CJ Counts - 7.9.17

Sunday, July 9th

I am a man who loves the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am blessed to be able to spend most of my day in my home office studying His Word or my seminary texts. When I do leave, I am blessed that it is usually because I get to engage in ministry, service, or some discipleship class of some kind. Other then our God, my priority is my family first but above all I live by the scripture in Matthew 6:33. In the years I have been a believer, I have not experienced any decrease in my enthusiasm for the things of the Lord or His Gospel message, but instead find myself constantly renewed in His love and blessed by His presence. 


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Hello everybody, and welcome to another broadcast of “The Christian Corner” I am your host Pastor CJ Counts, and I believe God has prepared a wonderful message for us today. Lately as we have been broadcasting I have been doing more teaching than preaching, and today will be no different. What do I mean, when I say teaching is different than preaching? Preaching is supposed to speak to your heart, and convict you to action. Teaching is supposed to speak to your mind, and educate you so you can learn. And there is a time and a place for both. There is a time for teaching, and there is a time for preaching. And often times for a Pastor at the pulpit there is occasion to do both in one sermon. But for us lately, we have been doing more teaching together just because I want to lay some ground work before we get into any preaching. Because I feel like for you to accept any bodies preaching, the preacher usually needs to earn the right to be heard first. Preaching is going to be convicting, and it is during the time of conviction that we all make a choice. We will either choose to reject the preaching, or the holiness, in our presence, or we will choose to reject the sin we are convicted about. Before you would even consider my preaching to be valid, I need to earn the right to be heard by you. In this context, we don’t get to know each other very well. I cant give you a hug, or shake your hand. We don’t exchange dialog. We cant have a conversation, and all of this makes it harder for me to earn the right in your life to be heard. This is why I wanted to lay down some good biblical teaching, before I considered doing much in the way of preaching. Though it is not at all uncommon for the Holy Spirit to use some good teaching to convict you the way a preaching sermon should, so I would not be surprised if there are those of you who have felt conviction at times by these messages. As for getting to know each other better, we do have one good way other than you just listening to me talk for an hour. You can go to my cjcounts.com, cjcounts.com and check out all sorts of stuff about me, my family, my professional interests, my ministries, and you can listen to previously recorded radio broadcasts as well as church sermon archives and devotional writings. You can also use the contact page on this site to reach out to me, and I would love to start a dialog with you. We can discuss any topic. If you want to ask a question, I would love to help you find the answers. I can’t promise that I have all the answers, but I can promise that I can find them and will provide them to you. You could even issue challenges to what you hear here, or to what you have heard somewhere else as regards the Christian faith. If you are among the faithful, and are struggling to understand or appreciate a doctrine, let’s explore that together. If you are not among the faithful, and you would like to tell me why, I would love to explore that with you as well. I would love to deal with these things on the air as well. And I think in this way, we could really start to get to know each other better. But when I tell you that I will walk through your challenges or dialog with you on a place where you have issue, I am not trying to encourage an argument or a debate of course. My goal is simply to equip you with a better understanding of the things you may not understand perfectly. And I promise to do this genteelly, with respect, and without being pushy. I just want to be a recourse for you. My goal is not to try to convince you of something you are not ready to believe. Because if I can convince you of my point of view, than you are able to be just as easily convinced into an others point of view. I believe these things are a matter of the heart. What I mean is that there are perfectly intelligent atheists and Christians. The issue is not a matter of intelligence, it is a matter of the heart. I know this from experience. I used to be a committed atheist, and am now a believer in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and with an IQ of 163, I would be considered by most to be above average intelligence. I don’t say that to brag, because I have nothing that Christ has not given me. But I say this to compare, because I also know some very highly intelligent people who are now atheists but used to be Christians. This issue has intelligent people on both sides of the fence. So the matter is not about how smart or how naive you are, but how hard or soft your heart is to being open to receive from God. So, I go into all our discussions and dialogs on the cjcounts.com with that in mind. If you reach out to me using cjcounts.com, I won’t be trying to push my ideas