Archive for the ‘Touchpoint’ Category

Bible Lesson #2 – Taking God Personally

TouchPoint 2

Welcome back! It’s Mic again, and I’m glad you are curious about TouchPoint 2. In this reading, the Bible, also referred to by Christians as the Word, the Word of God, the Scriptures, will be our ProofPoint to discover just how wide is God’s span of interest in your life.

I felt this would be something you’d like to know about, because many people who concede they believe in God don’t necessarily believe He’s a personally involved God. They believe He’s out there somewhere, maybe even created us, but is either too busy or we’re too small to gain His notice, or He just created us and moved on.

Ravi Zacharias tell a haunting, true story in his book “Cries of the Heart” that illustrates how painful distance and abandonment can be:

A middle school principal said that one year “they had an eighth-grade student in the school whose situation brought much grief to the school community. All of a sudden, and for no apparent reason, this thirteen-year-old boy had started coming to school one hour late every day.

“‘I couldn’t get this boy to come to school on time. First, I sent notes to his parents. He would bring the note back the next day signed by the parents – an hour late!’ the principal said. ‘Second, I paddled the young man. The next day he showed up at school – an hour late.’ No matter what disciplinary method the school administrators tried, the following day the boy would still come an hour late. Finally, they suspended him for a few days. His first day back at school he returned – an hour late.

“‘I just couldn’t take it anymore, so the next day I contacted the department of welfare. The welfare agents accompanied me to the boy’s home.

We walked up to the front door and knocked. No one answered. So I turned the doorknob. It was open so we walked in, and what we found wasn’t very pretty. We were to discover that two months earlier, while he was at school, the boy’s parents had left home.’ They had left a large supply of groceries in the cupboards and refrigerator, but they themselves were gone. The boy had no idea where they were. He felt abandoned and betrayed, ashamed to tell the story to the school authorities. So every day he would get his eight-year-old sister and six-yearold brother out of bed, bathe and dress them for school, and then walk them to the elementary school two miles away. Try as he might, he could never run fast enough to get to his own school earlier than one hour late.” (Cries from the Heart, page 138).

My hope is that you’ll see that people matter to God – that you matter to God, and that He created you to be in his family! And that none of us have been abandoned, and left to fend for ourselves.

Let’s Get Started

Now I know you are not supposed to spoil the ending of a book by reading the
last page before you read the rest of it, but if we want to see just how connected
God wants us to be with Him, knowing where we will end up helps the journey
to understand God make more sense. These words come from near the very end
of the whole Bible and speak of a time yet to come:

  • 1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
  • 2 “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
  • 3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
  • 4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
  • 5 “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation
    21:1-5, New International Version).

Did it surprise you to see how intimate and personal God is with his people? Think back to your childhood to the first time you saw “The Wizard of Oz” on TV. Remember the scene when Dorothy and her Oz fiends came into the presence of the wizard for the first time? I was really scared!

Sometimes we think of God that way, but we can see from Revelation that He will have a wholly different kind of relationship with His people.

And it’s not just at some future time that God was this personal. Let me take you on a very brief tour of just a few TouchPoints in Scripture that talk about God’s personal involvement with us:

Genesis 2:7: “…the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Imagine that! The God of the universe on His hands and knees, getting the dust of our existence under His fingernails as He fashioned us with His own hands!

Genesis 2:21-23: “So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’”

Men and women both were made by God’s own personal touch. Right from the beginning, God was intimately involved with our very being.

King David, the greatest king the nation of Israel ever had, wrote a significant portion of the book of Psalms in the Bible’s Old Testament. An accomplished musician, he put into music many thoughts about life and God. In fact, virtually
every human emotion is given voice somewhere in the Psalms. In one psalm, David talks about God’s intimate involvement with humans even before our birth:

Psalm 139:13-16: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

There are many stories in the Bible about God’s personal involvement with people. A little known one is about Hagar, the Egyptian maid with whom Abram (later to be called Abraham) would have a child. From Abraham’s two sons, Ishmael and Isaac would come two of the world’s great nations: from Ishmael, the Arabic nations, and from Isaac, the Jewish nation.

