Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Gospel of Mark’

‘Tis the Season to Attack the Gospels?.


Dr. Jerry Newcombe, Truth in Action Ministries

Every year at Christmastime, like clockwork, you can expect the mainstream media to come out with some sort of “fresh” perspective on Jesus. We see this on TV specials and in magazines and reports. Since December has just begun, I thought I’d be pro-active in answering the critics.The basic questions are these: Can we trust the Bible? Can we trust the Gospels? If they were put on trial, as in a court case, how would they hold up?

One man who contributed significantly to Christian apologetics was one of America’s great legal leaders. Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was a professor at Harvard Law School (1833-1848). He contributed a great deal to the school, expanding it, including its library.

Greenleaf wrote a major textbook used widely, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence

Contrary to some accounts (even found extensively on the Internet, to this day), Greenleaf was not an atheist or agnostic converted to Christianity by the evidence for the resurrection. He was livelong, active member of the Episcopal Church. In 1847, Greenleaf applied his expertise as a pioneer in the area of trial evidence to the Gospels in a landmark book.

Greenleaf wrote The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospel Examined by the Rules of Evidence. The evangelists, of course, are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As he applied the rules of evidence to the Gospels, he found them reliable.

Greenleaf says, “The foundation of our religion is a basis of fact—the fact of the birth, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection by the Evangelists as having actually occurred, within their own personal knowledge. Our religion, then, rests on the credit due to these witnesses. Are they worthy of implicit belief, in the matters which they relate? This is the question, in all human tribunals, in regard to persons testifying before them; and we propose to test the veracity of these witnesses, by the same rules and means which are there employed…” He answers, Yes.

He goes on from there to highlight the four Gospel writers:

*Matthew (also called Levi), the tax-collector and one of the twelve, an eyewitness of the Gospel events. Writes Greenleaf: “Matthew was himself a native Jew, familiar with the opinions, ceremonies, and customs of his countrymen; that he was conversant with the Sacred Writings…”

*Mark (also known as John Mark) was essentially Peter’s scribe in his Gospel—from the early Church comes the consistent report that Peter’s recollection of the Gospel events are found in the second Gospel. Mark went on to preach the gospel in Egypt, where he was martyred.

*Luke, believed to be a physician, traveled with Paul. Says Greenleaf, “If…Luke’s Gospel were to be regarded only as the work of a contemporary historian, it would be entitled to our confidence. But it is more than this. It is the result of careful science, intelligence and education, concerning subjects which he was perfectly competent to peculiarly skilled, they being cases of the cure of maladies.”

*John was a fisherman of Bethsaida, on the Sea of Galilee. Greenleaf says he wrote his Gospel after the other three, recognizing their truthfulness, and added things not found in the others.

Greenleaf notes a great unfairness shown the Evangelists in modern scholarship: They are somehow guilty until proven innocent. They are viewed as untrustworthy for no cause, until they can somehow be corroborated by some outside secular source. (If it was true in Greenleaf’s day, how much more is it true in ours—despite the wealth we have of additional archaeological and manuscript evidence in favor of the Gospels’ veracity.)

Says Greenleaf: “But the Christian writer seems, by the usual course of the argument, to have been deprived of the common presumption of charity in his favor; and reversing the ordinary rule of administering justice in human tribunals, his testimony is unjustly presumed to be false, until it is proved to be true.”

Greenleaf adds, “It is time that this injustice should cease; that the testimony of the evangelists should be admitted to be true, until it can be disproved by those who would impugn it; that the silence of one sacred writer on any point, should no more detract from his own veracity or that of the other historians, than the like circumstance is permitted to do among profane writers; and that the Four Evangelists should be admitted in corroboration of each other, as readily as Josephus and Tacitus, or Polybius and Livy.”

He affirms: “their honesty…ability… the consistency of their testimony…the conformity of their testimony with experience…the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances. Let the evangelists be tried by these tests.” He does and finds them trustworthy. He also answers common objections, such as the miraculous elements found in the Gospels.

