Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Syriac Orthodox, Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Quad Centum (Issue 400) Souvenir Edition

Volume 7 No. 400 March 1, 2017
 

Chapter 1: Bible - The Big Picture

Importance of The Bible

The Bible is the most read book ever. There is no book like it, since God makes Himself known to us by it. It is an inexhaustible source, so rich that you actually don't need to read other books anymore. The Bible is God's word. ...

Some Facts Concerning the Origin of the Bible

The Bible was written over a period of about 1600 years. From about 1490 BC to about 100 AD. The Bible consists of 66 separate books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. ...

Five Reasons Why You Need to Read The Bible

The Bible is the single most important book ever written. It is an eyewitness account of historical events of such magnitude that they have literally shaped the world in which we live. Without this book the Western world and a good deal of the Eastern world would be completely different today than if the events of this book had never occurred. ...

How Will Our Lives Be Better if We Understand the Bible Better?

Jesus' words are at the core of the word of God, but they must be understood and lived. Building your house on the sand of human opinion, popular sentiment, or arbitrary expertise leads to one outcome only… to be washed away....

Bible - The Light on Your Path

Many think the Bible is obsolete because it is an ancient book. But the Bible's light is just as good and powerful today as it was thousands of years ago. We need the Bible for healthy living and it is an important source of strength. ...

Mohler: Bible Not Subject to Modern Science

"If the Bible is not the authoritative source for that and instead has to be corrected by modern science, then the Bible is just there for our manipulation, and quite frankly, the Gospel is there for constant renegotiation," Mohler said. ...

The Church and The Bible

Origin in a Christian family, doesn't make one "a Christian" a Son of God (1 Jn.3), neither he is competent, unless, he is baptized (Jn.3) or in other words, "be born again". ...

The Bible: God's Revelation to Man

For the Christian of true worship, the Bible is the "greatest source of truth, virtue, and moral ethics. It is invaluable as a source of teaching doctrine and holiness. We call it the "Book of Life," for in its pages we find the closest expression we have of the Inexpressible. ...

What Is the Big Picture of the Bible?

This is "the big picture." In it we will find harsh truths and life-giving truths, but only as we read them in the light of the great reality of God. ...

Chapter 1: Bible - The Big Picture

Importance of The Bible
The Bible is considered the most important book in the world. Simply because it is God's word. When you read the Bible, you read a message from God Himself. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. Because the Bible is God's Word, it does more than just pass on information. It makes a promise, a promise of life. Everyone who receives the Bible's message in faith, is promised the rich gift of eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son. The Bible came from God Himself. God chose several people to write down what He wanted them to. Through God's inspiration the Bible was written down by people who did not make up these words themselves. The Holy Spirit drove them to speak on behalf of God.

We need the Bible because no one can live fully without knowing God's true Word. True life consists of obeying God's every command. We can trust the Bible, because God's Word is true and all promises will certainly be fulfilled. The Bible is not too ancient to carry meaning for us today. It is a living book that speaks to people's hearts in every time and place. God's word is full of strength and life. It is sharper than the sharpest sword; it penetrates immediately to our deepest thoughts and desires and shows us clearly who and what we truly are.

The Bible is unutterably useful in your daily life, because it teaches you how to lead a life full of use and sense that is pleasing to God. The bible teaches you the truth and demonstrates any lack in your life and faith. It brings order to your life and shows you what is right and good. The greatest joy you will receive thanks to reading the Bible is that it leads you to the Lord Jesus Christ. It shows you how you can be saved, namely through faith in Jesus Christ through whom you may receive eternal life.

Origin of The Name 'Bible'

The word Bible is derived from the word 'byblos', a Greek word which means 'book'. The expressions 'bibliotheca' and 'divina bibliotheca' were also used, they both mean 'godly collection of books'.

The Bible was also called Scripture, the Scriptures, the Holy Scriptures, the Books and the Jews called them the Law and the Prophets.

The collection of writings of the Old and New Testament as handed down by tradition is called 'canon' by the church, which means 'rule' or 'measuring rod'. The canon is the collection of Biblical books that have been accepted as the holy and God-inspired scriptures through the ages, in contrast with the many apocryphal books (which means concealed) 'Canon' was initially only used for the books of the New Testament.

About the Bible

The Bible consists of more than just one book: it is a whole library of 66 books written by approximately 40 writers. Some of them were kings, for example David and Salomon. Others were scientists and physicians, for example Isaiah and Luke. Others were theologians, for example Ezra and Paul. Some of them were government officials, for example Moses, Daniel and Nehemiah. Others were farmers and fishermen, for example Amos and Peter. Others were musicians, for example Asaf and Korach's children. Some were prophets, for example Ezekiel, Joel and others. It was written over a period of approximately 1500 years.

It is remarkable that despite its diversity, the Bible forms a complete and coherent whole. The reason is that the writers did not write on their own authority but were inspired by God's Holy Spirit. Many among them emphasize that God Himself commissioned them to write everything down. The Bible is God's word to the people.

The Bible is divided into the old testament with 39 books and the new testament with 27 books (Testament means covenant: the covenant God made with mankind). To make research easier later on the books were divided into chapters and the chapters into verses.

The Bible is the most read book ever. There is no book like it, since God makes Himself known to us by it. It is an inexhaustible source, so rich that you actually don't need to read other books anymore. The Bible is God's word.

The image of a holy collection of biblical books inspired by God is very old. The two stone tables on which the finger of God wrote the Ten Commandments were kept in the Arc of the Covenant. The collection and selection of the writings of the Old Testament took place over several centuries and was completed by Ezra. The complete collection of New Testament books was already circulating before 200 A.D. without many differences between the different collections. The current form of our canon was determined in the fourth century.

Source: 1stap.com

Some Facts Concerning the Origin of the Bible

by Robert H. Kreger

(1). The Bible was written over a period of about 1600 years. From about 1490 BC to about 100 AD.

