Our Baby Bottle Campaign is one of our annual fundraisers that we do between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It’s easy! Just let us know how many bottles your church or organization needs, and we will provide those to you to pass out starting on Mother’s Day. Your members will then take them home and over the course of 6 weeks, they will fill them with any loose change, cash, or checks that they wish to donate to us. On Father’s Day, everyone brings them back! Return the bottles to us, whether they are completely full or empty. Each bottle helps support mothers who are facing crisis pregnancies by providing much-needed free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, baby supplies, life skills classes, and much more. If Mother’s Day kickoff doesn’t work for you just let us know we can do it anytime of year. Please prayerfully consider having your church or organization partnering with us for Baby Bottle Campaign 2017!
Jim Daly’s personal journey from orphan, to author of The Good Dad, to head of an international Christian organization dedicated to helping families thrive, is a powerful story. After enduring several tough years in foster care, Daly became a Christian in high school and found meaning, purpose, and a sense of belonging. After graduating from California State University, Daly worked in the private sector for a FORTUNE 500 company.
Daly assumed the presidency of Focus on the Family in 2005 after 16 years with the ministry. He started his career in 1989 as an assistant to the president, and since then he has held several roles and titles from Field Director for Asia, Africa and Australia to Vice President of the International Division, and many more. In 2004, he was named Chief Operating Officer, the role he held until he was hand-picked by Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson to be the ministry’s president.
“I am living proof,” he wrote in his 2007 autobiography, Finding Home, “that no matter how torn up the road has already been, or how pothole-infested it may look ahead, nothing – nothing – is impossible for God.”
He holds a MBA in International Business and several Humanitarian Awards. Daly has been married to his wife, Jean, since 1986. They have two sons and reside in Colorado Springs, CO.
Last week, four students from Union University chose to serve at A Woman’s Choice and Necole’s Place over their spring break. The young women were part of Love Thy Neighborhood’s “Take Back the Break” program, and throughout the week they supported our staff and served our clients at Necole’s Place in a number of ways. The students worked in childcare, assisted with tutoring in our GED program, and helped prepare lunch for our clients and their children. They also participated in the daily Bible study and put together special Easter gifts for each of our clients. Meghan, one of the students, said of her time at Necole’s Place, “The fact that this organization offers many helpful classes like GED, a nice lunch each day, and a Bible study are simple ways the people at Necole’s Place love their clients. They truly walk with women in what may be one of the most challenging times of their life. This was a great opportunity and I’m thankful for a Christ-minded organization serving and loving those in Louisville.” We are so thankful that these young ladies were willing to use their spring break to serve our clients and their children. It was a blessing to watch them love the women and children at Necole’s Place and experience the joy of working in a Christian ministry.
” I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually
be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;….
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together”
PROVERBS 3:5,6 God truly directed our ways as we walked along Lauren
through her drug addiction, her treatment and her decision for life for her
new baby and to place her for adoption.
On March 24, 2017, Stephanie Virg, Case Manager and I (Susie Dempsey, Associate Director for Client Resources) were blessed to be apart of Lauren’s baby girl’s delivery and to witness Elle & Noah meet their new daughter. God had provided a beautiful Christian family and an unselfish, loving birth mom, Lauren to bring this new family together. What a beautiful picture of God’s Grace and Provision!
We are blessed to continue Lauren’s journey into healing and a healthier life for her and her 2 year old daughter. Please pray for her and for Elle & Noah with their new addition.
AWC’s Outreach Coordinator, Dr. Jim Tipton, is working on his Doctor of Educational Ministry Degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As part of his study requirements he has written three blogs that can help you too in your discipleship. This is part three of three.
Kathy Quiano and James Griffiths reported for CNN on December 2, 2016 that Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as Ahok), the governor of Jakarta, faced demonstrations by fellow Indonesians calling for his removal from office and arrest for blasphemy. Ahok, a Christian who is up for reelection, was accused of insulting the Quran in a speech when he quoted a verse from it and “said that the people had been ‘lied to’ by those saying they would go to hell for voting for him.” Why the outrage? Because adherents to a religious faith are naturally sensitive to perceived attacks on their respective holy books and are protective of the teachings they communicate. To question the foundational documents of a religion is to question the validity of the faith of a follower of that religion. In this respect, Christianity is no different from Islam or any other religion. As Christians, we bristle at comments from unbelievers and liberal Christians that our holy book, the Bible, is not reliable and authoritative. Fortunately, Christians who want to believe in the reliability of the Bible as truth are on firm footing in that belief. Following are some reasons why we can trust the reliability of the New Testament.
