The Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are four accounts of Jesus’s life and teachings while on earth. But are they historically accurate?
New Testament scholar, Dr Peter Williams, presents a powerful case for the historical reliability of the Gospels. He compares different accounts of the same events, assesses how accurately the four biblical accounts reflect the cultural context of their day, considers how the texts were handed down throughout the centuries, and examines evidence from non-Christian sources.
Dr Williams applies a series of tests covering topics which range from geography to personal names, tax to language, and weights and measures to botany. His conclusion is clear: It is highly rational to trust the Gospels.
Contents 1. What Do Non-Christian Sources Say? 2. What Are the Four Gospels? 3. Did the Gospel Authors Know Their Stuff? 4. Undesigned Coincidences 5. Do We Have Jesus’s Actual Words? 6. Has the Text Changed? 7. What about Contradictions? 8. Who Would Make All This Up?
This book’s title, Can We Trust the Gospels?, is carefully chosen. It addresses the question by looking at evidence of the Gospels’ trustworthiness. The great thing about trust is that it is something we all understand to a degree because we all exercise it. … It is a version of [this] everyday sort of trust that we are going to consider in this book as we ask whether we can trust the accounts of Jesus’s life …
Trusting the Gospels is both the same as trusting other things and different. It is the same in that we often have to evaluate the credibility of people and things in daily life. It is different in that the Gospels contain accounts of miracles and of a man, Jesus Christ, who is presented as the supernatural Son of God who can rightfully claim ownership of our lives. But before we consider such claims, we need to ask whether the Gospels show the signs of trustworthiness we usually look for in things we believe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter J. Williams (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the principal of Tyndale House, one of the world’s leading institutes for biblical research. Previously a senior lecturer in New Testament at the University of Aberdeen, he is the chair of the International Greek New Testament Project and a member of the ESV Translation Oversight Committee.
For the present, by God’s grace and kindness, people can reject God but still receive the benefits of His common grace, including the enjoyment of loving relationships, natural and artistic beauty, and pleasure. However—and we need to be so warned—we live on borrowed time. This temporary situation will come to an abrupt end. Death but also judgement follows.
Have you accepted God’s offer of eternal life through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus? If not you need to seriously consider first the following two Scriptures then open or purchase God’s Word, a Bible. This is the only way you can discover the truth about the world in which we live and answers to the big questions, like why there is pain, death, and suffering. Below I have also given you three paragraphs from the Book of John to consider why you need to get a Bible if you do not have one. A New King James, ESV or a New American Standard are all excellent translations from my experience.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.“ Hebrews 9:27-28
This first Scripture reveals that Jesus is returning to earth to “save those who are eagerly waiting for him“. Revelation 8 and 15 reveal that He is also going to pour out His wrath upon those that have rejected Him with the trumpet and bowl judgments. God has given us many prophetic scriptures revealing the events that will proceed Jesus’ return. Those events are already happening, the first major one was the reestablishment of Israel as a nation back in 1948.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence, earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-12,15
This second Scripture shows those that had died and been raised to life to face Jesus at the white throne judgement.
BOOK OF JOHN
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:9-13
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” John 1:14-18
Secular archaeologists have spent 200 years attempting to establish that the Bible is a collection of mythology and Jewish/Christian propaganda, yet archaeological evidence is more consistent with the Bible as an accurate historical document. In Unearthing the Bible, Dr Titus Kennedy isolates and illuminates 101 archaeological discoveries that buttress the thesis that the Bible is a reliable historical record by the traditionally recognized authors at the traditionally accepted times they lived.
Kennedy’s book should be in the hands of everyone serious about a historical study of the Bible. Sketching 101 intersections between God’s Word and archeological evidence, Kennedy crafts a sturdy structure of information and argument that makes clear that belief in the truth, accuracy, and reliability of the biblical narrative is not merely possible, but it is sensible and rational. Indeed, it takes a full dose of willful blindness and/or intellectual dishonesty to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy and implications of some of these artifacts. Complete with photographs and translations of ancient inscriptions, a helpful principle of organization, and explanations that are clear and coherent, the book is a genuinely useful tool. No fair-minded reader can deny the book’s success in demonstrating that ancient events left behind extensive evidence that the biblical narrative is accurate.