(2). The Bible consists of 66 separate books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

(3). These 66 separate books were written by about 40 different writers: Kings, such as David and Solomon. Statesmen: such as Daniel and Nehemiah. Priests: such as Ezra. Men taught in the wisdom of Egypt: such as Moses. Men taught in the Jewish Law: such as Paul. Herdsmen: such as Amos. Tax collectors: such as Matthew. Unlearned and ignorant fishermen: such as Peter, James and John. A physician: such as Luke. And mighty overseers: such as Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah.

(4). Parts of the Bible were written in the desert of the Sinai.

(5). Parts of the Bible were written in Arabia.

(6). Parts of the Bible were written in the hills and towns of Palestine.

(7). Parts of the Bible were written in the courts of the Temple.

(8). Parts of the Bible were written in the schools of the prophets at Bethel and Jericho.

(9). Parts of the Bible were written in the palace of Shushan in Persia.

(10). Parts of the Bible were written on the banks of the Chebar River in Babylonia.

(11). Parts of the Bible were written in the dungeons of Rome.

(12). Parts of the Bible were written on the lonely island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.

Yet one of the most amazing and miraculous things about all this, is that after 1600 years and 40 different writers, they all talked about the same thing, with no contradictions and no errors (in the original languages of the Hebrew and Greek). They all spoke about the plan of God for man. Most of these men never even read the writings of the others. Everything recorded between the opening pages of the book of Genesis and the closing pages of Revelation was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is a book that man would not write even if he could. Because from Genesis to Revelation the Bible denounces the human race as being sinners. Totally depraved, evil and totally unable to help themselves, and totally unqualified to live with God.

The Bible is a book that man could not write even if he desired to. Because the Bible is the living book. "THE WORD OF GOD IS ALIVE AND POWERFUL" (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible is actually the mind of Jesus Christ in written form, therefore, man could not have written it, because "WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD?" (II Corinthians 2:16). Therefore, the Christian should always be learning Biblical truth. Because only by learning Biblical truth is he able to detect false teaching.

Copyright 1999 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved.

Five Reasons Why You Need to Read The Bible

by Dan Buttafuoco, President of the Historical Bible Society

The Bible is the single most important book ever written. It is an eyewitness account of historical events of such magnitude that they have literally shaped the world in which we live. Without this book the Western world and a good deal of the Eastern world would be completely different today than if the events of this book had never occurred.

It is not too much to say that the events recorded in this book are claimed by a significant percentage of people who have ever lived on this earth to be the most important events ever recorded in the history of the world. This book is foundational to just about everything mankind will ever know or accomplish. It has directly led to massive undertakings of good will and charity. Because of this book, great projects have been undertaken, hospitals have been built, multitudes fed and clothed and orphanages founded.

Here are five primary reasons why you need to read the Bible.

Reason #1: The Bible has transformed the world

It would be impossible to claim to be an educated person in today's world without having at least some familiarity with the events contained in this book. Actually, all of the events contained in this book should be known by everyone.

A good number of people around the world read portions of this book every day. It is one of the most published and printed books in the history of the world. It has been printed in just about every known language (including braille) and each year, since it was first written, it has been the world's greatest bestseller year after year. As time marches on it is continually printed in yet more languages. Collectors of rare books treasure it in every form.

The Bible was the first book ever put to the printing press. The man who first printed it, Johannes Gutenberg, was recently voted the most important man to have ever lived within the past 1000 years!

A good number of museums exist today which are dedicated solely to this very book and the events contained therein.

The Bible is available in every corner of the globe, even where it is illegal to own or read this book. It is available in electronic format and on CD as well. You can find it on the internet for free. Famous actors and personages regularly quote it. It was quoted by William Shakespeare many times in his writings.

Worldwide organizations and associations have been formed because of this book and its message, many of them existing for centuries. Together they represent multiple hundreds of millions of members.

Reason #2: People are willing to die for this book

People have died torturous deaths simply to gain access to this book. You may, even now, be in a country where this book is discouraged or even banned outright. In many countries it is a crime to distribute or even possess this book.

This book has been praised, cursed, restricted, banned, desecrated, burned and fought over. People swear on it and at it.

Some have tried to eliminate it. All who have tried have failed. People have suffered exquisite tortures and loss of freedom and even their lives for printing it. This has occurred recently and over many centuries past, as well. It is, in fact, a regular occurrence in this world.

This book is simultaneously hated and loved. Once read it would be impossible to be indifferent to it; for its claims are monumental and beyond exaggerating. It provokes a strong response in either a positive or negative direction; you will either love it or hate it. It was meant to be so by design. It is so controversial that wars have been fought over its interpretation. Governments have toppled on account of it and kings have been deposed because of it. Most importantly, lives have been dramatically changed for good because of this book.

Reason #3: It's the most accurate book of antiquity

The Bible is the most copied book of antiquity. Written over a time period of some 1,500 years, it was completed approximately 2,000 years ago. Yet, in all the centuries that have passed, none of its contents have ever been found inaccurate.

It has been translated into its present form directly from the original languages from a vast supply of ancient manuscripts sifted by the best minds and most competent scholars of our day and of many prior generations. It has been translated into every known existing language.

It is surpassingly accurate to the smallest details. Its contents, as translated, are as close to the original words of the authors as humanly possible. Only a few words of the entire book (a tiny, insignificant percentage) are in any doubt as to the original words and none of the disputed text affects the message of the book. Additionally, new discoveries of previously unknown ancient manuscripts continue to provide ever greater accuracy to the contents of this book.

It has been sifted, studied, commentated upon and dissected more than any book in history. Volumes of books have been written about it and if they were stacked on top of one another they would reach to the sky.

