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Choose Life That You Might Live

Part 12: Is The Evidence Insufficient or Too Obscure?
The Bible very clearly tells us that we all have a choice to make in this life - the most important choice we will ever make. And, if the Bible is indeed the word of God, the consequences for the individual who chooses to ignore, or counter the evidence with clever arguments, are fatal.

Carol Brooks

List of Chapters
For a slightly longer description of each chapter, please go to the Main Index

Part 1: Spiritual not Religious. The question is how do you know that the spiritual path you are on will lead somewhere you want to be? What does it offer you in the long run... beyond this life?
Part 2: Religious Pluralism. It is tragically true that few of those who believe that all spiritual beliefs are valid paths to God seem to have made an in depth study of various religions to see if their claims are based on fact, or fairy dust.
Part 3: Faith and The Bible. Christianity is perhaps the only religion that does not demand 'blind faith' from its followers.
Part 4: God And His Bible. There is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books which usually consist of endless streams of often mind numbing philosophy, with little or no framework or context. The evidence includes the Bible’s humanly impossible authorship, its archaeological and scientific accuracy and  fulfilled prophecy.
Part 5: Alleged Old Testament Discrepancies. The charges are usually careless, overconfident and unsubstantiated.
Part 6: Why Jesus Is Without Equal.  Many so called holy men claim to to be divine or divinely inspired - to have had mystical visions or experiences. So what?
Part 7: The Reliability of The New Testament. If we applied whatever criteria liberal scholars use to dismiss the Gospels, to the evidence for other historical people and events, we would have to dismiss as myth everything we think we think we know about the ancient past.
Part 8: New Testament Differences and Discrepancies  Most alleged 'mistakes' arise from understanding too little about the Bible.
Part 8 b: The Resurrection Accounts  The so-called contradictions are trotted out without a single reference to the possible solutions that can very plausibly and naturally explain them.
 Part 9: The Bible, Then And Now. People commonly reject the Bible because they believe the original text has been changed significantly since it was first written making it a corrupted book. But is there any truth to the charge?
Part 10: Historical Corroboration. Were any of the Gospel accounts substantiated by non-Christian sources?
Part 11: Archaeology and The Bible. Does archaeology confirm or undermine the New Testament accounts?
YOU ARE HERE 001orange Part 12: Is The Evidence Insufficient or Too Obscure? A far more sensible way to look at it is... the more severe the consequences, the fewer risks we should take.
Part 13: The Message of The Bible. The Heaven Jesus was sent to tell us about is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far more practical than that of our theologians. '
Part 14: The Warning of The Bible. We are all under the death penalty. If dying once sounds terrible to you, how does doing it twice sound? -  which is exactly what the Bible says will happen if...
Part 15: Who Is and Isn't a Christian. Since the word originated with the Bible, only the Bible has the right to define what a "Christian" is.
Part 16: Myths and Misconceptions that stem from knowing too little about Biblical Christianity.


I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live...  (Deuteronomy 30)

I hope you - with a reasonably open mind - have examined the massive weight of evidence (in the previous chapters. Summary below) in favor of the Bible being the word of God. However, if you have done so but still choose to ignore it, counter it with clever arguments, or focus on the few details that you deem contradictory/insufficiently proven etc. the consequences will be fatal.

In fact it is very literally, a life and death decision.

In view of which perhaps we should not be demanding greater evidence buy look at it in terms of the more severe the consequences, the fewer risks we should take.

Summary of The Evidence

How Much Evidence Would Be Enough Evidence?
Would a few gigantic miracles such as those witnessed by the Israeli slaves in Egypt be enough? Probably not!
The problem is we have rejected a great part of the evidence we already have and God is not obligated to provide more.

Creation... The Greatest of All Evidence For The Existence of God

Freedom Of Choice 

Ignoring The Traffic Signs is Fatal

The Bible's Primary Message Is Crystal Clear
God made sure that His main message is in language that is both comprehensible, straightforward and repeated many times.