Internal Sources of Reliability for the New Testament
Like the Old Testament, the New Testament claims divine inspiration. A claim is nothing more than an assertion if there is no proof to support it. Such proof for a holy document will always be challenged by those outside that religion. The proof for the divine origin of the New Testament’s writings lies in the wisdom and dependability of its words and council, but ultimately, it is a matter of faith. A claim of divine inspiration, by itself, will be unpersuasive to nonbelievers, but to believers, it is a critical piece of the foundation for their religion. For both believers and unbelievers seeking to determine the reliability of the New Testament, it is a piece of internal evidence that must be evaluated. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul claims that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness . . .”
More objective evidence lies in the identity of the authors of the New Testament’s Gospels. The authors of the four books called “the Gospels” – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – were eye-witnesses to the events recorded in their books, even though they were written three to six decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection. These are the primary sources for our information concerning the life and ministry of Jesus. Several leaders in the early church – including Papias, Polycarp, and Irenaeus – confirmed that the Gospels represent eyewitness testimony. Luke, Matthew, and John reflect the testimony of their authors, and Mark reflects the testimony of Peter recorded by Mark. Liberal Christians in our contemporary culture challenge the identity of the Gospels’ authors in spite of the confirmation of the early church fathers and two thousand years of Christendom’s acceptance. Their challenge is noted here in order to both acknowledge that the claim of reliability is questioned, and to highlight how the following evidences of reliability are not so easily challenged in comparison.
Scholars identify three tests for determining the reliability of biblical manuscripts: the number of extant copies, how close to the original writing the copies were made, and the accuracy of the copies. Application of these tests to the New Testament reveal the following:
- Number of extant copies: Like the overwhelming number of copies we have of the Old Testament compared to other ancient documents, we have an impressive number of copies of the New Testament – nearly 5,700. In comparison to the number of copies we have of other ancient documents, we have “only 7 [copies] for Plato, 8 for Thucydides, 8 for Herodotus, 10 for Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and 20 for Tacitus. Only the works of Demosthenes and Homer number in the hundreds.” Geisler claims, “The reliability of the NT [New Testament] is established because the number, date, and accuracy of its manuscripts enable reconstruction of the original text with more precision than any other ancient text. . . The NT is simply the best textually supported book from the ancient world.”
- How close to the original writing the copies were made: The John Rylands Papyrus, dated to the early second century, is the oldest manuscript of the New Testament we have. Some books dated around AD 200 have been found, and copies of most of the New Testament date to AD 250. Geisler quotes the British manuscript scholar, Sir Frederick Kenyon, as writing, “‘The interval then between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible.’” Geisler concludes, “No other ancient book has as small a time gap between composition and the earliest manuscript copies as the NT.”
- Accuracy: Like the Old Testament, the New Testament has been copied accurately. Geisler writes, “The NT scholar and Princeton professor Bruce Metzger made a comparison of the NT with the Iliad of Homer and the Mahabharata of Hinduism. He found the text of the latter to represent only 90 percent of the original (with 10 percent textual corruption), the Iliad to be 95 percent pure, and only half of 1 percent of the NT text to remain in doubt.”
Clearly, the New Testament passes each of these tests of reliability.
External Sources of Reliability for the New Testament
The writings of numerous non-Christians of antiquity confirm the history provided in the New Testament. Among these authors are Tacitus, a Roman historian; Suetonius, Emperor Hadrian’s secretary; Josephus, a Pharisee and ewish historian; Thallus, a historian; Pliny the Younger, a Roman governmental administrator; the emperor Trajan; Lucian of Samosata, a Greek writer; and Mara Bar-Serapion, a Syrian.
Archeological finds have also confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament. In 1990, a chest called the “Caiaphas Ossuary” was discovered. Two inscriptions were found on the chest “Caiaphas” and “Joseph, son of Caiaphas.” These are the remains of the high priest, Caiaphas, identified and quoted in John 11. Other notable archeological finds that support the reliability of the New Testament text are the discovery of the court of the Tower of Antonia where Jesus was tried, two ossuaries discovered in 1945 dated to the mid-first century on which Christian graffiti was recorded, an inscription identifying Pontius Pilate as “Prefect of Judea” discovered in 1961, the burial site of an individual discovered in 1968 that confirmed the details of crucifixion as recorded in the New Testament, an inscription identifying Erastus as a city official who could have been the same Erastus Paul wrote about in Romans 16:23, and the discovery of the Pool of Bethesda discovered in 1888 in Jerusalem. Archeologists have also found the three coins referenced in the New Testament: the denarius, pieces of silver thought to be shekels, and the small coin described as the “widow’s mite” in Mark 12 and Luke 21.
