Did Jesus Really Exist? Bart Ehrman Explains.

Some people doubt that Jesus actually existed. They claim that some first-century men made up a story, and that a bunch of people were fooled into believing it. I’ve heard from a lot of skeptics of Christianity, and there’s a fair number who claim that Jesus never actually existed. There are many reasons why this is silly, but we tend to believe what we want to believe.

Bart Ehrman is a well-known New Testament scholar. He’s also an agnostic atheist…that is, he acknowledges he doesn’t know whether God exists, but he doubts that God exists. His books have been popular, as his doubts encourage other doubters. His arguments are regularly parroted by those who wish to discredit Christianity, which is why I’m posting this video. If you agree with Ehrman’s conclusions about Christianity, you should also agree with his conclusions about whether Jesus really was an actual person.

There is no scholar in any college or university in the western world who teaches Classics, Ancient History, New Testament, Early Christianity…any related field who doubts that Jesus existed.

Bart Ehrman

Why does the Bible forbid same-sex marriage?

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Why does the Bible completely forbid something like a homosexual loving marriage? It seems to be rather unfair to me.

Teleskoid

[Editor’s Note] This article is based on a comment on another article.

First, thanks for writing. I’m always aware that my perspective is limited, so I really appreciate hearing from you. Second, you’ve asked some good questions. I have two points to make here.

1. While it’s a good idea to understand the basis for the instructions we’re given, the job of the disciple is to be obedient…regardless of whether we fully understand. What you’re asking for is the rationale behind the Scriptural prohibition of homosexual behavior. That’s not a bad question, but it would be a mistake to base your obedience on whether you like the reasons you’ve been given, or whether they make perfect sense to you. I don’t really understand why we’re told to pray so much…but I pray all the time, trusting that I will understand later. I very much appreciate that you want to serve God with your life! I hope that you’re able to trust God with ALL of your life, and not just with the parts you understand and agree with.

2. I do have some information that might be useful. Marriage plays a very significant role in Scripture. It’s a big deal. Considering that, some find it odd that Jesus said that we won’t be married in Heaven. I wondered why, so I did some thinking and reading on the subject. I’ve kind of kept an eye out for more info over many years.

You see, a whole bunch of things in the Bible are substitutes for other things. The Temple – the place where God dwelled with His people – wasn’t just a temple. It also pointed to a future reality, when the Holy Spirit would indwell God’s people personally. This is why we read in 1 Corinthians that we are each a temple of the Holy Spirit. The physical temple was important, but it also pointed to a spiritual reality to come. There’s even more to it: the day is coming when all of God’s people will be in Heaven, dwelling where God is. The Temple in three different formats, if you will. Do you see how that works?

It’s the same thing with marriage. Marriage is important, but it also points to a greater spiritual reality. Our marriages aren’t simply important human relationships…they point to something bigger, and more important. First-century Jews understood this, but we need a bit of an explanation to get the point. You might be familiar with this passage:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3

Jesus is telling His disciples that He’s going to Heaven to prepare a place for them. However: what we don’t see right away, that they understood immediately, is that these words came straight from a marriage proposal. This is what a young Israelite man would say to a young Israelite woman when he wanted to marry her. He would say this, then disappear for a while. He would build a new addition on his father’s home, making room for his new bride and their future children. Then, when it was finished, he would appear at his fiancee’s house and take her with him to live there. What does this mean? We see it everywhere in the New Testament, but we seldom think it through: Jesus is the groom, and we are the Bride. Our human marriage relationships mirror our relationship with God, and point to the future reality where we will be united with Him, living in His Father’s house.

When we think about marriage solely in human terms, we find it difficult to suggest that there’s ANY marriage that God would not bless. After all, our argument goes, isn’t marriage about love? Doesn’t God want us to love each other? How could a lifelong commitment to love another person ever be less than what God wants? The answer to these difficult questions is really pretty simple: just as the Temple wasn’t simply about animal sacrifices, so marriage isn’t simply about human love. Both are important, but the most important part is that they point not to us, but to God. There were very strict rules about what happened in the Temple. This wasn’t because God needed things on earth to happen in exactly one way, but because the Israelites would better understand Him by understanding the Temple. In the same way, the prohibition against homosexuality isn’t really about us. It’s about us understanding Him, learning through the tangible things we can see about the intangible things we can’t yet see.

The Sabbath was never really about resting one day per week. The Temple was never really about sacrificing animals. The priesthood was never really about having a mediator between God and man. Marriage was never really about a man and a woman. All of these things (and hundreds more) have always been about YOU and God, and ME and God. When we get these things mixed up, we misunderstand who God is…and we find it harder to trust Him. When we find it harder to trust Him, we find it easier to go our own way. God wants everybody to be saved, and so these things are of eternal importance. There are no mistakes in God’s system, Teleskoid. As much as we might like things to be different, there’s a very good reason for the prohibition against homosexual behavior: truly, the fate of the world depends on it.