As Kennedy notes on page 9, “the Bible has been routinely attacked and disregarded on the basis of history or archeology.” Unearthing the Bible challenges those attacks and dismissals head-on. The book cites the biblical passages related to each artifact, anchoring the archaeological context with the date and location of each piece’s discovery, a note on the biblical period in question, keywords, and citations of related biblical passages. The reader’s sense and understanding of the relevance of each artifact to the scriptural record grows as the array of archaeological discoveries increases in number and characteristic. In the end, a reader hostile to a biblical worldview may still ‘attack’, but ‘disregarded’ is no longer an option.
Kennedy’s book is a collection of convincing illustrations that scientific evidence does not contradict God’s Word. Just as biology, geology, chemistry, and physics are consistent with the Bible, the evidence found in archaeology is consistent with the Bible.
People hate being held accountable, especially when it comes to a standard that is impossible to meet in their own strength. When a holy God says your way of living is sinful, the natural flesh reaction is now to label God as an “oppressor” who needs to be removed from all aspects of civil discourse.
The natural extension of this thinking is to also attempt to silence, cancel or even prosecute those who follow God’s standard. This now includes parents who stand up for common sense and decency in our publicly funded government schools into which every form of unholy indoctrination has crept in. In fact, what used to be secretly brought in through the back doors of our public schools is now openly and proudly paraded through the front doors as policies that promote highly sexualized material as being necessary for the diverse, equitable, and inclusive materials, books and curriculum needed to “properly” educate the current generation of social justice warriors.
What happened to just teaching core academics? In America, why do pride flags now outnumber American flags in the classrooms? In one local Loudoun County, Va., elementary school, the large pride flag with an upraised black fist and phrase “Love Always Wins” is prominently displayed over the music room’s piano while the teacher proudly displayed pictures of him and his gay lover’s personal life to elementary age children.
These children are slowly becoming numb to tradition and godly, values taught by their parents at home and slowly are being indoctrinated over their 16,000 hours of government-sponsored education.
Parents standing up for traditional values and calling for a return to academics in our schools and removal of identity politics from classrooms are now seen as “dangerous” by school boards across the country and even by the Department of Justice. This is why in the Loudoun County school system, the current policy prevents a parent from knowing if their child is expressing gender confusion at school. The teacher can know. The school counselor and staff can know. The principal can know, but NOT the parent.
Parents are viewed as some sort of extremist, backwoods cult member who will harm their child if they are involved when a child crosses over into the dark world of transgenderism after being groomed by social media influencers and their peer group. Then the confused child is further abused by the missionaries of transgenderism inside the walls of our schools who do everything possible to prevent that child from being told “No” by their parent. Outside groups are even allowed to provide support and temporary housing for your gender-confused child so they don’t have to go home to you, the “oppressive” parent.
Where do parental constitutional rights end and criminal physical and mental abduction begin?
In the end, this is a fight for the ages. A battle of worldviews. Will man be on the throne or God?
In today’s critical theory parlance, every idea, thought, person, institution, and policy must be divided into one of two classes: “oppressed” or “oppressor.” Christians are seen now as having benefitted from God’s oppressive system of rules which has to be stopped if society is to further evolve into a more “diverse, equitable, and inclusive” order. In reality, following God’s objective standard brings favor, blessing, and salvation.
In considering the “intersectionality” of our faith, is it really oppressive to be a Christian?
What if you’re a white Christian? Or Asian Christian? Are you let out of “oppressor jail” if you’re a black Christian or does your Christian faith always outweigh your melanin when it comes to your score on the oppression scale?
