Today you will be with Me in paradise—only in Luke
Dear women, behold your son—only in John
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?—only in Matthew and Mark (and this is the only dying declaration they record)
I thirst—only in John
It is finished—only in John
Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit—only in Luke
This is an excellent apologetic for the legitimacy and authenticity of the historical record.
You know that when your friends are at an important event, not everyone notices the same thing or even to the same extent as the others.
Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace has pointed out that when he’s conducting an investigation, he separates the eyewitnesses from each other exactly so they don’t get their stories to “match.” Detective Wallace is able to get the full story precisely because of the differences in each of the accounts.
This is why the Gospel writers’ accounts ring true: they tell us the same historical event from their unique perspectives. It’s only by reading all of them that we get the full picture. If the death and resurrection of Jesus had been a conspiracy, these writers clearly would have collaborated to “get their story straight” ahead of time, and as a result, we would have four identical stories.
The historicity of Jesus as told in the Bible is spot-on and completely trustworthy!
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.
The Historicity Of The Cross
It is essential to have an historic basis for our Christian faith: our faith must be centered in the Life and Death of the historic Jesus. Why is it that that Life and Death have an importance out of all proportion to every other historic fact? Because there the Redemption is brought to a focus.
Jesus Christ was not a Man who twenty centuries ago lived on this earth for thirty-three years and was crucified; He was God Incarnate, manifested at one point of history. All before look forward to that point; all since look back to it. The presentation of this fact produces what no other fact in the whole of history ever could produce, viz.: the miracle of God at work in human souls. The death of Jesus was not the death of a martyr, it was the revelation of the Eternal heart of God. That is why the Cross is God’s last word.
For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:16-17)
T.M. Moore has a regular series of posts for pastors. This week he shared this, “In his training manual for pastors, Gregory the Great wrote, ‘There are some who investigate spiritual precepts with cunning care, but what they penetrate with their understanding they trample on in their lives: all at once they are teaching the things which not by practice but by study they have learnt; and what in words they preach by their manners they impugn. Whence it comes to pass that when the shepherd walks through steep places, the flock follows to the precipice’ (The Book of Pastoral Rule).” If you are a pastor, I encourage you to check out the Pastor To Pastor posts on The Fellowship Of Ailbe.
On May 22, A.D. 337, Emperor Constantine died. John Stonestreet wrote, “Many Christians think that Constantine was perhaps the worst thing to happen to the Church. They believe he made Christianity the imperial religion, thus leading the Church to compromise with pagan culture, marrying it to state power, and derailing the spread of the Gospel. The Church, they argue, was better off as a persecuted minority.” Please check out this post co-written by Dr. Glenn Sunshine that gives some better historical perspective than perhaps what you have heard previously.
One of the most powerful missions sermons I have heard was preached by Dick Brogden:
An important warning from Axis—What it is: The Surgeon General has issued a warning on the dangers of social media for teenagers. Why the alarm bell is reaching a fever pitch: People have been wary of social media’s impact on developing brains for two decades—so why are highly-visible tone setters, like the Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association, issuing big, sweeping statements now? Part of it could be because we are getting more quality data on how social media shapes a young person’s brain. One newer study that’s been getting some buzz suggests that individuals who received their first smartphone at a later age have better mental health as young adults. Several big bills that aim to protect minors online will be voted on this year as tech giants face increased scrutiny over their safeguards (or lack thereof), for younger users. Kids growing up even a decade from now may encounter a completely different digital landscape when it’s their turn to learn about online literacy.
When someone wants to “grow” an organization, what exactly does that look like? Is growth only numeric or is it something that’s perhaps a bit more difficult to count? The leader needs to have this clear in their mind, and they need to regularly communicate this metric to their team. I unpack this in greater detail in my book Shepherd Leadership. Check out more of this message here. And be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.
It appears that creativity is largely fueled by two things: proper sleep and finding your “sweet spot” each day. If you are an early bird, protect that creative time. If you are a night owl, don’t try to become an early bird to emulate someone else, but lean into your productive time. Check out this full post.
