What Does the Bible Say About the Nature of Satan?

Like other claims of the Christian worldview, the existence of a subordinate, personal, evil being can be argued without relying on the Biblical record. But while it is reassuring to note our faith is reasonable and logical, natural revelation does have its limits. The clearest and fullest claims related to the nature of Satan come not from our reasoning ability, but from the Word of God. The Bible has much to say about the nature of Satan, and God’s special revelation affirms what we have already surmised from God’s natural revelation:

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The Christian Bible vs the Book of Mormon

The term Mormons is the common designation for those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which has its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1827 Mormon founder Joseph Smith claimed to be informed by an angel named Moroni about a set of gold plates buried in a hill in present-day New York. These plates were said to have ancient writings engraved on them. Smith said he uncovered these plates and then translated and published them as the Book of Mormon in 1830. So how does the Book of Mormon differ from the Christian Bible?

 

The LDS church bases its beliefs not just on the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith also claimed to have had an encounter with Jesus in which Jesus revealed many things to him. These revelations were published in the Doctrine and Covenants. The accounts of Smith’s interaction with Jesus and his story of discovering gold plates are found in a third book, entitled Pearl of Great Price. These three documents, along with the Bible, form the basis of LDS beliefs and continuing revelations. However, the LDS officially consider the Book of Mormon as the “most correct” book of scripture. Since the death of Joseph Smith in 1844 these documents have been supplemented by other revelations that the LDS church says have been given to its leaders.
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The Case for the Reliability of the New Testament (Free Bible Insert)

I’ve written quite a bit about the reliability of the New Testament eyewitness accounts in Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels and at ColdCaseChristianity.com. I believe there are many good reasons to accept the Gospels as eyewitness accounts, and I’ve focused on four characteristics of reliable eyewitness testimony to demonstrate the trustworthy nature of the Gospels. In an effort to summarize the case for the New Testament in a different way, I’d like to offer the following brief outline:

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Are There Different Degrees of Punishment in Hell?

Are all sins the same in the eyes of God? Is lying just as bad as murder? The answer is not as simple as it may seem. In one sense our moral failings are exactly the same: Our sins (regardless of severity) expose our imperfection and separate us from the perfect God who created us. Even the smallest moral failing disqualifies us from the perfection of God. But God recognizes some sins are more heinous than others. Jesus affirmed this as He was standing in front of Pontius Pilate:

John 19:11-12
Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin."

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What Does the Bible Teach About the Nature of the Soul?

The Biblical authors used two words currently translated as “soul”: “nephesh” (neh’-fesh) in the Old Testament and “psuche” (psoo-khay’) in the New Testament. These Hebrew and Greek words are used to describe many characteristics of animals and humans other than their soulish nature, so for the most part, they typically don’t tell us much about the nature of the soul. There are, however, two places in the New Testament where the word “psuche” does seem to be describing our dual nature as soulish creatures:

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Bible vs Qur’an

Christianity and Islam are both monotheistic religions that believe in one almighty creator. The Muslims’ holy book—the Qur’an—teaches creation, the existence of angels, that Jesus was a sinless, virgin-born prophet from God, and that there is a heaven, a hell, and a day of judgment. So with all these similarities, what are the differences between the Bible and the Qur’an?

Muslims believe the Qur’an is a revelation from God (Allah) that began to be verbally transmitted through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad when he was 40 years old (AD 610). They say that over a 23-year period Muhammad received these messages, which he precisely memorized. Shortly after his death (AD 632) the Qur’an was compiled into a single book. Today it is divided into 114 chapters, or suras, and is about the length of the Christian New Testament. Muslims consider the Qur’an in the original Arabic text to be the literal word of God. They believe it provides divine guidance for all humanity. They say Muhammad was God’s last prophet, superseding Christ, and that the Qur’an is God’s final revelation to us all.

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How do the Christian and Jewish Bibles Differ?

The Christian Bible contains both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Some people say the Jewish Bible is the Christian Bible without the New Testament. Is that true? What is the Jewish or Hebrew Bible, and how does it differ from the Christian Bible?

The Jewish Bible is often referred to as the Torah. In the narrowest sense the Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible. In the broader sense, the Torah includes all Jewish law and tradition.

Contemporary Jews do not consider that they have an Old Testament. What Christians refer to as the Old Testament, the Jewish people would call the Written Torah or the Tanakh. Christians often refer to the Written Torah as the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible contains the same text as our Old Testament, but in a slightly different order.

Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Osiris Mythology?

