Sunday, 28 April 2013

My Christian Faith #2


Reason:1 ‘The Bible claims to be the Word of God’

One of many reasons why we can believe the Bible to be the word of God is found in its own claims. If a book itself doesn't say that it has come from God, then we are just wasting our time following and preaching it.

Things to remember

There are no verses that tell you ‘Follow the Bible’ or ‘Do what the Bible says’

However, we have learnt previously that the Bible is not only one book, but a collection of books. So the question should not be that does the Bible as one book claim to be from God, but do the books found in this collection claim to be revealed? 

Before going into the books, let us look at the index of any Bible to get an idea of what we are dealing with. The books of the Bible can be divided into several categories. 

For example, the first 5 books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) are books of law, while books like Psalms fall under the category of wisdom literature.

Right from the start, we find over and over again words like “Thus says the Lord” or “The word of the Lord came to so and so". For example, see Isaiah Chapter 1 and verse 1. You will find the same words in all of the books that follow (the Prophets).

So, we learn that the writers of the Bible were sure to tell us that these words are coming from God himself.  

And we find similar claims in the New Testament as well. Paul, for example, says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that what they (the Apostles) preached  was nothing but the word of God. 

The interesting thing to note is that these writers call each other's books the "word of God" or "Scriptures" as well, For instant, David says in Psalm 119:4 says that God gave the law. And once again, we find similar examples in the New Testament as well ( see 2 Peter 3:15-16, 1 Timothy 5:18). 


But the greatest authority for any Christian is Jesus Christ Himself. Look what He has to say about the Holy Scriptures:


“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

 Matthew 5:17-18




Note that the Law and the Prophets simply refers to what Christians today know as the Old Testament. It is Hebrew Bible of the Jewish people, which is also mentioned in the New Testament as "The Law Prophets, and the Psalms" (Luke 24:44).

Then Jesus goes on say the very same thing about His own words (meaning the New Testament):

"
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matthew 24:35


So, we can see that throughout the Bible, we are given this awareness that what we are reading in its pages comes from God. Jesus Christ says:

"14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." John 10

All those who are the sheep of Jesus, the ones who believe in His name can hear His voice when they read the Scriptures. For us Christians, this is more than enough evidence of the truth of the Bible.

Of course, not every ones believes what the Bible says, so we have to present some further evidence as well. God willing, the next couple of blogs will present some arguments that open-minded people can think about in regards to the Holy Bible.


(Next in this series: My Christian Faith #3)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

My Christian Faith #1 - What is the Holy Bible?


All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing that God wants us to do" 

In short, Scripture holds a foundational place in our faith. But here we will discuss the following questions:
  • What is the Bible?
  • How do we know it is from God?

I can keep telling you that “the Bible says this” or “the Bible says that”, but before that we really need to understand why we follow the Bible instead of any other book.

The Meaning of “Holy Bible"

Bible means a library or a collection of books. This is simple to understand. What do you we have in library? A collection of books. And what do we have in the Bible? A collection of books. Just open the list at the beginning of your Bible and you will see how many books there are.

Source

“Holy” simply means unique, or different from the rest. We call the scriptures “Holy Bible” because this list of books is different from the rest of the books in the world.

Now you need to realize that these books were not written by 1 man in one place at one time. The Bible was written over a long period of 1500 years by about 40 people. Moreover, it was written in 3 languages; Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. 


Let’s list down some of the writers of the Bible:

  • Moses (Was the prince of Egypt, later became a shepherd)
  • Daniel (He was a government official in Babylon)
  • John (Was a fisherman, later became a leader of the Church)
  • Paul (He was a tent maker)

So as you can see, the Bible is the work of different people living at different times in history.

Finally, we need to understand that what “Word of God” actually means. Remember, when we say that the Bible is the word of God, we are not saying that God dictated everything to the writers. Instead, He just gave them the message which they wrote down in their own style.

That is why we see Moses writing law (Leviticus), David writing poetry (Psalms), and Paul writing letters (Titus, Timothy, and Philemon). Check out 1 Peter 1:19-21.

This is all for now. In this next blog post, we will try to understand we believe that Bible to be God’s Word.


(Next in the series: My Christian Faith #2)




Sunday, 7 April 2013

My Christian Faith



It’s been a long time since I posted anything on this blog. Several reasons are involved, such as job fatigue and migraine. But more importantly my mind has been the battleground for spiritual and emotional conflict for the past several days.

Struggle with sin, family issues, and uncertainty of the future have restrained me from publishing anything worthwhile on this blog (assuming that I have done so in the past). You can call it the “writer’s block”, but then again it assumes that I am a writer to begin with.

Anyways, the point is that in times of depression and desperation, you need strong conviction. And strong conviction only comes from truth. 2000 years ago, the Roman Governor Pilate asked Jesus “What is the truth?” but left knowing an answer. Maybe Pilate “couldn’t handle the truth”!

Fact of the matter is that everyone longs for ‘The’ truth, some worldview or moral standpoint through which they can make sense of life’s complexities and confusions.  For me the guiding light for the past 6 years has been my Christian Faith. 

No, this doesn’t mean that I turn to prayer and scripture reading when I am in a mess. On the contrary, I completely forsake spiritual disciplines when going through a rough patch. However, by the end of the whole thing, I always find myself running back to God and then carrying on with greater conviction.

Of course, everyone on this planet has some way of dealing with emotional anxiety. Some even resort to therapy and medications. But I am not talking about the emotional aspects of the Christian faith. These spiritual experiences are highly subjective and I am ready to concede that they can be invoked by anyone regardless of their faith.

I am rather talking about sound reasons that validate the spiritual experience. The Bible, as I have read it, doesn’t ask us to base our beliefs exclusively on emotions, but on our God-given intellect as well:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15

2 years ago, 15th October 2011 to be exact, I was asked to lead the Sunday school classes in my church for teenagers. Since I was more inclined towards apologetics and evangelism, I planned to evolve the course material around what I have already been exposed to.

Unfortunately, most of what I have been reading and learning was geared towards people who had some background knowledge on the issues at hand, such the existence of God or the textual reliability of the Bible.

That is why I had to look for ways make the material relevant to the age of my audience and what they had learned thus far. When I searched the internet, I found that while there was an abundance of material for little children and adults, there was no relevant Bible study and apologetics manual for teenagers.

I went to an online forum with the question that is it appropriate to teach teenagers subjects like Bible prophecy or its textual history because frankly speaking, the church at large has largely ignored these issues?

One answer in that long thread really got me going. The submitter said that it is God’s word and it His job to bear fruit, so just go ahead and teach it.

And that was it. I sat down preparing lessons, trying to be as meaningful as I could. Although there is no empirical way to deduct the “success” of the material we turned up with, but I think that the idea worked pretty well in relation to our settings, and that one day God will make it fruitful.


That is why from now on I will be posting those lessons taught on this blog so that you can use them as beginner resources in your personal settings. The ultimate aim is to spawn a generation of young Christians in Pakistan (and wherever you live) who will truly be the salt of the earth, i.e. those who know their faith in relation to zeitgeist of the times.

Throughout the posting of these blogs, I would really appreciate criticisms from you so that we can edit the material to make it more meaningful.

(Next up in the series: My Christian Faith #1)



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