Where this book can be verified by external events such as archeology, geography, custom, politics, culture, known world history and writings in other ancient texts it has been so verified as to be accurate in all respects. New discoveries always support it, never vice versa. It has never once been proven faulty on single detail or fact, although many have mightily tried and failed.

Reason #4: It contains a life-changing message of freedom

The Bible has liberated many from oppression by its clear teachings. It raises the dignity and rights of every human being ever born. It is truly an amazing and remarkable piece of writing. It contains clear teaching on the value and worth of every individual. It will astonish and surprise you and likely move you to tears.

It has freed minds and hearts throughout history. The events recorded in this book have generated more great works of art (and some not-so-great ones, as well) than any other subject matter in the history of the world. All the museums in the world, added together, could not possibly contain all of the artwork inspired by the events of this book.

This book itself represents true freedom. It has never been in the custody and control of a single group of people, unlike other important books. It belongs to everyone and it has been possessed by everyone, every culture and every tribe and race of people. Reading it will strike you directly in your heart. It has the "ring of truth" to all who love the same.

This book contains a message at its very core. It is a message to all people everywhere, in every time period, relevant to their everyday lives. It claims to be the very words of God... an audacious claim, for sure. It is for you to decide whether to believe the message of this book and apply it to your own life.

If you now know nothing about God, you will know a great deal about God after reading this book. If you believe you know much about God, you will know even more about him after you read this book. You may even decide to re-evaluate your knowledge of God after reading it.

Reason #5: It connects you to history's most important figure

You may have heard of the "godman," Jesus of Nazareth, also called the "Christ" (i.e."Anointed One"). You may even think you know him. But if you have not read the account offered firsthand throughout this book, you will, in effect, know nothing definite about him. The entire Old Testament points to his coming, and the entire New Testament testifies to his teachings and actions.

His name has been used to bless people and it has been used as a curse word by those who despise him. People have been healed and set free in his name. One thing is for sure: when you meet Jesus in the pages of this book and understand who he claims to be it is impossible for you to remain indifferent to him.

This story is either the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind or it describes Jesus as exactly who he claims to be: the Supreme Lord and Ruler over all of mankind and the very creator God of the Universe. Logically speaking, this is either a nice poetic story created from a fantasy with an intent to deceive you or a clear and accurate picture of God, who is our judge ( both mine and yours). You decide. If you think you know about God already, consider the source of that "knowledge" and examine if this book may, in fact, be a better source for true knowledge about the one true Creator God that made you and everything else, both known an unknown in this Universe.

People are free to reject this book and what it says. God made us "free moral agents" to choose as we desire. Yet, people violate the teachings and wisdom of this book at their own peril.

Because of the main person in this book, Jesus of Nazareth, time has been split into two main epochs (B.C. "before Christ" and A.D. "anno Domini" for "year of our Lord").

Each year, over a billion people celebrate his birth, his death and his bodily resurrection from the dead.

Jesus is the only religious leader ever to make the claim that he has risen from the dead. All others are dead and buried. Abraham is dead. Moses is dead. Mohammed has died and remains dead, Buddha is dead, Gandhi is dead. Only Jesus claims to be alive. Even Muslims revere Jesus as a holy man and a great prophet. All told, about half of the world today accepts that this Jesus was a great and remarkable personage.

Conclusion

Keep turning the pages of this remarkable book. Read it with an open mind and open heart. It contains pure truth about God, about life, the nature of mankind and our own hearts as human beings. The Gospel of John is a wonderful place to start, but read the whole thing - Old and New Testaments. You'll be amazed what you discover about God, and about yourself.

If this God is indeed your judge, before whom you will someday give an account of your life, it truly behooves you to be aware of who he is and the simple thing he asks of us before that solemn time comes. In essence, this book will help you to deal with that very event for which we are all destined. Be warned: you will not be the same after you read this book.

Source: ptl.org

How Will Our Lives Be Better if We Understand the Bible Better?

by Mel Lawrenz

Why should we bother reading Scripture or trying to understand it? We should know why.

It is fair to ask the question: "How will my life be better if I understand the Bible better?" Because it certainly is possible to own a Bible, carry a Bible, read the Bible, listen to Bible teachings and sermons, and neglect working to understand what the Bible actually means. It is worth everything to understand the Bible better.

First, understanding the Bible leads to a fruitful life. The very first words of the very first Psalm say this:

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither -
whatever they do prospers.
(Ps. 1:1-3)

We need to be intentional about what kind of people we are. Do we want to be "planted" in a place of health and fruitfulness, or to wander in sin and even wickedness?

One day Jesus taught that understanding and applying his words leads to a stable life.

"Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
(Matt. 7:24-25)

Jesus' words are at the core of the word of God, but they must be understood and lived. Building your house on the sand of human opinion, popular sentiment, or arbitrary expertise leads to one outcome only… to be washed away.

The apostle Paul explains how the word of God leads to a quality life.

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. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

What an enormous blessing it is to have Holy Scripture, breathed out by God, which does these four things:

(1) teaching (that is, telling us the truth),
(2) rebuking (that is, telling us when we're off track in our lives),
(3) correcting (that is, getting us back on track), and
(4) training in righteousness (that is, helping us stay on track).

This is quality control for our lives. It is God speaking to us in all candor, honesty, support, and confrontation. It is the firm hand of discipline with the gentle touch of love.

Love is really why we have Scripture - why God breaks the silence and silences the noise. The writer of Hebrews put it best:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Heb. 1:1-3)

The major turning points in the Bible are not merely history. They are acts of love - God building God's own story exactly how he wanted it. The law of the Old Testament is God patiently teaching human beings about holiness. The prophets screamed their warnings and proclaimed great promise - both acts of love. And then came God's speech through his Son. In Jesus we get truth, which is greater than just "truths." The Son is radiance, glory, purification, authority. Those red letters we read in the Gospels are not moralistic maxims. They are piercing beams of light.