The reliability of the New Testament is supported by both internal and external evidence. Internal evidence includes claims of divine inspiration; the eyewitness testimony of the Gospels’ authors; and the tests of number, dating, and accuracy of the copies. External evidence includes the writings of non-Christians and archeological discoveries that confirm the accuracy of the New Testament. Certainly, such strong evidence for the reliability of the primary source for Christian claims of truth warrants careful consideration by all.
Kathy Quiano and James Griffiths, “Indonesia: 200,000 protest Christian governor of Jakarta,” CNN, accessed December 20, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/02/asia/jakarta-indonesia-protest-ahok/.
Timothy Paul Jones, Why Trust the Bible? (Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing, 2007), 2.
The web site, Religious Tolerance.org, states that “There is near consensus among liberal, and some mainline theologians, that: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by Jesus’ disciples but by person or persons whose names are unknown [and] Neither Paul nor any of the Gospel writers had been an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry, execution, or after-death appearances.” “Jesus’ resurrection: Alternate beliefs by some liberal & mainline Christians, secularists, etc.” Religious Tolerance.org, accessed January 24, 2017, http://www.religioustolerance.org/resur_It.htm.
See Norman L. Geisler, “Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied Down Through the Centuries?” in The Apologetics Study Bible, edited by Ted Cabal (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 468, and John Blanchard. Why Believe the Bible? (Webster, NY: Evangelical Press USA, 2004), 7.
Geisler, “Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied?” 468.
Sir Frederick Kenyon, quoted in Geisler, “Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied? 469.
Geisler, “Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied? 469.
Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 54-59.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “How Has Archaeology Corroborated the Bible?” in The Apologetics Study Bible, edited by Ted Cabal (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1149.
Blanchard, John. Why Believe the Bible? Webster, NY: Evangelical Press USA, 2004.
Geisler, Norman L. “Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied Down Through the Centuries?” in
The Apologetics Study Bible, edited by Ted Cabal. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007.
“Jesus’ resurrection: Alternate beliefs by some liberal & mainline Christians, secularists, etc.”
Religious Terance.org. Accessed January 24, 2017. http://www.religioustolerance.org/ resur_It.htm.
Jones, Timothy Paul. Why Trust the Bible? Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing, 2007.
Kaiser, Walter C. Jr., “How Has Archaeology Corroborated the Bible?” In The Apologetics Study
Bible, edited by Ted Cabal. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007.
McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Quiano, Kathy and James Griffiths, “Indonesia: 200,000 protest Christian governor of Jakarta.”
CNN. Accessed December 20, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/02/asia/jakarta-indonesia-protest-ahok/.
AWC’s Outreach Coordinator, Dr. Jim Tipton, is working on his Doctor of Educational Ministry Degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As part of his study requirements he has written the following three blogs that can help you too in your discipleship. This is part two of three.
THE RELIABILITY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
On a Saturday morning this past summer, I had a brief conversation with an escort for the local abortion clinic. I explained that I believe all people, including babies in the womb, are made in the image of God and are therefore special to God. This man proceeded to ridicule me for believing in God. He said, “I used to be a Christian like you, but then I grew up and realized that there is no God!” I tried to talk to him about the design that is apparent in God’s creation, but he was unmoved. When I asked him what had happened to him that caused him to lose his faith, he replied that “life happened” and repeated that he had “grown up.”
Perhaps you too once had faith in God but no longer do, or you may have never believed in God. If either is true, I’m sure there are numerous reasons you can give for your unbelief. One reason claimed by some is that the Bible is not reliable and factual. This is a common belief among those who attend liberal Christian churches that have supplanted the authority of Scripture with the authority of cultural norms. Whatever your reason, I want to reassure you that Scripture is reliable and can be trusted as authoritative. In the following, I will summarize reasons you can trust in the reliability of the Old Testament. This is the section of the Bible where we learn about God, His nature, and His position as Creator of the Universe and all that exists.