So, be prepared, when you see the TV specials coming up about “the true story of Christmas” or the like, when they attack the Gospels. The Gospels have been put on trial, and they have passed the test.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Library, a spokesman and cohost of Kennedy Classics. He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book that Made America and (with Dr. Kennedy) What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? and (with Peter Lillback),George Washington’s Sacred Firewww.truthinaction.org.

Advertisements

Was Jesus Here? Biblical-era Town Discovered Along Sea of Galilee.


“And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.” Mark 8:10

Dateline Israel: A town dating back more than 2,000 years has been discovered on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel’s Ginosar valley.

gospel-of-mark-Dalmanutha

View looking southwest showing the mountains bounding the Ginosar Valley in Israel. Archaeologists found pottery remains, cubes known as tesserae and, in the modern town, architectural fragments indicating a town flourished in the area from the second or first century B.C. until after the fifth century A.D.

The ancient town may be Dalmanutha (also spelled Dalmanoutha), described in the Gospel of Mark as the place Jesus sailed to after miraculously feeding 4,000 people by multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread, said Ken Dark, of the University of Reading in the U.K., whose team discovered the town during a field survey.

The archaeologists also determined that a famous boat, dating to around 2,000 years ago, and uncovered in 1986, was found on the shoreline of the newly discovered town. The boat was reported on two decades ago but the discovery of the town provides new information on what lay close to it.

The evidence the team found suggests the town was prosperous in ancient times. “Vessel glass and amphora hint at wealth,” Dark wrote in an article published in the most recent edition of the journal Palestine Exploration Quarterly, while “weights and stone anchors, along with the access to beaches suitable for landing boats — and, of course, the first-century boat … all imply an involvement with fishing.” [Photos: 4,000-Year-Old Structure Hidden Under Sea of Galilee]

The architectural remains and pottery suggest that Jews and those following a polytheistic religion lived side by side in the community. In addition, the researchers found that the southern side of the newly discovered town lies only about 500 feet (150 meters) away from another ancient town known as Magdalasource – NBC News.

by NTEB News Desk.

Closer than you think…


By Bobby Schuller, Hour of Power Pastor

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 
-Psalm 34:18

I remember going through a dark time that was very much connected to my faith. It began when I learned that the book of Mark wasn’t written down until 30 years after Jesus’ ministry. That really bothered me. Then, I started questioning much in the Bible, and I really didn’t know what to do with this frustration. I hadn’t yet learned that Mark, for example, had probably already memorized the whole Tenach, the Hebrew Bible. So, without this and other knowledge and understanding, I started to wonder if the Bible was real and if God was real. What was I to do with this doubt?

I remember, in the midst of this time of doubt, sitting down to play the piano. For some reason, I played Beethoven’s “Pathetique,” a song I learned when I was 15 and hadn’t played it in years. Nonetheless, I played it perfectly from beginning to end. Then, a light went on in my brain, and I began to weep. I realized that, in the same way, the gospel of Mark in the Bible could be written many years after the events happened because of memory.

In that moment, I had to sit in the darkness, the doubt, and the struggle. I had to wait there on the Lord and I couldn’t force any of it to end. Then, organically and naturally, God brought me out of that dark time and prepared me to be a new person. And that renewed and deepened faith had to happen before I could go to seminary because, in seminary, much of what you believe is challenged as you’re prepared to be a pastor.

Sometimes, in the dark night of the soul, when you wonder if God even exists, if he hears your prayers, he is closer than you think.

Prayer: Dear Lord, even in the dark times, you are near to me. Your light shines brightly in my soul. Amen.

Reflection: Did you ever doubt the existence of God? The authenticity of your faith? What convinced you to continue to believe?

The Question Behind the Question.


I’ve been interviewing a lot of new Christians to hear how God has worked to bring them to the Savior. Their stories encourage me greatly. Several recurring themes emerge. Mostly, I hear of the improbable nature of God breaking through to people who seem the least likely to be interested, open, or ready.

One pattern intrigues me. I often hear of people asking one question but really seeking an answer to something else. Underneath the iceberg lies something far bigger.

An illustration may help me express this.

One man told me of a Bible study he attended for months before trusting in Christ. The study was designed for people just like him – those who knew little about the Bible but were open enough to come every week to wrestle with the text. They walked through the gospel of Mark, asking who Jesus was, what faith looks like, and why God works the way he does.

