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A superficial look at statistics would lead to the conclusion that the church in America is thriving. As recently as 1991, almost half of the adults reached by telephone reported that they had attended a religious service within the last week. In surveys done between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, about 95% of adult Americans stated that they believe in God, about 90% claimed that they pray, about 80% agreed that Jesus was God or the Son of God, and about 70% accepted the Bible as the word of God. It would appear that Christianity still has a strong hold on American society. But the appearance is misleading. A deeper look at statistics reveals that the influence of Christianity is rapidly declining and in danger of disappearing altogether.

Fading influence of the Bible

Although Americans retain a token respect for the Bible, a diminishing minority regard it as a guidebook for life.

  1. The finding in the late 70s that about 70% endorsed the Bible as the word of God may seem like a sign of healthy fundamentalism. But the comparable measure after World War II was 86%.
  2. In 1963, an amazing 65% still believed that the Bible is literally true. Ten years later, the same measure had dropped to less than 40%, and has remained low ever since.
  3. In 1990, less than 40% defined sin as “going against God’s will,” going against the Bible,” or “violating the Ten Commandments”.
  4. In the same survey, only 13% stated that they believe in all Ten Commandments. (The unpopularity of the Sabbath law is the main reason for the surprisingly low figure.) Only 40% stated that they believe in at least five.

The many reasons for the Bible slipping to the margins of American consciousness include these:

  1. Bible ownership has drastically declined.
  2. The language is changing, making the traditional versions inaccessible to today’s reader.
  3. Literacy is declining, with the result that people read less and what they read is less challenging. For many, the Bible has become hard reading.
  4. The Bible has been banished from public schools, and is ignored or mocked in the mass media. Even to post the Ten Commandments in a public place has been forbidden.
  5. The Bible receives little attention in the home. As long ago as the late 70s, only 17% of American parents stated that they had read the Bible with their children during the last week. If false affirmatives could have been sifted out, the true percentage would have been much lower. The percentage today would be lower still.

Fading influence of the church

Despite the rosy statistic cited earlier—that half of the Americans interviewed in 1991 reported that they had gone to a religious service in the last week—a full picture of the evidence shows that church attendance is falling catastrophically.

  1. Researchers have determined that about half of those who say they went to a service are lying. Actual church attendance is about half the figure gleaned by telephone surveys.
  2. By 1996, the same kind of telephone survey found that only 37% of adults reported going to a service in the last week.
  3. With few exceptions, almost all denominations are losing members. Practically the only religious assemblies registering growth in recent years have been mega-churches.
  4. In confidential interviews, 27% say that they go to church regularly, but 58% say that they went regularly as a child. The drop is greatest among Jews (12% and 31%) and virtually the same for Catholics (41% and 78%) and Protestants (34% and 67%).

The proportion of the population saying that religion is important in their lives declined from 75% in 1952 to 70% in 1965 and then even more to 53% in 1978. No doubt the percentage has fallen further in the last thirty years.

Fading influence of the Christian world view

The weakening allegiance to a Christian world view is evident in many ways.

  1. As we have already shown, many bodies of organized Christianity have repudiated orthodox theology.
  2. Some statistics suggest that popular religious opinions are still fairly orthodox. But these statistics belie the truth.
    1. Although 90-95% of Americans say they believe in God, most of them have a faith that can only be described as extremely shallow.
      1. After World War II, 87% of those questioned said that they were absolutely certain of God’s existence . By 1964, the portion with no doubts had fallen to 77% of the population, and by 1981, to 62%.
      2. In 1990, six out of seven said that it is okay not to believe in God.
    2. The consensus that Jesus is God is also misleading. Many fewer now believe that it is necessary to accept Jesus in order to be saved. In 1964, a bare majority, 51%, still believed that Jesus is the only way. But the same measure slumped to 38% by 1981. Since then, the measure must have slumped further.
    3. Twenty years ago, 70% identified the Bible as the word of God, but about three sevenths of these also said that it contains mistakes .
    4. Belief in an afterlife remains prevalent. In 1990, 82% agreed that there is an afterlife including heaven and hell . But only 4% expected to go to hell, and 45% also believed in ghosts .
    5. Almost a fourth of the populace accepts the occult to some degree. A full 31% believe that some people have magical powers, 28% believe in witchcraft, 24% in black magic, 20% in voodoo .
  3. A survey in 1990 looked at opinions on leading public issues. On no issue did a majority feel that they needed religious guidance to the right answer. On almost all issues, a majority did not even know what position their religion took .
  4. Perhaps the most dramatic proof that America is forsaking its Christian heritage emerges from the history of how the law views Christianity. In 1892, the Supreme Court ruled that “our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian” . Today, the Supreme Court has gone so far in enforcing separation of church and state that, in the opinion of former Chief Justice Rehnquist, it has become antireligious. In a dissenting opinion, he said that “the tone of the Court’s opinion . . . bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life.