Internal Sources of Reliability
The Bible claims divine inspiration. The books of the Old Testament were written by men but these men were inspired by God. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, . . .” The word translated “inspired” actually means “God-breathed.”(1) Men wrote the words but they are the words of God. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:21, “. . . no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God.” In Exodus 31:18, the Ten Commandments are described as having been written “by the finger of God.” It is written in 2 Samuel 23:2 that “the Spirit of the Lord spoke through [David], His word was on [his] tongue.”(2) So, when we talk about Scripture, we are talking about truth – not from the men who wrote the words but from God Himself.
Additional sources of reliability from within Scripture include the coherency of the Bible’s message from beginning to end. Given that the books of the Bible were written by numerous human authors over an extended period of time, one would expect some conflict and incoherence in their overall message, but that is not the case. The metanarrative of the Bible is accomplished through the complementary nature of the component books that make up the canons of the Old and New Testaments. Relative to the coherence of the message, J.I Packer writes, “[The Bible has] an organic coherence that is simply stunning. Books written centuries apart seemed to have been designed for the express purpose of supplementing and illuminating each other. . . .Truly, the inner unity of the Bible is miraculous: a sign and wonder challenging the unbelief of our skeptical age.”(3)
Scholars identify three tests for determining the reliability of biblical manuscripts: the number of extant copies, how close to the original writing the copies were made, and the accuracy of the copies.(4)
- Number of extant copies: Over 11,000 Old Testament manuscripts have been discovered. We normally have only a few copies of documents from antiquity. Compare the thousands of copies we have of the Old Testament to the number of copies we have of other ancient manuscripts: “only 7 for Plato, 8 for Thucydides, 8 for Herodotus, 10 for Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and 20 for Tacitus. Only the works of Demosthenes and Homer number in the hundreds.”(5) Clearly, the Old Testament passes this test easily.
- How close to the original writing the copies were made: Until 1947, the oldest copies of the Old Testament dated to around A.D. 1000. Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran provided us copies of much of the Old Testament that date back to B.C. 250 to A.D. 50. We also have a segment of the book of Numbers that dates to the seventh century B.C.(6) We now have copies that date to before Jesus’ birth. These very old documents of antiquity add strength to the Old Testament’s reliability.
- Accuracy: Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has also provided a means of testing the accuracy of the contemporary version of the Old Testament. Examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls reveals that the texts we have today have been carefully preserved. For example, comparison of the Qumran copy of Isaiah to today’s version reveals only three minor spelling changes in one of the longest books in the Old Testament.(7) In addition, the Septuagint (The Greek version of the Old Testament) and the Samaritan Pentateuch also match closely our text of the Old Testament. The Old Testament passes this third test of reliability easily.
As compelling as the evidence already presented is in establishing the Old Testament’s reliability, perhaps the most compelling evidence is its prophetic content. Unique among the holy books of the world’s religions, the Old Testament includes 2,000 specific prophecies about geographic entities such as cities and nations, about Israel, and about the Jewish Messiah.(8) Following are some examples of fulfilled prophecies:
- Places: The complete destruction of the city of Tyre was predicted in the 26th chapter of Ezekiel. Tyre was later destroyed as foretold through the successive efforts of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great.(9) The destruction of Babylon was predicted in Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 51. Today, there are only ruins where Babylon once stood.(10)
- Israel: The defeat of Israel and the exile of its people were prophesied in Deuteronomy, Hosea, and Jeremiah; and Jeremiah 31 predicted the restoration of Israel.(11)
- Jesus, the Messiah: The book of Isaiah includes predictions about Christ’s life, ministry, death, and burial. Psalm 16:9-10 prophecies Jesus resurrection: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Micah predicted that Christ would be born in the relatively obscure town of Bethlehem.(12)
For those who conclude that Jesus is, indeed, the Son of God, His view of the Old Testament is critical. The New Testament reveals that the Old Testament, the only Scripture Jesus had, was sacred to Him. John Blanchard identifies five pieces of evidence to support that claim:
- Jesus accepted the reliability of history in the Old Testament. He referred to at least fifteen events recorded in the Old Testament to illustrate His teachings.
- Jesus acknowledged the unchanging authority of the Old Testament. In John 10:35, Jesus is quoted as saying, “. . . the Scripture cannot be broken.”
- Jesus corrected those who misused the Old Testament.