In the course of my interviewing these new converts, I always ask if there was any one question or objection they felt they needed to have resolved before believing. You can imagine the common roadblocks: “What about evolution?” “Why is there so much evil and suffering?” “Isn’t the Bible full of contradictions?”

I asked this man if he had any major questions. Here’s how he responded.

“No… not really… well, wait a minute. Yeah, I can think of one. You know that part in the Bible where Jesus cast the demons into the pigs? When we read that, I was like, ‘What’s up with that? What’s Jesus got against pigs?’”

I must confess, as he told me this, I wondered, “Really? That’s your big objection? A bunch of pigs was stopping you from experiencing eternal life?” I said none of those things. Instead, I asked him how his Bible study leader answered his question.

“Well… at first he said he wasn’t sure.”

That’s actually a good start, I thought. Admitting we don’t know the answer to every question may be a great evangelistic aid. Too many non-Christians think we’re arrogant know-it-alls. Admitting we’re not sure of something helps break down barriers.

“Then he told me that the story of the demon and the pigs tells us at least two things. It shows that demons aren’t to be messed with. And it kind of implies that there’s something radically different between being a person and being a pig.”

“Did that resolve it for you?” I asked him.

“Yeah… well, it answered it enough. Y’see, you need to know where I was coming from. If I had asked that question at the church I went to when I was growing up, they would have told me to not ask such a question, that some things are just mysteries, and you just have to ‘believe in Jesus’ and he’ll take away all your questions. That always seemed stupid to me. So, when this Bible study leader gave me a fairly intelligent answer, I figured that his faith wasn’t stupid.”

I’m not sure he had put all those pieces of his story together before he recounted this moment in his journey. I noted that his real objection was far bigger than concern for swine.

And this point is worth considering: Quite often the “presenting problem” is just the tip of an iceberg. The question behind the question may be far larger. It may be, as it was for this man, “Is your faith a stupid faith that tells people not to ask questions?”

The gospel already carries a significant stumbling block that we dare not eliminate or minimize – the need to repent of sin and acknowledge that we have no righteousness of our own. But we can clear the way for receptivity of that good news by listening for the question behind the question and responding to both. What starts out as a discussion about pigs may lead to far bigger things.

By Randy Newman

Video Bible Gives Japanese Deaf New Understanding of Scripture.


Japanese Sign Language Bible
Pastor Minaminda explains a passage from Ecclesiastes that he has just played on the screen behind him. (Heather Pubols)

It’s Sunday morning. Across the world Christians are gathered to hear the Word—to remember the gospel and grow in their faith. In Yamagata, four hours north of Tokyo, Japan, Kumiko Matsumoto begins leading worship.

“Shepherd of my soul, I give you full control.” A flashing light directs the congregation’s attention to the front of the room. No one is singing aloud, but everyone is moving their hands. Music plays in the background for the benefit of those who are hearing or hard of hearing, but most of the music in this room isn’t audible. It’s visual. It’s in Japanese Sign Language (JSL), the heart language of Japan’s deaf community.

After the singing pastor Eiji Matsumoto comes forward to preach, also in JSL. He pauses often to point the congregation to a passage from the Gospel of Mark not written in a book but signed on a screen. After each passage, Pastor Matsumoto expounds on the meaning of what’s just been signed. The congregation is using Scripture recorded by ViBi—Video Bible. ViBi is a ministry of Japan Deaf Evangel Mission.

The Need and the Work
Most Deaf people in Japan have never heard Japanese. They learn written Japanese as a second language, so most have difficulty reading Bibles written in Japanese. Attempts to translate the Japanese Bible into a simplified version for the deaf have proven inadequate. Years of misunderstandings and frustrations have accumulated for deaf Christians as they have waited for the Bible in their own language.

In 1993 a broad coalition of Japanese deaf Christian organizations came together for the common goal of a JSL Bible for the deaf, translated by the deaf. Ten years later, the Japan Bible Society joined the project. Today, ViBi is run completely by Japanese Deaf leadership. The work of translation and recording is well underway.