This series of articles are designed to inform the Church where apostasy has infiltrated the “true church”,  “what Christians need to look for” and; how “this new age of secularism within the church today is leading to the  “One World Church of tomorrow”. Nevertheless, the fact that there is a darker side in Christianity is not an excuse for anyone to accept the errors of those who water down and dumb down Christian doctrine and paganize Christianity with “New Age” concepts that lead most of Christianity down the path to Laodicea (lukewarm Christianity).

Apostasy, from the Greek word apostasia, means “a defiance of an established system or authority; a rebellion; an abandonment or breach of faith.” In the first-century world, apostasy was a technical term for political revolt or defection. And just like in the first century, apostasy threatens the Body of Christ today.

The church of today is crippled with apostasy. I believe, of the 2.2 billion persons claiming to be Christian, a mere 10% may be actual followers of Christ and the True Church. The others, the remaining 90%, are following false teachers; “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; 2 Timothy 3:5. People of today are the 7th Church, the Church John spoke of in Revelations; and, noted to be the Church of Laodicea. The Church of whom is neither Hot not Cold, but lukewarm. One must ask themselves “how does Liberalism, Political Correctness, heresy and all forms of godliness enter the Church without being challenged?” Through being lukewarm.

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the church of Jesus Christ is sick with apostasy, debilitating every missionary work, every Christian school, every witness through the media, and every local assembly of believers. The apostasy that now fills the whole church germinated in about 1800. Since then, it has steadily grown and spread, with corrupting effects that can be clearly seen in two ways.

  1. Christianity has fragmented into ideological camps, all of which to some degree reject Biblical faith and practice.
  2. Western society as a whole, once composed of nations that prided themselves on their allegiance to the Christian religion, has become thoroughly secularized.

The sorry state of the contemporary church exactly reproduces all the prophetic pictures of the church in the Last Days, on the eve of Christ’s return. According to prophecy, it would be a church riddled with corruption and crippled by apostasy.

Liberalism

Before the eighteenth century, no one who considered himself a Christian doubted that the Bible is true, and in European society there were few who were willing to say that they were not Christians. But in the eighteenth century, the educated elite began to drift away from Christianity toward alternative world views conceived by speculative philosophy. The most popular of these was deism. Its core belief was that God created the universe as a self-perpetuating machine, operating according to natural laws discoverable by science. This new world view denied the supernatural, as well as God’s continuing involvement in human affairs. In the early nineteenth century, doubt in the supernatural and in Biblical history began to infect organized Christianity. The Unitarians, prominent in New England, went so far as to reject the full deity of Christ. Under the influence of the movement in literature and art known as romanticism, many of them believed that God is a mystic oversoul transcending nature yet intimately in union with it. That conception of God was called transcendentalism. After the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species in the 1860s, important segments of the church accepted his ideas and abandoned belief in the literal truth of the Scriptures. Then emerged a new form of theology known as liberalism. Its basic tenets were these:

  1. Although the Bible offers spiritual and ethical insights, it is only a collection of human writings. Many of them must be classified as folk tales or legends with no historical value.
  2. Jesus may have been divine in the sense that we are all divine, but He was not uniquely God. Nor did He exist before His birth. Nor was He born of a virgin. Nor did He rise bodily from the grave.
  3. The purpose of life is not personal salvation from sin, but salvation of society from the evils of poverty, ignorance, and injustice.

In some of its manifestations, liberalism came close to denying God completely, except as a human thought.

By the early 1900s, liberalism had gained control of all the Protestant seminaries and had won over many pastors, missionaries, denominational overseers, and college officials. Although the average churchgoer was still fairly conservative, his leaders were working feverishly to bring his views up to date. But liberalism had an unexpected effect. The average churchgoer had enough sense to recognize that if liberalism is right, why go to church? By midcentury it became obvious that the mainline churches where liberalism was dominant were losing people. So, liberals in religious professions began looking for a more appealing theology that would still accommodate their unbelief. The new theology that they created is known as neo-orthodoxy.

Neo-orthodoxy

Since World War II, neo-orthodoxy has supplanted liberalism as the dominant outlook of mainline churches, although out-and-out liberalism retains many adherents, both Protestant and Catholic. The fathers of neo-orthodoxy include Karl Barth (called by Billy Graham one of the two greatest theologians of our time, the other being Pope John the 23rd), Rudolph Bultmann, Emil Brunner, and Reinhold Niebuhr. The essence of neo-orthodoxy is its claim that the Bible contains existential rather than factual truth. That is, the Bible affords the religious man a valuable, time-honored framework for conceptualizing and describing his own personal encounters with God (however he conceives of Him). Neo-orthodoxy permits a worshiper to mouth hymns and creeds that he does not really believe. Thus today, if you visit a typical Methodist or Lutheran church, you hear liturgies that seem to exalt Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet when you meet the ministers privately, they will (if they are honest) confess their unbelief that the historical Jesus was anything more than a man. How do they justify their public affirmations of orthodox faith? They regard the language of orthodoxy as simply a vehicle for attaining a satisfying religious experience. Subjective experience rather than objective truth is, in their view, the foundation of religion.