- Jesus claimed that the Old Testament prophetically pointed to Him. In Luke 24:44, He said, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
- Jesus accepted the Old Testament as the Word of God.(13) In Matthew 5:18, He said, “. . . I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.” Little notes, “He quoted Scripture as final authority, often introducing the statement with the phrase, ‘It is written,’ as in His encounter with Satan in the temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4). He spoke of Himself and of events surrounding His life as being fulfillments of the Scripture (Matt. 26:54, 56).”(14)
External Sources of Reliability
Sources of reliability outside the Old Testament itself includes the Old Testament’s presentation of history and archaeological finds that have verified its claims. The Old Testament has proven to be historically reliable, particularly in the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah. Blanchard reports of forty-five years of research on the Old Testament’s historical record conducted by a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, Robert Dick Wilson: “After exhaustive research into the Bible’s record of about forty kings who had lived over a period of 1,600 years, he came to the conclusion that while there were errors in other records, the Bible’s data was perfect . . . Weighing this up, he added, ‘No stronger evidence for the substantial accuracy of the Old Testament record could possibly be imagined than this record of kings.’”(15)
Many people and places mentioned in the Old Testament once thought to be of dubious validity have been validated through archeological finds. Persons identified through archeology include King Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), Sanballat (Nehemiah 2:10), Tobiah the Ammonite, Geshem the Arab, the prophet Balaam, and the kings David, Ahab, Jehu, Hezekiah, and Menahem. People groups include the Hittites and the Horites. Places include Ophir and sites along the route the Israelites took as they wandered in the desert.(16)
The reliability of the Old Testament is confirmed by both internal and external sources. Internal sources include Scripture’s claim to be divinely inspired, the coherency of its message, the number of extant copies we have of this ancient document, the proximity of when copies were made of the originals, the accuracy of those copies, fulfilled prophecies, and Jesus’ own view of Scripture. External sources include the accuracy of its historical content verified by external sources and archeological finds that confirm the Old Testament’s accuracy. The collective weight of this body of evidence presents a formidable argument for the document’s reliability.
Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe: A Clear Affirmation of the Reasonableness of the Christian Faith (Wheaton: SP Publications, 1987), 51.
Kaiser, “Is the Old Testament Trustworthy?” 346, and Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. “How Has Archaeology Corroborated the Bible?” in The Apologetics Study Bible, ed. Ted Cabal (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007) 345.
J. I. Packer, in foreword to Edmund P. Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery, (P & R Publishing, 2013), 8-9, quoted in John Blanchard, Why Believe the Bible? (Webster, NY: Evangelical Press USA, 2004), 21.
See Norman L. Geisler, “Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied Down Through the Centuries?” in The Apologetics Study Bible, edited by Ted Cabal (Nashville: Holman Bible
Publishers, 2007), 468, and John Blanchard. Why Believe the Bible? 7.
 Geisler, “Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied?” 468.
Kaiser, “Is the Old Testament Trustworthy?” 345-346.
Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 12. See also D. James Kennedy, Why I Believe, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1999), 3.
Little, Know Why You Believe, 58.
Kennedy, Why I Believe, 9-11.
Little, Know Why You Believe, 58.
Blanchard, Why Believe the Bible? 25.
Little, Know Why You Believe, 53.
Blanchard, Why Believe the Bible? 16.
Kaiser, “Is the Old Testament Trustworthy?” 346, and Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. “How Has Archaeology Corroborated the Bible?” 1148-1149.
Blanchard, John. Why Believe the Bible? Webster, NY: Evangelical Press USA, 2004.
Geisler, Norman L. “Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied Down Through the Centuries?” In
The Apologetics Study Bible, edited by Ted Cabal, 468-69. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers,
Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. “How Has Archaeology Corroborated the Bible?” In The Apologetics Study
Bible, edited by Ted Cabal, 1148-49. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007.
_______. “Is the Old Testament Trustworthy?” In The Apologetics Study
Bible, edited by Ted Cabal, 345-47. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007.
Kennedy, D. James. Why I Believe. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1999.
Little, Paul E. Know Why You Believe: A Clear Affirmation of the Reasonableness of the
Christian Faith. Wheaton: SP Publications, 1987.
McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Packer, J. I. in foreword to Edmund P. Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery, P & R Publishing,
2013, 8-9. Quoted in John Blanchard, Why Believe the Bible? Webster, NY: Evangelical
Press USA, 2004.
AWC’s Outreach Coordinator, Dr. Jim Tipton, is working on his Doctor of Educational Ministry Degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As part of his study requirements he has written three blogs that can help you too in your discipleship. This is part one of three.