How will our lives be better if we understand the Bible better?

When I was a teenager and a brand-new believer, I was in a Christian coffeehouse where someone taught a while, and then someone sang for a bit, and all of us sat around rustic round tables talking about life. A young man at my table who was a few years older than me had with him an enormous Bible, almost the size of what you see on altars in churches, with wooden covers and gilded edges. I will never forget him looking me dead in the eye and saying, "Whatever else you do - pay attention to the words of this book. It has everything you need." I will never forget that huge Bible, the intense look of conviction in the eyes of that young man, and his simple, focused admonition. From that moment on, I read Scripture differently, with eyes of faith. I felt like the Bible was reading me, rather than me reading the Bible, which exposed me to a power - benevolent, consistent, and constructive - I had never known before.

About The Author

Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.

Source: How to Understand the Bible

Bible - The Light on Your Path
The sun has been around for thousands of years. In the sky for so long, it has become hopelessly obsolete. Therefore it would be better if the sun didn't shine anymore.

When one builds a house, he doesn't have to put windows in it anymore because we have modern and better light. We've got electrical light, don't we? Everyone who thinks the sun obsolete had better build houses without windows. He can have artificial light by day and by night. Try it for once.

But most people will want to keep the old but good bright sun. Because we need the sun for healthy living. And even in our modern times it isn't just a light source, it is also an important energy source.

It is that way with the Bible. Many think the Bible is obsolete because it is an ancient book. But the Bible's light is just as good and powerful today as it was thousands of years ago. We need the Bible for healthy living and it is an important source of strength.

That is why no one can do without the Bible. The Bible enables you to find the Lord Jesus Christ. And you will discover that for you He is also the only Way, Truth and Eternal Life.

God's Word is a radiant light guiding you through life.

The Gospel

In Bible you can find everything you need to know in order to live a life as your Creator meant it to be. There are numerous life lessons in this book, God's message to man, but if we try to summarize everything to the core, three things become clear in the Bible.

First of all, the Bible states that man has a problem called sin. Sin is everything disagreeing with the being of God: deeds, traits, situations. And everyone has this problem of sin. The Bible teaches us that the result of sin is separation from God. Actually the Bible says that the result of sin is death and that we can't do anything to solve this problem of sin.

Secondly, the Bible says there is a solution for the problem of sin. It lies within the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says God loves you so much that He sent his only Son to die in our stead. Jesus paid the penalty for your sin so that you would not be separated from God forever. The Bible says Jesus is the sole solution to our problem of sin.

Thirdly the Bible asks for you to decide. Knowing about Jesus and His death on the cross for you is not enough. You have to make the choice to trust Him so that you can receive God's offer: this present of salvation.

Each of us has the problem of sin. There is but one solution, the person of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sake.

For God loves the world so much, that He has given His only Son: so that whoever believes in Him will not be lost but live forever.

This is seen as the heart of the gospel and it is this web sites ground tenet.
Believing is not difficult, it is God's gift. You just have to accept it. Take that step...

Then you'll find God. And He will give you His grace. It gives you freedom and sense in your life now, and afterwards the prospect of meeting Jesus which will be unutterably great. No man can change another human being. Each of us has to make the choice for him-/herself... so do you.

Go to Jesus while you can.

Source: 1stap.com

Mohler: Bible Not Subject to Modern Science

by Erin Roach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- If believers allow modern science to tell them what they can theologically affirm, the logic does not end with a discussion of whether there is a historical Adam, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" Sept. 22.

"It continues throughout the entirety of the body of Christian truth. And that is a disastrous route," Mohler said. "And frankly, you're either going to accept [or reject] that the Bible gives us the authoritative word concerning the entirety of our understanding of things relative to who we are as human beings, what God did in creating the world and what God did for us in Christ.

"If the Bible is not the authoritative source for that and instead has to be corrected by modern science, then the Bible is just there for our manipulation, and quite frankly, the Gospel is there for constant renegotiation," Mohler said. "It ends up being another gospel, the very thing the Apostle Paul warned against."

Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was part of a 30-minute discussion that included Daniel Harlow, a religion professor at Calvin College, on the continuing debate over the existence of a historical Adam and Eve as the first parents of all humanity and as the solitary first human pair.

Harlow argued against a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis, contending that the literary genre of early Genesis is divinely inspired story, not documentary history. Also, he believes Adam and Eve are not central to biblical theology.

"If Adam and Eve were central to biblical teaching, it would be a surprise to learn that they are not mentioned in the entire Old Testament after Genesis Chapter 3 and 4," Harlow said on NPR.

"If Adam and Eve are at the heart of the Christian faith, then Jesus and the apostles missed that memo. If you read the Gospels and read the Book of Acts, which purports to give the apostolic preaching of the Gospel, Adam, Eve and the serpent are not there.

"What is central to the Christian faith is the life, the saving death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ," Harlow said. "So we don't need a historical couple tricked by a talking snake for the truth claims of Christianity to be true. What we need simply is a recognition of the reality of human sinfulness, that human beings are in the grip of sin, and that we need a savior because of that."

Mohler, in his comments, said Adam is "a very important part of how the Bible explains the Gospel. In particular, the Apostle Paul twice grounds the story of the Gospel in the linkage between Christ as the second Adam, understandable in terms of why He came and what He did for us, with reference to the first Adam.

"And the Apostle Paul, by the way, is not just telling us about biblical theology here and helping us to understand the Gospel. He is also telling us how to interpret the Old Testament," Mohler said. "And I think it's a very important issue here that we recognize that what's at stake in this discussion is not just, as important as it is, the historicity of the first several chapters of Genesis or the historicity of Adam and the fall.

"Those are absolutely, I believe, vital to orthodox Christianity, but also to the question as to whether or not the apostles get to tell us how we interpret the Old Testament. And I believe that's a very important issue."