on you, or even necessarily try to convert you to my way of thinking. I am simply going to educate you on the things you ask me about, with gentleness, respect, and love So again, you can contact me personally at cjcounts.com anytime. You can also listen to previous broadcasts here, or download them for your own use for free. Or if you need, I would like to send you a free CD of the messages of your choice. Just ask using the contact page on cjcounts.com anytime. Another free gift that I would like to give you is a free Bible. If you just ask using the contact page on cjcounts.com, I will have one sent out to you right away. I think that everybody should have a bible, so if you would like one, but cannot afford one on you own, or can’t get out to get one, or maybe you would like to for a friend, just let me know. I also have access to a lot of great materials for youth. So if you have some youth in your life who you think could use more of Jesus Christ, please let me know and I will send you some great materials. Which brings me to my point for today. Today I want to discuss at some length why it is I believe we can trust the Bible. A fair question to ask is, why should I trust the Bible to be an authority on God? after all, there are lots of religious texts out there. Or can I trust that the Bible I hold here is anything like the original texts, because lots of time has gone by since those were written. Those are fair questions, and honestly, it is one I had to ask myself when I first became a believer. You may remember from my first broadcast that I was a committed atheist, so I was surprised when Jesus Christ came into my life supernaturally. When I started to put the pieces back together, because my previous conception of how the universe had worked was just shattered, I still had a lot of questions I needed answered. I was a skeptic first, and I really still am today. I am the type of guy who had to ask and answer questions for myself, and did not want to take your word for it without my own exploration. And if I was going to trust the Bible, then I needed to have a good reason for it. When I was an atheist, the primary thing about the Christian faith that I would challenge was the Bible. The Christian claim is that the Bible is inerrant, meaning we should not find any contradictions in it, but I would have submitted that we did see contradictions. The Christian claim is that it is divinely inspired, but if that is true, how could I trust that this book printed thousands of years later looks anything like the original texts. The Christian claim is that there are prophecies that validate the Bible, but how am I supposed to know that these supposed predictions came before the events that occurred, and were not actually written later just to look like predictions. Or were the predictions so vague that they were not really pointing to the events Christians claim they do, and Christians just sort of read into the predictions their own interpretation. All fair questions. And though I was saved supernaturally, meaning I had a sort of heart transplant, this did not mean I had a brain transplant. I still needed answers to the tough questions before I could trust the Bible as the authority of God on earth today. So lets dig into these issues now. If you are just tuning in, or if you will have to tune out during this broadcast, and want to listen to the full message, you can catch the recording on the website cjcounts.com anytime. To me there are four primary reasons why I believe you can trust the Bible to be what it claims to be. 1) The Prophetic Evidence 2) The Manuscript evidences 3) The archeological evidence 4) The statistical evidence. These evidences are important because The Bible is one of the most revered and yet the most hated book ever written. For centuries, men have treated this book with reverence, awe and respect while at the same time other men have gone to great lengths to discredit it and if possible, even destroy it. In AD 303, the Roman Emperor, Diocletian sought to wipeout any trace of Christianity from the face of the earth. He ordered churches to be burned, Christians to be executed, and the Scriptures to be confiscated and burned. Voltaire, who was a French writer, and philosopher, boasted in the 1700s that within 100 years, Christianity and the Bible would disappear – implying that his works would remain much longer. Ironically, twenty years after Voltaire’s death, the Geneva Bible Society bought his house and used it for printing Bibles. Which is pretty much how it always goes for Christianity in the face of persecution. Where there is oppression, the faith spreads. For example, in the book of Acts, we saw that as the church would be persecuted, it would require the faithful to leave their homes and run into new cities and towns. This resulted in them taking the good news of the gospel message with them to places sooner than it might have gotten there otherwise. And despite of the persecution and criticism that the Bible has endured, it is today the world’s number one bestselling book. It is the most quoted, the most translated, and the most influential book ever written and as we will see, it can be demonstrated that the Bible is divine rather than human in origin. The Bible is made up of 66 separate books and letters, 39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament. The Bible was written across a time span