An article by Krissah Thompson in the December 19, 2016 Washington Post reported on an exit interview of first lady Michelle Obama conducted by Oprah Winfrey. In the interview, Ms. Obama expressed concern over whether the nation still had “hope,” given that Republican Donald Trump had won the election over Hillary Clinton. Ms. Winfrey asked Ms. Obama if she believed that her husband’s administration had fostered “hope” in America. “’Yes, I do. Because we feel the difference now,’ she said . . . ‘See, now we are feeling what not having hope feels like, you know. Hope is necessary. It is a necessary concept. What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?’”(1)
In this interview, it is clear that Ms. Obama was referring to the hope fostered by a certain political ideology. Specifically, she questioned whether the ideology of the Republican Party would provide the same amount of hope for America’s welfare that her husband’s Democratic party had provided during his administration. Her comments about the importance of hope, however, transcend the political process and are true about life itself. “Hope is necessary.” Yes, hope is necessary for all humans who question the meaning of life and their place in the universe.
Why the Resurrection Deserves Your Attention
Whether you are a Christian, a follower of a different religion, or a follower of no religion, it is important that you understand the importance of Jesus’ resurrection for Christian believers. You may ask why understanding that importance is important for non-Christians. There are numerous answers to that question – for better understanding of others’ beliefs, for promoting dialogue among members of different faiths, and for clearer understandings of why Christians act and believe as they do. All of these important benefits accrue from understanding the importance of the resurrection to Christians. They all pale in comparison, though, to the potential benefit that learning the importance and understanding the significance of the resurrection may produce. In learning why it is important to Christians and why Christians believe it, the non-Christian may be convinced that the resurrection is true. If it is true, the non-Christian’s hope for eternity, just like the Christian’s hope, hinges on this truth. If one decides that Jesus did rise or even may have risen from the grave, he must at least consider the possibility that Jesus is who He says He is – the Son of the one true God. If that is true, Christianity deserves your evaluation.
You may say, “Wait! Hold on there! You’re encouraging me to try to understand the importance of the resurrection as a means of converting me to Christianity. You Christians are always trying to tell others they are wrong and you are right!” My response is that I do believe that Jesus rose from the grave and sits at the right hand of God in heaven, I do want you to believe that too, and I do believe that an understanding of its importance may motivate you to consider whether it is true or not. But I cannot convince you of the truth of the resurrection; that requires a work of the Holy Spirit in your heart. If I can convince you of its importance and explain to you why it is important, you may be motivated to explore the evidence for the resurrection further, and through that exploration, you may be touched by the Holy Spirit and believe. My motivation is not to convince you but to ask you to consider the evidence. In doing so, you may be convinced that the resurrection is true. Why is it important? Because eternity hangs in the balance!
Why the Resurrection Provides Christians Hope
Christians refer to the story of Jesus as the “Gospel,” which means “Good News.” The story of Jesus is that He is the Son of God who came to earth in human form; He lived a sinless life and died a substitutionary death for all sinners taking our sin on Him; He was buried but He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God; Whoever accepts His free gift of grace can be forgiven of their sins, receive the Holy Spirit while here on earth, and spend eternity with Him in heaven.
Of all the elements of the Gospel story, none is more important than Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. Josh McDowell notes that of all the world’s religions, only four (Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam) focus on persons, and of those, only Christianity claims its founder rose from the dead.(2) Jesus’ resurrection is proof that Jesus has overcome death and that those who accept Him as their Savior can have eternal life. In addition, Paul Little sums up the importance of Jesus’ resurrection well: “If Christ rose, we know with certainty that God exists, what he is like, and how we may know Him in personal experience; the universe takes on meaning and purpose, and it is possible to experience the living God in contemporary life. . . . On the other hand, if Christ did not rise from the dead, Christianity is an interesting museum piece – nothing more.”(3)
It is the resurrection that gives Christians hope because it is the resurrection that proves Jesus defeated death by rising from the grave. Without the resurrection, Jesus would certainly have been an influential teacher, an honored rabbi, and His would have been an interesting story of antiquity. But because of the resurrection, we know that Jesus is God. By His death in which He took on Himself the sins of the world, He provided a way for humans to be reconciled to God, a way that humans could not provide for themselves. By His resurrection in which He defeated and overcame death, He provided a way for humans to also overcome death by placing our faith in Him and accepting His gift of grace and forgiveness – again, a way that humans could not provide for themselves.