Mohler said the argument against the historicity of Adam did not emerge until "all of a sudden, a person said science has a privileged word to say." Furthermore, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of the Gospel story, yet there is no scientific basis for making that argument.

"Modern science, in terms of its naturalism and materialism, generally rules completely out of order even the question of supernatural events," Mohler said.

Harlow said at times human understanding of what the Bible intends to teach needs to be revised.

"Let's be clear: The Bible is not an authority on scientific matters. It was written in a pre-scientific age. It's not a science textbook. There's a lot more knowledge about the world to be had," Harlow said, adding that the Gospel accounts of the resurrection "are fundamentally different in the type of literature they are from the early chapters of Genesis."

Mohler said Christians have nothing to fear from legitimate science, but scientism and naturalism do pose a problem.

"I'm perfectly willing for science to tell me what the scientists are working on and how they believe the world is working. I cannot draw my conclusions about the Bible, about the Gospel, from them," Mohler said. "Instead, I have to say, 'All right, I know they have their say. I respect that.'

"I believe that at the end of the day, there will be no final conflict between Christian truth revealed in the Scriptures and true science. But in the meantime, it's just not fair to say you have two different realms that don't overlap. It's not just a how and a who. The claims of modern science go far beyond merely a how, and the claims of the Scripture go far beyond merely a who," Mohler said.

When the host asked Mohler whether students at Southern Seminary should be exposed to the line of thinking proposed by Harlow and other scholars, Mohler said, "Oh, absolutely, the controversy needs to be taught. And quite frankly, no one can be a well-educated and an intelligent person in the modern world without understanding the theory of evolution and its implications."

Mohler said the arguments being made by the central proponents of evolutionary theory are not new.

"What is new ... is the fact that we're now down to what I think is the key issue of our understanding. And that is, even given all the controversies that had been taking place amongst evangelicals over Genesis in times past, are we now at a place where it's going to be legitimate to say that there was no fall, that there was no Adam, there was no Eve?" Mohler said.

"That is where the implications of this thought have taken us. And this is where the dividing line is going to happen. There is a serious and deep, perhaps irresolvable, divide between the scholars who would stand with Professor Harlow and those who would stand with me."

About The Author:

Erin Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

© Copyright 2012 Baptist Press. All Rights Reserved 

The Church and The Bible

by V. Rev. Dr. Kurien Kaniamparambil Arch Corepiscopa

Bertrand Russel's book, "why I am not a Christian?" is famous. Whether his speculations and calculations to cause an earthquake in the Christian world, had been fruitful or futile, is evident from the fact that even at present 99% of Christians irrespective of Christological divisions still believe that Christ, is God - incarnated, and the Savior of mankind. His reasoning didn't make even a shake or shock. Neither the Herodian inhumanity, nor the Roman royal atrocities, nor the 20th century Bolshvison could minimize even a bit of religious orthodoxy.

I am Syrian Christian by birth and most of my readers too, the same, by the will of God. I was born in a noble Syrian Christian family noted for the orthodoxy and active participation in Church affairs. Let us praise God, who blessed us to be born of Christian parents.

Origin in a Christian family, doesn't make one "a Christian" a Son of God (1 Jn.3), neither he is competent, unless, he is baptized (Jn.3) or in other words, "be born again". The advice or command of St. Peter to the penitents on the day of Pentecost and to the Jailer, point to this unavoidable necessity and hence, the Church so amended that the rebirth should follow the natural birth, as early as possible and it became the custom from Apostolic times and in the early centuries, of which we have reliable evidence from Apostolic fathers.

1) St. Iraneus, disciple of Polycarp, disciple of St. John - has given testimony. Hippolitus (244 AD) says, "Baptism the children first, and if they can speak, let them do so. Otherwise let their parents or relatives, speak for them". Origen (185AD), "The church received from the Apostles the traditions of giving baptism even to children". St. Cyprian (200), "Infants should be baptized as early as possible so that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man, born".

2) All the ancient churches (irrespective of their Christological and doctrinal differences) the Syrian, the Roman Catholic, and Armenian all are baptizing infants. The Church of England in the Book of Common Prayer - there is the Ministration of Baptism of Infants. Biblically : the Old Testament (OT) orders circumcision on the 8th day of the child.

3) Our Lord blessed children even before their birth - while in the womb - God blessed children (Jer. 1.5) John (Lk.1.15, 41), David (Ps.71.6).

4) During the Apostolic period, soon after the baptism an anointing unction followed (rubbing with oil as is seen in 1 Jn.2.20). Some may doubt, whether there had been the use of oil among the faithful at the time of the apostle, Mark 6 and James 5.5 give an affirmative answer. In Old Testament (OT) times, anointing was only to priests and kings. In New Testament (NT), it followed to every faithful and thus the faithful is said to be 'Royal' and 'Priestly' as seen in the Epistle.

Dionysus of Ariusphagos (Acts 17.34) says :- 'He who has received the Holy sacrament of regeneration also receives the abiding of the Holy Spirit through his anointing of perfection by the Holy Mooron'. "It is on this account, we are called Christians, because we are anointed with the oil of God" - says, St. Theophilos (185) Tertjvilian (165) says. "After this, having come out from the bath, we are anointed with a blessed unction, according to the ancient rule. The flesh is anointed, so that the soul may be dedicated to holiness. "St. Hoppolis the 3rd century and St. Cyprian, St. Ephraim of the 4th century and other Doctors of the Church wrote about the Holy Mooron. "The ancient custom, still continued in the Eastern Churches was to administer it to the infants. In the west it became usual in the "middle ages" to postpone it - the age of reason "Dr.Mos" the (Christian Church).

THE NEXT STEP is vividly shown in Acts Ch.2. (Those who were being saved were added to the CHURCH. Membership in the Church is the most necessary condition regarding salvation. Why?