Evangelicalism and neoevangelicalism

At the turn of the century, the advances of liberalism alarmed true Christians and stirred them to action. They began to cooperate with each other in efforts to keep existing church organizations from going liberal. Around the time of World War I, a series of books called The Fundamentals appeared, defending at length the essential doctrines of Christianity. These books were so influential that the new movement which had arisen to protest liberalism took its name from them, calling itself fundamentalism. In the 1920s and 30s, fundamentalists failed to oust liberals from control of the mainline denominations. In consequence, fundamentalism itself divided into two camps. One warmly embraced the principle of ecclesiastical separation—the principle that a local assembly of believers must separate itself from apostate Christian organizations. The other took a less enthusiastic stance in favor of this principle.

  • The first camp left mainline denominations and began forming their own institutions, including schools, mission boards, and parachurch associations. From them came the GARB, the Bible Baptists, the Bible Presbyterians, the IFCA, and other groups, as well as many strictly independent churches.
  • The second camp included many who continued the battle of trying to purify the mainline denominations, many (especially among the Southern Baptists) who did not feel that liberalism threatened their own denomination, and many who formed new churches but who maintained dialogue and cooperation with more liberal elements in the church.

In time, largely as a result of patronizing the same religious media, the second camp coalesced into a distinct movement known as evangelicalism. This movement has retained its cohesion even as it has forsaken its original identity and evolved into something more modern, tainted with apostasy.

Its chief error today is an emphasis on positives to the neglect of negatives. Although an evangelical church may faithfully teach the basic doctrines of Christianity—the Trinity, the authority of the Bible, salvation by faith, and so on—it gives everything a wrong slant. It says much about the love of God, but very little about the judgment of God or God’s hatred of sin. It speaks often of heaven, but seldom of hell. Its members hear much about getting to heaven through a commitment to Christ or through being born again, but very little about repentance. They listen often to promises that the Christian life will make them happy, but seldom to warnings about the difficulties and demands of the Christian life. Rather than burden them with negative rules and standards, their pastor tells them that they have liberty to live as they please, so long as they do not break an explicit command of Scripture. As a result, they never escape a worldly lifestyle, because many modern vices were unknown in Bible times and the Bible says nothing against them. In the 1950s a small group of Christian intellectuals spearheaded a new movement that became known as neo-evangelicalism. At the outset, the chief distinctive of this movement was its desire to engage learned unbelievers in dialogue, seeking not only witness, but also an adjustment of Christian language, traditions, and tenets to bring them into agreement with the established results of scientific and academic inquiry. Neo-evangelicalism quickly gained the upper hand at institutions like Fuller Theological Seminary and Wheaton College. By now, its influence has been felt everywhere in evangelicalism, yet some clear differences between the older movement and its spin-off remain.

  1. Most evangelicals are politically conservative, whereas many neoevangelicals follow trendy liberal causes. They tend to be pacifistic, to favor strong governmental action against social problems, and to support advances in minority rights, including the rights of women and homosexuals.
  2. Evangelicals hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, whereas neo-evangelicals reject inerrancy or else deny that the Creation accounts and other portions are meant to be taken literally.
  3. Evangelicals still oppose practices like drinking and smoking, and perhaps even rock dancing. Neo-evangelicals have no such scruples, although they look on smoking as unhealthy and inadvisable, and they endorse moderation in drinking.
  4. Evangelicals avoid fellowship with people in the liberal or neo-orthodox realm, whereas neo-evangelicals willingly interact and fellowship with anyone except a fundamentalist.

Neo-fundamentalism and cultic fundamentalism

The segment of the church left behind as evangelicals drifted toward more liberal positions kept the name “fundamentalist.” But purity and unity within fundamentalism did not long survive all the divisive currents in the modern church. As late as the 1960s, all fundamentalists could still assemble and feel that they shared a common identity. But then the fracturing process began. By the 1980s, two new movements had appeared, both weighed down by apostate tendencies. One of these has been called neofundamentalism. The other I will call cultic fundamentalism. “Neo-fundamentalism” was originally a label that fundamentalist opponents of Jerry Falwell pinned on his political action movement, known as the Moral Majority. The label is useful to signify churches and groups that have emerged from fundamentalism and acquired the following characteristics, now evident in many with no connection to Jerry Falwell:

  1. They prefer modern translations of the Bible.
  2. In 1950, Time Magazine, reporting on the revival at Wheaton College, spoke of it as bearing “the stamp of its strict fundamentalist heritage: no movies, smoking, card-playing, dancing or drinking,” and it said derisively of the readers of Christian Life, a popular Christian magazine in those days, “Drinking, smoking, dancing, card-playing and movies they consider the Devil’s traps” (1). These five prohibitions were for many years universally upheld by Bible-believing Christians. Christian institutions enforced them, and pastors denounced the forbidden practices as sin. Modern neo-fundamentalists may not openly reject the traditional standards of separation, but they increasingly feel that insisting upon them is legalistic.
  3. They have adopted popular styles in sacred music.
  4. They tend to be involved in politics, and in politics they do not hesitate to make alliances with religious groups that are non-fundamentalist or even unorthodox, like the Mormons.