of approximately 1,600 years, by more than 40 different people with varying educations, backgrounds and occupations. For example: ◦ David was a king. ◦ Moses and Hosea were shepherds. ◦ Joshua was a military general. ◦ Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah were prophets. ◦ Daniel was a prime minister. ◦ Luke was a doctor. ◦ Peter and John were fishermen. The Bible was written on three different continents, Africa, Asia and Europe in three different languages, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Yet, in spite of the diversity of the people writing over a span of 1,600 years from different cultures, occupations, continents and languages, the Bible has one consistent message applicable not only for the time in which it was written but also for today. Imagine if we were to look at a Medical Dictionary that spanned just 500 years over three continents and written by 40 different individuals; the variations we would find would be enormous. In Africa, we might read of witch doctors using spells to relieve pain, in Europe we might read of leaches and blood lettings to relieve the same symptoms while somewhere else, surgery would be the required medical procedure. My point is this, the Bible is the Word of God, it is consistent and without contradictions and the original autographs are essentially the same today, as when they were written by the original authors. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ◦ by inspiration of God literally means breathed out by God or simply God-breathed. ◦ profitable for doctrine – This means that all scripture is profitable for knowing what is right. ◦ profitable for reproof – This means that all scripture is profitable for knowing what is wrong. ◦ profitable for correction – This means that all scripture is profitable in how to get right. ◦ profitable for instruction – This means that all scripture is profitable in how to stay right. So where did we get the Bible? When we speak of the canon of Scripture, what are we talking about? Today, when someone says canon of Scripture, they mean that body of Scripture that is accepted as authoritative. It’s important to note that canonicity is determined by God. A book is not inspired because man made it canonical, it’s canonical because God inspired it and man discovered it. In other words, “It is God who regulated the canon; man merely recognized the divine authority God gave to it.” Tests for Canonicity are as follows: 1. Was the book written or backed by a prophet or apostle of God? 2. Is the book authoritative? 3. Does the book tell the truth about God and doctrine as it is already known by previous revelation? 4. Does the book give evidence of having the power of God? 5. Was the book accepted by the people of God? If you would like to know more about how books were selected for the Cannon or anything else at all, please feel free to reach out to me using the contact page on cjcounts.com. But let’s now jump into the four categories of evidence Remember, I said there we can trust the Bible because of the Prophetic evidence, the statistical evidence, the manuscript evidence, and the archeological evidence. Let’s look first at the Manuscript evidence. This piece of evidence speaks to the challenge that what we have today does not match up to what was originally written. The issue for challengers lies in the fact that these texts have been translated and passed down for thousands of years. Challengers will refer to the old telephone game. You may remember this from school. Kids would stand in a circle, and the first kid would whisper a brief message into the ear of the next kid in line. Then in turn, that kid would whisper the same message into the ear of the next kid in line, and so on it would go until the message would make its way all around the circle to the first kid. When the first kid would repeat what he was told, he would be asked if what the last kid told him was the same as the message the first kid started down the line. And almost always the class would learn that the further down the line the message got, the more corrupted the message became. Non-believers will often say that the way the Bible was passed down must be comparable to this telephone game, meaning that with every generation and with every translation, the original message becomes that much more lost. But we find when we look into these things more deeply that this is not so, and there is clearly documented verifiable evidence as such. There are tens of thousands of manuscripts for us to compare. We can compare manuscripts that were written in the BC era to manuscripts that were written in the AD era to find that we have the same writings. And we have what has been referred to as an embarrassment of riches in these manuscript evidences. To put it into perspective, we have over 24,000 copies of the New Testametn alone. This makes the New Testament the most well preserved of ancient writings ever, and there is not even a close second. The closest most well preserved of ancient texts is Homer’s Illiad which has 643 copies, so that is not even in the same ball park as the NT as far as being well preserved overtime by copies. But nobody ever asks if what we have left of that text is the same as what was originally written. Besides the Homers Illiad, we have one text with 193 copies, but the rest of the well preserved ancient texts have copy numbers of ten or less. So