I hope that makes sense to you. Let me know if you’d like to talk further. I don’t have all of the answers, but I’m eager to serve.

Don’t talk about making disciples. Make disciples.

Francis Chan takes less then two minutes to put us back on track. How many times have we believed that memorizing a Bible verse was as important as obeying it? I’m certainly not a great example of what Chan is talking about, but it’s my goal to do better.

Is Loving Yourself Bad?

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In a recent online discussion a friend claimed that you can love God, or you can love yourself, but not both. To support his claim he cited 2 Timothy 3. Here’s the passage in question:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

That sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Nobody should be like that, of course. If that’s the result of loving yourself, we should avoid loving ourselves.

On the other hand, the Bible clearly indicates that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). How can we love our neighbor that way without being the kind of lover of self that Paul warned Timothy about? How can we reconcile the two passages?

When trying to understand any communication (including the Bible), context matters. We have to look at more than just the words being used. We also need to look at the bigger picture. If we ask a few simple questions, we can clear up all kinds of confusion:

  • Who wrote this?
  • To whom did they write it?
  • Why did they write it?

…and so on. Let me share a real-life example of context: I can say the words “I like cheese” and “I don’t like cheese” without being contradictory. Both can be true, depending on the context.

Context 1
We’re at a pizza parlor, deciding what to order. You ask whether I’d like to share a cheese pizza, and I reply “I like cheese”.

Context 2
We’re at an ice cream parlor, deciding what to order. The clerk asks whether I’d like to try some cheese ice cream, and I reply “I don’t like cheese”.

Suggesting that I’ve contradicted myself is silly. Clearly, there are some situations in which I welcome the taste of cheese, and some where it’s kind of gross. In the same way, the Bible can say to love God RATHER THAN self and say to love your neighbor AS yourself without being contradictory. Both are true, and we can reconcile them by examining their context.

In case you were wondering, the following passages do indeed say to love your neighbor as yourself:
Matthew 5:43
Matthew 19:19
Matthew 22:39
Mark 12:31
Luke 10:27
Romans 13:9
Galatians 5:14
James 2:8
Read all of these verses on Biblegateway

The Greek word translated “as” in each passage is HOS, which means as, like, or even as. The source passage is Leviticus 19:18, where the Hebrew word KEMOW has the same meaning.

Clearly, there’s more than one way to love yourself. We can love ourselves in a way that makes us arrogant and rude and treacherous, and there’s another way that we should use as a blueprint for loving our neighbors. Loving yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be.

We shouldn’t even be having this conversation, really. The problem isn’t that my friend is having trouble reconciling two passages of Scripture. The problem is that he took the Timothy passage and agreed with it…and then had to reinterpret the Mark passage to mean something else. That’s not a wise way to handle the Bible. We should avoiding taking any passage as “standing alone”, but keep its greater context in mind. God would not tell the Israelites to love their neighbors as themselves if they weren’t supposed to love themselves at all. Looking at the big picture makes this clear.

How to Evaluate Different Points of View

I always appreciate when a leader lets me peek into the inner workings of their thought processes. Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason – a Christian apologetics ministry – trains believers to defend their faith. This video is an excerpt from an STR podcast, where Greg lays out some principles behind engaging non-believers:

  1. Make sure you’ve understood the opposing viewpoint.
  2. Think through the argument.
  3. Develop counter-arguments, looking for decisive arguments.

I especially like the section about making sure we represent an opposing argument fairly. I can’t recommend Greg and STR highly enough.

A Fresh New Look

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First-time visitors won’t notice anything different, of course…but returning GodWords visitors will notice a huge design change for my website. When I’m not studying and posting on GodWords, I’m a freelance web designer. As a result, I’m able to make changes to my website(s) very easily. This design has been in the works for over a year. It isn’t just cosmetic…I’ve been creating a custom WordPress theme from scratch, making sure it does exactly what I want it to do. I haven’t finished (not that I’ll ever be finished) but figured it was ready for prime-time.

I’d love your feedback…especially if you have any trouble with the website. My goal is to make it useful for everyone. Thanks in advance for your help!

Tony

I am Second – Whispering Danny

A popular Kansas City tattoo artist, “Whispering Danny” has an impactful story that he should shout for all to hear. But he can’t. His medical condition requires him to have tumors on his larynx and vocal cords removed every three months or so. It leaves him with a voice just louder than a whisper.

However, the weight of his story speaks volumes — How he, as a Jewish youngster in the Soviet Union, left for America with his mom in the hope of finding better medical care for his condition. How he came to believe in Christ as savior. How he lives for the Lord today.

Danny describes the circumstances around how he became a believer in Christ. It is a moving story that will leave you prepared to encounter the Lord yourself.

You can see more I am Second videos on their website, http://iamsecond.com/, or on their YouTube channel.