I love reading, but even I have trouble finding time to sit down with my books. But this insight from John Piper totally rejuvenated my thinking about reading. “Suppose that you can read about 250 words a minute. Now, that’s not real fast; most of us can do that—250 words a minute. And suppose that you set aside fifteen minutes a day to read a great book—a classic or some book that you’d been longing to read that would help you grow in your wisdom, your understanding. Now, fifteen minutes a day for 365 days is 5,475 minutes a year. Now, you multiply 5,475 times 250, and you get 1,368,750 words that you could read in a year at fifteen minutes a day. Now, an average book has about 300 to 400 words on a page. So we’ll take 350, which is kind of in the middle, and divide that into 1,368,750. And you know what you get? You get 3,910—almost 4,000 pages a year. An average book has about 200 pages. You see the implication of that? You could read twenty books by this time next year by setting aside fifteen minutes a day.”
An ancient Hebrew inscription consisting of 48 letters was discovered on Mt. Ebal in Israel and is centuries older than any known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel. This is yet another archeological discovery that speaks to the historicity of the Bible.
T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements of my book Shepherd Leadership. His thoughts here about the role of godly shepherds is right on the mark: “The work of shepherds consists of helping the people of God to connect with Him—to know, love, fear, and serve Him in every area of their lives. This work cannot be fulfilled by one who is merely a good speaker, an effective organizer, or an inspiring motivator. This work must be done by one who truly knows the Lord. For unless we know the Lord, the Lord will not know us, and He will not honor our labors.”
You are one-of-a-kind! There has never, ever been anyone like you, and there never will be. God made you on purpose and for a purpose. And God wants to reveal the purpose He has for your life. You be you—that is how God is most glorified through you.
I have a series of nearly 70 posts on the topic of godly leadership. Here is the latest installment about going all in. Be sure to check out all of my videos on my YouTube channel.
T.M. Moore writes persuasively to Christians to encourage them to build for the future. He wrote, “For most Christians today, the Kingdom which Daniel saw, Jesus proclaimed and brought near, and the Spirit inaugurated on that first Christian Pentecost—that Kingdom is little more than a theological idea, or a distant hope. It is not a daily reality to be sought, seized, shared, and strengthened in every nook and cranny of our Personal Mission Fields. Christians today are trapped in their past or mired in their present, and they have little or no sense of what it means to build for the future so that righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit increase wherever they live, move, and have their being.”
And another piece of research from both paleontologists and entomologists points to the Flood described in the Bible as historically viable. Researchers discovered fossilized giant ants in Canada where evolutionists claim they shouldn’t be. The Institute for Creation Research commented, “There is no need to postulate ants trekking across the Arctic to explain the distribution. Nor is there a need to inject short ‘hyperthermal’ episodes to allow passage from one continent to another. The global Flood explains what we observe the best. The warmer pre-Flood conditions and likely higher oxygen levels explain the large size of the ants. And their fossil distribution is best explained by their transport off the highest pre-Flood hills as the waters were receding.”
“If we were to look at Jesus’s death merely as a result of a betrayer’s deceit and the Sanhedrin’s envy and Pilate’s spinelessness and the soldiers’ nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. And the benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe might be viewed as God’s way of making a virtue out of a necessity. But once you read Luke 9:51, all such thoughts vanish. Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of His death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us, and He appointed a time.” —John Piper, Love To The Uttermost reading plan on YouVersion
“It is best not to be too dogmatic about the events surrounding [Christ’s] second coming. But if language is a vehicle of thought at all, it certainly takes a good deal of explaining and interpreting to make anything else out of Jesus’ words than that He Himself looked forward to His coming again as a definite historical event in which He will personally and literally appear to gather to Himself and to eternal glory those who have been redeemed by His blood.
“And it is best not to cloud the hope of His coming with too detailed a theory as to what is going to happen when He comes. Some people may be disappointed if Jesus does not follow the schedule they have mapped out for Him.”
“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.” —Ronald Reagan
“We are not called to punish the people for whom Jesus was already punished.” —Kevin Berry
Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote, “If you could stack up all handwritten manuscripts of the New Testament—Greek, Syriac, Latin, Coptic, all languages—how tall would the stack be? … I have said in many lectures that it would be the equivalent of c. 4 & 1/2 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. How did I come up with that number?” Check out his post to read how he calculated this astounding number. This is just another link in the chain of evidence for the historicity of the Bible.