Evangelical churches display many of the same characteristics. So, it appears that except for their history, neo-fundamentalist churches are becoming indistinguishable from evangelical churches.

The mark of cultic fundamentalism is its exaltation of one leader to spiritual supremacy. At least two fairly large cults have emerged in the last twenty years, and more seem to be in the making. The first is the cult associated with Jack Hyles and Peter Ruckman. The second is the Bill Gothard cult. The evolving distinctives of the first have clearly heretical tendencies.

  1. Hyles and Ruckman teach that the King James translation of the Bible was given by inspiration.
  2. Both men curry the adoration and total submission of their followers.
  3. Both men are tolerant of divorce.
  4. Both men promote ideas that verge on the bizarre (see the articles cited below).

The Gothard cult appeals to a different class of people, but is no less cultic in its suppression of individual soul liberty. The leader has drawn his followers into a way of life that restricts their contact with people outside his control and binds them to his leadership for every decision they make. What they believe, how they eat, how they manage their practical affairs, how they relate to each other, and what they teach their children—all require attention to his teachings, some of which are clearly unbiblical. For example, he opposes (or at least many of his followers believe that he opposes) adoption, giving as his reason that a child of immoral parents will inherit their moral weakness. Excellent critiques of these cults from an orthodox perspective are available on the Web. By following the links, you will see informative articles on Bill Gothard, Peter Ruckman, and Jack Hyles. I do not agree with every position taken, but the articles do well in exposing how far these men have strayed from a sound Christianity.

Partial conclusion

Each wind of apostasy that has swept across Christendom has blown people away from moorings in sound faith and practice. Few churches remain that approximate what they should be, according to God’s design laid out in the New Testament. Those that still hold fast to their fundamentalist heritage find themselves under tremendous pressure to move either toward evangelical compromise or cultic authoritarianism, rigidity, and superstition. Will any survive as living churches? God is testing His people, to see whether any will love Him rather than the world, though it offers them an easy religion, without sacrifice or self-denial.

I came across this today. It was posted by a friend of mine,  Angela Digman,  and I wanted to share '~  Do Barbers Exist?</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>A old cowboy went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists."</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"Why do you say that?" asked the cowboy. </p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things." </p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The cowboy thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the cowboy left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The cowboy turned back and entered the barber shop again and<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"No!" the cowboy exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside."</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens, is people do not come<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
to me."</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"Exactly!"- affirmed the cowboy. "That's the point! ....<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world." </p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>* God bless and keep sharing the Good News !!!! ~ C4C'it with all of you. It is originally from “Cowboy’s -4- Christ” on facebook. It is meaningful and I  enjoy it. Thank you, Angela, for making it available.

A old cowboy went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”

“Why do you say that?” asked the cowboy.

“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.”

The cowboy thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the cowboy left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.

The cowboy turned back and entered the barber shop again and
he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”

“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!

“No!” the cowboy exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”

“Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens, is people do not come to me.”

“Exactly!”- affirmed the cowboy. “That’s the point! ….
God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don’t go to Him and do not look for Him. That’s why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”

* God bless and keep sharing the Good News !!!!

The statement “the Bible is our only rule for faith and practice” appears in many doctrinal statements. Sometimes, it takes a similar form, stating that the Bible is “the final authority,” “the only infallible rule,” or “the only certain rule.” This sentiment, whatever the wording, is a way for Bible-believing Christians to declare their commitment to the written Word of God and their independence from other would-be authorities.

The statement that the Bible is the “only rule for faith and practice” is rooted in the sufficiency of Scripture, as revealed in 2 Timothy 3:16–17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Because God is sovereign, His Word is the absolute authority in our lives, and by it God equips us for His service. As A. A. Hodge wrote, “Whatever God teaches or commands is of sovereign authority. . . . The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only organs through which, during the present dispensation, God conveys to us a knowledge of his will about what we are to believe concerning himself, and what duties he requires of us” (Outlines of Theology, chapter 5).

When we say, “The Bible is our only rule for faith and practice,” we mean that we hold the Bible, God’s Holy Word, to be our ultimate guide for what we believe (“faith”) and what we do (“practice”). We mean that the Bible trumps man’s authority, church tradition, and our own opinions. We mean we will allow nothing that opposes God’s Word to dictate our actions or control our thinking. We mean that we agree with the Reformers’ cry of sola scriptura.