1) The Church is the Body of Christ. (Rom.12.5)

2) It is the House of God, the Pillar and ground of Truth (1 Tim.2.15).

3) It is our Lord's (Math;16.16)

4) A teaching Church (Math;28.30)

5) A witnessing Church (Acts.1.8)

6) A Hierarchical Church, with Bishops, Priests and deacons (Acts.Ch.6, Ch.20 etc)

7) Guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn 16.13).

St. Ignatius, the martyr successor of St.Peter in Antioch has recorded that - "without Bishops there is no CHURCH".

In this connection a Christian should note (1) the uniqueness of Christ and (2) that of the Church.

(1) Christ is the only one who rose after death.

(2) Christ is the only one who said that he came to save sinners and not the just. (Nor for 'Parithranaya Saaduan and Vinasaya Dushkrishan, to save the guest and demolish the wicked (Bhagavat Geetha).

(3) I came not to be ministered but to minister and give myself.

(4) Christ is the only one, whose, birth, life and manner of death were foretold by Prophets, centuries ago.

(5) He was the only one, who was sinless. He did challenge his adversaries

(6) He was the only one, who promised that he would come again.

And the CHURCH, He founded is unique. From its beginning, it had to face oppositions and persecutions. The first persecution was from Jews and the first Martyr was St. Stephan. All the Apostiles died martyrs, except St. John who had to suffer persecutions. The next persecutions were from Roman Emperors, beginning from Nero, who massacred St. Peter and St. Paul. Christians without number were brutally put to death among whom the names of St. Ignatius Noorono, St.Polycarp and others.

But in course of time the Lord and Master of the Church changed the situation, through the conversion of Constantine in the beginning of the 4th century, and thus the forbidden religion became the state religion.

The next persecution was monitored by Heretics such as Arivs, Maccadonius, Nestor and a host of others, with help from the rulers. That too the church overcomes through the General Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus.

In spite of all these adverse circumstances, of the 700 crores of the world population, nearly 400 crores are Christians. The Roman Catholic Church topping the list. What other narration is required to show the uniqueness of Christianity?

It is really lamentable, that new sects, sprouted up from the 19th century onwards are seen uncontrollable menace to the Church of Christ and its Apostolic faith, main reason being the lack of faith and indifference of members of Apostolic Churches, who as Sri. Narayana Guru said 'Mathm Eytayalum Manuzhan Nannayal Mathi", think, that it is not the Church, but devotion to Christ, is what is necessary.

Which is this Church?

1. The Church of which Christ said 'I will build "My" Church (Math;16.16)

2. The Church which our Lord entrusted St. Peter to feed and govern (Jn.21)

3. The Church, the Sacramental authority Christ gave to all the Apostles, present in the Upper Room. (Jn.20)

4. The Church to which Christ gave the authority to preach, baptize, forgive sins and after the Holy Eucharist.

5. The Church to which the baptized were accepted.

6. 'Acts' is the early history of this Church.

7. The Apostolic authority in the Church, conferred on others by the 'Laying of Hands' (Deacons (Acts.6) Thimotheus (2Tim.1), (Titus 1)

8. It is 'this "My Church" that repudiated the heresy of Arius (who denied the deity of the son) and that of Macedonius (who denied the deity of the Holy Spirit) and of Nestor (who propagated the heresy that Christ had two natures and two persons) in the Synod's Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus (325, 381 and 431 AD) respectively.

9. It is this Church, that codified the canonical books of the NT at the synod of Carthage in 391.

10. It is the Church of which Christ appointed St. Peter as, the visible head, which for convenience of administration, was divided in to four Patriarchates (6th canon of Nicaea 325). These Patriarchates expanded the Church and claim the succession from St. Peter.

It is therefore crystal clear that these divisions 'alone' have the privilege of being the 'only church', which Christ qualified as "My Church", and the numerous other churches that are not able to produce evidence for this enviable continuation of succession from any of the Apostles do not come to the list of churches.

Syrian Church is not only one of the four, but is of the 'First', since it had its beginning as early as AD37, that by the Head of the Apostles - at Antioch. To be called a Church according to NT, it has to produce evidence that its beginning is from the Church which Christ termed 'My Church.' We belong to this Church, being members of the Syrian Church.

A Church, claiming to be the Church of Christ is duty bound to show its Apostolicity in the Holy Orders (Priesthood) and in the Doctrines Apostolic.

THE MARKS OF THE CHURCH

In the Nicene creed we declare that we believe in 'the one Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church. The Church is ONE.

One Holy……The chief marks of the Church are four. It is ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC & APOSTOLIC (Nicene creed). Sacred scripture teaches that the one true Church of Christ must have these marks, and the marks are an indication that God guides the Church.

The Church is One because all its members, according to the will of Christ, profess the same faith, have the same sacrifice and sacraments. (1 Cor.10.17, Rom.12:4,5, Eph.4:4-6).

The Church is Holy because it was founded by Jesus Christ, who is all holy and because it teaches according to the will of Christ, holy doctrines, and provides the means of leading a holy life thereby giving holy members in every generation. This is evident from the prayer of Christ for His Apostles. The lives of the saints and martyrs prove how effective are the means of grace with which the Church is endowed. It might be true some members do not use the means of grace at their disposal. Christ foretold that there would be good and bad members in His Church, as we read in the parables of the fishes in net, and the cockle among the wheat. (math. 7;15-20, Titus 2:13-14, 1Jn.3:5).

The Church is Catholic, because it is destined to last for all time it never fails to fulfill the divine commandment to teach all the truths revealed by God.

Christ asked his Apostles to go forth and make disciples of all nations and to teach all that, he has commanded, and promised them that, he would be with them even to the end of time. The Church today teaches the same doctrine, it received from Christ. It has existed, since the day it was established, tiding over persecutions. But Christian 'sects' began later, many of which became extinct after some time and new ones sprouted up to in recent years, twisting verses of the NT as to suit their opinion. (Math.24:14, Mk.16:15, 16, Acts 1:8).

