BY JOSIAH NEUFELD ILLUSTRATION BY PETE RYANUpdated 12:26, Mar. 17, 2020 | Published 9:43, Mar. 9, 2020
LAST JUNE, under a spreading maple tree on a hill in the southwest corner of Wisconsin, twenty-five people sat around a bonfire to mourn. To the tempo of a hand drum, they called out recently extinct species, tossing scraps of paper inscribed with animal names into the fire: Caribbean monk seal, Eiao monarch. White ash settled like snowflakes on knees and shoulders. Dusky seaside sparrow. Bulldog rat. Western black rhino.
Ordained ministers and lay leaders, they had come to this hill from across North America, from churches in Texas, Washington, West Virginia, New Hampshire, British Columbia, and Ontario, for the first in-person gathering organized by the Wild Church Network. The network is a loose affiliation of congregations, mostly from different Christian denominations, that belong to the Wild Church movement and meet for worship in the outdoors—surrounded by a New England beech grove, say, or in a forest of cedars along the BC coast, or on the grasslands of Colorado. These worshippers aren’t just seeking picturesque settings: sometimes they gather beside a stream choked with logging debris, or a bleak asphalt parking lot, or the charred skeleton of a burnt-out forest—places where they can face the destruction humans have wrought.
My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
He knows our thoughts
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”
Jesus read their thoughts. Jesus asked why they had evil in their hearts.
Applicationin my life
God knows our thoughts, Jesus demonstrated that. God sees the evil in men’s hearts based on their thought life. Jesus asked them about the evil inside them. There would therefore be a reason for it, one they should know the answer to. So it stands to reason that every person should be able to see the reason for what is in their hearts.
I want to replace any evil with the goodness of God. By not choosing God I am not allowing Him to fill my heart. I will be empty inside without God. That emptiness makes room for evil to find a home there. Choose God and reject evil. Because I fill my heart with God, my thoughts will reflect God’s goodness. And a God will know because he knows my thoughts.
Lord, I ask you to fill my heart, your words your thoughts, your desires, your love, with all of it there is no room and no emptiness to be filled, by evil Amen
My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:16-21 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[ says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Being hopeful is a virtue. Patience is rewarded. Prayer is being obedient to God and it is where our safety lies. Harmony is how we should live, so when given a reasonable choice, choose this option.
Applicationin my life
Prayer will allow me to hear from God and after I hear from God I can benefit from what He reveals me. This is knowledge that I can use to keep me from stumbling when I otherwise might. What God imparts to me will help me have patience when I need it and furthermore, it will gift me with the amount of hope I need to maintain my joy.
Prayer is what I will commit to do more of and make more a part of who I am and what I do each day. Prayer is a very important part of my role in my relationship with God. I model myself as a person who prays to God, then acts accordingly. I behave in a manner that reflects what has been communicated in my prayer.
As a purpose, harmony is an option that I can identify with. That means I treat everyone the same, the poor, wealthy, educated, uneducated, people with status and those without. I leave my pride at the door and respect others as equals. Being humble is often the appropriate goal in a given situation. Overcoming evil with good for me can meam not allowing what someone else does control what I do. I can be generous towards someone who is selfish. I can be kind to people who are not kind to me. I can be considerate of people who aren’t. I can forgive an unforgiving person. Each of these examples I can be reminded of if I pray about relationships I have with people who wrong me.
Lord thank you for allowing me to be as close to you as I am committed to being, and thank you for accepting me, flawed as I am. I purpose to listen to You more, and act on the guidance You give. Amen
There are two parables in the chapter, the judge and the servant king. Here is a synopsis of the servant king.80
This is exactly the problem God has in his pursuit of you and me – if he overwhelms us with his power we may not be free to love him) love and power are inversely related). And even if we retain our freedom, we may not love him but merely love what he gives us. What can God do? Here is what the king did:
The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend. He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito, with a worn cloak fluttering loosely about him. It was no mere disguise, but a new identity he took on. He renounced the throne to win her hand.
This is exactly what God did to win you and me! He descended to the human level – in fact to one of the lowest social levels possible – to that of a servant. Paul describes Christ’s sacrifice this way in his letter to the Philippians (2:5-8)
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
Here are the answers to the five greatest questions we have.81
1. Origin: Where did we come from? We are created beings. Wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God.
2. Identity: Who are we? Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are creatures of supreme worth. We are loved by God and endowed with certain God-given rights and responsibilities.