When the Bible clearly reveals a truth, we believe it with all our hearts. When the Bible clearly commands us to do something, we make sure we are doing it. For example, the Bible says that Jesus is coming back again (John 14:3; Revelation 19:11–16). Since the Bible is our “only rule for faith,” we have no choice but to believe that Jesus is returning some day. Also, the Bible says that we are to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Since the Bible is our “final authority for practice,” we are bound to abstain from immorality (as defined by the Bible).

We believe following the Bible as our only rule of faith and practice is the safest position, theologically. Fidelity to Scripture keeps us from being “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (Ephesians 4:14). As the noble Bereans taught us (Acts 17:11), all doctrines are to be examined in light of the Bible, and only what conforms to biblical truth should be accepted.

Following the Bible is also the most sensible position, because the Word of God “is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89) and “the law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).

Our answer to this question will not only determine how we view the Bible and its importance to our lives, but also it will ultimately have an eternal impact on us. If the Bible is truly God’s Word, then we should cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself.

The fact that God gave us the Bible is an evidence and illustration of His love for us. The term “revelation” simply means that God communicated to mankind what He is like and how we can have a right relationship with Him. These are things that we could not have known had God not divinely revealed them to us in the Bible. Although God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible was given progressively over approximately 1500 years, it has always contained everything man needs to know about God in order to have a right relationship with Him. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then it is the final authority for all matters of faith, religious practice, and morals.

The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word? These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible’s claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. There can be no doubt that the Bible does claim to be the very Word of God. This is clearly seen in Paul’s commendation to Timothy: “… from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

There are both internal and external evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word. The internal evidences are those things within the Bible that testify of its divine origin. One of the first internal evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This unity is unique from all other books and is evidence of the divine origin of the words which God moved men to record.

Another of the internal evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God’s Word is the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind. Other prophecies concern the coming of One who would be the Messiah, the Savior of all who would believe in Him. Unlike the prophecies found in other religious books or those by men such as Nostradamus, biblical prophecies are extremely detailed. There are over three hundred prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Not only was it foretold where He would be born and His lineage, but also how He would die and that He would rise again. There simply is no logical way to explain the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible other than by divine origin. There is no other religious book with the extent or type of predictive prophecy that the Bible contains.

A third internal evidence of the divine origin of the Bible is its unique authority and power. While this evidence is more subjective than the first two, it is no less a powerful testimony of the divine origin of the Bible. The Bible’s authority is unlike any other book ever written. This authority and power are best seen in the way countless lives have been transformed by the supernatural power of God’s Word. Drug addicts have been cured by it, homosexuals set free by it, derelicts and deadbeats transformed by it, hardened criminals reformed by it, sinners rebuked by it, and hate turned to love by it. The Bible does possess a dynamic and transforming power that is only possible because it is truly God’s Word.

There are also external evidences that indicate the Bible is truly the Word of God. One is the historicity of the Bible. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document. Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true. In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best-documented book from the ancient world. The fact that the Bible accurately and truthfully records historically verifiable events is a great indication of its truthfulness when dealing with religious subjects and doctrines and helps substantiate its claim to be the very Word of God.

Another external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the integrity of its human authors. As mentioned earlier, God used men from many walks of life to record His words. In studying the lives of these men, we find them to be honest and sincere. The fact that they were willing to die often excruciating deaths for what they believed testifies that these ordinary yet honest men truly believed God had spoken to them. The men who wrote the New Testament and many hundreds of other believers (1 Corinthians 15:6) knew the truth of their message because they had seen and spent time with Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead. Seeing the risen Christ had a tremendous impact on them. They went from hiding in fear to being willing to die for the message God had revealed to them. Their lives and deaths testify to the fact that the Bible truly is God’s Word.

A final external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the indestructibility of the Bible. Because of its importance and its claim to be the very Word of God, the Bible has suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. From early Roman Emperors like Diocletian, through communist dictators and on to modern-day atheists and agnostics, the Bible has withstood and outlasted all of its attackers and is still today the most widely published book in the world.

Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archeology has confirmed it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by pseudo-science, psychology, and political movements, yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains; its veracity and impact on lives is unmistakable. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God’s Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God’s Word.

The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. To say the Scriptures are sufficient means that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service. It provides a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior through the gift of faith. No other writings are necessary for this good news to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith.

When discussing Scripture, Christians are referring to both Old and New Testaments. The apostle Paul declared that the holy Scriptures “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15–17). If Scripture is “God-breathed,” then it is not man-breathed, and, although it was penned by men, those “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). No man-made writing is sufficient to equip us for every good work; only the Word of God can do that. Furthermore, if the Scriptures are sufficient to thoroughly equip us, then nothing more is needed.

Colossians 2 deals with the dangers a church faces when the sufficiency of Scripture is challenged and merged with non-biblical writings, full of ungodly theology and concepts. Paul warned the church at Colosse: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Jude says it even more specifically when he writes, “Although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Notice the phrase “once and for all.” This makes it clear that no other writings, no matter how godly the pastor, theologian, or denominational church they may come from, are to be seen as equal to or completing the Word of God. The Bible is all that is necessary for the believer to understand the character of God, the nature of man, and the doctrines of sin, heaven, hell, and salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul’s words to the Galatians indicate the seriousness of delivering a message outside the Bible: “If we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8).