Where to Find Evidence for the Resurrection
If you understand why the resurrection is so important to Christians, and you are motivated to investigate the evidence, where can you find that evidence? The primary source of knowledge for the resurrection is the Bible. The Old Testament tells about how God created the universe and everything in it, how humans rebelled against God’s authority and were separated from God by sin, and how God chose a people through whom a Messiah (Jesus) would come who would reconcile humans to God.
The New Testament tells about Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. It tells about the birth of the Church, its early struggles, and the expansion of Christianity throughout the world. It also provides instruction on how to live in accordance with Jesus’ teachings, and provides insight into the end times when Jesus will return to judge all humanity.
Each of the four Gospels provides an account of Jesus’ own prediction of His death and resurrection (Matt. 17:22-23 and 20:18-19, Mark 9:9-10, Luke 9:22-27, and John 2:18-22), as well as an account of how Jesus’ tomb was found empty on the third day after His crucifixion (Matt. 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-10, and John 20:1-10). Jesus’ ascension into heaven is described in Mark 16:19 and Luke 24:50-53.
In addition to the evidence provided in the Gospels, other New Testament books provide additional evidence. Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus and his consequent conversion is told in Acts 9:1-9, 22:1-11, and 26:9-19. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul confirms the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and reports of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to Peter, James, and over 500 other Christians at one time. The book of Acts reveals how the resurrection of Jesus was central to the belief of the early church.
Additional evidence outside the Bible includes the writings of Tacitus, Suetonius, Juvenal, Pliny the Younger, Martial, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius that all attest to the early Christians’ willingness to die horrible deaths rather than to recant their belief in the resurrected Jesus. Additional evidence of the early church’s belief is the conversion of the Lord’s Day from the Sabbath to Sunday (the third day), and the replacement of Pentecost with Easter as the most significant holy day of the year. The existence of the Church is evidence that many believe in the resurrection of Jesus, just as the changed lives of millions who have accepted Jesus as their Savior testify to the power of the resurrection.
Hope is important for all of us. Christian hope springs from the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus is important to Christians because it is the focal point of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, Jesus no longer lives and Christian faith is belief in a lie. Evidence of the resurrection can be found in both biblical and non-biblical writings from antiquity. Although the evidence cannot prove the truth of the resurrection, consideration of the evidence can open the non-believer’s mind to the possibility of its truth. The opened mind and heart provide an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to draw to Him those He will. The stakes could not be higher. It is important that you consider the truth of the resurrection.
Krissah Thompson, “Michelle Obama gave a somber exit interview to Oprah Winfrey,” The Washington Post, accessed December 20, 2016, https://washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/ michelle-obama-gave-a-somber-exit-interview-to-oprah-winfrey.
Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 205.
Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe: A Clear Affirmation of the Reasonableness of the Christian Faith (Wheaton: SP Publications, 1987), 41.
Little, Paul E. Know Why You Believe: A Clear Affirmation of the Reasonableness of the
Christian Faith. Wheaton: SP Publications, 1987.
McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Thompson, Krissah. “Michelle Obama gave a somber exit interview to Oprah Winfrey.” The
Washington Post. Accessed December 20, 2016. https://washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/ michelle-obama-gave-a-somber-exit-interview-to-oprah-winfrey.
“We have been making some exciting changes here at Necole’s Place”, said Education and Discipleship Director, Sandy Gross. “We kicked off 2017 with a brand new approach to our Bible Study program and our clients seem to be loving it”.
Bible studies are a foundational component of what we offer at Necole’s Place and have been since the inception of the ministry. Every week – Monday through Thursday – Necole’s Place provides our clients with the opportunity to learn more about the hope of the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ through studying the Bible. In the past, the study materials have been left in large part to the discretion of our volunteer teachers. “This has worked beautifully in the past, but 2017 is a time for New Things”, said Sandy.
“The changes are pretty simple. We have taken the Bible study classes internal. Meaning staff is now responsible for leading the daily sessions. This allows us to take a much more coordinated and thematic approach to our teaching,” said Sandy.
Each month the staff at Necole’s Place, in conjunction with the client leadership team, selects a new theme for the upcoming month. All of the Bible Studies then focus on that same theme throughout the month. January was “All Things New”, February was “Break Every Chain” and March will be “Growing In Love”. If you visit Necole’s Place, you will see a brand new board promoting the monthly themes and outlining the activities for the week as you walk into the front door.