Study It For Yourself

Summary of The Evidence

    1. Without supernatural assistance humans could never have been achieved the unity of the Bible's message. It is a sheer impossibility. See Authorship

    2. The scientific accuracy of the Bible definitively shows that there was a greater source of intelligence at work in the writings of men who could not possibly have had known the first things about the solar system, the universe, the ocean floor, or germs. See Scientific Evidence in The Bible

    3. The many prophecies made in the Bible have been documented as accurate, especially those concerning the birth, life and death of the Messiah. See Chapter 6 - Why Jesus is Without Equal.

    4. The Gospels are shown to be accurate historical accounts recorded within a few years from the events, written by the people they have been attributed to, with absolutely no reason to believe that the authors were lying about Jesus' resurrection. See Chapter 7 - The Reliability of The New Testament.

    5. The New Testament, with its thousands of full, or partial, Greek manuscripts and Latin translations, the copies and fragments of the New Testament in various other languages, and the copious quotes by early church writers make it the best authenticated ancient document by a long shot. See Chapter 9 - The Bible Then and Now

    6. The physical details of both the New and Old Testaments are well substantiated by the historical records and  archaeological findings.

    7. The Bible is the only religious book that points to a completely believable utopia here in earth, as opposed to ridiculously esoteric ideas of an after life that tell us precisely nothing. See Chapter 13 - The Message of The Bible

Yet, forgetting that the sheer weight of evidence is on the side of the Bible and that (as much as we like to think otherwise) our knowledge is extremely limited, all too many many people put forth long and clever arguments as to why this or that (usually minor) point cannot possibly be true.

An oft asked question is if God really exists and the Bible is indeed His message to man, why isn't the evidence more plain.... in fact, so undeniable that virtually everyone would acknowledge and believe it? For example, why would He not, as some people have suggested, do something like putting a warning in 80 foot tall letters in the sky?

Unfortunately in response I have to ask ... 

How Much Evidence Would Be Enough Evidence?
Just how clear does it have to be in order to convince people of the truth of the Scriptures and before people stop gambling on their fate? Would a few gigantic miracles such as those witnessed by the Israeli slaves in Egypt be enough?

Apparently not!

In the Old Testament, not only did the nation of Israel see God's plagues rain down on the Egyptians but they also walked across dry land as the waters of the Red Sea parted to let them through. Yet, a whole five minutes later, they were gathering their gold ornaments to make an idol which they then proceeded to worship as 'god'.

Even after Moses not only witnessed more than one miraculous sign at the burning bush but also received the Lord's personal assurance that He would go with him to Egypt and be his mouth, Moses asked the Lord to send someone else.. At which the Lord's anger "burned against Moses" (Exodus 4:1-17)

In New Testament times, even after Jesus healed a blind man (John 9) and raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45) the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him although they could not dispute the fact that His miracles were real. (John 11:46-57)

In His parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the former pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers so they will not face the same torment that he is experiencing. Note Abraham's reply

    "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." (Luke 16:19-31)

Note: This parable is believed to be Jesus' very graphic description of conditions in hell - that He was warning unrepentant sinners that they would be sentenced to extreme torment, engulfed forever in a unquenchable fire. But is this so? if this parable is meant to be taken literally, we are faced with numerous serious difficulties. See The Rich Man and Lazarus

There are those who ask why God doesn't just appear to us so we could see Him?

Actually He did.. in the form of Jesus Christ. Although Jesus was a man, He was also fully God with all of the characteristics of God. The fact that Jesus so accurately fulfilled several very precise Old Testament prophecies, the miracles He performed, and the prophecies He made which were fulfilled clearly demonstrated that He was who He said He was. (See Chapter 6  Why Jesus Is Without Equal) It is very telling that, as mentioned in the previous chapter, even the Qur'an says the miracles performed by Jesus, (specifically mentioning healing the blind and the leper, and raising the dead) was "clear proof" to the children of Israel. (Sura 5. Surat Al-Ma'idah. V. 110)

Even if Jesus were to appear and perform miracles on the street of New York today, tell me how many of our world wise population would argue that He was a skilled illusionist? Those who believed that His miracles were of God would be considered simple minded and gullible by the majority.