Across the Lands
The signer in the video of Matthew’s Gospel is pastor Masahiro Minamida. For 12 years, he has been pastor of Toyko Deaf Church. He’s been involved in ViBi for seven years. Pastor Minamida and Pastor Matsumoto are also the leaders of the Asia Pacific Sign Language Development Association, a new group of leaders from 12 countries. Each member of the group is involved in a Sign Language translation project or is trying to get one started.

ViBi team members eagerly share their experience, expertise and encouragement with deaf translators and leaders across Asia. They host workshops to teach translation principles, signing skills and technological techniques. They participate in international conferences and connect with other organizations. Twenty years of experience in Japan are being multiplied across the Asia Pacific region.

New Understanding
Pastor Matsumoto has been engaged in ViBi since the beginning of the project. Since then more than 10 books have been translated. They make a huge difference in his work as a pastor.

“Before, I had nothing but the written Japanese version of the Bible,” he says, “and it gave me limited understanding of the message I had to share with the people in my church. Now I see … Deaf people find Scripture more interesting. It’s especially powerful when we work with this in a group, because we can look at the verses together and grow together.”

With the Bible in a visual language, a language he understands, Pastor Matsumoto makes new discoveries in Scripture every week.

“Some time ago I finally understood the meaning of reconciliation between Man and God,” he says. “In JSL the sign is to take one hand from above and bring it down to the other hand with palms facing upwards. God came DOWN to us, it’s not the other way around!” He demonstrates the sign that helped him understand.

‘We Really Need Those 66 Books Quickly!’
Akira and Tomoko Sakamoto are a young couple in Pastor Minamida’s church who have been deeply impacted by the Scriptures in JSL. Akira is deaf. Tomoko, who is hearing but had deaf parents, learned to speak Japanese later in childhood.

“Sometimes I want to explain something in Japanese to a deaf person—and other times I want to sign something to a hearing person. It’s frustrating,” says Tomoko.

“And when she’s angry, she uses both!” Akira interrupts with a smile.

Akira has been deaf all his life. When he met Tomoko, he wasn’t a Christian. He started going to church with Tomoko, and there he met Pastor Minamida.

“Every time I went to church, I felt Minamida was preaching about my life. In the beginning I thought Tomoko had told him what to say! I started to think that God was watching all the time, and it scared me!” Akira says. “After a while Tomoko … explained to me how Jesus died for all of our sins, and that there’s nothing to be afraid of. After that I stopped worrying and became a Christian.”

Akira and Tomoko use the video Bible regularly, often in conjunction with the written Scriptures. “If I just read, I can’t create the image in my head. When I see it on the DVD, I immediately get it,” Akira says.

He is eager for the ViBi project to be completed. “Now we don’t even have the book of John; I really want to learn about the love of Jesus, the meaning of love and how John describes it. I want to know deeper, and there are so many things I’m curious about. I know it’s hard, but we really need those 66 books quickly, so the Deaf can see it now.”

In This Generation
Shunko Teragawa is a deaf believer in the city of Toyooka, six hours west of Tokyo. She leads songs in her church and serves the congregation by cleaning between services. She is 70 years old. Twenty years ago, seeing the gospel shared in JSL changed her life forever. Today, seeing it on the video Bible continues to illuminate her understanding.

“It is hard to understand Japanese words,” she says, “so I check things on the [JSL Bible] DVD to see what the Scripture really means. The JSL Bible is something I can understand.”

Shunko’s pastor, Miya Kori, has been involved in an advisory capacity on the JSL Bible translation project.  Even though Pastor Kori has fluency in several spoken and sign languages, she agrees that the translation of the Bible into JSL is essential.

“[JSL] was the first language I learned,” she explains. “I can understand it clearly. When I was little, we didn’t have the JSL Bible. My father was such a good storyteller in JSL. He shared all the Bible stories with me. Now I want that for others through the JSL Bible.”

There is still no full translation of the Bible in any sign language. Pastor Matsumoto and Pastor Minamida both say that they wouldn’t mind if JSL was the first finished Sign Bible translation. At the current pace of work it will take more than 30 years to complete the JSL Bible. However, if adequate funding comes through, completion of the JSL translation could take as little as 10 years.