as far as being well preserved, the New Testament is in a class all its own. And much of these are on display for the world to see and view for themselves. Scholars, secular or religious are able to examine these for themselves. As a result, we can compare to see if there are differences between the most ancient and the most recently written. When we do, we see minimal differences if any. Any difference would be a spelling error, or maybe the swapping of the order of words like Christ Jesus for Jesus Christ. No where do we have any differences that would amount to an issue of doctrine. Any place where we have a significant difference is usually as regards numbers. Like for example, we might see in one text the number 5000, but in another text we might see 50,000. But because we have so many manuscripts, scholars who put our Bibles together will usually put the number or word in that we see in most manuscripts, and if you own a study Bible, the scholars will also put notes on the bottom of the page that says what other manuscripts suggest the number or word could have been. So if you are reading along and you see the number 50,000 with an asterisk or something next to it, you can look to the bottom of the page and see a note that says something like “some manuscripts say it is 5000 instead”, just for the sake of being up front about the differences found. So any difference is documented and presented to readers as they read, and nowhere do we find any difference that suggests something that would impact doctrine. We also know that there were some very strict copy rules in place, which is what resulted in this meticulous passing down of the works. The scribes considered this copying to be sacred. If they screwed it up by even a letter, they would throw out the whole thing and start over again. Now of course there is always the human error element, which is why we have some various mistakes in places, but again, these amount to very few, and never anything significant. And this same sacred tradition helped to carry the stories from their birth to the times when writings and records were more prevalent. Sure, teachers would teach these stories generally to anybody who would listen. But there was an Oral Tradition that was also considered sacred. This would be the tradition of passing down the stories or scriptures orally instead of by writings, which was an important media in a time when not everybody could read and write, and those who could were usually rich people. The oral tradition was so important, that old school rabbis could not be allowed to teach until they knew the whole Torah by memory. So we know that the traditions. Be them oral or textual, were sacred resulting in the stories and scriptures being perfectly preserved over time, which is evidenced by the incredible accuracy of the tens of thousands of manuscripts that were written over a span of thousands of years from each other. If you would like more information on the specifics of these matters, I would be glad to point you to my references. Just reach out using the cjcounts.com cjcounts.com, and I will get you connected with all sorts of great information for you to continue your research with. Another reason why we can trust the Bible to be authentic is that archeology confirms it time and time again. Archeologist have often gone out on digs using the Old Testament as their guide. One prominent example is in how the Rockefellers struck oil. Basically John Rockefeller read in the Old Testament about Noah using Pitch to water seal his ark, as well as some other references to pitch in the Bible. John knew that pitch was unrefined oil, so he went to the middle east to dig at about the spot where he figured these stories might have taken place, and sure enough he struck oil. Rockefeller became the richest man in the world, as the initial income of these individual enterprises proved to be much bigger than that of a single company. Its successors such as ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron are still among the companies with the largest income worldwide. But archeologist have found time and time again all sorts of evidence confirming the stories and the people groups in the Bible. Doubters have said “there are not examples of these histories anywhere except in the Bible” just to be shut up when later an archeologist discovers just such evidences. There is evidence of the nation of Israel as slaves in Egypt. Archeologist have uncovered all sorts of crucifixion evidence, evidence of Pontius Pilate, the house of David, the city of David, the pool of Gibeon, and so many more that it is too numerous to list. If you are interested in learning more about some archeological discoveries, please feel free to reach out to me using the contact page on cjcounts.com, and I will point you in the direction of all sorts of cool discoveries. But These are just a few examples but time and time again, archaeological evidence has confirmed the authenticity of the Word of God. We would expect to find people, places, and objects that confirm the Word of God since these are mentioned in the Biblical record and since God does not lie. ◦ Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind.” ◦ 1 Samuel 15:29 says, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.” Where the Bible speaks historically, it is of course historically accurate. Now here I am going to take a risk and compare the