Quite simply, what is ample evidence for one person is not going to be nearly enough for another. It is never going to satisfy everyone and the God of the universe isn't going to provide different evidence for different people. Just as Jesus refused to give the Jewish religious leaders yet another sign, God does not feel obligated to cater to those who ignore or argue against, every bit of evidence He has already provided... His creation for example.

Creation... The Greatest of All Evidence For The Existence of God
Let's look at one very tiny facet of the Father's handiwork...

Bird Migration
An almost uncountable number of bird species undertake semiannual migrations over vast distances - incredible journeys of up to 1800-2000 miles and yet, year after year, they return to exactly the same place they began their journey.

Albatrosses literally circle the earth, the Arctic Tern that only weighs about 100 grams travels between Arctic breeding grounds and the Antarctic each year - a distance of about 20,000 kilometres (Pl. Note British spelling) or well over 12,000 miles. Bar-headed Geese fly over the Himalayas twice a year.

We should be so smart

How do they do this? As explained by International Polar Foundation

    birds use several orientation "tools". They can use the sun, for example, which means that they permanently "know" what time it is, in order to know the right direction on the basis of the sun's position.... Nocturnal birds also use the stars. This has been proved by letting birds fly in a planetarium and changing the stars' position.

    Another tool is the earth's magnetic field (earth's north and south magnetic poles). Some birds, like pigeons, have a small zone in their brain made of magnetite (magnetic mineral), just like a small compass. ...

Of course, birds also use their knowledge of the landscape: they follow rivers, valleys or roads, or locate themselves with particular mountain peaks. [01 ]

And of course all of this is supposed to have just happened - just evolved. In which case someone is going to have to explain to me how any of these birds knew that it was warmer in another place hundreds and thousands of miles away..

The Universe
And we could go much bigger - from the tiny Arctic Tern to the Universe itself which scientists are now finding is like a diamond studded Rolex, except the universe is far more precisely designed than the watch. He has created a universe with scores of improbable and inter-dependent life-supporting conditions that make it a tiny oasis in a vast and hostile universe, "specifically tweaked to enable life on earth". The extent of the universe's fine-tuning makes it perhaps the most powerful argument for the existence of God. (See Anthropic Principles: The Design Is In The Details.

If we can gaze at a sunset tinting mountain peaks a rosy red, marvel at the sheer magnificence of huge waterfalls, and be enthralled by the colour and diversity that make up coral reefs. If we can walk on sandy beaches with palm trees on one side and endless ocean on the other. If we can fearfully peer down into the grand canyon, wonder at subterranean crystal caves, or the mind boggling diversity of animal, bird, and plant life but blithely attribute all of it to chance, evolution, or the 'laws of nature', we have rejected a great part of the evidence we already have and God is not obligated to provide more.

What we however, have to remember is the purpose behind all theological truth is to secure moral action. In other words, all the evidence in the world does us no good if we are not willing to do what the Bible tells us to do.

Freedom Of Choice 
The word paternalism, derived from the Latin "pater" or father is the principle or practice of managing or governing individuals, businesses, nations, etc., in the manner of a father dealing benevolently and often intrusively with his children. It provides for their needs without giving them rights or responsibilities.

However, our heavenly Father doesn't treat us like children. Although, He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9), He is not going to interfere in our freedom of choice. Neither is He going to intimidate, manipulate, scare, or 'awe' people into choosing the right path.

From very early in the history of His dealings with the nation of Israel God made it extremely clear that they had choices to make. In Deuteronomy 28, He gave the nation a detailed account of the privileges and blessings which the obedient would receive the miseries which would be befall the ungodly and idolatrous who neglected His commandments. In His words...

    "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,  (Deuteronomy 30:19 NASB)

Joshua later reiterated the choices open to the children of Israel, telling them

    "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15 NASB)

In other words, God has always given man freedom of choice, including the freedom to make the wrong decision clearly outlining the positive and negative consequences of each path. In each case note the word "live" that I have underlined in all three of the quotes.