When Abram’s wife Sarai gave her maid Hagar to Abram – which seems unthinkable to us but very much within the customs of the day – the child Ishmael caused such conflict for Sarai that she ended up banishing Hagar and Ishmael from the family camp. Lonely, rejected, and dejected out in the desert, God appeared to Hagar and spoke with her. After the encounter, she coined a new name for God: El Ra’ah, the English equivalent of the Hebrew words.

Genesis 16.13: “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

If you’ve ever thought that God could never notice you and your needs, think of a cast-off maid by the name of Hagar out in the desert all by herself – yet noticed by God. If He can find her, He can find you, too!

A few more TouchPoints that people experienced with God. I like this one from the book written by an Old Testament prophet:

Jeremiah 29:11-14: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD,‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD…”

Now I can almost here you say, “But Mic! My life has not always been easy! Some of what I’ve gone through has been really hard. Was God really there with me? Why didn’t He pull me out of trouble if He saw I was in it?”

Reasonable questions all. I can’t answer all of them, but I will tell you that some of them will be answered in later TouchPoints. For now, here are a few words from another Old Testament writer who was also a prophet, one of Israel’s greatest. I have needed these words in my own life many times. They were originally written when Israel was in some of her darkest days:

Isaiah 43:1-2: “But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’”

There’s a very important word in there. “WHEN you pass through the wa-“ “ …you will call upon me…and I will listen to you. tears…” One of the major misconceptions about life with God is that if you serve Him, you will be immune to life’s difficulties. That was never the bargain God made with us once sin came into our world. Sin means trouble. It means pain. It means heartache. It means brokenness.

But it doesn’t mean we will face those things alone. That’s why the word WHEN is so important. It means that even when we experience the worst life has to offer, God is there beside us, walking through it with us.

The God of true Christianity is different than all others who claim divinity! The God of the Christian is the God who is close by, never distant, always trying to connect with his children. God put flesh on that claim when his son Jesus came to earth. Jesus will be the subject of several TouchPoints. For now, I hope it hits close to home to know that whenever you face one of life’s storms, you are not facing it alone. As Max Lucado, one of contemporary Christianity’s most widely read authors says in his book In The Eye of the Storm “God doesn’t calm every storm in your life, but He does calm you in every storm.”

Even though I hope you have begun to see the pattern of God’s personal attention
in our lives, let me share just one more. These words come from Jesus, God’s son, as he was about to be separated by death from his closest friends. They were recorded by one of the youngest of his friends, John:

John 14:1-3: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Once again, see how personal His intentions toward you are? And what really grabs me with John’s words is that they give me a reason to hang on, even when life is crazy, because there is a future that God has planned for you and me – and that He will personally bring you into it!

Decision Point

My personal invitation to you now is to begin to talk to this personal God. Don’t worry if there’s a right or wrong way to talk to him – just talk. It doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, it could be as simple as this:

“God, I would like to experience your personal involvement in my life. I need you to show me how to discern when you are nearby. And I need to know that you will be with me in every part of my life, the good and the hard times. Show me how to sense your presence, and help me to know how to respond to it. I just want to know you, and I want to know that you know me! So I open my heart and my life to you now. Amen.”

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Bible Lesson #1 – Somebody Bigger Than You And I.

TouchPoint 1

Hello new friend! My name is Mic, and I call what you are reading just now a TouchPoint. I’ve named it TouchPoint because this reading, and the others that go with it, are an important place where you and I can connect with things that matter in your life and mine.

Let me raise a few questions that I’ve heard many people voice to show why TouchPoints are so crucial. Read them as if you are asking them yourself:

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What is my place in life?
  • Does my life make any difference to anyone else?
  • Why is there evil in the world?
  • Why is there evil in me?
  • Is there anything that can be done to stop evil in the world or in me?
  • What are my responsibilities as a citizen of this world?
  • What are my responsibilities toward my family and friends?
  • Why are so many people so lonely?
  • Why do I often feel restless or unsatisfied

The First TouchPoint

If you are reading this TouchPoint right now, perhaps it’s because you are a person who is looking for answers. Or maybe you have a curiosity about spiritual things and have probably begun to feel a longing to be connected in ways that transcend what most of your relationships can do for you now.

