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The Clarity of the Scriptures - Part II

     Since the Scriptures are so clear, be wary of those who twist the plain meaning of the Scriptures.  When you read three eyewitness accounts that Jesus physically rose from the dead, you can trust them.  It is not a symbolic resurrection.  It is not a spiritual resurrection.  But the Bible clearly states that Jesus died a physical death, was buried in a tomb, and then rose physically from the dead.  The Bible is clear. 
    Whether you believe in the Bible is your choice.  But don't twist the Bible's clear meanings into something it does not say.

Lord, thank You for making your word clear to us.

The Clarity of the Scriptures

As we celebrate Reformation Day (31 October), let us rejoice in the clarity of the scriptures.  Although there are some difficult passages, the vast majority of the scriptures need no explanation.  In the U.S. military there is doctrinal publications, but they are not always easy to read.  For example, in one publication we read "If a JTF is established and colocated with the PFO at the JFO, this colocation does not replace the requirement for a DCO and DCE as part of the JFO coordination staff."  What does that mean?  Unless you are a specialist in this field and you cannot understand it.
     The Bible is clear.  "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy."  (Leviticus 19:2)  I Peter 1:17  states "Be holy, because I am holy."
     The reader can clearly understand the Bible.  The military doctrine is often unintelligible.

Thank you Lord for making Your word to us so clear and understandable.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Right to Die

Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently wrote an impassioned plea to leave Mother Earth with dignity.  (07 Oct 2016).  He asked that we have the right to select the way we die, when we want to die.  (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/archbishop-desmond-tutu-when-my-time-comes-i-want-the-option-of-an-assisted-death/2016/10/06/97c804f2-8a81-11e6-b24f-a7f89eb68887_story.html?utm_term=.801c08765f2d&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1)
     Unfortunately, he talks twice about Mother Earth, and not once does he mention going to meet Jesus Christ as judge.  He never gives a single Biblical reference, although God specifically says "You shall not murder."  He discusses the dignity of life, but he does not address how physician assisted suicide cheapens life. 
    In the Netherlands, last year there were 5,516 reported euthanasia cases.  This was for people who were depressed, who were diagnosed with dementia, etc.  "Unbearable suffering" becomes a very low bar.

God, thank you for creating us in Your image.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - The Virgin Birth

Da Vinci Code Decoded:  The virgin birth is not believable and therefore did not happen.  How many times do  you know of a woman giving birth without having sex?  The whole idea is preposterous.

Bible:  In Luke 1 God sent His angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus.  Mary asked "How will this be since I am a virgin?"  Gabriel answered Mary's very legitimate question "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." 

Thoughtful person:  Agree that the virgin birth is not normal, but if God is going to become human, the birth must be different.  Otherwise Jesus would be no different than any other human.  Second, we have two different accounts of Jesus having a virgin birth (Matthew and Luke).  Why would Matthew and Luke put in something that would be a stumbling block for belief unless it was true and the very heart of the Gospel?

Father, thank  you for sending your Son in a unique way so that Jesus is 100% God and 100% human.

This is the last on the series of Da Vinci Code Decoded.  We pray that you will use all of your logical mind to discover the truth.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Egypt

Da Vinci Code Decoded contends that Jesus learned magic tricks in Egypt as a conjurer.  This is the basis of His "miracles."

Bible.  First, It is not known exactly when Jesus returned but many say between when Jesus was 4-6 years old, or perhaps 7 years old.  It would be very hard for a six year old to learn all the tricks of an Egyptian conjurer. 
    Second, as discussed in earlier blogs, the miracles are not magic, but real no kidding miracles that no one could fake.

Historian:  Jesus was not an Egyptian conjurer, but the Son of God.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Prophesy

Da Vinci Code Decoded contends that Jesus and Mary of Magdala had a child whose descendants later became the king of France.

Bible:  In the Bible there are over three hundred of prophecies about Christ.  (http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353prophecies.html claims there are 353 prophecies.)  He would be born of the line of David, born in Bethlehem, flee to Egypt, be crucified, not have his bones broken, be raised from the dead, etc.  No where in all the prophecies does it ever state that Jesus would marry and have children. 
    How is it possible that with over three hundred prophecies about Christ that God would miss such an important event?

Da Vinci Code Decoded - How Women are Named

The Da Vinci Code Decoded contends that Mary of Magdala was Jesus's wife.