    "Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. "So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time." (Deuteronomy 4:39-40 NASB)

    "Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. (Isaiah 55:3 NASB)

    "Seek the Lord that you may live, Or He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, And it will consume with none to quench it for Bethel,  (Amos 5:6 NASB)

As for why we need to obey His commandments...

Allegiance to The King
Jesus' kingdom began to germinate with His disciples developing both roots and branches since then. The tree will only be full grown when He as Sovereign King and Lord completely and entirely takes over this earth and everything in it. And, make no mistake... it will be a kingdom in every sense of the word. See The Kingdom When?

Why in the world would Jesus want anyone in His kingdom when they of their own free will show no allegiance to Him as Lord, do not recognize Him as the rightful King, and have little or no inclination to obey the laws of His kingdom. As He Himself said

    Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:21 NASB)

    Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? "Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: (Luke 6:46-47 NASB)

    "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments... He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. (John 14:15, 21 NASB)

 Also See Salvation Part II... Acknowledging Jesus Merely as Savior is Insufficient

Ignoring The Traffic Signs Will Be Fatal
Before we brush off all the signs that, collectively, make a very strong case for the God of the Bible we need to ask ourselves what the risks are.

Are we dealing with merely an advisory speed limit for negotiating a sharp curve (which is usually an underestimate), or is it a warning that the bridge is out ahead? Wouldn't we consider ourselves careless if we accelerated while passing a "bridge out" sign because we thought it seemed a little too small? [02]

The Bible very clearly tells us that we all have a choice to make in this life - the most important choice we will ever make. And, if the Bible is indeed the word of God, the consequences for the individual who chooses to ignore, or counter the evidence with clever arguments, are fatal.

If Christianity even has a one in ten chance of being true we need to spend a little less time focusing on what God should or shouldn't have done, what He could have done differently, what he should have done differently, and so on and so forth.

I would be willing to bet that even many of those who examine every bit of evidence provided on these pages will still find ample reason to reject Christianity. On the other hand, a person who humbly seeks truth and is willing to let God do things His way, will find that the evidence is more than sufficient and ...

The Bible's Primary Message Is Crystal Clear
If God Himself nurtured the Jews through thousands of years so that the nation could give birth to the Messiah, and Jesus went through an agonizing death to save us from the wrath of the Father, it would not make any sense if He cloaked His message in writing so obscure that few would grasp it. God made sure that His main message is in language that is both comprehensible, quite straightforward and repeated many times. I like the example Gary DeLashmutt, pastor of Xenos Christian Fellowship, gives in his article... How Can Anyone Be Certain of the Bible's Meaning? He says...

    Consider this statement: "go to the Kroger store & buy 10 lbs. of potatoes." Now we might reasonably ask which Kroger store and which kind of potatoes. If we were unfamiliar with American culture, we might even ask what a potato is and how much a pound is. But would it ever be acceptable to interpret this statement to mean: "go to the Himalayan mountains & meditate on your navel?" Would it be correct to say no one can be confident he understands this statement?

Now consider this statement: "he who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." We might reasonably ask who the Son is, what "believe" means, or if "believe" and "obey" are being used synonymously. But would it ever be acceptable to interpret this statement to mean: "it doesn't matter what you believe about the Son because everyone goes to heaven?" Would it be correct to say that no one can be confident he understands this statement? [03]

However, you need to...

Study It For Yourself
Do not let anyone, not your friends and family, not your Bible study group, not even your pastor, tell you that you cannot understand the Bible without someone interpreting it for you. The sad thing is that many people - apparently unwilling to do any serious study for themselves sit back and do exactly that.

Others restrict their reading to a "Bible verse or devotional of the day, which neither magically cloaks them in holiness, nor gives them any more than a very, very superficial knowledge of the Scriptures. 

We need to pay attention to the fact that the Bible does NOT say "sit back and let your beliefs be determined by someone who has arrived at his or her own conclusions and quotes verses at you to back them up". Instead what it says is "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  (2 Timothy 2:15 NASB. Emphasis Added)

And no... you cannot come up with your own interpretation. The meaning of any Biblical passage was determined by the original author. Therefore, "interpretation" has to be strictly limited to the meaning that the original author intended to convey, and it is our job as readers to discover what that meaning is.