3. Meaning: Why are we here? Adam and Eve were created in a state of innocence, but their choice to disobey condemned the human race to punishment in accordance with the infinite justice of God. Since that time, each of us has confirmed the choice of Adam and Eve through our own disobedience. We remain fallen state so that we can make free choices that will have implications in eternity. This temporal life is the choosing ground for the eternal one. Choices we can make that will bring glory to God, and may bring us eternal rewards, include:
a. Accepting the ransom Jesus paid in order to free us from eternal punishment and welcome us into his eternal presence.
b. Serving as ambassadors for Christ to help others make that same choice, and
c. Learning from our own sufferings to comfort others who suffer, and realizing that our sufferings enhance our own capacity to enjoy eternity.
4. Morality: How should we live? Since God first loved us, we should love him and others. In fact, the “whole duty of man” is to “fear God and keep his commandments”. This includes making disciples of all nations and enjoying the good things God gives us.
5. Destiny: Where are we going? God’s infinite justice demands that he punish our sins, but because of his infinite love he has taken the punishment on himself. This is the only way he could remain just and still justify sinners. His gift of salvation from eternal punishment is free to all the world. It cannot be earned through good works or any kind of merit. And God wants everyone to be saved from the eternal punishment we all deserve. But since he cannot force us to love him (forced love is a contradiction), each one of us must choose for ourselves whom we will serve.
Whom will you serve? God leaves that choice in your hands. Love knows no other way. In order to respect your free choice, God has made the evidence for Christianity convincing but not compelling. If you want to suppress or ignore the evidence all around you (Romans 1:18-20) – including that which is presented in this book – then you are free to do so. But that would be a volitional act, not a rational one. You can reject Christ, but you cannot honestly say there’s not enough evidence to believe in him.82
C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done, and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there would be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”83
What do you think were the author’s best points in the book? What weak points did you find in the evidence presented in the book? What would you consider doing to decide if you agree or disagree with what the book is arguing?
I will continue to read and discuss books like these with an open mind. I hope you will too.
80Geisler & Turek page 380 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
81Geisler & Turek pages 383-384 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
82Geisler & Turek pages 384-385 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Book Discussion Day 15: Chapter 14 – What did Jesus Teach About the Bible?
Jesus gave the following assertions in his teachings
The Old Testament is divinely Authoritative. In 92 occasions Jesus and his apostles supported their position by saying “it is written .”
The Old Testament is Imperishable. Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will be no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
The Old Testament is infallible. John 10:35 :the Scripture cannot be broken.”
The Old Testament is Inerrant. Matthew 22:29 “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
The Old Testament is Historically Reliable. He validated Noah Matthew 24:37-38 and Jonah Matthew 12:40.
The Old Testament is Scientifically Accurate. While adherents of other religions may accept a complete separation from science Christians do not. Truth about the universe cannot be contradictory. Since all truth is God’s truth, religious beliefs must agree with scientific facts.
The Old Testament had Ultimate Supremacy. Jesus corrected the Pharisees and the teachers of the law by claiming that they should be obeying the Old Testament Scriptures instead of their own man-made traditions. Matthew 15:3,678
Jesus promised the New Testament
The 27 books comprise the only authentic record of the apostolic teaching we have. All were written in the first century by eyewitnesses or by those who interviewed eyewitnesses.
Jesus taught that the Old Testament is the inerrant Word of God, and he promised that the New Testament would come through the apostles. The apostles, who were authenticated by miracles, wrote or confirmed 27 books.
Since the Bible is our established standard for truth, anything that contradicts a teaching in the Bible is false. This means that any specific teaching that contradicts a teaching of the Bible is false.
The evidence revealed indicates79
The revelations of Judaism are true, but it is incomplete. It lacks the New Testament
The revelation of Islam has some truth. But it errs on some fundamental teachings, including its denial of the deity and resurrection of Christ.
Only the revelation of Christianity is the complete, inerrant Word of God.
Could the authors be wrong about all this? It’s possible. But in light of the evidence, skeptics and those of other faiths need to have a lot more faith than Christians to believe otherwise.
I think one point worth talking about here is why people willingly choose to reject what the Bible says. Is it because they have been given false information about the Bible that they allowed to convince them without finding out the truth for themselves? Is it because they haven’t taken the time to look at the evidence? Are they afraid of something? Is it, as the authors have said about atheists, that they know that if they acknowledge that the Bible is true then they no longer can justify being the sole authority on how they choose to live their lives? If so, is there a danger of them promoting and anti-Christian agenda on an unwitting public in order to influence political debate?