The mark 'Catholic' was given more stress by, the western Church, whereas the mark, 'holy' (orthodox) was used by the Eastern Church eg. 'Roman Catholic', Syrian Orthodox" etc.

WHY IS THE CHURCH 'APOSTOLIC' ?

Because the feeding of the Church was entrusted to St. Peter and in union with him other apostles spread, taught and governed the Church and after their time by other lawful successors and preserve the same doctrine. (Math. 16:18, Hn.21)

He who fails to trace his Church's apostolic doctrine there by concedes that his sect is not apostolic.

The Church is called the mystical Body of Christ, "because its members are united by supernatural bonds with one another and with Christ, their Head, thus resembling the members and Head of the living human body'.

The EARLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH ABOUT THE CHURCH

St. Clement - (92-101 AD), 'Through country side the apostles preached and they appointed their earlier converts, testing them by spirit to be the Bishops and Deacons of future believers'.

St. Ignatius (98-117), we must look upon the Bishop as the Lord himself.

St. Iraneous(177AD), it is necessary to obey those who are presbyters in the Church, those who have succession from the Apostles, those who have received with the succession of the Episcopate, the sure Charisma of truth…. But the rest who have no part in the primitive succession, and assemble where-so-ever they must be held in suspicion.

Those who make Schism… who look to their own advantage rather than to the unity of the Church, who for any kind of trifling reason, cut apart and divide the body of Christ…. they are outside the bonds of truth.

Tertultian (196), we walk in the rule, which the Church has handed down from Apostles, the Apostles from Christ Heretics cannot be Christians - Heretics have no fellowship in our discipline. Cyprain (258), there speaks Peter teaching in the name of the Church and showing that events if a stubborn and proud multitude withdraws from Christ. The people, joined to the priest and flock, clinging to their shepherd are the Church. You ought to know that the Bishop is in the Church and the Church in the Bishop…

Firmilian (268), Heretics who have parted themselves from the Church can have nothing to do with power and Grace since all power and Grace is settled in the Church where, preside presbyters who possess the power both of baptizing and of imposing hands and of ordaining.

St. Jerome- Heretics bring sentence upon themselves since by their own choice, withdraw from the Church and constitute damnation. Between heresy and schism this distinction to be made; that heresy invokes perverse doctrine, while schism separates from the Church on account of disagreement with the Bishop.

THE BIBLE

Millions of copies of the Bible are in extent. The Syriac Peshitta version of the Bible is acclaimed as the most accurate (Helps to the study of the Bible - Oxford). It is this Bible that by the Grace of God, I translated into Malayalam. What induced me for the translation, is the drastic change (among others is Luka 11.28, where 'no' is used for - English 'yea - yes') and St. John 2-3, each group on Sect translates to suit its teaching.

The article will be long if I quote all of them. I would request every reader to make a study of 'Acts and Epistles' comparing authorized versions and new English Bible. In the list you will find drastic changes.

To help you, please refer :-

Acts.1.14, 1.20, 1.23, 2.47-48, 6.6, 14. 23, 19.18, 20.7, 22.16,
Rom.15.15,
1Cor.1.2, 1.25,
1Tim.1.1,
Tit.1.5,
Heb.2.12,
James.5.16,
1Jn.1.9,
etc.

There are other variations too. Since the boards of this NT were termed canonical by the CHURCH, the Church alone has the authority to interpret. This is why the Roman Catholics and the Syrians are particular in the matter of using Bibles, other than ours. This is why I published the New Testament commentary in Malayalam in accordance with the commentaries of the Holy Fathers of the Church.

Source: socdigest.org

The Bible: God's Revelation to Man

By The Rt. Rev. Joseph, Bishop of Los Angeles and the West, Orthodox Church of America

For the Christian of true worship, the Bible is the "greatest source of truth, virtue, and moral ethics. It is invaluable as a source of teaching doctrine and holiness. We call it the "Book of Life," for in its pages we find the closest expression we have of the Inexpressible. From generation to generation, the books that make up the canon of Scripture have communicated to us the lessons God has taught, and still is teaching His people. It is open to all and should be read by all men and women: clergy and laity, children and adults, believers and unbelievers.

The Bible Reveals God

From the beginning, God has revealed Himself to mankind. He never ceases to reach out to His creation with abundant blessings, desiring all to freely partake of the personal communion He offers. The Bible also establishes that it was humanity who rejected Him, following after the selfish desire to be as God. Certainly humanity has afflicted itself with this delusion. Even so, the human race, even in its fallen state, is unable to deter God's unceasing ministry to His people. The Scriptures record this ongoing spiritual struggle between the loving truth of God and man's deluded expression of pride.

Once the truth of God is accepted, and a person surrenders his pride and his denial of reality, his eyes become open to Christ our God, whose divine Light invisibly enters in. This is what we call holiness, and therefore only in genuine holiness can we begin to understand the Bible and experience God revealed in it. The Scriptures and the histories of the martyrs bear witness to the glory of God as it enters us. They also witness to us the terrible price that people pay when they refuse to acknowledge the presence of the Lord.

The Bible Reveals Our Need

The Old Testament establishes the way of thinking of the one who has "seen" God. He now sees the misery of fallen humanity. He discerns how, in our wretched state, we bring ruin upon ourselves with the lies our pride fabricates or us. In the pages of the Bible, we see how even good men can fail. And we see and hear the warning for us that, just as surely as sunset brings night, the disobedience of mankind brings death and destruction.

The Bible is not a document for to feel self justified and full of wisdom. Rather, it is a mirror in which each person can see his own weakness without God and his need for Him. One who reads the Scriptures and does not fall down praying for God's mercy has not really read them. He may have read the words on the pages, but he is still a man of the world, a prisoner of his blinded intellect and fleshly desires. Perhaps such a person would do better with a technical manual or a history book. The Bible is neither of these. It is a spiritual tool, the greatest of all, designed to change us. It overcomes all boundaries of human time and transcends all cultures.