Perhaps the strongest verses on the issue of the sufficiency of the Bible come from the book of Psalms. In Psalm 19:7–14, David rejoices in God’s Word, declaring it to be perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, enlightening, sure and altogether righteous.

The sufficiency of Scripture is under attack today, and, sadly, that attack comes far too often in our own churches. Management techniques, worldly methods of drawing crowds, entertainment, extra-biblical revelations, mysticism, and some forms of psychological counseling all declare that the Bible and its precepts are not adequate for the Christian life. But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His voice is all we need to hear and the Scriptures are His voice, completely and utterly sufficient.

We live in a time that tends to shrug its shoulders when confronted with error. Instead of asking, like Pilate, “What is truth?” postmodern man says, “Nothing is truth” or perhaps “There is truth, but we cannot know it.” We’ve grown accustomed to being lied to, and many people seem comfortable with the false notion that the Bible, too, contains errors.

The doctrine of biblical inerrancy is an extremely important one because the truth does matter. This issue reflects on the character of God and is foundational to our understanding of everything the Bible teaches. Here are some reasons why we should absolutely believe in biblical inerrancy:

1. The Bible itself claims to be perfect. “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6). “The law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalm 19:7). “Every word of God is pure” (Proverbs 30:5 KJV). These claims of purity and perfection are absolute statements. Note that it doesn’t say God’s Word is “mostly” pure or scripture is “nearly” perfect. The Bible argues for complete perfection, leaving no room for “partial perfection” theories.

2. The Bible stands or falls as a whole. If a major newspaper were routinely discovered to contain errors, it would be quickly discredited. It would make no difference to say, “All the errors are confined to page three.” For a paper to be reliable in any of its parts, it must be factual throughout. In the same way, if the Bible is inaccurate when it speaks of geology, why should its theology be trusted? It is either a trustworthy document, or it is not.

3. The Bible is a reflection of its Author. All books are. The Bible was written by God Himself as He worked through human authors in a process called “inspiration.” “All scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). See also 2 Peter 1:21 and Jeremiah 1:2.

We believe that the God who created the universe is capable of writing a book. And the God who is perfect is capable of writing a perfect book. The issue is not simply “Does the Bible have a mistake?” but “Can God make a mistake?” If the Bible contains factual errors, then God is not omniscient and is capable of making errors Himself. If the Bible contains misinformation, then God is not truthful but is instead a liar. If the Bible contains contradictions, then God is the author of confusion. In other words, if biblical inerrancy is not true, then God is not God.

4. The Bible judges us, not vice versa. “For the word of God…judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Notice the relationship between “the heart” and “the Word.” The Word examines; the heart is being examined. To discount parts of the Word for any reason is to reverse this process. We become the examiners, and the Word must submit to our “superior insight.” Yet God says, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?” (Romans 9:20).

5. The Bible’s message must be taken as a whole. It is not a mixture of doctrine that we are free to select from. Many people like the verses that say God loves them, but they dislike the verses that say God will judge sinners. But we simply cannot pick and choose what we like about the Bible and throw the rest away. If the Bible is wrong about hell, for example, then who is to say it is right about heaven—or about anything else? If the Bible cannot get the details right about creation, then maybe the details about salvation cannot be trusted either. If the story of Jonah is a myth, then perhaps so is the story of Jesus. On the contrary, God has said what He has said, and the Bible presents us a full picture of who God is. “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89).

6. The Bible is our only rule for faith and practice. If it is not reliable, then on what do we base our beliefs? Jesus asks for our trust, and that includes trust in what He says in His Word. John 6:67-69 is a beautiful passage. Jesus had just witnessed the departure of many who had claimed to follow Him. Then He turns to the twelve apostles and asks, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” At this, Peter speaks for the rest when he says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” May we have the same trust in the Lord and in His words of life.

None of what we have presented here should be taken as a rejection of true scholarship. Biblical inerrancy does not mean that we are to stop using our minds or accept what the Bible says blindly. We are commanded to study the Word (2 Timothy 2:15), and those who search it out are commended (Acts 17:11). Also, we recognize that there are difficult passages in the Bible, as well as sincere disagreements over interpretation. Our goal is to approach Scripture reverently and prayerfully, and when we find something we do not understand, we pray harder, study more, and—if the answer still eludes us—humbly acknowledge our own limitations in the face of the perfect Word of God.

Joel Osteen’s book Your Best Life Now has caused many people to seek their “best life now.” Among the claims Mr. Osteen makes are “God wants to increase you financially” (page 5). He goes on to explain that this quest for financial and material increase is actually pleasing to God. No doubt, Osteen is sincere in what he says and believes that wealth and success really are the way to happiness. But is that what the Bible says? Does God want all His children to be wealthy, and does He tell us that is the way to find happiness? More importantly, is your best life now or is your best life in the world to come?