I shared this commentary on YouVersion this week: We are made in God’s likeness. Ever since sin entered the world, man’s sinful nature is to flip this around—to make God in our likeness. Literally to say, “This is what I want God to be. I want Him to approve what I want.”
“Pure humor is the most difficult of all of comedy. Late night humor is funny because it is mean. It is relatively easy to be crude, cynical, and sarcastic. It comes naturally to our fallen natures to criticize, tease, mock, and scoff. It’s much harder to make people laugh by lifting others up.” —Dick Brogden, in his book Proverbs: Amplified and Applied, commenting on Proverbs 1:22
Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video that I posted the day after Christmas, and please subscribe on YouTube.
T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership. In an interview I then did on his Fellowship of Ailbe podcast, I shared my dismay over unbiblical ideas and practices that have crept into the church. Both T.M. and I share a passion to see our church leadership return to our secure biblical foundation.
In a recent blog post, T.M wrote, “From the days of the apostles onward, a tendency has existed among church leaders to drift from the plain teaching of the Word of God into forms of Christian life and ministry that derive from sources other than Scripture. Or that stretch the meaning of Scripture to fit the shape of certain cultural forms.” Please check out T.M.’s post “Do not go beyond.”
In a fascinating post from Rabbi Benjamin Blech, I read these thoughts about the power of a name: “The Hebrew word for soul is neshamah. Central to that word, the middle two letters, shin and mem, make the word shem, Hebrew for ‘name.’ Your name is the key to your soul. … When the Torah says, ‘God created,’ it doesn’t suggest that He worked with what He fashioned by labor, but merely that He spoke—and the very words describing the object came into being. God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ The Almighty merely gave it a name, and the very letters defined its atomic structure.” Check out the full post here.
“Success” doesn’t always mean bigger numbers. King David got into trouble with God when he wanted to measure his success by how many fighting men he had under his command. Consistently throughout the Bible God’s measure of success is our trust in Him. This thought was a key part of the sub-title of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.
Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or Audible.
God delights to show up when the situation seems hopeless from any human standpoint. When He does what no one else can do, He alone is glorified!
A very notable dark time took place in Israel about 700 BC as the nation was surrounded by enemies. Micah prophesied the arrival of the Messiah. But he also prophesied that before He came, there would be dark days. He talks about the siege of enemies surrounding them, Israel’s ruler being stuck on the cheek with a rod, not to mention the strongholds, witchcraft, and idolatry that plagued the nation within its own borders (Micah 5:1, 11-13).
But whenever it seems darkest, God is not the least diminished! He always gets the final word, the decisive word, the best word.
So into this inky darkness, Micah prophesies a ray of light—“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be Ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).
I’m sure many people thought that Bethlehem was too small of a village for anyone of significance to be born there.
The Last Battle is the final book in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. This story also portrays a similar dark time. Shift the ape has convinced Puzzle the donkey to wear an ill-fitting lion skin to pretend to be the great king Aslan. Through tricks, sleight of hand, deception, and the plans of some evil schemers, many of the Narnians come to believe that Puzzle is Aslan. But it’s confusing because this “Aslan” is not the kind, strong king they believed in, so many begin to just look out for themselves.
In a fitting setting, Puzzle is being hidden inside an old stable. A great battle takes place with the true Narnians ending up inside the stable, and yet once inside they discover not a dark stable, but a sunlit land spreading farther than their eyes can see. Lord Digory observes, “Its inside is bigger than its outside.”
But I love this line from Queen Lucy, “In our world too a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”
Inside that Bethlehem stable was born the Great Shepherd! Who was inside that stable and what He would accomplish became so much grander and more beautiful than any human had ever imagined!
Jesus is our Great Shepherd—He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will live securely, for then His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth (Micah 5:4).
Jesus is strong, majestic, and great (John 10:10-15).
Jesus equips us to be victorious (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Jesus walks with us every step of the way (Psalm 23:1-6).
And Jesus takes us Home to be with Him forever (1 Peter 5:4).
Our faith is not rooted in some mysterious thing with an uncertain history. It is a faith rooted in real historical events. The Great Shepherd being born in the town that was prophesied 700 years beforehand is one more proof that God is in control, that God loves you, and that God always gets the final word, the decisive word, the best word!