Bible:  In the Jewish tradition, women were frequently referred to with respect to their relationship with the men.  Thus, in John 19:25 we read "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene."  Notice that the Mary is the mother of Jesus and Mary is the wife of Clopas.  Thus, when the men are known, the family relationship is mentioned.  Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala) would have been referred to as Mary, the wife of Jesus.  But she is not described as such.  Rather, she is mentioned as the Mary from a place.
   A second example is Mark 16:1 where we read "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body."  Here there is a different Mary, this is the mother of James.  Mary of Magdala is referred to by location.
    A third example is Acts 1:14 "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers."  Is it possible that Luke would have known that Mary of Magdala was Jesus's wife and not mention it here?  Mary, the mother of Jesus is mentioned, but not Mary of Magdala?  A careful historian like Luke would not have missed such an important fact.

Historian:  Mary of Magdala would have been called Mary, wife of Jesus if Jesus had in fact married her.  But the Bible states that Jesus never married.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Who is the Bride of Christ? III

Issue 6 (cont.):  The Gospels are written from a marriage point of view.  But the bride is missing.  Therefore, the bride must be Mary of Magdala.

Summary:  The Bible specifically states that Jesus's bride is the church, not a single individual.  Further, the Gospel writers no where state that Jesus was married to an individual.  We do know that others married.  Thus, Paul writes in I Corinthians 9:7 "Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?"  The Lord's brothers would be James and Jude.  The Bible never says that Jesus was married, although it describes the marriages of many others.

Lord, thank you for giving us marriage.  Thank You for modeling true marriage by loving Your church.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Who is the Bride of Christ? II

Issue 6 (cont.):  The Gospels are written from a marriage point of view.  But the bride is missing.  Therefore, the bride must be Mary of Magdala.

John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, wrote in the last book of the Bible:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: 
   “Hallelujah!   For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
    Let us rejoice and be glad  and give him glory!
    For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 
    Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

Revelation 19:6-9

Thank You Lord for making us, Your church, Your bride and not marrying just one person.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Who is the Bride of Christ? I

Issue 6:  The Gospels are written from a marriage point of view.  But the bride is missing.  Therefore, the bride must be Mary of Magdala.

Da Vinci Code Decoded:  Mary of Magdala is the missing bride. 

Bible:  Concur that the Bible is often discusses Jesus as the bridegroom.  But He is marrying in a mystical (not physical) way the church, NOT an individual person. 
Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.
Ephesians 5:28-29:  "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church."
Ephesians 5:32:  "This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church."

Thank you Jesus for loving Your church.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Last Supper

Issue 5:  In the painting of the Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci paints Mary Magdalene where John is.

Da Vinci Code Decoded:  The Bible describes John leaning on Jesus.    "One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. . . Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, 'Lord, who is it?' "  (John 13: 23 & 25) Since the person to the left of Jesus is leaning away from Jesus, it cannot be John.  Therefore, it has to be Mary Magdalene.

Art Historians
:  What is being described is John 13:24:  "Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, 'Ask him which one he means.' "  Further, we have Leonardo da Vinci own notebook, and in his notebook he identifies all the figures as the 12 Apostles. 

Bible:  The Bible describes the 12 disciples at the Last Supper.  If Mary of Magdala is who John is traditionally, then where is John?  The nearest non-bearded person is the third disciple to Jesus's left, not close to Jesus.  If one disciple is missing, why is there no record in any of the four gospels that Mary of Magdala was there and disciple x was missing?

Historian:  Leonardo da Vinci, the artist himself, identified all of the figures as the twelve apostles, not Mary of Magdala and eleven of the twelve apostles.  Two eye witnesses wrote that the apostles were there and neither of the accounts describe Mary of Magdala's presence.

Commentator:  Da Vinci Code Decoded does not evaluate all the evidence.  They have their own theory, and despite overwhelming evidence against them, they press on towards their conjecture, ignoring all evidence contrary to it.

Lord, thank you for giving us eye witness accounts of what happened.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Gospel Writers Part II

 Issue 4:  The true gospel are the 52 Gnostic gospels written by Thomas, Philip, Mary, Judas, John, Peter, Seth, etc.

Da Vinci Code Decoded:  These 52 Gnostic writings, discovered in 1945, are the real Bible.  They were written around 350-450 A.D.  The Bible we have today was foisted on the church.

Bible:  The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God.  "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training in righteousness."  (II Timothy 3:16)  When you read the Bible, you know that it is God-breathed.  When you read the Gnostic gospels, there are contradictions between them, and it does not have the majesty of the Bible.  Further, there is one copy, from 350 A.D.  There are thousands upon thousands of copies of the real Bible.  The first partial copy of a book, Mark, dates from 100 A.D., just 50 years after it was written.  If it was false, why are there so many copies, (over 30,000) by the end of the Middle Ages. 