To say that life on this earth is the best you can have is absolutely true—if you’re not a Christian. The non-Christian lives his best life in the here and now because his next life is one of no hope, no joy, no meaning, no satisfaction and no relief from eternal suffering. Those who have rejected Jesus Christ will spend an eternity in “outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This phrase is used five times (Matthew 8:12, 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28) to describe the miserable existence of those who are thrust into it at the moment of their deaths. So, seeking to enjoy life while they can makes perfect sense for them because they really are living their best life now. The next life will be truly dreadful.

For the Christian, however, life here, no matter how good it is, is nothing compared to the life that awaits us in heaven. The glories of heaven—eternal life, righteousness, joy, peace, perfection, God’s presence, Christ’s glorious companionship, rewards, and all else God has planned—is the Christian’s heavenly inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5), and it will cause even the best life on earth to pale in comparison. Even the richest, most successful person on earth will eventually age, sicken, and die, and his wealth cannot prevent it, nor can his wealth follow him into the next life. So, why would you be encouraged to live your best life now? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

This verse brings us to the next difficulty with “your best life now” philosophy. Our hearts reside wherever our treasure resides. What we value in life permeates our hearts, our minds, our very existence, and it inevitably comes out in our speech and actions. If you’ve ever met someone whose life is bound up in pursuing wealth and pleasure, it is obvious immediately, because it’s all he talks about. His heart is filled with the things of this life, and out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). He has no time for the things of the Lord—His Word, His people, His work and the eternal life He offers—because he is so busy pursuing his best life now.

But the Bible tells us that the “kingdom of heaven,” not worldly wealth, is like a treasure hidden in a field—so valuable that we should sell everything we have to attain it (Matthew 13:44). There are no scriptural admonitions to pursue and store up wealth. In fact, we are encouraged to do just the opposite. Jesus urged the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and follow Him so that he would have treasure in heaven, but the young man went away sad because his wealth was his heart’s true treasure (Mark 10:17-23). No doubt the young man experienced his best life on earth, only to lose the hope of real life in the future. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

But doesn’t God want us to live in comfort and financial security? We have only to look at the Lord Jesus and the apostles to know that the “best life now” philosophy is devoid of truth. Jesus certainly had no wealth, nor did those who followed Him. He didn’t even have a place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). The apostle Paul’s life would certainly not qualify as blessed by Osteen’s standards, either. Paul says, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). Does that sound like Paul was living his best life? Of course not. He was waiting for his best life in the future, his blessed hope, “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” for him and all who are in Christ. That is our best life, not this “vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

How can we expect a world infected by sin to provide your best life now? How can we ignore scriptures like “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7) and “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12) and “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2), and tell people their best life is here and now? How can we count as meaningless the suffering of the early Christian martyrs who were hanged, burned at the stake, beheaded, and boiled in oil for their faith and their faithfulness to Christ, gladly suffering for the Savior they adored? Did they die these excruciating deaths because no one ever told them they could have experienced their best lives if only they pursued wealth and a healthy self-image, as Joel Osteen claims? The Lord never promised health, wealth, or success in this life. We can’t expect the promises He makes for heaven to be fulfilled now, and the Church dare not promise people the impossible illusion of their best life now. Such a promise encourages people to decide for themselves what will constitute their best lives and then reject Jesus when He doesn’t deliver.

The “your best life now” philosophy is nothing more than the old “power of positive thinking” lie repackaged to scratch the itching ears of the current generation. If we know Jesus Christ as our Savior, our best lives await us in heaven where we will spend eternity in joy and bliss, enjoying a life which is better than the “best” we could have now.

At the very heart of this question lies a fundamental misunderstanding of what both the Old and New Testaments reveal about the nature of God. Another way of expressing this same basic thought is when people say, “The God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath while the God of the New Testament is a God of love.” The fact that the Bible is God’s progressive revelation of Himself to us through historical events and through His relationship with people throughout history might contribute to misconceptions about what God is like in the Old Testament as compared to the New Testament. However, when one reads both the Old and the New Testaments, it becomes evident that God is not different from one testament to another and that God’s wrath and His love are revealed in both testaments.

For example, throughout the Old Testament, God is declared to be a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:5, 15; 108:4; 145:8; Joel 2:13). Yet in the New Testament, God’s loving-kindness and mercy are manifested even more fully through the fact that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Throughout the Old Testament, we also see God dealing with Israel the same way a loving father deals with a child. When they willfully sinned against Him and began to worship idols, God would punish them. Yet, each time He would deliver them once they had repented of their idolatry. This is much the same way God deals with Christians in the New Testament. For example, Hebrews 12:6 tells us that “the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

In a similar way, throughout the Old Testament we see God’s judgment and wrath poured out on sin. Likewise, in the New Testament we see that the wrath of God is still “being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). So, clearly, God is no different in the Old Testament than He is in the New Testament. God by His very nature is immutable (unchanging). While we might see one aspect of His nature revealed in certain passages of Scripture more than other aspects, God Himself does not change.

