Apologetics Resources

Evidences for the Christian Faith

I was talking to my youngest son the other day about evolution and creation and how both must be believed by faith. We talked about how none of us were here to see creation or evolution happen, and we can’t repeat either one in a strict scientific sense. Therefore, they are both systems of faith. It was a great discussion and I was amazed at his questions and logic.

Christianity is taken by faith—but it is a reasonable faith. In other words there is a ton of evidence that supports it’s claims. We are never asked to check our brains at the door and take a blind leap of faith. That’s stupidity. We are asked to accept the claims of Scripture by faith—but it is faith based on reason; a factual faith. This is the study of Christian Apologetics.

If you have been wondering if there are reasons to believe the Bible, there are. Here are a few links related to 3 categories of apologetics to help you get started. Take a look and let me know what you find. I’d love to hear about your journey!

 

BIBLICAL RELIABILITY

Manuscript Evidence for the Bible’s Reliability

Is the Bible Reliable?

Is the Bible True?

Various Questions to Choose From

 

ARCHEOLOGY/HISTORY

Biblical Archeology

10 Biggest Bible Archeology Discoveries of 2016

How Does Archeology Support the Bible?

Various Questions to Choose From

 

INTELLIGENT DESIGN/CREATION SCIENCE

Answers in Genesis

Institute for Creation Research

Various Questions to Choose From

 

Three Easy Rules to Help You Study Prophecy

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Studying the Book of Revelation is intimidating and it does take some intentional work to understand it. But, it’s no where near as intimidating as you think if you keep three rules in mind (covered in detail below).  My goal with this blog is to make complex things simple in regards to end-times theology and understanding. I think most people are intimidated by the subject and many have decided that it’s too complex to figure out anyway, so they retreat to a position of just being okay with the basics — that Jesus is coming back somehow, some way, at some point.

I used to be there too. But then I read verses that say things like, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33), and “all scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), or “not one jot or tittle (the smallest marks in the Hebrew language) shall pass from the law until all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). Even the book of Revelation itself says that whoever reads and keeps the prophecies found in Revelation will be blessed (Revelation 1:3, Revelation 22:7). It’s the capstone of the canon, the grand finale of the fireworks show, the crescendo of the symphony, the best part of the love letter, and the climax of the movie, but somehow the enemy has convinced most believers that it’s too convoluted to understand. How did this happen?

First of all, I think it’s because of spiritual warfare. Yes, it’s real. Yes, there is a real Satan and in his twisted mind, he still thinks he can usurp God’s plan and take his place. Satan lusts after the worship that only God deserves and the more he can confuse people about end-time prophecy, the more it plays to his advantage — even though we already know who wins. The enemy knows Bible prophecy. He has studied it for thousands of years. He wants to rewrite the playbook and get our eyes off of the incredible victory that is coming for Christ and for us. If the enemy can take away the biggest motivation factor for expectant living and sharing our faith (Jesus’ soon return/Rev. 22:7) then he will do just that. The enemy does not want God’s people living with the sense of purpose, clarity, and urgency that a proper understanding of end-times events provides.

Second, I think some well meaning but unwise Christians have done unnecessary damage to how people view Bible prophecy. There is never a shortage of date-setters even though Jesus himself said that, “no one knows the day or the hour…” (Matthew 24:36). That doesn’t mean we can’t know the season or general time frame however, but that’s another post for another day.

Third, considering the fact that there are a few different methods of interpretation (Idealist, Preterist, Historicist, and Futurist views) when approaching Revelation, this adds another layer of confusion. If you have 3 or 4 super intelligent authors or seminary professors who say vastly different things about how to interpret the book of Revelation, then how in the world are we supposed to know which view is accurate? Am I reading your mail? If so, please keep reading!

