospels left off, with the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God. Acts covers a period of 30 something years. It was a time of great learning and difficult change. Acts chapter 2 records the 12 Apostles receiving the gift of holy spirit. Spirit was something Adam had lost for mankind. Everything beyond receiving that gift of holy spirit is about man reclaiming his relationship and his standing with God. It is about man relearning to walk by the spirit and not by sight.
But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
The New Testament is about being justified by faith, and not by the works of the Law. But whose faith?
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
The above three verses each use the phrase, “faith of Jesus Christ.” That is so beautiful. It is not our faith, but the faith of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ’s faithfulness. It is what Jesus Christ did that we believe in to overcome.
The New Testament includes the 7 Church Epistles which Paul wrote instructing man in the new covenant which Jesus Christ brought about through his free-will sacrifice to God, His father. There are also miscellaneous letters written to various churches and individuals. All the New Testament, all the Word of God for that matter, contains doctrine (how to believe rightly), reproof (when you are not believing rightly), and correction (how to start to believe rightly once again). All of this is instructions in righteousness.
Romans is the doctrine of believing. Corinthians is the reproof when they weren’t believing correctly. Galatians is the correction to take them back to right believing. Ephesians is the the doctrine of God’s love and our standing before the creator. Philippians is the reproof when they became discouraged. Colossians is the correction taking them back to “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Thessalonians is the doctrine of the hope, the return of Jesus Christ. There is no reproof or correction concerning the right believing of hope. You either believe it or you don’t. It can’t be twisted or applied wrongly.
And of course there is the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelations. This deals with the end times when Jesus Christ comes back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Until ultimately …
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
No more pain, no more sorrow, no more death. That is what I bring to mind when life doesn’t feel worth living anymore, and sometimes it doesn’t feel worth living. Jesus Christ coming back is the believer’s hope. It is my hope and something I look forward to.
Well, that is the Bible in a nutshell. My nutshell, anyway.
How did we get this amazing book?
And why was it written?
2 Peter 1:20
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private [one’s own] interpretation.
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 [Spirit].
2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God [which is being moved by the Holy Spirit], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
God is responsible for us having the Bible. Unlike Job’s adversary, our God committed himself to writing. And think about it: If he can create a peacock couldn’t he work in men through the centuries and have His thoughts and words written in a book so that these thoughts and words harmonize?
I believe one of the strongest prophetic evidences of Jesus Christ and who he is, and what he accomplished for man through his death on the cross, his resurrection and his ascension to the right hand of God, is the Bible itself. Let me repeat that. I believe one of the strongest prophetic evidences of Jesus Christ and who he is, is the Bible itself. The Bible IS prophecy. It is its own best witness.
The Bible was written over a period of thousands of years with 40 main contributors. There are 66 books and through them all you can see the Red Thread of Jesus Christ, the promised seed of woman. The Bible IS prophecy. All of it. Some is foretelling. Most is forth-telling. We have this Word because God wanted us to know him. He gave it to us through holy men whom God knew would speak exactly what God asked then to speak. THE WORD OF GOD, as it was originally given to holy men, is perfect. That is why Jesus Christ could say It Is Written. Because it IS written and it is GOD’S WORD. It is alive and it is powerful. And it brings results when believed and acted upon.
For the word of God is quick [living], 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.
My love for God’s Word
My love for God’s Word began in January of 1980. I remember the month and year clearly because I had joined the United States Air Force 5 months earlier and I had just arrived at my final duty station in Plattsburgh, New York. Within a week of arriving I began to learn the answers to many of my life’s questions. It was the most amazing time.
Before this, I had been so lost and empty inside. I had always felt that way: unwanted and unloved. Completely alone in a room full of family, friends, or strangers, it didn’t matter who I was around. But some time in 1978, I saw the movie Jesus Christ Superstar on television. When it was over, I was left with one burning desire – an answer to my questions, “God, who are you and how do I love you?” The desire for answers began simmering just below the surface, which I still find interesting to this day because I was very angry with God and had been for a very long time.