Mark Penner, an American hearing person born in Japan, was instrumental in helping to form ViBi. Today he is a translation consultant with the project. He eagerly anticipates the day when the Deaf church will have the Scriptures so necessary to their growth in Christ.

“My feeling,” he shares, “is that when a new generation of Deaf Christians rises up with a Bible in their own language to support them, many of the other issues we face will fall into place.”

God’s people need God’s word in a language that is clear and easy to understand.

Reading the Bible is sometimes like a stream of water running through—it doesn’t stick to you,” shares Akira. “Watching it makes it easy to remember and it sticks! Years of reading is just not enough—a little video clip can do so much.”

This story was written for the Wycliffe News Network.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ANDERS KOFOED PEDERSEN/WYCLIFFE NEWS NETWORK

They Came Unto Him.


He went up into the mountain, and called to himself those whom he wanted, and they went to him. – Mark 3:13

 

That is the way Jesus is doing continually-standing and calling men to come to Him. And here we see the way every one who hears His voice should answer,-leave the world’s company, step boldly out, cross over the line and take his place by the side of Jesus.

There are several things to be said about the way these men responded to Christ‘s call. They did it freely. Although He had chosen them out of a whole nation, and called them, there was no compulsion laid upon them to go with Him. They could have refused if they had chosen. Christ never makes disciples by force. We must be willing, and must choose to come to Him.

Then they responded promptly. There was no hesitation. They said nothing about considering the matter for a while. They did not talk about being unfit or unworthy. They did not tell Jesus they were afraid they could not continue faithful. They did not say, “Tomorrow we will go.” The moment they heard their names called they answered.

Then their answer was given in a way that could be understood. Whenever they heard the call they stepped out with firm tread, and crossing over the space between the crowd and the Master, they joined themselves to Him. It was not done secretly. They did not wait till they were alone with Him, and then tell Him quietly that they had resolved to accept His invitation.

They did not propose to become His disciples, and yet stay among their old friends, and keep on at their old business. They immediately separated themselves from the people about them and went over to Him, putting themselves absolutely into His hands, to be His and to do His bidding so long as they lived. This is the way these men started, and this is the way everyone should start whom Jesus calls to be His disciple.

By Vine.


Bible In A Year: April 13th…

By Book Old Testament New Testament Proverbs & Psalms
2 Kings 1-3 Deuteronomy 19-20 Luke 15:1-32 Psalm 45:1-9

Closer than you think…


“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
-Psalm 34:18

I remember going through a dark time that was very much connected to my faith. It began when I learned that the book of Mark wasn’t written down until 30 years after Jesus’ ministry. That really bothered me. Then, I started questioning much in the Bible, and I really didn’t know what to do with this frustration. I hadn’t yet learned that Mark, for example, had probably already memorized the whole Tenach, the Hebrew Bible. So, without this and other knowledge and understanding, I started to wonder if the Bible was real and if God was real. What was I to do with this doubt?

I remember, in the midst of this time of doubt, sitting down to play the piano. For some reason, I played Beethoven’s “Pathetique,” a song I learned when I was 15 and hadn’t played it in years. Nonetheless, I played it perfectly from beginning to end. Then, a light went on in my brain, and I began to weep. I realized that, in the same way, the gospel of Mark in the Bible could be written many years after the events happened because of memory.

In that moment, I had to sit in the darkness, the doubt, and the struggle. I had to wait there on the Lord and I couldn’t force any of it to end. Then, organically and naturally, God brought me out of that dark time and prepared me to be a new person. And that renewed and deepened faith had to happen before I could go to seminary because, in seminary, much of what you believe is challenged as you’re prepared to be a pastor.

Sometimes, in the dark night of the soul, when you wonder if God even exists, if he hears your prayers, he is closer than you think.

Prayer: Dear Lord, even in the dark times, you are near to me. Your light shines brightly in my soul. Amen.

Reflection: Did you ever doubt the existence of God? The authenticity of your faith? What convinced you to continue to believe?

By Bobby Schuller, Crystal Cathedral Pastor.

Tag Cloud