Bible directly to another religious text even at the possible expense of my ratings or popularity. Because the Smithsonian institute has done a research study on the historical accounts of the Bible, and found that the Bible is indeed historically accurate. However, when the Smithsonian institute did the same study on the Book of Mormon, they were not able to verify it the same way. For example, the Book of Mormon claims that there were great cities with large walls in and around modern-day New York, but no such evidence has ever been discovered to verify these claims. A Mormon would say that these evidences were destroyed by the Devil to distract people from believing, but to that I would say “why didn’t the devil do the same thing with the historical evidence of Jesus? Because if Jesus is our only way to salvation, then wouldn’t it be more important to cover him up then to cover up some cities in some stories?” But that is just me, and I will leave it up to you listeners to decided where you stand on that. So lets move on. One of the most compelling and strongest cases for accepting the trustworthiness of the Bible as the inspired Word of God is predictive prophecy. The prophetic evidence. Before certain events took place, God would tell us about them so that when they took place, we would have no reason to doubt His existence and authority over history. The purpose of predictive prophecy can be seen in the following two verses ◦ Isaiah 46:9, 10 says, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” ◦ Isaiah 48:3-5 says, “I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass....Even from the beginning I have declared it to you...Lest you should say ‘My idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them.’” The Bible records many events that were given, not as vague prophecies but specific in nature. God, who is outside our time-space existence, has infinite knowledge and He is able to accurately and consistently reveal the future. We can see in the following verse that true prophecy is given by God and not by mans will: ◦ 2 Peter 1:19-21 says, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Let’s look at some examples of the predictive prophecy contained in the Bible: 1. Cyrus Decrees Rebuilding Jerusalem - In Isaiah 44:28 – 45:1, written about 700 BC, Isaiah writes that a man named Cyrus will declare to the destroyed city of Jerusalem “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” • What is amazing is that at the time of this writing, Jerusalem and the temple were still standing. It was around 100 years later that both were destroyed at the hand of Babylonian armies. • Babylon was then conquered by the Persians in 539 BC and shortly after, a Persian King named Cyrus gave the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple 160 years after Isaiah wrote this prophecy. 2. The Destruction of Tyre – Tyre, an important Eastern Mediterranean sea port, was a great city in its day yet Ezekiel prophesied her doom and entire demolition hundreds of years in advance in Ezekiel 26:3-14. • “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets…They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water…I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken,’ says the Lord God.” • The prophecy was first partially fulfilled by King Nebuchadnezzar when he destroyed the city on the mainland and the people fled to their island, a half mile off shore. The debris was left on the mainland and the rubble was not thrown into the sea. • It was completely fulfilled 250 years later when Alexander the Great, infuriated at their response after requesting supplies, attacked the island city by taking the debris left from King Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion and built a causeway out to the island and destroyed the city. • The city was never rebuilt, and today, it literally is used by local fishermen for “spreading [their fishing] nets.” The Bible has a lot to say about Jesus, the coming Messiah in the Old Testament. In fact, the Old Testament contains around three hundred references or prophecies to the Messiah. We will look at a few of these in the next category and the statistical probability that one man could fulfill even a few of them. I also have some great stuff about how the Bible predicted that Israel would become a nation again after WW2, down to the exact date. This is referred to as Ezekiel’s prophecy of 1948. Please let me share this with you. I have it on the resources page of cjcounts.com. It is near the top of the page, under the header “apologetics” titled Ezekiel’s prophecy of 1948. If you are interested in prophecy, you will love this one. The reason I don’t share it on the air here, is because there is some math involved, and I doubt you want to be bored at this time of day with listening to me do some math right now. But I do spell all the math out for you on the page, so again, check it out for free at cjcounts.com, then click resources, and look under the apologetics header for the link titled Ezekiel’s prophecy of 1948 Predictive Prophecy is so convincing that skeptics will conclude that after the events happened, literary editors went back and “doctored” the original events to make them look like they were written before hand. But that is why it is so cool that these are on display for all to see and test. Carbon dating and other dating methods all prove when they were written. Which, again