If that describes you, I’m going to make a statement that may be startling because it may have never occurred to you before: You are longing to be connected to God. And as we’ll see in a later TouchPoint, that longing was deliberately placed in each one of us, so that we will search for God, so that He can satisfy our thirst to belong, and answer ur deepest questions.

The First Question

To the contemporary mind, the very first question that must be dealt with is the very existence of God. For millennia people have wrestled with this issue, and many have walked away discounting the possibility of a real-live God because He could not be proved in the ways that they felt He must be proved. They really wanted to believe that there is Somebody bigger than you and I out there somewhere, but without proof, they could not afford to believe it was true.

Let’s face it. We are people who are willing to be convinced when there’s evidence to support it. We like logic. We like tangible things.

We can decide to buy life insurance because the sales person can ask us a few questions about our financial realities, plug those numbers into some equations, and out comes a recommended level of insurance based on actuarial tables and years of statistical research.

We can diagnose many illnesses just by looking at blood samples and analyzing the microscopic things found there.

But God does not plug into formulas or match physical modeling and analysis. There is only one realm in which He can be understood and proved:

“People without the Spirit do not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to them, and they cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2.14, New International Version (modernized by me!)

That quotation comes from the New Testament of the Bible, the book Christians accept as the history of God’s encounter with humanity, and that reveals His plan for dealing with the present and the future.

The Paradox

But how can we accept the Bible if we’ve not yet proven God exists? If that’s what you are thinking, you have a point! It does create a paradox, unless you are willing to make one basic decision.

Let’s use our old high-school geometry class as our TouchPoint to get us beyond this paradox. One of the theorems of geometry is that the sum of all the internal angles in a triangle is always 180 degrees.

That statement, printed in my textbook, required me to accept it, but then allowed me to spend all the time I wanted in proving it to be either true or false. While there were may ways I could prove it, I had to prove it true within the confines of geometry, because that’s where the truth of the theorem applied.

When I first looked at triangles, I couldn’t visualize how this theorem could possibly be true when I saw all the possible sizes and shapes of triangles in my textbook. It wasn’t until I took my trusty protractor out and measured the angles and added up the numbers did I begin to see the truth in the theorem.

What I’m asking of you in this TouchPoint is to accept the theorem for now that comes from the Biblical text in 1 Corinthians 2:14: spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

What does that mean? It means that in order to prove God or his word, you will need to step onto his ground, into his playing field, experiment in his realm. That is the realm of spiritual life. As you start to spend time with your spiritual protractor measuring God’s claims, I believe that you’ll not only find him proven true over and over again,
you’ll even find that the God of the Bible invites us to prove his veracity and his faithfulness.

From Theory to Reality

If any of this is to be any good to any of us, we have to be able to move from theory to reality. It has to work in real life – your life. If God is truly alive, what He claims can happen in the lives of people must happen in your life.

In fact, I’ve heard it said that the only real proof of God’s existence is the changed life. And you have probably met some people like this. People who have a peace about them in the face of grave illness. People who can offer forgiveness even when acts of criminal violence have been committed against them. People who can live in joy even when their finances are a mess. People who love in the face of hatred and betrayal.

My personal invitation to you is to test the theorem that you will learn things about spirituality in God’s realm of spirituality. I have no doubt but that your own life will become part of the proof that God is alive, personal, and always close.

So, if you’d like to see if God is alive and well because of what He can do in your life, and if you are ready to step into His realm of the spiritual life so that you can discern what He can do in you, then you are ready for TouchPoint 2, where we will see just how personal God can be in your life.

