You did not choose Me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask Him in My Name. John 15:16
Questions have been raised concerning the reliability and authenticity of the written record in the Bible. A pertinent question often raised among skeptics is, ‘How trustworthy can the material in the Bible be without any original autographs available upon which to make a comparison?’ Translation, transliteration, and professional bias by the translators may also present counter arguments that support a position of questioning whether personal or group biases may have been inserted throughout the material, thus negating their effectiveness in establishing Truth. A further difficulty is the absence of a signature of authorship in any of the “gospels”. This issue is of particular significance when seeking to establish the words of God as delivered by His Son, which is the testimony of Jesus. Seeking an answer to these issues is the subject of this article.
Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, and summoning Jesus, said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You up to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is My kingdom is not of this realm.” Pilate therefore said to Him,” So you are a King?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a King. For this I have been born, and for this have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, What is truth?” John 18:33-38 (NASB)
Pilates question is very important, and one that demands a truthful and comprehensive answer. This question goes to the heart of whether or not God is indeed involved in planning outcomes for this earth, and what His expectations are for those who wish to be involved in that plan. How may we know and understand the information leading us to a truthful answer to this question? To being, it is first necessary to ascertain what would be the cause that would require any interaction between God and His created beings in the first place.
God created all things, from the vast universe to the tiniest quark, and He accomplished this work by the power/energy of His word. All things maintain an orderly arrangement through their Creator. A small part of this creation is the galaxy in which our earth resides, identified as the “Milky Way”. An even smaller element is our solar system. And on a tiny speck of dust in our solar system a highly important endeavor is underway.
Before humans beings were created God created spiritual beings to work for Him throughout the universe. One of their duties (after the creation of this world) was teaching humankind the knowledge they needed to know in order live and work on this earth. The beings God created on this earth were finite, mortal flesh and blood beings. Their brains were not pre-programmed with information, as are the instincts of the lower animals. Humans beings, identified as the collective ‘mankind’ (created in the image and likeness of God-Gen.1:26-27) were created with the ability to learn, and choose what they wanted to learn and practice. God provided teachers from His home planet to instruct humankind, giving them the information they required to accomplish their God given purpose to care for the earth (see Genesis 1:28). These teachers performed well, humankind learned the information and prospered. What happened next is the cause of the situation in which we find ourselves in today.
One data set of information given to the nations of the earth by these ‘watchers’ was about seeds. Seeds are planted, take root, sprout, and grow into a mature plant. The plant produces fruit containing seed that when planted will go through the same cycle. Information is “planted” by teachers/the “sowers”; students/disciples are the “soil” which receive (eat) the “seeds of knowledge”. Before graduation each student must provide evidence demonstrating their understanding of the “seeds of knowledge” they have consumed. Typically, students build trust in their teacher/s, and accept what they say as the truth. The beings (watchers/teachers) sent from God in the heavens, gained the trust of humankind, and then used that trust to effect a great deception. These teachers told humankind that they were their gods, they were the creators and were to be worshiped. The ancient gods of the nations were nothing more than created spiritual beings sent from the heavens, and they continue to lie and the nations of man deceive through these lies.
When consumed the fruit of lies is as a poisonous plant. When eaten the fruit of lies brings death to whomever eat of them. Those who believe these lies are caught in the deception created by the originator of lies, the Great Deceiver. When eaten, the fruit of truth brings true wisdom, and those who listen to the truth are full of true knowledge. Knowledge that has its root in truth when applied with understanding gives true wisdom. Truth is light, lies are darkness. Truth builds trust, lies build faith. Faith is required in the darkness; faith evaporates in light. Since in the darkness you are unable to see; faith is therefore necessary to be able to function when you cannot see.
Words are the seeds of all knowledge, for either good or ill. Words of truth produce good fruit. Seeds have two functions; one is to be converted into food, and the other is to be planted for a new crop. The preservation and transmission of knowledge depends upon the one who is responsible for the care of the seed/words.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11 (NASB)
God has been, and is now, working to restore righteousness, truth, and light to this world. He has revealed the process by which, this will be accomplished. This earth is His creation, and it was taken from Him. He is working to restore it to it prior glory. God can, and will, accomplish this goal, and our active participation is required for the completion of His plan. God has given us the seeds/words advising us of our responsibilities, and the requirements which must be accomplished for this to occur. The rebellious, evil beings that successfully deceived the whole world are committed to making sure that the requirements of God’s plan are never achieved. These are the masters of deception, giving their lies the flavor of truth. Like mixing sugar or honey into a bitter liquid, or fecal material mixed into a chocolate cake they know how to make death taste good. They know what people prefer to believe, and offer up a cleverly crafted, popular deception. The seeds they have planted are thistles and thorn bushes, and the fruit they produce are poisonous; eating this fruit brings death.
Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. Matthew 7:15-19 (NASB)
How are we able to know what is reliable teaching and information, and what is not? First we must determine whether we trust in God, or if God is real. The extra biblical evidence for the reality of God is everywhere around us. God, who created everything we see, and cannot see, is capable of preserving His spoken words of truth. The text previously quoted (Isaiah 55:10-11) is very clear; God delivers His word through messenger and prophet, and His word will accomplish its purpose. His purpose is the cleansing of this earth of all corruption, which includes sin, lies, and deception, and He will then restore of His glory throughout the whole earth (Ex. 14:21) How sin is dealt with is the all-important issue. This earth is full of sin; it is in the people, the evil beings, and in all that corrupts the earth. God has offered a way for sinners to be cleansed from all their sin. Anyone who teaches that this earth is chronically and incurably sinful, therefore requiring God to provide a way to save sinners from their sin, in their sin, is a thistle and thorn bush. God’s word of truth is a cleansing fire, it burns away all lies until all that is left is truth. God’s word purifies sinners from all their sinfulness, creating in them a reality of righteousness. The ultimate outcome is that God will cleanse sin from this earth by fire. Those who have already been cleansed/sanctified by fire of the word of God will not experience the cleansing “lake of fire”, which is the second death (see Revelation 20:14)
God has revealed future events long before they take place, and this is one way to verify the authority of the word of God. Daniel chapter two is a good example. Some “experts” state that the book of Daniel was written during the time of Greek occupation, 400-200 BCE. It can be demonstrated by observing the fulfilled elements of the prophecies in Daniel that it would have been impossible for anyone (or any group of experts) to have predicted with any accuracy after the fact the fulfillment of the prophecies that are contained in Daniel.
What we read in Daniel chapter two is unique. Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon and much of the eastern Mediterranean world, is lying on his bed thinking about the distant future. He wonders what influence he will have long after he is gone. God gives him a vision of great kingdoms/empires of the future; but God does not give him an interpretation of this vision. Nebuchadnezzar desires to know the meaning of the vision, but knows that if he tells his dream to his sorcerers, conjurors, and Chaldeans, they will get together and agree upon an interpretation based upon what he (Nebuchadnezzar) had already told them. Nebuchadnezzar does not want a fictional interpretation, he wants the truth. He knows that anyone who is able to tell him the vision in every detail and without prior knowledge, could be trusted to be accurate.
There are a couple of interesting elements to consider in this vision described in Daniel 2. One element is the distinct absence of the nation of Israel. There is seen the kingdom of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome, followed by a mixture of kingdoms. It is in the days of this mixture of kingdoms that the God of the heavens will set-up/establish, a kingdom will be set up which will never be destroyed, and never given to another people. The nation of Israel experienced both the setting up and the destruction of their nation prior to Nebuchadnezzar’s vision. They had been sent into captivity in Babylon because their nation had been destroyed. Much later, after restating the vineyard story (see Isaiah 5) the Son of Man permanently took the kingdom away from the Jews and offered it to all peoples who would meet and fulfill all the required elements (see Matthew 21:43). Herein is a difficulty that the “experts” have failed to address; if this was a concocted story by Jewish scribes living in occupied Jerusalem in the second and third century BCE (as is postulated by ‘experts’), why then would they omit the very belief they held so fervently that the Messiah would finally come and restore the kingdom of Israel to glory, and make it the most powerful kingdom in the world. The complete absence of the kingdom of Israel in the Daniel 2 prophecy is revealing. Another difficulty is the characteristics of the feet. The feet were a mixture of iron and baked clay, We are told that one representation of this is that some of these kingdoms will have the strength of iron and some brittle as baked clay. The other representation of the mixture of iron and clay is that there will be a mixing in the “seed of men”. In ancient times nations consisted of a singular race or ethnicity. But in the last days the nations will be a mixture of all races of men; look at the world today and see the truth of this prophecy. No scribe in 400-200 BCE would have had any idea that the status quo of their day would be so dramatically changed.
The stone that separates itself from the quarry is also a unique feature of this prophecy. God was personally involved in the “birth” of His people. The God of Israel led His people out of Egypt with a mighty hand (see Deuteronomy 5:15). In the end of days Gods involvement in the separation of His kingdom out of the world is passive. God has now already sown the seeds of truth through the testimony of His Son while He was here on earth; and He has preserved the truth of their meaning throughout the ages since then. The “stone” that separates itself from the rock quarry uses the ancient words of God to accomplish this wonder.
The great deceiver does not want the faithful and sensible bond-servant to learn the words of truth, let alone feed his fellow bond-servants the bread of life, which is the testimony of Jesus. The only way that this will materialize is for God to preserve the true words of life. These words of truth are the seeds sown by the Sower, the Son of Man. Those who eat these words will come to the full knowledge of truth, and separate themselves from those who remain established in the rock quarry, and see no need to leave.
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. “He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. “I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” John 12:42-50(NASB)
Heed the words of the Sower!