Another topic is related to agnostics. What should our attitude be towards a person who is questioning and open to the idea of God?
78Geisler & Turek page 357-360 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
79 Geisler & Turek pages 376 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Book Discussion Day 14: Chapter 13 – Who is Jesus: God? Or Just a Great Moral Teacher?
Chapter 13 outlines the Old Testament prophecies that point to the Messiah and ultimately provide the evidence that Jesus, the only person to ever fulfill the prophecies, is God.
Isaiah 53 has an important prophecy of Jesus. Isaiah 42 has another description of him.74
Some of the other Old Testament verses about Jesus include
Genesis 12: 3, 7
Jeremiah 3: 5-6
The New Testament writers claimed Jesus was God.
John 1:1, 14
2 Peter 1:1
Luke 4:34, 41
Jesus himself declares he is God.
Jesus refers to himself in a manner that God would.
Jesus alluded that he was God in the parables he spoke
Jesus did things that a God would be able to do
He forgave sins Mark 2:5-11
He commanded discipling Matthew 28:18-19
Commanded new law John 13:34
Said to pray in his name John 14:13-14
Allowed people to worship him on at least 9 occasions75
Proofs that Jesus is God
He fulfilled messianic prophecies written hundreds of years in advance
He lived a sinless life and performed miraculous deeds
He predicted and then accomplished his own resurrection from the dead
Skeptics complain Jesus wasn’t more overt
They cite and misinterpret Matthew 19:7
They cite John 14:28 and Matthew 24:36 which may confuse them without a thorough understanding of the Trinity.
They object to the Trinity
The authors provide useful insight for the Trinity
Some Muslims charge that the trinity is too complex. But who said that truth must always be simple? As C.S. Lewis aptly puts it, “If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”76
Since Jesus is a morally perfect being – Chapter 7 – then anything he teaches is true. What did Jesus teach? What did he teach about the Bible? Chapter 14 answers this question.
The chapter addresses the claim people sometimes make that Jesus was only a man who was a great moral teacher. The evidence in the New Testament proves that is a false conclusion. Liar, lunatic, or Lord are the only possible conclusions a person can draw after studying the New Testament. Have you come across people who said they saw Jesus as a moral teacher but not God? How did that conversation go?
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would rather be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is , the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.77
74Geisler & Turek page 333 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
75 Geisler & Turek pages 344-345 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
76Geisler & Turek pages 352-353 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
77Geisler & Turek page 346 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Book Discussion Day 13: Chapter 12 – Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?
Chapter 12 exposes how false each of the theories put forth by skeptics to deny the resurrection of Jesus.71
Hallucinations aren’t experienced by groups. Jesus did not appear just once to one person. He appeared in a dozen separate occasions in a variety of settings to different people over 40 days. A total of over 500 people saw Jesus after his resurrection. The tomb was empty. No proof of Jesus’ body was shown by those that executed him because they did not have his body, when so many people claimed to see him alive.
They went to the wrong tomb theory
The theory assumes that all of the Jews and Romans had a permanent kind of collective amnesia about what they had done with the body of Jesus.
The theory doesn’t explain the appearances of Jesus. Nor does it explain the empty tomb well. Most of the disciples were hopeless and fearful still after learning of the empty tomb. They did not believe that the empty signified that Jesus was alive until they physically saw him and spoke with him.
Swoon or Apparent Death Theory
Everyone believed Jesus was dead
Jesus was embalmed in 75 pounds of bandages and spices. That doesn’t happen to a live person.
It assumes he would survive 36 hours, unwrap himself, move a 4,000-pound rock from the entrance and get past Roman guards.
He would not have appeared to be in good condition when he was seen.
It does not account for Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
The Disciples stole the body theory
Were they hallucinating, or did they steal the body, which is it?
For some inexplicable reason, they stole the body n order to get themselves beaten, tortured, and martyred.
A Substitute Took Jesus’ Place on the Cross Theory
This is a popular Muslim theory. There is absolutely no evidence to back up this theory.
It should be noted that the Qur’an was produced over 600 years after Jesus. The New Testament has eyewitness accounts of what happened with Jesus only a few decades after his death and Resurrection.
So all those eyewitnesses who saw what happened, why do they say it was Jesus?
Why was the tomb found empty?
The Disciples Faith led Their Belief in the Resurrection
There is no evidence for this theory
I does not account for the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to over 500 people.