I should note here that the various views of the end-times is an in-house debate. It’s not a salvation issue. Some truly Godly people who love the Lord and love the word of God disagree on the order of end-time events. Through MUCH study and a great amount of conviction, I fall firmly into the futurist, pre-trib, pre-mill camp (If you don’t know what that means stay tuned for future posts on that topic), but I would never berate a brother or sister in Christ who held another view. Sadly, I see this happen way too often when Christians disagree. For some reason these believers forget all about John 13:35 that says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

There is a famous quote attributed to an early church leader that says, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things, charity.” Let’s unite around the essentials, allow for differing views in the non-essentials, and demonstrate true Christian love toward each other, even if we disagree on how the end-time pieces fall into place. But, don’t let the term “non-essential” make you think you don’t need to study and form your own convictions. Have the courage to pursue truth wherever it leads.

So, to bring it back to where we started…making complex things simple. Here are three very important rules to follow when studying prophecy and attempting to form your own conviction about the nature of Bible prophecy and of end-time events.

I. STUDY THE TOTALITY OF SCRIPTURE

If scripture is without error and of divine origin we should see a harmony and cohesiveness within it’s pages, and we do. The more I study it, the more I know that only a sovereign God could have put it together. We see lines of theology introduced in Genesis and progressively revealed throughout the Old and New Testaments. We see a divine harmonization of passages written at different times by different writers. For those who want to take the time, you’ll find that the internal and external evidence for  the reliability of scripture is overwhelming.

With those facts in view as we study prophecy, we can confidently interpret scripture with scripture and take every world literally unless it’s clearly a figure of speech. It is very easy to take verses out of context or brush them off if we don’t understand that we should let scripture shed light on other parts of scripture. When symbols are used in the book of Revelation for example, we can’t use contemporary concepts to understand them. We have to search the Old Testament for instances of those symbols. This unlocks the meaning of the symbol and harmonizes it with scripture. I’ve seen some Christians treat the Old Testament like it is obsolete and only study the New Testament in depth. This does them a disservice because, “ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and useful for teaching…” (2 Timothy 3:16). You cannot fully understand Eschatology without understanding the progression of theology from Genesis to Revelation.

II. DON’T SPIRITUALIZE

Too often, students of the Bible tend to “spiritualize” the meaning of prophecies even though they don’t do this with any other areas of scripture. For example, when the Bible talks about various people groups, we understand they are talking about specific countries, areas, or groups of people. In most cases, we can trace the history back to those people. But some prophecy teachers use “replacement theology” and replace Israel with the Church and that God is done with Israel (even though Paul spends 3 chapters in Romans [Ch. 9-11] clearly showing God is NOT done w/ Israel or the Jewish people).

Another example is with the Millennium (the 1000 year period of Christ’s rule on earth after the Tribulation period). Even though the Old Testament prophets say over and over again that the Lord will rule on a literal throne from Jerusalem, and Revelation chapter 20 says six times that there will be a 1000 year reign of Christ, many prophecy teachers say this is figurative for the Church age. The problem is no other scripture sheds light on this being figurative. No where in scripture does it say the church has replaced the Jews, nor is there any precedent for spiritualizing the meaning of the 1000 years. Everywhere else where God uses a number, that number is to be taken literally. When the Gospels tell us Jesus chose 12 disciples, it meant exactly that. Precision and accuracy are hallmarks of God’s nature.

III. USE LOGIC

We need to use our God-given ability to apply logic to compare and contrast passages of scripture to develop a framework of understanding of end-time events. For example. If the rapture where we “meet the Lord in the air” is imminent (meaning it can happen at any time with no preconditions) as taught by Paul, and if the tribulation begins with the confirming of a covenant by the anti-christ, and if the anti-Christ cannot be revealed until after the rapture occurs, then logic demands that the rapture must occur before the tribulation. Here’s another example. If the anti-Christ stands in the temple in the middle of the seven-year tribulation period and there is not currently a temple in Jerusalem, then it stands to reason that sometime between now and the middle of the tribulation, a third Jewish temple will be constructed. (BTW, did you know there’s an organization called The Temple Institute that has already constructed all of the instruments, trained priests who’s DNA traces back to the Levitical line of the Old Testament, has the building plans, and funding for the third temple?)

