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Randomness, Year 2
Issue 52

The Word

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold on me.

-Martin Luther

Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages

Anyone listening, I've got an announcement to make

There's been some confusion about a certain someone

A lot of discussion and a lot of debate

So if I may take just a moment to say who Jesus is to me

Jesus is life

-Steven Curtis Chapman

In Issue 51, I brought us up to the existence of God. But God, in today's world, seems to be everything from everything to something within one's self. But God is something different from that. God cannot be everything. Such an argument is fallible. If we have varying views of God, then they cannot all be true. We have well established this fact in previous issues (long before my excursion into pseudo-nihilism). God has made himself evident to us in the world. Last issue, I used cosmological proofs (creation, nature) to prove His existence. Now I will discuss His nature and what sort of God He has revealed Himself to be. He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. This Word refers to both His written Word and the Word made flesh, Jesus.

God's word is the Holy Bible as regarded by the Christian Church. The Holy Bible is a collection of history, poetry, prophecy, and teaching collected by over forty authors over the course of several millennia. The historicity of the Bible has been defended by various figures throughout history, from the Jewish historian Josephus, who would have defended only the historicity of the Tanach (Old Testament), to modern authors such as NT Wright. Modern archaeology has brought to light evidence that the battles and events described in the Old Testament actually did occur. As well, archaeology and historical investigation has cleared up various contradictions, including what people believed were flaws in Luke's account of the Gospel regarding when who was governor of where. People often cite the invasion of Sennacherib as where the Bible has fallen away from historical truth because there are events in the Biblical account not mentioned in the Assyrian account and vice versa. I say that the point of view is different, and what Sennacherib left out he left out to his own glory (the random deaths of 150 000 soldiers), and what the Bible left out was irrelevant to the account we find in 2 Kings (tribute to Assyria). The Bible is an historical document and is has not been found lacking at any place.

The Bible has a key difference from other holy books of the world's religions. For example, the Quran is the recording of Mohammed of prophecy he was receiving from God over a 23-year period. All of the history in the Quran, therefore, was not researched or witnessed, merely relayed through visions or whatnot. The Bible, on the other hand, is the official accounts of the Israelite government and the witness of historians and disciples for all of its historical statements. As well, all of the prophecy found in the Bible is often about what God will do or on the nature of God, not that which has already come to pass. A great many of the Biblical prophecies have occurred.

Let us ever keep in mind the words of St. Paul, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16, NASB). As Nicky Gumbel says, God is the architect, man merely writes His words. Every word in the Book is inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of men. "While Christians may eventually decide that the Bible is more than a record of certain historical events," writes Peter Mason, "they insist that it is not less than history, or at least not outside the realm of history." (69) The Bible is more than just an historical document. It is the revelation of God to man, "the story told by God so that we might discover who we are and, more important, who he is" (Mason, 68). And the main way God revealed Himself to man, outside of the written Word, is the Word made flesh, Christ Jesus.

The Gospel According to John begins with the words:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any things made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. . . . And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-4, 14 KJV)

Jesus is the Word. He is God and the key to our salvation. No one gets to the Father except through Him. In John 8:58, He makes a clear statement about his divinity: "I tell you the truth . . . before Abraham was born, I am!'" (John 8:58, NIV). Throughout the course of the Gospel of John, Jesus makes several "I am" statements. The importance of these statements is the very fact that I am is God. In Exodus 3, God tells Moses to tell the Israelites that I am had sent him to them. Jesus says that He is God in very plain language. In other places, he makes declarations that he is, indeed, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Son of Man, and God Himself. CS Lewis says:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teacher, he'd either be a lunatic--on a level with a man who says he's a poached egg--or else he'd be the devil of hell. You make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. . . . But don't let us come up with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn't left that open to us. He didn't intend to.

God is real. We know that. And God is real as Jesus and revealed in Him. I'm certain that none of you would doubt the truth of Julius Caesar's Gaelic War. Why question the witness about Jesus? The accuracy of a text is seen in a science called textual criticism.* Textual criticism takes the number of manuscripts--the first copies we have of an original document--and the number of years between the original and the manuscripts. For Caesar, we have nine or ten manuscripts from 950 years after Caesar wrote the original. The New Testament, on the other hand, we have partial manuscripts from 30 years after the fact, and full manuscripts 310 years after it was written. There are 5309 Greek manuscripts, 10 000 Latin manuscripts and 9300 manuscripts in other languages. According to the evidence of textual criticism, we cannot deny the accuracy of the New Testament and its witness about Christ. It is logical to believe that Jesus was who He said He was and did what the Bible says He did.

Some would contend that the Gospel of John (which, coincidentally, is the most explicit about Jesus' divinity) was not really written by the St. John the Evangelist. Barbara Thiering claims it was written by Jesus (she also claims He never died; for a refutation of this, read NT Wright**). I'm not going to lay down all of the historical criticism proving that the Gospel of John was written by St. John the Evangelist. If you are dying to know, you can get the information from The Catholic Encyclopedia. The link about the Gospel of John is http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08438a.htm

So there we have it. Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, as He claims. And He is God, the Almighty. He is my life and I love Him. I try to lay it all down for Him and sacrifice everything to Him. He is my king and I love Him. I pray that all of you may find and know the peace of His love and a relationship with Him.

In Christ,

Matthew

References (In case you want to learn more or check up on me.)

Chapman, Steven Curtis. "Jesus Is Life". From Declaration 2002, Sparrow Records.

Gumbel, Nicky. The Alpha Course. I suggest that each and every one of you take this course. It comes in book form, Questions of Life and I believe is published by David C. Cook Publications on this side of the Atlantic. *All of the information pertaining to textual criticism came from Nicky Gumbel.

Lewis, CS. Mere Christianity. I think HarperCollins publishes most CS Lewis stuff. You can find this at a Christian bookstore, Chapters, but not Indigo.

Mason, Peter. "On Track with the Word." Anglican Essentials: Reclaiming Faith Within the Anglican Church of Canada. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1995. p. 66-75. This book is available through the Anglican Book Centre. I'm not sure where else one might find it. It is very good. I'm borrowing a copy from my church. If you have money to spend and a credit card, you can go online at www.anglicanbookcentre.com

Various editions of the Bible, most likely available at your local Church, Bible store, or (depending on who you are) next-door neighbour, including New American Standard Bible, the King James Version, and the New International Version. The complete text for the KJV can be found online.

**Wright, NT. Jesus. He is also the leading New Testament scholar in Britain, having written The New Testament and the People of God as well as various other books on the New Testament.

Copyright 2002, Matthew Hoskin