Friday, February 24, 2012

Reliable Eyewitnesses


How do we know if an historical document is reliable? Two types of examinations that scripture is subjected to is the Anachronisms – inappropriate use of words that were not the appropriate period and eyewitness accounts.

Anachronisms

Anachronisms abound in art, literature and movies. Sometimes they are intentional -- like the Flintstones using garbage disposals and foot-powered automobiles. Sometimes, they just slip in because the author is not fully informed of the time period. For example, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci in 1498, depicts oranges. Oranges however were brought to Europe by Portuguese traders from India in the 15th century and were unknown to the Jews at the time of the Last Supper.

One of the supposed anachronisms found in the Bible was in Genesis. In Genesis 40 Joseph interprets the dream of Pharaoh’s butler and grapes are mentioned. For years, historians said the Egyptian's didn't grow grapes and didn't drink wine and therefore questioned the accuracy of the text. However, the painting above discovered on the ancient Egyptian tombs, shows that the Bible was correct and the historians were wrong

What about “eyewitness” accounts?

Many of the New Testament accounts are from eyewitnesses. The Gospel writer John was an Apostle and eyewitness (as likely Matthew was both author and Apostle) and the other gospels contain accounts given by eyewitnesses. A reading of the four gospels presents many accounts and sayings of Jesus that while overall are in agreement, vary slightly from one gospel to another.

The fact that there are minor differences in some of the accounts actually helps establish the reliability of the eyewitness account. In a court of law for example, the judge expects some very minor discrepancies in testimony because eyewitness accounts are the best recollection of different witnesses. 

If they were too similar, they would be thought to be rehearsed.

In the Bible, we see no significant difference between eyewitnesses. The quotes we have from Jesus and others in the New Testament are obviously not word-for-word transcripts which actually gives them more credibility. These reliable eyewitnesses are just some of the ways that the credibility of the Bible is substantiated.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Why they call it WORK!

You have heard it before, “That’s why they call it work!”

Understanding the value of work, the type of job, the difference between career and job, occupation and calling seems to occupy a lot of our interests and our passions.

The Bible has much to say about work. In the book of beginnings, Genesis, we read that work was part of God's plan for his creation. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15 NIV).

Did you catch that? Adam wasn't there on a vacation, here was there to "work it and take care of it."

Because of the fall of man, work has been a toil “Cursed shall be the ground because of you; in sorrow you shall eat of it all the days of your life. And thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the plant of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground; for out of it you have been taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:17-19)

It will not always be that way. In eternity, the curse will be lifted but we will still work. The Bible says that we will serve, some will rule but all will have responsibilities. What responsibilities will be given us in eternity? The Bible says that "His servants shall serve Him" (Rev 22:3) in eternity and that he who has been "faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Matthew 25:23). Whether you are a servant or a rule, you will work.

Today, between the Garden of Eden and eternity, choosing to not work because we can't find the ‘right’ job or because we have government benefits is really not one of our options.

Max Weber, the Prussian sociologist, coined the term, “Protestant Work Ethic” based on a number of observations regarding capitalism and the religious beliefs of the people including Christians who knew the scripture found in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12:

"If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their own work quietly and to earn their own living."

Today Churches rarely quote this verse if someone that is needy asks for help. Churches help people. However, there is much to say that work helps people.

All work glorifies God. Paul said in Col 3:22-24, “Slaves obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service as people-pleasers but with sincerity of heart fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

Slaves had the worst jobs; they were assigned to hard labor, the menial tasks, about as far away from a career that we can think. We are called to work hard at everything because work itself is valuable. It gives us discipline; it keeps us occupied and productive. In all work, we serve the Lord.

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