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About Our Textbook…

THE RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE

All of these studies are based on what is commonly called “The Holy Bible”. Perhaps one of the first things we should do is to consider how reliable the source book is. If you already believe in it as the Word of the Living God, then the following will simply be a confirmation of your belief. If you have any doubts then the following is meant to be a short explanation of why so many people believe it to be fact. I say “short” because there are a number of excellent authors through the ages who have written many thousands of pages on this subject. I will just bring up a few points, but for much more complete information, I recommend a book by Josh McDowell called “New Evidence that Demands a Verdict” or a much shorter book which he has written called “More Than a Carpenter” (and which has been quoted to a large extent below). Another excellent book, written by C. S. Lewis, is called “Mere Christianity”. In the following text I reference a third author, Ralph O. Muncaster, from his book “The Evidence for Christianity”.

Some people think that accepting the Bible as the true Word of God is simply an exercise in wishful thinking and liken it to jumping into a dark hole, hoping against hope that there will be something or someone at the bottom to catch them. Josh McDowell was an atheist who set out to prove the futility of the Christian faith. Through his study, and against his will, he found the evidence for the Bible to be so compelling that he had to believe it was true and he came to the fantastic conclusion that Jesus Christ was Who He claimed to be—the Son of God. He now likens the experience to stepping out of a dark hole and into the light.

In the Bible God tells us to “Come and let us reason together”. When evidence for faith in the Bible is objectively examined, it will be found that faith is not blind but a very reasonable and logical conclusion based on objective information. It centers on the historical fact of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Around the world all time is measured in units before and after His birth.

It is hard for us to get our minds around the miracles Jesus performed since no one was ever able to do those things before, no one has done them since, and despite the skill of modern day masters of deception, we do not expect to see the real article now or any time in the future. What basis do we have for a belief in a real, historical Jesus who actually was who He claimed to be? Let’s objectively evaluate the information that is available and you can draw your own conclusion.

History is not an experimental physical science like biology, chemistry or physics. In those disciplines you can control conditions and repeat experiments and then analyze the results. History as a discipline goes back just as far as those sciences, but historical circumstances cannot be controlled or duplicated.

It is impossible to totally prove any historical event beyond all possible doubt so, how do we go about finding answers to our questions about anything that has happened in the past? For example, how can you prove where you had lunch yesterday? Even photos and videos can be tampered with. Some exhibits purportedly “proving” evolution have been proven to be hoaxes. All we can do is try to go beyond a reasonable doubt in order established the validity of what we believe the truth to be. To do that there has to be an evaluation of oral evidence, written documents and exhibits. When all has been objectively considered then a conclusion can be reached as to what the truth most likely is. What happens when we objectively evaluate and reconstruct the Biblical records?

There is an accepted systematic, objective approach that is used to establish the credibility of historical documents. McDowell quotes historian Philip Schaff who said, “The purpose of the historian is not to construct a history from preconceived notions and to adjust it to their own liking, but to reproduce it [reconstruct events] from the best evidence and to let it speak for itself.”

 

HOW MANY COPIES OF A DOCUMENT ARE AVAILABLE AND DO THE COPIES AGREE?

One test for credibility is to see how many copies there are of the original document and how consistent the copies are with each other. If there are a number of documents and they are consistent, it most likely reflects the true facts of the story being reported. Less confidence can be placed in a story if there are a very limited number of documents that do not agree.

To quote directly from McDowell, “More than A Carpenter”, Chapter 4…

“Archaeologist have discovered very early copies of the New Testament that prove that the message we have in the New Testament in our Bibles now does compare well with the original manuscripts…

“The history of Thucydides (460-400 B.C.) is available to us from just eight MSS dated about A.D. 900, almost 1,300 years after he wrote. The MSS of the history of Herodotus are likewise late and scarce, and yet, as F. F. Bruce concludes, “No classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest manuscripts of their works which are of use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals.”” Aristotle wrote his poetics around 343 B.C. and yet the earliest copy we have is dated A.D. 1100, nearly a 1,400-year gap, and only five MSS are in existence.

Caesar composed his history of the Gallic Wars between 58 and 50 B.C. and its manuscript authority rests on nine or ten copies dating 1,000 years after his death.