Historian:  Nr. of copies:  30,000 to 1.  The Bible has the oldest manuscript, 50 years after being written.  Internal evidence:  The New Testament is without contradiction, despite being written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude.  Gnostic writings are one document with contradictions.  Vote is for the Bible.

Lord, thank you for giving us Your Word, two times - in Christ and in the Bible.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Gospel Writers Part I

Issue 3:  Who wrote the Gospels?

Da Vinci Code Decoded:  The Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but were written much later.  Other people wrote these books, and to have them accepted as "Gospel truth," they put forward that they were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John so that they would be accepted as the truth.

Bible:  Luke writes in the first chapter:  "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that they have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word.  Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of things you have been taught." 
      Luke claims to be an eyewitness.  If someone else wrote these first verses, then can anything that he wrote be trusted?  Is the entire book a fraud?
     While no Gospel specifically says that it is written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, we have numerous early manuscripts with those titles.  If it was written by someone else, then that person had to spread his theory around and to get everyone to accept that theory.  That is very hard to do. 
   Two bishops of Rome, Anicetus and Victor, tried to establish when Easter would be celebrated in the 2nd Century A.D.  But there was not universal agreement.  Thus, the Eastern Church celebrates a different date than the Western Church.  But both Eastern and Western Churches both agree that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written by them.

Historian:  Trying to fake something with thousands of copies is hard. 

Thank  you Lord for giving us Luke who "investigated carefully everything from the beginning."
   

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Mary of Magdala is Mary of Bethany

Issue 2:  Mary of Magdalene was the same as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

Da Vinci Code Decoded states that since there are so many Marys, the Gospel writers were mistaken, and the Mary of Magdala (Mary Magdalene) was in fact Mary of Bethany.

Bible:  Mary Magdalene is mentioned twelve times in the gospels:  three times in Matthew, three times in Mark, twice in Luke, and four times in John.  Magdala is a town on the coast of the Lake Galilee.
     In John 11:1 we read "Now a man named Lazarus was sick.  He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha."
     Eyewitness John states specifically that Mary is from Bethany.  He also mentions four times Mary of Magdala.  Not once does he say that Mary of Bethany is the same as Mary of Magdala, but he distinguishes between the two.

Historian:  I take an eyewitness account over 21st century speculation.

Thank you Lord for giving us four Gospels, all written by eyewitnesses.

Da Vinci Code Decoded - Wedding at Cana

   I just finished listening to Da Vinci Code Decoded  I was really looking forward to some serious scholarship, but this book, while pretending to be scholarly and fair, is neither.  It has an agenda (Jesus was married to Mary of Magdalene) and it twists the plain facts to favor this outlandish, unbiblical, heretical theory.
    Issue 1:  The book's contention is that the wedding at Cana was between Jesus and Mary of Magdalene.

DaVinci Code Decoded:   The Jewish groom was in charge of the celebration.  Since Jesus made wine from water, therefore Jesus had to be the groom.  They do not have a written account that says Jesus was the groom.

Bible:   St. John, the gospel writer, was an eye witness and tasted the wine.  He states specifically that Jesus's mother Mary tells Jesus "They have no more wine."  In response to her request, Jesus then turns water from six stone jars that held between 20-30 gallons of water into wine.  Note that John as an eyewitness is very specific.  It is six, not "several" or "many" or a "couple" jars.  John says they were stone, not clay jars.  John states the purpose of the jars "the kind the Jews used for ceremonial washing."  He also states the quantity - 20-30 gallons. 
   The master of the ceremonies then "called the bridegroom aside."  If Jesus was the bridegroom, John would have said "the master of the banquet called Jesus."

As a historian, I must go with a credible witness who was there, not some circumstantial guesses by people living 2,000 years after the event, trying to force their ideas on Jesus.

Thank you Lord for doing a great miracle and then having eyewitness accounts to write about it.

Odyssey and the Bible Part III

Burnt Scrolls

  The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article on using science to read a burn scroll.  (see http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-ancient-scroll-read-20160921-snap-story.html) 
    There was a burnt scroll from En-Gedi, near where the Essenes had their community wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.  "Michael Segal,a professor of biblical studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who is analyzing the virtually unfurled scroll, said it offers important evidence of the state of biblical texts between the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls and those discovered several centuries later.  In particular, he said he was struck that the passages revealed in the En-Gedi scroll are identical in all of their details to the Masoretic text, which is still the authoritative Jewish text used today.  Since carbon dating and other archaeological evidence date the scrolls to the 3rd or 4th centuries CE [Common Era or AD], this analysis suggests that the text has not changed in almost 2,000 years."

Take away:  Unlike the Odyssey, the text is identical what we have in our Bible today.  No change required.

Thank you Lord for preserving Your Word.