I suggest you read Context is CRUCIAL because in far too many cases a verse is wrested from it's context and used to convey whatever meaning the speaker/author wishes it to resulting in a corruption of the truth.

It Takes Time and Effort
Not only is the Bible is a very deep book but it also contains a variety of literary genres such as law, poetry, parables, history, prophecy, wisdom literature (a collection of a short pithy instructive sayings), epistles or letters to specific individuals or groups, and apocalyptic literature which warns of cataclysmic events.

We also need to understand whether the text is literal or figurative and, if the latter, what it represents.

Which is one reason you may be convinced that since you are not a Hebrew or Greek scholar or do not have a theological degree (I have neither), you cannot understand the Scriptures.

While there is no question that some things in the Scriptures are more difficult to understand, no one starts out knowing everything... knowledge comes by degrees so it is unrealistic to expect to master the Bible in a day, or a month, or a year. On the other hand, remember that there are very few issues that cannot be resolved with some in-depth 'digging'.

So, is this a lot of work?

Of course it is.

So are a lot of other, far less important, things in life.

People spend countless hours working on their education. For example, in most cases a relatively simple Bachelor's degree is designed as a four year program for a full-time student, while it takes an average of "8.2 years to slog through a PhD program" [04].

Please note, I am not saying that education is unimportant. It certainly is. However, it fades into insignificance if you compare the temporary results of a formal education (your earning potential, lifestyle etc.) with where you are going to spend eternity. Put it this way... Although not the most pleasant of thoughts, spending your working life laying bricks, living in a small apartment and not driving a fancy car is preferable to being forever obliterated from the face of the earth.

However, it is not an either-or choice. It is entirely possible to accomplish a great deal in this lifetime, yet have one eye unwaveringly fixed on the world to come.

Tragically however, people will not devote a fraction of the time to studying God's word that they give to the latest reality show, participating in or watching sports, or generally entertaining themselves.

We must be as myopic as it gets.

Perhaps the next chapter, The Message of the Bible, will convince you that it very definitely is. You see, the Bible is the only religion/spiritual path/way of life out there that actually provides the answers to man's deepest questions, and promises him his most longed for dreams. In other words, the 'pie in the sky' heaven preached by so many churches, is just so much baloney. Heaven, as portrayed in the Bible, is a lot less 'pious', a lot more practical and, may I say it, a lot less boring than our 'esteemed theologians' would lead you to believe. See What and Where is Heaven?

The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you think that the Creator's message to you about your own eternal future is worth the time and effort. (If you decide that it is, then the article Bible Study - Some Useful (And Very Important) Guidelines. Helpful Hints and Golden Rules should help.

 Continue To Part 13: The Message of The Bible
All too many people pick out a random phrase or two from the Bible, then conclude that 'love' was Jesus' core message. Unfortunately, they are terribly wrong. This is nothing but conjecture because Jesus said that the proclamation of the Kingdom was the reason He was sent to earth (Luke 4:43). And that wasn't the end of it. He never stopped talking about the "kingdom of God" - a phrase that is used over 50 times in the four Gospels alone.

But what and where is this kingdom?

Most seem to be under the impression that said kingdom (also called 'heaven') is some pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere 'out there'.

It's Not. The Scriptures paint a picture of a a real vibrant world that matches in every respect the world most men and women would choose to live in. A place of peace and safety where there is no crime, no hunger or disease, no war and above all no death. In other words, far from being outdated, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to modern society, Christianity promises exactly the utopian world most men and women can only dream of. Unless, of course, your idea of paradise is "an ineffable transcendental state" (whatever that means).  HERE

End Notes (Chapter 12)

[01] How do migratory birds find their way? © 2014 International Polar Foundation.

[02] John A. Bloom, Ph.D. Why Isn't The Evidence Clearer? http://www.drjbloom.com/Public%20files/Bloom_Evidence.htm

[03] Gary DeLashmutt. How Can Anyone Be Certain of the Bible's Meaning?

[04] Lynn O'Shaughnessy/MoneyWatch/July 10, 2012. 12 reasons not to get a PhD.


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