As we read and study the Bible, it becomes clear that God is the same in the Old and New Testaments. Even though the Bible is 66 individual books written on two (or possibly three) continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years by more than 40 authors, it remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. In it we see how a loving, merciful, and just God deals with sinful men in all kinds of situations. Truly, the Bible is God’s love letter to mankind. God’s love for His creation, especially for mankind, is evident all through Scripture. Throughout the Bible we see God lovingly and mercifully calling people into a special relationship with Himself, not because they deserve it, but because He is a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth. Yet we also see a holy and righteous God who is the Judge of all those who disobey His Word and refuse to worship Him, turning instead to worship gods of their own creation (Romans chapter 1).

Because of God’s righteous and holy character, all sin—past, present, and future—must be judged. Yet God in His infinite love has provided a payment for sin and a way of reconciliation so that sinful man can escape His wrath. We see this wonderful truth in verses like 1 John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” In the Old Testament, God provided a sacrificial system whereby atonement could be made for sin. However, this sacrificial system was only temporary and merely looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ who would die on the cross to make a complete substitutionary atonement for sin. The Savior who was promised in the Old Testament is fully revealed in the New Testament. Only envisioned in the Old Testament, the ultimate expression of God’s love, the sending of His Son Jesus Christ, is revealed in all its glory in the New Testament. Both the Old and the New Testaments were given “to make us wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). When we study the Testaments closely, it is evident that God “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

Peace is something everyone wants, yet few seem to find. What is peace? It can be defined as “tranquility, harmony, or security.” Depending on the situation, it could mean “prosperity” or “well-being.” Various forms of the word peace are found 429 times in the King James Version of the Bible. There are different types of peace, including false peace, inner peace, peace with God and peace with man.

In the Old Testament, the primary Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom, and it refers to relationships between people (Genesis 34:21), nations (1 Kings 5:12), and God with men (Psalm 85:8). Peace is a desired status in each of these arenas, and shalom is often tied to a covenant or a promise kept. A familiar friend (literally, “friend of my peace” in Psalm 41:9) is one with whom you would be at ease, a trusted companion. “Peace” was the standard greeting (1 Samuel 25:6), still used in many cultures today.

Peace is directly related to the actions and attitudes of individuals; but it is ultimately a gift from God (Isaiah 45:7; Leviticus 26:6; John 14:27). The presence of peace indicates God’s blessing on man’s obedience (Isaiah 32:17; Malachi 2:5) and faith (Isaiah 26:3). There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22).

As valuable as peace is, it is not surprising to find that it is sometimes counterfeited. Empty promises of peace can be used to manipulate others. Deceitful men speak words of peace while secretly planning evil (Obadiah 1:7). The Antichrist will confirm a treaty, producing a temporary peace which he will then abruptly shatter as he reveals his true colors (Daniel 9:27). False teachers proclaim peace when God is actually proclaiming judgment (Ezekiel 13:10-16). In Jeremiah’s day, the religious leaders dealt only with the symptoms of the national problems, without addressing the sinful root of the crisis. These false prophets declared everything was well between God and Israel: “Peace, peace,” they said, when there was no real peace (Jeremiah 6:14).

In the New Testament, the primary Greek word for “peace” is eirene, and it refers to rest and tranquility. A key focus of peace in the New Testament is the advent of Jesus Christ, as announced by the angels in Luke 2:14 (“Peace on earth . . .”). Isaiah had predicted the Messiah would be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and He is called the Lord of peace in 2 Thessalonians 3:16. It is through Christ’s work of justification that we can have peace with God (Romans 5:1), and that peace will keep our hearts and minds secure (Philippians 4:7).

God commands us to seek peace (Psalm 34:14; Matthew 5:9). We should “make every effort to do what leads to peace” (Romans 14:19). Of course, there will be some people who do not desire peace, but we are still to do our utmost to be at peace with them (Romans 12:18).

Believers have an obligation to “let the peace of God rule” in their hearts (Colossians 3:15). This means we have the choice either to trust God’s promises (letting His peace rule) or to rely on ourselves and reject the peace He offers. Jesus gave His disciples peace based on the truth that He has overcome the world (John 14:27; 16:33). Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, so, if we are allowing the Spirit of God to rule in our lives, we will experience His peace. To be spiritually minded brings life and peace, according to Romans 8:6.

The world will continue to have wars and interpersonal conflicts until Jesus comes to establish true, lasting peace (see Isaiah 11:1-10), but God will give His peace to those who trust Him. Jesus took the chastisement of our peace (Isaiah 53:5) and has made it possible for us to have peace with God. Once His peace rules in our hearts, we are able to share that peace with others; we become publishers of peace (Isaiah 52:7) and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).