When it comes to the manuscript authority of the New Testament, the abundance of material is almost embarrassing in contrast. After the early papyri manuscript discoveries that bridged the gap between the times of Christ and the second century, an abundance of other MSS came to light. Over 20,000 copies of New Testament manuscripts are in existence today. The Uiad has 643 MSS and is second in manuscript authority after the New Testament.”

 

HOW FRESH WAS THE EVENT IN THE EXPERIENCE OF THE WRITER?

Another test is to determine how much time passed between the time the events occurred and the time the writer documented them. The farther away a writer was from the date of the event, the less reliable it is likely to be.

A number of years ago some critics taught that the New Testament was written several hundred years after the fact and that it was built on various myths and legends that had come down through oral history. In recent years Archeologist have discovered very early copies of the New Testament and a number of Archeologist now believe that the entire New Testament was completed before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

 

IS THIS FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE OR RUMOR?

To take another step, was the story recorded by someone who actually saw what happened? We can have greater confidence if the author wrote as they personally saw the events unfolding as opposed to an author who only wrote what they heard about the events, without the benefit of being an eyewitness or interviewing people who were eyewitnesses–and again, history is considered more reliable if it was about current events and less reliable if it was not written until some number of years after the events happened.

New Testament writers were eyewitnesses to the events they reported or they related accounts from people who were eyewitnesses. Just to give you an abridged list of a few references Josh McDowell provides in his introduction to the “Evidences” book I mentioned above:

• “We were eyewitnesses” 2 Pet 1:16
• “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you” 1 John 1:1-3
• “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us…it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account…” Luke 1:1-3
• “He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days.” Acts 1:1-3
• “After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present…he was seen by James, then by all the apostles…last of all He was seen by me also” I Cor 15:6-8
• “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe…”Jn 20:30-31
• “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, he was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight Acts 1:9

 

IS THIS EVENT LIMITED TO THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE WRITER?

If this is a personal event in the life of the writer which no one else knows about, there is much more room to “create”. If the report is about public events that a large segment of the population knows about, the author had better have the facts straight. It is interesting to note that reports of the Biblical events were widely circulated. Most everyone was aware of them.

• “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know. -Acts 2:22
• “[I]…speak words of truth and reason. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner… Acts 26:24-28

Notice that in the above statements, the writers not only testify of what they have seen personally, they also appeal to the firsthand knowledge of the people they are communicating with. If you are reporting something to the public, you had better be sure of your facts because if what you are saying is not the truth it will be well known and you will have no credibility.

 

HOW MUCH IMPACT DID THE REPORTED EVENT(S) HAVE?

If the events reported were of minor significance, few people would care, let alone be moved by them.

In the case of the New Testament, another piece of evidence to consider is the change that came over the followers of Christ. Before the resurrection Peter denied knowing Him and the disciples deserted Him. The book of Acts says that they were hiding for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). They were extremely depressed. They had thought He was the Christ who would lead them out of Roman bondage, but instead they saw Him arrested, nailed to a cross, pierced through, pronounced dead and buried. The record tells us that the disciples had a difficult time believing it was Jesus when He appeared to them after the resurrection.

Why would anyone promote a “Savior” who had destroyed all of their hopes and was now dead? But just a few days after the crucifixion they were loud, persistent and very courageous witnesses for Him. Nothing could shut them up. Not persecution, jail, torture or the threat of death. Not even death itself could stop them.

And it was not just a few lonely apostles, but also many thousands of other first century witnesses believed so strongly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that they became Christians and willingly gave up their possessions, family, friends, social position and everything else. The activities at the Roman Coliseum are well documented along with numerous other persecutions that took place in the first century. A very large number of believers ultimately choose to be torn apart by wild animals rather than deny their faith in Jesus as the Son of God.

These people would certainly have known if the resurrection was a lie. They would not have been willing to sacrifice everything for anything less than what they absolutely knew to be a spectacular, soul shaking, genuine miracle.

 

WHAT ABOUT PROPHECY?