My favorite song from the movie was Yvonne Elliman’s, I Don’t Know How to Love Him. I would listen to it on my turntable over and over and over while staring out my bedroom window, at times being brought to tears. I thought, considered, prayed, “God show me who you are. Show me how to love you.” My journey’s beginning was that simple.
I picked up a Bible not long after that and began reading. I read where we are supposed to always tell the truth and not to lie. So I stopped lying to the best of my ability. I often caught myself exaggerating or outright lying in conversation and I would have to stop, correct, and continue on. It was embarrassing. It was hard. I felt so boring, but my desire to do what was right was greater than any desire I had for recognition, selfish gain or even self-preservation. Most of the time anyway. As I said, to the best of my ability, which was and is far from perfect.
I read where I was not supposed to do my good deeds before men, I was supposed to keep them between me and God. So, I tried to not brag when I did something I was proud. If I did tell others about some wonderful thing I had done, I would feel horribly guilty. I would then apologize to God, ask for forgiveness, and fix my heart not to do it again in the future. Of course, I would. I am delightfully human that way. For the longest time I was very extreme about this, too extreme I think, but I eventually found balance. I am still finding balance.
That was my beginning in God’s Word, Matthew 6 and Ephesians 4. Basically God was telling me to stop being a prideful lying hypocrite.
I didn’t realize it at the time but, “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3. God was answering my prayer and I was, for the first time in my life, filled with a peace that pushed out the feelings of being unwanted and unloved. That is why I love the Bible so much. It lets me know how to love God and it shows me how much God loves me. No more guess work. Now I have chapter and verse, God’s revealed word and will. With the Holy Bible I have a standard that doesn’t fluctuate with my surroundings or my moods. I have something I can depend upon and trust in. I have the Word of God because God gave it to me, and all who believe. I gain patience and comfort through the scriptures as I believe the truth revealed, just like God said I would .
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
I have hope, as do all who take God at his word. I know and absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is coming back someday. I know that ultimately, after everything is said and done, there will be no more tears, or crying, or pain. I know that life will be reset to the way God had originally created it and I know that I will be a part of that life.
Miraculously, when I started applying God’s Word to my life, I started seeing things happen, especially in my heart. Things I couldn’t explain. It is hard to describe how I felt. How I just knew. I just knew that 1980 was going to be the best year of my entire life. It was going to be the year I got answers. I just knew.
And somehow I knew I couldn’t get answers living in Texas where I had been living all my life. So, in April of 1979 I joined the military. I was too afraid to go anywhere alone. I figured I would sign up and God would send me where He wanted me, to a place I could find answers. I was not disappointed, although when I first arrived at Plattsburgh I entered a depression for a few days. “How could anyone find answers in Plattsburgh,” I thought. I hadn’t yet learned who God was or to trust Him in all things.
I left for basic training in August 1979. First to Lackland Air Force Base San Antonio, then tech school at Keesler in Biloxi, Mississippi, and on to Plattsburgh, NY. I arrived in Plattsburgh January 1, 1980. Within a week someone opened the Bible to me and started reading scripture in answer to questions I hadn’t even asked. The Bible started to come alive for me. Chapter and verse: It is written. As I approached this amazing book with this new found respect and hunger to know God, I began to see God’s heart for me and what Jesus Christ had accomplished. I was happy, joyous and free for the first time in my life.
One of my favorites verses is Hebrew 11:6.
But 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.
I believe that verse with all that I am because it has manifest in my life time and again. I have yet to be disappointed in any of my expectations. Yes, there has been discouraged from time to time, but God has never failed me. To me that is proof of prophecy. It works when I apply it, do it, and expect God to be there. You see the Bible wasn’t written for the unbeliever. It was written for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. It was written for people who want to know God. Unlike our adversary, our God wrote a book He stands behind. The Bible IS Prophecy. It works if you work it.