As you read prophetic passages without spiritualizing the meaning and recalling other related passages, you can use logic to connect the dots and develop clearer convictions and a better understanding about the nature of end-time events.

By following those rules, I have found that studying Bible prophecy and the book of Revelation to be the most exciting Bible study I’ve ever taken on — mainly because these three rules clear the fog and unlock God’s word. I am 100% convinced that God means what he says and says what he means, that the totality of scripture completely harmonizes, and that our God-given ability to use logic connects the dots.

When studying scripture with that approach and with the attitude that you will follow truth wherever it will lead, I believe you will come to the same conclusions I have (Pre-trib, Pre-Mil, Futurist Positions). But even if you don’t, you will still have a much better understanding of scripture. I hope this post will help encourage you to study prophecy with a sense of clarity and expectancy. God’s word was never meant to be boring or convoluted.

For further reading, be sure to check out the previous posts on the 5 Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation.

 

5 Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation: KEY# 5

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KEY#5: THE PRIMARY FOCUS OF THE TRIBULATION PERIOD IS ISRAEL, NOT THE CHURCH

Previous Keys: (1.) Start With The Book of Daniel  (2.) Interpret Revelation Literally  (3.) The Symbols Are Easier To Understand Than You Think  (4.) Revelation is Written Chronologically

As I mentioned in a previous key, if the book of Revelation is seen as merely allegory, then it has no real meaning. One unfortunate teaching that has come from this approach is known as “Replacement Theology”. This teaches that any reference to Israel or the Jewish people is really talking about the Church. It “replaces” Israel with the Church. Scripture clearly teaches that God is not done with the Jewish people. Read Romans chapters 9-11 and it’s abundantly clear the Jews are still God’s chosen people. That doesn’t mean they are all good or that they are saved (unless they have accepted Christ), but it does mean that God is not done with them. The Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15, see also 12:2-3, 17:7) was an unconditional covenant. Many Old Testament covenants had conditions but this one had none. It’s based solely on God’s character and plan.

In the Old Testament the tribulation period was referred to as “The time of Jacob’s (the Jews) trouble”. In the 70 weeks of Daniel Chapter 9, it’s all about God’s plan for the Jewish race. As I mentioned in Key #1, there is a mysterious pause or break between the 69th and 70th “week” (of years) which we now know as the “Church age” or “the age of grace”.

Think of it like this. God is working out his plan for the Jewish people during the first 69 sets of 7 years, Jesus comes at his first advent, the Jewish prophetic clock pauses during the Church age. At some point (I believe sooner rather than later) the Church is taken out of the picture at the Rapture.

Soon after, the tribulation period begins (with the signing of a treaty) causing the Jewish prophetic clock to start again in order to complete the last set of 7 years — which is also the duration of the tribulation period. Jews and Gentiles will choose to follow Christ during the tribulation period, but they are referred to collectively as “tribulation saints”, not “the Church” as we refer to believers today during the Church Age. At the end of the tribulation period Jesus returns and sets up the Kingdom (as promised in the Old Testament and clearly stated in Revelation chapter 20) and reigns physically on earth for 1000 years.

Also, consider this. After 3 chapters about the Church, in first verse of chapter 4 a trumpet is sounded and John hears the words “Come up here.” I believe this indicates the rapture because there is no mention of the church again until chapter 19 when we return with Christ. We find that throughout the following chapters (4-18) God’s attention turns back to the Jews and Israel. There are 2 Jewish witnesses, 144,000 Jewish evangelists, and the entire world is focused on Jerusalem (which by the way is exactly what we’re seeing today).

A study of various key prophetic verses (especially Ezekiel 37-40) demonstrate that although the Jews are God’s chosen people, most of them won’t accept Christ until the tribulation period. Passages also indicate that a small remnant would turn to Christ before that period once they were back in their homeland.