It ignores the fact that the scared, skeptical disciples were not in any frame of mind to invent a story they would later be put to death for believing. The resurrection appearances gave them their bold faith not the reverse, as this theory claims.
The New Testament Writers Copied Pagan Resurrection Myths
This theory fails to explain the eyewitness accounts at the time.
It does not explain the empty tomb
It does not explain the eyewitnesses who were martyred
It does not explain the testimony of non-Christian writings
It does not explain the facts which the vast majority of the scholars use to conclude the events were believed to have taken place by those who were present at the time.
The ancient non-Christian sources at the time – both Jewish and pagan – understood the resurrection was not a myth and instead argued at the time that they did not believe the accounts happened as Christians described.
There is no myth that is similar to Jesus’ resurrection
The first legitimate parallel story of a god rising from death appears about 100 years after Christianity began.
Skeptics Consistently Demand Evidence from Christians to Support the New Testament
The evidence to support the New Testament has been overwhelming, far exceeding any comparable historically documented event and proves true beyond a reasonable doubt.
Skeptics Have no Evidence to Support any of these Theories that doubt the New Testament
Their refusal to accept the New Testament accounts is based on philosophical bias against them.
How to View the Evidence
The theistic nature of the universe makes miracles possible
Ancient documents say miracles are to be expected
Historically confirmed eyewitness documents say miracles are actual
References of other ancient historians and writers confirm the basic storyline of the New Testament, and several archeological discoveries affirm the details they describe.72
Summary: One Solitary Life
Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.
Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…73
It there was no resurrection, how could this life be the most influential life of all time?
71 Geisler & Turek pages 301-312 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
72Geisler & Turek pages 317-319 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
73Geisler & Turek page 324 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Chapter 11 – The Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth
The top ten reasons we know the New Testament writers told the truth.66
The New Testament writers included embarrassing details about themselves.
The New Testament writers included embarrassing details and difficult sayings of Jesus.
The New Testament writers let in demanding sayings of Jesus.
The New Testament writers carefully distinguished Jesus’ words from their own.
The New testament writers include events related to the resurrection that they would not have invented.
The New Testament writers include more than thirty historically confirmed people in their writings.
The New Testament writers include divergent details.
The New Testament writers challenge their readers to check out verifiable facts, even facts about miracles.
New Testament writers describe miracles like other historical events: with simple, unembellished accounts.
The New Testament writers abandoned their long-held sacred beliefs and did not deny their testimony under persecution or threat of death.
Three radical beliefs adopted by New Testament Christians after abandoning their old beliefs.67
Sunday, a work day, as the new day of worship.
Baptism as a new sign that one was a partaker of the new covenant in place of circumcision, the sign of the old covenant.
Communion as an act of remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.
Communion is especially inexplicable unless the Resurrection is true. Why would Jews make up a practice where they symbolically eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus?68
Unnecessary because of Christ’s sacrifice
Binding Law of Moses
Nonbinding because it was fulfilled by Christ’s life
Trinity (three persons in one divine essence)
Replaced by Sunday worship
Sacrificial Messiah (he’ll conquer when he returns)
Replaced by baptism and Communion
Finally, in addition to abandoning long-held sacred institutions and adopting new ones, the New Testament writers suffered persecution and death when they could have saved themselves by recanting. If they had made up the Resurrection story, the certainly would have said so when they were about to be crucified (Peter), stoned (James), or beheaded (Paul).69
In chapters 9 and 10 the authors proved we have an accurate copy of the early and eyewitness testimony found in the New Testament documents. The question for chapter 11 is whether the documents were invented, embellished, or exaggerated. The chapter proves that they were not. The writers simply had no motive to lie, and every motive to admit they were lying if they had. The lasted remaining objection by skeptics then is that the New Testament writers were deceived. They sincerely though Jesus had risen from the dead, but they were wrong. Chapter 12 deals with that theory.70
How much faith does it take to believe the New Testament? Faith is often a missunderstood word. The faith that Christianity is based on is basically belief that because Jesus is God, committing to Him results in an eternal existence based on forgiveness of sins we committed. Sins that were judged and punished with the crucifixion of Jesus. Do you think the book makes a persuasive case that believing the New Testament is actually true takes a lot less “faith” than disbelieving it, as atheists and others choose to?
66 Geisler & Turek pages 275-290 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
67Geisler & Turek pages 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
68Geisler & Turek page 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
69Geisler & Turek page 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
70Geisler & Turek page 297 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Chapter 10 – Do We Have Eyewitness Testimony About Jesus?