I will point to how the Bible compares to the Book of Mormon, because nobody other then that churches founder has ever seen the original Golden Plates which is where the book of Mormon is said to have come from. So nobody can see them to test them or compare them like we can with all the texts in the bible. But we can test the Bibles various manuscripts to determine when they were written, and science can even tell us with some accuracy where they were written. Therefore, proving that the predictions did come before the events. And Of course, as we have seen, the trustworthiness of the Bible is evident in the scribe’s reverential awe of the text as the literal Word of God. The last category of evidence that I believe confirms the authenticity of the Bible as the Word of God is the statistical probabilities. It is statistically preposterous that any or all of the Bible’s specific, detailed prophecies could have been fulfilled through chance, good guessing, or deliberate deceit Indeed, anybody with a statistical background or an understanding of the odds involved in the following statistical probabilities would be hard pressed to shrug off the following evidence. For example, if we look at just eight of the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ, we can conclude that the odds of their coming to pass are 1 in 1017 or 1 with 17 zeros after it or 100,000,000,000,000,000 chances in one! Peter Stoner, in his book Science Speaks says: “We take this 1 with 17 zeros after it amount of silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly…Blindfold a man and tell him…he must pick up the one silver dollar…What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them come true in any one man.” Those are the odds of just 8 prophecies coming true, but we have about 300 just for Jesus, and thousands of total prophecies in all of scripture, of which most have come true, and we are only waiting on the ones regarding the end of days. Norman Geisler, dean and professor of theology and apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary, says of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies: “These include where he would be born (Micah 5:2), how he would die, (Isaiah 53), when he would die (Daniel 9), that he would rise from the dead (Psalm 16). The odds that forty-eight of these prophecies were fulfilled in one man are about 1/10157. That is 1 with 157 zeros after it. If a gambler had managed to guess forty-eight horses right without a single mistake, it would be reasonable to suspect that he had inside information.” And Jesus fulfilled more than just forty eight prophecies and as for having inside information…“all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Let’s take a look at some of the prophecies that even an ordinary person would not have control over such as where they were born, or from which tribe and family line they come from. I will mention the prophecy and where you can find these in scripture. 1. Born of the seed of woman (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4) 2. Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18, 24, 25) 3. Son of God (Psalm 2:7; Matthew 3:17) 4. Seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Matthew 1:1) 5. Son of Isaac (Genesis 21:12; Luke 3:23, 34) 6. Son of Jacob (Numbers 24:17; Luke:3:23, 34) 7. Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33) 8. Family tree of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1; Luke 3:23, 32) 9. House of David (Jeremiah 23:5; Luke 3:23, 31) 10. Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1) 11. Presented with gifts at birth (Psalm 72:10; Matthew 2:1, 11) 12. Herod kills the children (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16) I know I went through that fast, so you can listen to it again by finding this radio broadcast recording on cjcounts.com Let’s take a look at the Statistical Probability as it relates to the Genesis account. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth.” It’s been said that if you can believe the first verse of the Bible, you will have no trouble believing the rest of the Bible. Because if God really created the universe, and is the author of all the various physics, then it is not so terribly hard to believe anything else we read in scripture. When we look at the creation account, as written down in Genesis, by Moses, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can see that the odds of this sheep herder, some 3,500 years ago, getting the correct order of creation accounts, which are in perfect accord with the findings of modern science, are roughly 1 in 40 million 1. Creation of the physical universe (space, time, matter, energy, galaxies, planets, etc.) 2. Transformation of the earth's atmosphere from opaque to translucent 3. Formation of a stable water cycle 4. Establishment of continent(s) and ocean(s) 5. Production of plants on the continent(s) 6. Transformation of the atmosphere from translucent to transparent 7. Production of small sea animals 8. Creation of sea mammals 9. Creation of birds 10. Making of land mammals 11. Creation of man Clearly, Moses was inspired by God as were the other writers of the Old and New Testaments in order for the Bible to be so concise, so accurate in its predictive prophecy and statistical probability. If you are interested in hearing more on the statistics I would be glad to tell you. Just reach out to me