Prophecy of the Old Testament gives credence to all of the claims of Jesus Christ in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. How on earth could the Old Testament predict such a Person as Jesus if it had not been inspired by a super natural force? Josh McDowell points out that there are at least 60 major prophecies and 270 other references to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And the newest one was recorded at least 400 years before the event. Some of the prophecies were over 1,000 years old. Author Ralph O. Muncaster in his book “The Evidence for Christianity” points out that most books of the world’s religions do not have prophecies, and the prophecies of those that do have a very poor record of accuracy.

Could the prophecies in the Old Testament have been written after the fact and been made to look like they were written earlier? No, the Greek translation of the Old Testament was completed at least 150 years before the events took place. Further proof of this has been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were also recorded many years before the birth of Christ. What were these prophecies? I will not take the space and time in this document to discuss them in detail, but will rather refer you to any of the books above or any other reliable Bible commentary. A very short list of common prophecies would include:

• The birth of Christ to a virgin
• He was born in Bethlehem
• He would grow up in Nazareth
• Be rejected by his people
• Many details of His death are provided

Just one Biblical reference is Chapter 53 in the book of Isaiah but there are many others. The prophecies were in place. Could he have arranged His life so that it would meet all of these conditions? No, most of the prophetic events, like the soldiers gambling for his robe, were conditions that were completely out of His control.

 

LIAR, LUNATIC OR LORD?

That is a classic question raised by C. S. Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity”.

Through the centuries there have been many who have claimed to be God. Most of them can be immediately dismissed as liars. The rest may be very sincere and think they really are God, but it is pretty clear that they are suffering from delusions. No one possessed the prophetic credentials before Jesus, and no one since Him has been able to satisfy even a small number of the prophecies.

Was He a liar? He certainly did not approve of telling lies and he apparently modeled this honesty because those who lived with him from day-to-day for three years had complete confidence in what he did and what he said.

Was He someone who simply had great delusions of grandeur? Again, there is no evidence to support that. Those who were closest to Him report that He did many unexplainable miracles. They participated in some of those miracles and the influence he exerted over the people of that time was completely out of proportion for an uneducated, small town carpenter who never got more than 200 miles from home, whose ministry only lasted three and a half years and whose ministry was violently terminated at a cross (as predicted in prophecy).

The previous paragraphs are a very brief reference to some of the evidence which has led Christians to our conclusions about the validity of the Holy Bible and about Jesus Christ who is the central figure in the Bible.

 

WHY ARE CHRISTIANS SO “INTOLERANT” OF OTHER RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS?

Are Christians being obstinate and intolerant by their belief that Christianity is the only true religion and that all others are false counterfeits?

McDowell points out that the Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “tolerate” as “to recognize and respect [other’s beliefs, practices and so forth] without sharing them” and “to bear or put up with [someone or something not especially liked]”. Because of the influence postmodern philosophy has had on our society and within the educational system, the meaning of “tolerate” is now thought to mean “[accepting] every individual’s beliefs, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims as equal… all truth is relative”. In other words, everyone’s beliefs must be accepted as being as equally valid as your own.

When this philosophy is taken to its logical conclusion, it leads to all kinds of obvious problems. One example that McDowell uses is the belief that Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States. If someone else believes our capital is Boaz, Alabama, or Bagdad, Iran, is McDowell being intolerant if he does not accept their belief as equally valid as his? There is only one correct answer to the question of “What is the capital of the United States?” Like it or not, there is an absolute truth and if you say anything different than Washington D.C. you will be wrong.

Some of the many reasons true Christians believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the only way to eternal life are stated above. Christians are as firm in that belief as they are in their belief that Washington, D. C. is our nation’s capital. It is not a question of tolerance but of what is the truth.

 

CONCLUSION

A person must objectively examine as much evidence as practicable. In coming to a conclusion, they cannot reasonably cling to a concept when the weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly against it. On the other hand, when the overwhelming weight of all the evidence all points to one conclusion, it would be foolish and intellectually dishonest to cling to some alternative.