The Bible Reveals Salvation

The one who reads the Bible and repents of his own sinfulness, recognizing no good in his life without God, opens the door to a new life. He is transformed by encountering the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son and Word of God. He is the One whom the prophets proclaim would save us from sin and the sting of death which we brought upon ourselves. When we read with a repentant heart, the words we read in the Bible. are not lifeless rules and interesting stories, but insights into a world beyond expression. These words are doors through which to walk so we may come to know God. The Bible challenges us to emerge from our own personal self-centered and illusory world, and to enter rather into the Kingdom of God. Then every word of the Bible is a window to heaven, to Paradise, and to Perfection.

Just as someone cannot "birth" himself, neither is a man "reborn" by himself. His personal faith in our Lord Jesus Christ will not be fulfilled outside of the Church. For it is there that we enter into a Tradition, a dynamic history of men and women—saints—who honored, what they received from God and passed it on intact to the next generation. This embodiment of Faith is found in the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, the Head of the Body which is His Holy Orthodox Church. Within the Church, the repentant man, woman or child is born anew through the life-giving. waters of Holy Baptism. Here, the passions of the individual begin to die and transformation is initiated.

Truly the fullness of the Scriptures cannot be obtained outside the mind of the Church. Heretics and unbelieving intellectuals may to read the words of Scripture, but they cannot understand it as does a spiritual man or woman within the Holy community of the Church. Without the gift of the Holy Spirit to reveal within us the truth of God, the Bible is but raw data. Certainly the Holy Spirit has whispered truth into the ears of people not in the Church but the place where He speaks the fullness of the Faith is within the Church where He dwells.

Only with the teachings of His Church - the Church that proclaims the Truth found in the Bible - can we begin our true work of breaking out of the self-imposed imprisonment of self-idolatry. When we submit our lives to Christ in repentance and humility, the Holy Spirit comes to us through the Holy Mysteries and lifts us up. Therefore, it becomes our joyful duty to ceaselessly knock on the door of the Scriptures, asking God to reveal the truth to us through His Word, that we might walk through the gates and grow into an ever greater appreciation and experience of Him and His Heavenly Kingdom.

Simply put, the Bible must be read with serious and humble prayer, a genuine desire for God's mercy, along with sound instruction from the Church and the very presence of the Holy Spirit within us. Our Lord Jesus Christ left Himself within this Holy Book, that He might be found by those who genuinely seek Him. May you find Him today!

What Is the Big Picture of the Bible?

by Mel Lawrence

If you walked into someone's home, picked a big book off a shelf, and read a single line on a random page, one thing is certain: you would not understand it. That is because we receive meaning through words by seeing them in their context.

One of the most helpful things we can do to understand the Bible better is to gain a clear comprehension of the whole sweep of the biblical text. To see "the big picture." Grabbing a verse here and there for life meaning is like saying to God that we will only listen to him if he uses Twitter to send us tweets.

No, the Bible is a vast, epic story. The story of God, and the story of humanity.

The Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call "The Old Testament") are a collection of writings that dozens of authors wrote over hundreds of years. It is breathtaking. The books of the Old Testament include history, prophecy, poetry, wisdom, and law.

The Pentateuch ("five books") - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy - tell the story of beginnings. The creation of the universe, the fall of humanity into sin and corruption, the development of humanity. We learn about the character of God, a personal God who uses a particular family to show how he would work through covenant. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Out of love God delivered this people from slavery (Exodus), gave them definition for life (the commandments and laws), and brought them eventually to a land of their own.

The 12 books of history that follow (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther) continue the story of God with humanity. This is not history in the modern sense of facts and statistics. It is a true drama filled with tenderness and violence, success and failure, faithfulness and unfaithfulness. Hundreds of thousands of descendants of Abraham enter the land of promise, they struggle to live under God's authority since the lure of sin is always so strong. So they install a king and a government like the other nations. But after merely three generations, the kingdom becomes divided and the following 200 years are full of disappointments broken up with occasional revivals. Eventually the superpowers from the regions to the northeast - Assyria and then Babylonia - sweep down on the divided kingdom. They destroy, they exile. But after five decades, small numbers of Hebrews are allowed to return to rebuild their community and their nation.

Next, we have the books of Poetry and Wisdom: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. The authors of these books let loose praise, anguish, affirmation, and longing. We learn much here about what is in the human heart, and in the heart of God.

The books called the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and the 12 Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) include prophetic oracles, history, and poetry. Kings and governments are not the answer to human chaos, so God uses the prophets to confront, instruct, and guide the people of God.

Four hundred years after the last book of the Old Testament, human history is transformed with the emergence of Jesus the Messiah. The four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - tell the story of Jesus both as personal history and as expressions of faith. They are "gospel," good news. Luke continues the story by telling the dramatic events in the mission of Jesus' designated representatives in the Acts of the apostles. The promise made to Abraham 2,000 years earlier, that through his family "all the nations of the earth would be blessed" is dramatically revealed for the first time as the message about Jesus spreads across empires and continents.

The letters the apostle Paul wrote to Christian communities and individuals and the "general epistles" of the New Testament contain fresh new teachings about life, usually in response to problems. They also reveal the character of God, now viewed from the higher plane of revelation following the pouring out of the Spirit of God.

The book of Revelation both fascinates and puzzles us. Its kaleidoscope of oracles and judgments and images knocks us out of complacency. But Revelation is also a book of comfort. God sets things right. And so things come full circle. From garden to paradise.

This is "the big picture." In it we will find harsh truths and life-giving truths, but only as we read them in the light of the great reality of God.

About The Author

Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.

Source: How to Understand the Bible

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