using the contact page on cjcounts.com. I have more information on the statistics of each prophecy, and more. But this is important stuff for us to understand. You have heard me say that I don’t want you to have to just take your belief on faith, but we should be able to reason this stuff out if it is truth. You have heard me say that if a skeptic wants to challenge us, then we will need to have more to go on than just “because the bible tells me so”. But once you defend the Bible the way we just did, the statement “because the bible tells me so” becomes a valid argument again. Afteral, there are lots of options in religious texts, so why should I trust the Bible to be the inerrant word of god. We looked at the manuscript evidence which overwhelmingly demonstrates that through the work of textual critics, we have the most accurate copies of the originals possible. The accuracy of the manuscript copying done by the scribes is simply amazing. The scribes were just too meticulous in their practices and the quotes from the early church fathers further demonstrate that the Scripture they had back then is the same that we read today in our Bibles. The archaeological evidence only assures us that the places, people, customs, and events are truly accurate in historical precision and that the archaeological findings only confirm the detailed historical statements contained in the Bible. The prophetic evidence is so accurate and detailed, not vague and ambiguous, that only God, who is sovereign and in control of history and not confined or limited by space and time, could tell us what’s going to happen before it does. And finally, the statistical probability evidence is overwhelming. The chances that these events as described in the Bible could happen without God’s intervention are, as we’ve seen, astronomical and indeed statistically improbable to dismiss as pure chance So lets look at what the Bible has to say about the Bible. Psalm 1:2-3 (NIV) 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. This says that if we are the type to read the Bible everyday, we delight in this, and we think about it all the time, then we are like a tree by a stream which is constantly refreshed, and whatever we do will be prosperous. Is that true? How can I tell? There are promises in the Bible. Anytime I see a promise in the Bible, I know I can test that promise out to see if the Bible is true or not. The promises can be very faith affirming, because if they don’t come true, then they are lies, but if they do come true, then you can take it to the bank as a reality. God promises that if you seek him, you will find him. This does not mean that you can suggest to your subconscious a placebo effect and convince yourself of a lie because you want to believe it so badly. It means that God wants to show himself to you, and reveal truth to you, if only you would look. So take him up on it. Put God to the test and see what happens. Will he show up? Try it for yourself. Let’s look at another scripture Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. This reminds us of a time when we stumbled around in the darkness, then to turn on a light that shines on the path so we can walk straight. This is the analogy the Psalmist makes for the Bible. He says that in this dark world where we are prone to stumble, the Word of God is a light that will help us to walk straight and surely. In the same chapter vs 165 the Psalmist says Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. I can attest to the peace that only God can give. To love God and be obedient to the commands in His word result in a peace that blows anything this world has to offer away. the Word, and the presence of Jesus in your life gives us a peace that far outweighs anything this world has to offer. And nothing can trip you up. Yes, you will still have stress and trouble. But those things won’t throw you off. I have expressed to other Christians that I am living the scriptures that speak to having a peace in Christ that the world could never provide, or to count my trials as joy. I express that this is a feeling and lifestyle that is hard to explain, or even understand until appreciating its reality in my own life. After such an expression, some have said to me that I should just wait, because it won’t be so easy when things get really tough. I explain that I am praising God in the peaks and in the valleys, but they reply that this just would not last. Some considerable time has passed since then, and I still remain living in the serenity of Gods love, no matter how stressful or intense my circumstances become. I have considered their guarantee of the fallibility of Gods promise to come to fruition, but have certainly concluded that Gods promises dominate my difficulties unless I let my difficulties dominate Gods promise. Do we think that god offers this promise of peace just to take it away when times get tough? Or is it something that we can always count on? John 14:27 (ESV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Jesus says he has the good stuff, and the world has a counterfeit. You can have the peace, and it will last no matter what. Let me give you an example of when things got pretty scary for me recently, and how God did not withdraw his promise. I very recently had my first baby. My daughter and wife are home healthy and safe now, but there was a point when we were not too sure. We went in for a