Over the past two weeks, I’ve examined the similarities between Jesus, Mithras and Horus. Early mythological characters are sometimes offered by skeptics in an attempt to argue Jesus is nothing more than a re-creation and retelling of the ancient “rising and dying” mythologies embraced by a number of primitive cultures. Movies like Zeitgeist: The Movie and The God Who Wasn’t There, have capitalized on this strategy, highlighting every possible similarity, while ignoring the critical differences. Osiris is mentioned in both of these movies as yet another iteration of the rising and dying Savior preceding the appearance of Jesus. Skeptics claim Osiris and Jesus were identical in a number of important ways. According to these doubters, Osiris was called “Lord of Lords”, “King of Kings”, “God of Gods”, “Resurrection and the Life”, “Good Shepherd”, “Eternity and Everlastingness”, and the god who “made men and women to be ‘born again’.” Osiris’ birth was allegedly announced by three “wise men”; the three stars Mintaka, Anilam, and Alnitak in the belt of Orion. Osiris had a star in the east, Sirius, that signified his birth, and his followers enjoyed a Eucharist ceremony of sorts (in which his flesh was eaten in the form of communion cakes of wheat). Skeptics also claim Osiris taught much of the same material as Jesus; the claim many teachings are identically the same, word for word. Osiris was allegedly killed and resurrected, providing hope every believer might also be resurrected into eternal life. These similarities, when offered in isolation, seem dramatic. But are they true, and if so, what bearing does this have on the historicity of Jesus?

In order to respond to claims such as these, careful investigators must expose any false claims, uncover the faulty “cherry picking” strategy employed in such comparisons, reveal the common cultural expectations of any people group thinking about the existence and nature of God, unearth the unlikely approach allegedly adopted by early Christians, and establish the reliable historical record for the person of Jesus. When it comes to Osiris, the first step in this process involves a close examination of the alleged similarities to see if they are true in the first place. As is the case with comparisons to Mithras and Horus, false similarities are often offered by folks who simply haven’t done their homework (for another examination of Osiris and many other alleged Christian precursors, please visit David Anderson’s excellent website):

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Do Old Testament Laws Apply Today?

The Old Testament was written to the children of Israel (the Jewish people). So some people say that most of it doesn’t apply to Christians today. And so while we may get some good stories from the Old Testament, is it really binding on Christians?

First, it is important to realize that neither the Old nor the New Testament was written to people living in the twenty-first century. The Old Testament audience was the children of Israel, and the New Testament was written to a Jewish and Gentile audience in the first century.  But that doesn’t mean the truth of Scripture isn’t relevant to or binding on us today.

The Bible was written within certain historical contexts, all quite different from ours today. But even though the words of Scripture may not have been written specifically to us, that doesn’t mean they weren’t written for us. Scripture is God’s universal and relevant truth that is applicable to all people, in all places, for all times. Both the Old and the New Testament messages transcend history, cultures, customs, languages, and time lines. So to interpret what God is saying to us in the twenty-first century we must first identify the universal truths of Scripture that were applied in ancient times in order to understand how they apply to us today.

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Were books left out of the Bible?

Over 100 years before Christ was born, all 39 books of the Old Testament had been written, collected, and officially recognized as God’s inspired Scripture (canonized) by the Jewish leaders. By the late 300s the 27 books of the New Testament were recognized as God-inspired. But were there some good spiritual writings that were perhaps God-inspired but were overlooked or excluded from the official Bible? If so, why? And why isn’t God still inspiring people to write his Word today?

What Is “Inspiration”?

There are many people throughout history who have written spiritually inspiring books and letters. But there is good reason they are not considered equal to Scripture. And it is true that the Holy Spirit is alive today and does guide people to write inspiring literature. But Jewish and church leaders long ago concluded that the period of what is called God’s special revelation and inspiration is past.

God spoke directly through his Old Testament prophets in times past to reveal himself. The New Testament writer of the book of Hebrews said, “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). And once God delivered his complete message through his prophets he “closed the book” on the Old Testament. By as early as the 300s BC, all the 39 books of the Old Testament were considered to be the complete revelation of God to the Jewish people.

Jesus confirmed the completeness and authority of the entire Hebrew Scriptures (the 39 books of our current Old Testament) when he said that “everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Jesus was referring to the entire Hebrew Old Testament. Nor did he ever cite any books other than the current 39 books of the Old Testament to indicate there was any other literature that was also God-inspired. And by using the phrase “all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27 nlt) in regard to the Old Testament he showed that he accepted the same completed Jewish canon as did Judaism at that time.

The New Testament centers around the revelation of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, as written by his apostles. Obviously the best and most accurate writing about Jesus and all he revealed would be done by those who were in direct contact with him. Thus the men inspired by God to reveal the truth about his Son and his message would either be eyewitnesses or would know those who had personally heard the message of the gospel. By the end of the first century it became clear to the early church that God’s special revelation and inspiration of Scripture was complete.

So the “inspiration” God gives writers today is not a special revelation of himself, but a reflection of what has been given in inspired Scripture. By comparing what people write and teach today with Scripture, we can know if it is in fact the truth of God.

The Apocrypha

Yet early on there were some writings that emerged that some thought might be “God-breathed” Scripture. After the Old Testament canon had been recognized by Jewish leaders and officially closed, certain literature of a spiritual nature remained or appeared. Today these writings are referred to as the Apocrypha, which means “that which is hidden.”

There were 14 books that some people added to the 39 canonized books in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. These 14 books—the Apocrypha—were not accepted by the early church, but they were eventually included in the Old Testament by the Roman Catholic Church in AD 1546.

These added books surfaced between about 200 BC into the second century AD.[1] They are

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