Eyewitness Claims in the New Testament
In the New Testament, Peter, John, and Paul state that they saw the resurrected Jesus. Paul identified 12 apostles and 4 women as witnesses by name plus an additional 500 people, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote about them.
Luke has written the significant book that covers much of this evidence, Acts. Here are the facts that support the accuracy of what Luke wrote.
Classical scholar and historian Colin Hemmer chronicles Luke’s accuracy in the book of Acts verse by verse. With painstaking detail, Hemer identifies 84 facts in the last 16 chapters of Acts that have been confirmed by historical and archaeological research.62 As you read the following list, keep in mind that Luke did not have access to modern-day maps or nautical charts. Luke accurately records:63
The natural crossing between correctly named ports
The proper port along the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cypress
The proper location of Lycaonia
The unusual but correct declension of the name Lystra
The correct language spoke in Lystra
Two gods known to be associated – Zeus and Hermes
The proper port, Attalia , which returning travelers would use
The correct order of approach to Derbe and then Lystra from the Cilician Gates
The proper form of the name Troas
The place of a conspicuous sailor’s landmark, Samothrace
The proper description of Philippi as a Roman colony
The right location for the river near Philippi
The proper association of Thyatira as a center of dyeing
Correct designations for the magistrates of the colony
The proper locations where travelers would spend successive nights on this journey
The presence of a synagogue in Thessalonica
The proper term used of the magistrates there
The correct implication that sea travel is the most convenient was of reaching Athens, with the favoring east winds of summer sailing
The abundant presence of images in Athens
The reference to a synagogue in Athens
The depiction of the Athenian life of philosophical debate in the Agora
The use of the correct Athenian slang word for Paul as well as for the court
The proper characterization of the Athenian character
An altar to an “unknown god”
The proper reaction of Greek philosophers, who denied the bodily resurrection
Areopagites as the correct title for a member of the court
A Corinthian synagogue
The correct designation of Gallo as proconsul resident in Corinth
The bena, which overlooks Corinth’s forum
The name Tyrannus as attested from Ephesus in first-century inscriptions
Well-known shrines and images of Artemis
The well-attested “great goddess Artemis”
That the Ephesian theater was the meeting place of the city
The correct title grammateus for the chief executive magistrate in Ephesus
The proper title of honor neokoros authorized by the Romans
The correct name to designate the goddess
The proper term for those holding court
Use of plural anthupatoi, perhaps a remarkable reference to the fact that two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at the time
The “regular” assembly, as the precise phrase is attested elsewhere
Use of precise ethnic designation, beroiaios
Employment of the ethnic term Asianos
The implied recognition of the strategic importance assigned to this city of Troas
The danger of the coastal trip in this location
The correct sequence of places
The correct name of the city as a neuter plural
The appropriate route passing across the open sea south of Cypress favored by persistent southwest winds
The suitable distance between these cities
A characteristically Jewish act of piety
The Jewish law regarding Gentile use of the temple area
The permanent stationing of a Roman cohort at Antonia to suppress any disturbance at festival times
The flight of steps used by the guards
The common way to obtain Roman citizen ship at this time
The tribune being impressed with Roman rather than Tarsian citizenship
Ananias being high priest at this time
Felix being governor at this time
The natural stopping point on the way to Caesarea
Whose jurisdiction Cilicia was in at the time
The provincial penal procedure of the time
The name Porcius Festus, which agrees precisely with that given by Josephus
The right of appeal for Roman citizens
The correct legal formula
The characteristic form of reference to the emperor at the time
The best shipping lanes at the time
The common bonding of Cilicia and Pamphylia
The principal port to find a ship sailing to Italy
The slow passage to Cnidus, in the face of the typical northwest wind
The right route to sail, in view of the winds
The locations of Fair Havens and the neighboring site of Lasca
Fair Havens as a poorly sheltered roadstead
A noted tendency of a south wind in these climes to back suddenly to a violent northeaster, the well-known gregale
The nature of a square-rigged ancient ship, having no option but to be driven before a gale
The precise place and name of this island
The appropriate maneuvers for the safety of the ship in its particular plight
The fourteenth night – a remarkable calculation, based inevitably on a compounding of estimates and probabilities, confirmed in the judgment of experienced Mediterranean navigators.