“We have also added a new Biblically based class led by our own Dr. Kaufman. This class targets our GED students who don’t generally make it to an afternoon Bible Study class. We call the class Living God’s Way. It follows the same thematic approach as our weekly Bible Studies but from a more therapeutic reference point”.
This new integrated approach is gaining momentum. The staff at Necole’s Place believe that this level of Biblical intentionality will help to draw their clients closer to God and to better influence their choices in life.
“If you could paint God’s grace, what would it look like? As the Master-Creator knew us before the world began, He also knew what our lives would look like, and where we would begin to trust is plan in our lives. The God Who Sees Me knows that I want to fulfill His purpose for my life, and so after many years of denying His existence, I have been given an amazing opportunity to do something I love to do: create art.”
Annie had begun college in 2005 with the goal of being a dental hygienist, but after she was not selected for the limited program, she began to fill in her Associates of Arts criteria by taking as many art electives as possible while moving on with her degree goals to pursue pre-medical curriculum. She took one drawing class, only to give up because of the rigid coursework. Envying the painting class happily painting in bright blues and soft tans off in the corner studio, while she was making charcoal drawings of the classroom chairs, she quit making art. It wasn’t until 2010 after life turned upside-down that she acquired a new canvas from a friend’s garage. It was 24 x 30 inches and a blank slate. Just what she wanted! It was also that year that she would need God more than ever and He would lift off the veil of atheism once and for all.
Annie moved to Kentucky in 2011. “Last year I went through a lot of challenges, had a car accident with a brain injury, and became a single parent. Necole’s Place was there for me as I made the transition from stay-at-home mom with no family, friends, or acquaintances, into working mom while my baby is in daycare.” It felt insurmountable to do. “I spend as much time as I can in the Necole’s Place Bible studies and leadership team meetings when I’m not working. Sometimes I’ll even be given the luxury to work my schedule around the Necole’s Place classes so that I can remain a part of the amazing ministry going on there. Everything I learn, do, and hear there is relevant and empowering.
“During that transition I was told to set goals, and one of the goals was searching for income opportunities in art. I thought at the time I would enter a poster contest, but it was cancelled that year. While browsing that same website, I decided to apply for a mentorship program called Emerging Artist. After being congratulated on making it into the Emerging Artist program, I saw a new door open in my life.
“I was at work cleaning a bathroom shower stall when God once again intervened for my future. I work as a housekeeping manager for a vacation rental home business- a job that is flexible enough to be a single parent and still get the chores done, yet also affords some stability. Feeling drained, I took a lunch break and checked my email for my 2-year-old son’s pre-school announcements. What I found instead was so encouraging!
“God has a plan for me! I was awarded an art scholarship for Professional Development, notified by email of a $500 grant, which I may use in what will best serve to improve my induvial artistic endeavors! Me? A professional artist! Could it really be?! Isn’t that impossible?
“With the scholarship from Fund for The Arts of Louisville, I decided to redeem that time of my life that I quit on myself and enroll in a professional drawing class. Going back to the drawing board will give me the skills I never learned and couldn’t teach myself, and combined with the techniques that I have learned, I will be able to create the paintings I envision.
“God is laying the path for me to be a reflection of Himself in my art and to share who He is in the community of conversation that art creates. Knowing the times to come when I can declare that, “There is a God! He is Majestic! He Loves YOU!” and share the many parts of my story through my art images gives me a clearly defined place and purpose in His Kingdom! For that I am grateful, for that I am humbled, and for that He astounds me even more!”
Annie was awarded the Professional Development Scholarship from Fund for the Arts in February 2017, the St. James Court Art Show Emerging Artist 2016-2017 Mentorship Program, and has shown work locally at Nulufest, First Friday Hop, Frankfort Avenue Trolley Hop, and The Rudyard Kipling. Annie will be exhibiting on October 6-8th at the St. James Court Art Show 2017. Check out her Facebook page at https://facebook.com/ProfoundPace.
For several years Susan Rennie has brought her 6th grade class from Christian Academy to serve at Necole’s Place on Valentine’s Day. The students take a tour and find out about the ministry. They play with our nursery children, clean toys, bring Valentines for our clients, and make & decorate cupcakes for our noon lunch. The students also write Scripture on the Valentine bags to share with our clients. We love that Christian Academy has joined us in sharing with their students what God is doing through this ministry and sharing God’s love.