routine doctors appointment at 34 weeks pregnant, and when we reported to the doctor that we were not feeling the baby move as much as we were used to, the doctors became alarmed. They hooked my wife up to monitors and said that baby had in irregular heart beat, and the lack of movment was scaring them. We were admitted and the discussion of an emergency C-Section kept coming up. They decided to keep monitoring and prepared us for what could happen. They talked about baby needing life support. They talked about baby needing to be in an incubator, or having brain damage to the point that there could be long term disabilities. They talked about Mamas risk for blood clotting and how that could be fatal. And during all of this, papa bear was afraid. Let me put that into perspective for you. As a younger man, I have jumped out of airplanes on multiple occasions. I have done extreme water sports in raging river rapids and on the ocean, and have almost drowned more times than I can count. When I was running the streets I have had knives and guns pulled on me, and I have been shot at twice. I have been in high speed police chases, blown up in explosions, stabbed, and in multiple life threatening car crashes. But NONE of this scared me the way I was scared when I did not know what was going to happen to my baby and my wife. And not for one single moment did God leave my side. Sure there was some fear, but there was also this ever present peace knowing that god was in control and he was there with me. I was an experienced believer in the promise in Romans 8:28 that we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. And I love Him, and am called. Church, you too are called. The only question is if you are answering. You too can love him in this same way, and be guaranteed that everything can work together for your good. This promise is not for all the world. It is just for those who Love the lord. Which brings me to my next point. James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourself. Do what it says. This is to say that going to church, or reading your Bible is good, and you do well to do this. But this is not where it stops. This is where it begins. The Bible is a call to action. Being a Christian is a lifestyle, not a label. Christianity is a verb to me, meaning we need to be participating in the kingdom life. And when you do, I assure you that you will be blessed. If there is any part of this message that you have missed, please feel free to listen to the recordings at ----- cjcounts.com You can download these messages for free, share them, or if you need, I will even send you a free CD. All you have to do is ask using the contact page of cjcounts.com You can also take advantage of my free gift of a bible if you need it. If you would like a bible, and you can not afford one on your own, I would love to send you one for free. Just ask me using the contact page at cjcounts.com. If you would like to get plugged into a service project or a small group, I would love to help you get connected. You can look at some of the options I am personally involved with on cjcounts.com, or if these do not attract you, I can point you in the direction of lots of other great opportunities to serve the Lord Now lets take a look at some of the stuff we have coming next. Soon we will have a verse by verse Bible study in the Book of James, which I am very excited about. We are also going to be having some really great guests on. We will have all sorts of ministry leaders with different backgrounds who are serving in the local communities to lift up the name of Jesus. Whether you are secular or among the faithful, I would recommend you stay tuned for these guest because their work is very encouraging. Don’t forget that you can connect with me personally using the contact page at cjcounts.com, and by doing so you can ask me questions that we will deal with on the air and by email. You can also issue me challenges that we can deal with together. If you are among the faithful, but have a hard time understanding or appreciating something, we can explore that together. If you are not a believer, and would like to challenge the faith, we can deal with that together as well. I am open for literally anything. I realize this show is considered controversial to many. I realize this show challenges the status quo of society today. I realize we have been accused as Christians of all sorts of things, from intolerant to even abusive. And sadly, that is true of too many Christians, but not of the ones who are truly following the example of Jesus. So, give me a chance to set the record straight. Let’s hash it out together. And make sure to tune in again next week. We will be here every Sunday from 6-7 am lifting up the name of Jesus Christ to a largely secular audience. I pray that as you explore these truths, the enemy of your soul will be rebuked in the name of Jesus as you pray and seek the face of the Lord. Remember to cash in on the promise in James, that if you seek wisdom, you will find it. The promises can be very faith affirming, because if they don’t come true, then they are lies, but if they do come true, then you can take it to the bank as a reality. And always, I hope you find our time together to be rewarding. This is Pastor CJ Counts, on A Christian Corner, here on Cruisin 1430 signing off and wishing you all the best God has to offer. And its in Jesus name, Amen