That’s exactly what we’ve seen. Israel miraculously became a nation again in 1948 (just as predicted) but they did not control Jerusalem until 1967 after the Six Day War (in which they defeated all of the surrounding nations who attacked them…in 6 days!). Right after this war a small remnant of Jewish people began accepting Jesus as the Messiah. This phenomenon has continued. In 1967 there were ZERO Jewish Christians in Israel. Today there are over 20,000 (2011 study) and over 150 Messianic Jewish churches in Israel, and many more in other parts of the world.

A study of the people of Israel will show that prophecy has been fulfilled in many ways. It also explains why Satan has used evil rulers in every age to mistreat and attempt to eliminate the Jews. From Pharaoh, to Mordecai, to Hitler, to today’s terrorists and radical Islamic states, there has been a millennia long attempt to destroy the Jewish race.

Why? Because the scriptures and the messiah came from her, and because end-times prophecy requires a return of the Jews to their land then to their Messiah! God said Israel is the “apple of his eye“. The worst way to hurt someone is to hurt their kids. The biggest reason is Satan still thinks he can win if he destroys an essential element to end-times prophecy…the Jews.

I hope these 5 keys (Previous Keys: (1.) (2.) (3.) (4.) will help make your study of Revelation less intimidating and will provide confidence and clarity in God’s Word.  It takes time and effort to study effectively but the payoff is worth it. Not only do we know the Bible better but we know Him better.

Remember the promise in Revelation 1:3 — “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.”

RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY

Here are a few GREAT books to get if you would like to dig deeper.

The Revelation Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Prophetic Book of the End of Times (Morris)

40 Days Through Revelation: Uncovering the Mystery of the End Times (Rhodes)

Charting the End Times: A Visual Guide to Understanding Bible Prophecy (LaHaye/Ice)

Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (Walvoord)

The End Times in Chronological Order (Rhodes)

Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation (LaHaye/Hindson)

The “Non-Prophet” on: World Kingdoms

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In chapter 2 of the Book of Daniel (written in the 6th century BC), the prophet, a Babylonian captive, interprets a vision of a statue for King Nebuchadnezzar who had the dream. The statue in the dream had a head of gold, a chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet mixed with iron and clay. Impressive right? No, what’s impressive is the interpretation of the dream.

What follows is a description of every empire from his time to the Roman Empire and into our day! Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2 describes the succession of four historical empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome followed by a loose conglomeration of nations.

Rome would be the strongest but would eventually break up into a loose coalition of countries (symbolized by the iron and clay feet) as iron and clay do not mix. So accurate were his predictions that critics assert they must have been written sometime in the second century. Even if that were true, what we see today in the feet of clay and iron was clearly predicted 2600 years ago.

We know from modern textual studies that Daniel wrote in languages no longer used by the second century. Also, the book of Daniel had long been part of the accepted Jewish Canon (collection of Holy books). Also, as mentioned above, the passage points to a loosely held coalition of nations (feet of iron mixed with clay) after the four world empires, exactly what we see in our day. Critics literally don’t know what to do with this passage.

How would Daniel have known that there would be three successive empires (each swallowing up the previous), followed by a breakdown of empire into smaller loosely connected countries (some strong, some weak)?

Because Biblical prophecy is pre-recorded history…and compelling evidence that God guided the writings of the prophets.

The “Non-Prophet” on: Israel’s Regathering

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Thousands of years before the events, we read…

Deuteronomy 28:64 “Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other.”

Isaiah 11:11a “In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time* to bring back the remnant of his people-”

Ezekiel 36:24 “For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.”

Isaiah 66:8a “Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day** or a nation be brought forth in a moment?”

Luke 21:24 says that the Jewish people “shall be led away captive into all nations


*there were 2 dispersions — The first occurred in 605 BC when Judah was conquered and the Jewish survivors were taken captive to Babylon. The second occurred in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem dispersing the Jewish people all over the known world. This may also refer to the 1948 era regathering and a second regathering at the end of the seven year tribulation after a mid-point persecution/scattering of the Jews. They did not have a nation for 1878 years until, miraculously, after WWII, the nation of Israel was re-born “in a day” (literally) on **May 14, 1948. There are also many prophecies in the Bible about Jerusalem being once again in the hands of the Jewish people.