The proper term of the time for the Adriatic
The precise term for taking soundings, and the correct depth of the water near Malta
A position that suits the probable line of approach of a ship released to run before an easterly wind
The severs liability on guards who permitted a prisoner to escape
The local people and superstitions of the day
The proper title protos tes neson
Rhegium as a refuge to await a southerly wind to carry them through the straight
Appii Forum and Tres Tabernae as correctly placed stopping places on the Appian Way
Appropriate means of custody with Roman soldiers
The conditions of imprisonment, living “at his own expense”
Luke identifies 35 miracles that took place in Acts.
Luke, John and Acts
By looking at just a few new testament documents, John, Luke and half of Acts, we have found more than 140 details that appear to be authentic, most of which have been historically confirmed and some of which are historically probable.64
From this chapter the authors conclude that the New Testament contains at least four to six lines of early, independent eyewitness written testimony.65
The major New Testament writers record the same basic events with diverging details and some unique material.
They cite at least thirty real historical figures who have been confirmed by ancient non-Christian writers and various archeological discoveries.
The second half of Acts with at least 84 historically confirmed eyewitness details and includes several others in his Gospel.
Luke’s proven trustworthiness affirms that of Matthew, and Mark because they record the same basic story.
John includes at least 59 historically confirmed or historically probable eyewitness details in his Gospel.
Paul and Peter provide the fifth and sixth written testimonies to the Resurrection
Since this early, independent eyewitness testimony is within one generation of the events, the New Testament events cannot be considered legendary.
What were your thoughts about the historical accuracy of the New Testament Gospel before? If you read the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts now will you see it any differently based on how it has been historically verified? What doubts would you have about what was written in the books of the New Testament? Does the fact that Acts contains so many documented miracles concern you? The next chapter promises to address potential doubts.
62Colon J. Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History
63Geisler & Turek pages 256-259 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
64Geisler & Turek page 269 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
65Geisler & Turek pages 273-274 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Chapter 9 – Do we have Early Testimony About Jesus?
Historians have documented 10 Non-Christian writers who mentioned Jesus within 150 years of his life. By comparison, you will find documentation that Roman Emperor Tiberius was mentioned by 9 writers within that time frame.
Here is a compilation of facts documented by these non-Christian writers.57
Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
He lived a virtuous life.
He was a wonder-worker.
He had a brother named James.
He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
He was crucified under Pontus Pilot.
Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he did.
His disciples believed he rose from the dead.
His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshipped Jesus as God.
Here is the goal of chapter 9
Since, as we have shown, the existence of God and the possibility of miracles is firmly established through natural revelation, and the general story of Christ and the early church is affirmed through non-Christian sources, did the miracles of Christ actually occur as the disciples claim? So the New Testament documents record actual history? Could it be that they are not biased religious writings full of myths and fables as many in our modern world assume, but instead describe events that actually occurred about 2,000 years ago? Is so, we’ll be well on our way to discovering which theistic religion is true.58
Publius Cornelius Tacitus
To test the historical validity of the New Testament the authors pose two questions
1. Do we have accurate copies of the original documents that were written down in the first century?
2. Do those documents speak the truth?
Here is some of the evidence for question #1.59
Copies of the original documents- about 5,800 Greek New Testament manuscripts. 20,000 more in other languages. The next closest document with copies of manuscripts is The Iliad by Homer with 1,800 total.
Some of the manuscripts were written very close to the time the originals would have been written. Within 25 years. Other manuscripts by comparison – Homer; about 400 years between the original and the oldest copies. Plato 1,200 years (only 7 actual copies). Caeser 1,000 years (only 10 actual copies). Pliny 750 years (only 7 actual copies).
The early church workers quoted the original so many times, you could make your own complete reproductions of the New Testament just from reading others quoting it.
Because of the quantity of source material, the accuracy of the New Testament has been established at 99.5 percent.
Seven items provide the basis for the historical reliability of the New Testament (is it the truth?).60
Early testimony that supports the New Testament.
Eyewitness testimony that confirms the New Testament.
Multiple, independent eyewitnesses.
Archeological corroboration and corroboration from other writers.
Enemies of Christianity who attest to the reliability of the New Testament.
Testimony regarding the New Testament that has content embarrassing to the authors.
The authors draw two major conclusions in this chapter.61
We have an accurate copy of the original New testament documents.
The New Testament documents are early and contain even earlier source material.
Often you hear about doubts about the New Testament. What do you think about the overwhelming evidence that eliminates reasonable arguments by doubters?
57Geisler & Turek page 223 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
58Geisler & Turek page 223 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
59Geisler & Turek pages 224-230 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
60Geisler & Turek page 231 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
61Geisler & Turek pages 248-249 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.