Those who desire nothing more than the cancellation and prosecution of free speech now have a new weapon. This weapon of language causes division found through critical theory which only tears down instead of building up, divides instead of unites, and accuses instead of forgives. This new lexicon of the religion of equity places man on the throne and views God, parents, and those with the wrong skin color as irreconcilably broken oppressors with no hope of redemption.
Christianity is actually liberating. Of all the world’s religions, only in Christianity has the work to conquer true oppression (sin) already been done by the work of Jesus on our behalf. We were all born into oppression as part of the one-blood human race. We were truly victimized by the oppressor of our soul, Satan. Only in Christ, can oppression be truly conquered providing freedom for those oppressed and in bondage to sin. Satan is the true author of oppression. Jesus liberates and sets us free.
Post based on a report by Clint Thomas is a Loudoun County, VA father of 5 and local business owner.
A new report by the United Bible Societies (UBS) has shown the distribution of Bibles increased worldwide in 2021. At least 32.6 million complete Bible editions were distributed last year following the “pandemic-related slump in Bible distribution the previous year”, an increase of 5.5% in 2021 compared to 2020. Around 20% of all distributed Bibles were downloaded from the internet.
The distribution of digital editions is playing an increasingly important role, especially in crisis regions such as Mozambique. The Bible Society there was able to provide a digital Bible edition to a total of 51,000 people. However, the distribution containing only the New Testament was down, going from 5.7 million to 5.1 million in 2021. Horst Scheurenbrand, head of the German Bible Society said: “apart from Europe, more full Bibles were distributed on every continent than in the previous year. This is a good sign after the decline the year before”.
God is still at work making sure His Word, His Truth is reaching all those that are seeking truth.
Knowing God, as He is presented in scripture, is a non-negotiable for Christians. Theology offers an eternal well of joy and a shield of protection from the enemy. Any Christian who thinks they can continue with a “no creed but Christ” is setting themselves up for failure. Anyone with this paradigm should truly self-evaluate if they really love the Lord at all. A denial of the need for theology is a denial of the Lord Jesus.
It is impossible to know doctrine, love, or God without the scripture. This is where the oracles of God and His gospel are contained. It is this special means by which God has chosen to reveal Himself to us.
Psalm 119 is extraordinarily helpful here. I do not think it is a coincidence that the single longest chapter in scripture (176 verses) is dedicated to loving the law of God. The psalmist reminds us over and over how his true delight and protection are only found in knowing God, via His word. He writes:
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips, I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies, I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” Psalms 119:9-16
A pursuit of theology is fundamental and vital to our makeup as human beings. Because we bear the Imago Dei (made in the image of God), we’re designed with a natural inclination for the spiritual and divine. We are wired to pursue theology – if not formally, then certainly informally. Even atheists, by their own self-admission, are going out of the way to classify themselves by an a-theological position. The great efforts made to publicly deny God are, in and of themselves, admissions of the great importance God plays in our world. It’s for reasons like these that statements that deny the need for theology are so absurd.
In Australia, WordLive from Scripture Union is a free, online Bible reading guide, to help you meet with God devotionally through the Bible. It is just one of the many Bible reading guides available free online for your use.
God does not intend for His Word to be subdivided, excerpted, and wrenched out of context. The Bible speaks with consistent authority and perpetual relevance in all matters. It does not require correction, innovation, or editorial oversight.
The key to the Reformation was biblical preaching, which has been the key to every revival. The church flourishes when biblical doctrine is faithfully preached from Bible texts. At such times, the truth of God’s Word is properly in focus, as the Spirit originally intended.
But there are times that are dominated by excusing the Bible’s supposed irrelevance. People say, “We believe the doctrines of the Bible, but most people just do not identify with its old language and old stories from an agrarian time period.” So they argue that the truths of Scripture must be placed in a contemporary package to better reach people. This, in essence, is to say that we have a more effective way to reach people than the Holy Spirit had in authoring the Scripture.
One current advocate of such proud hubris is Andy Stanley. The pastor of one of the largest congregations in America, he has encouraged believers to “unhitch the Christian faith” from the Old Testament.” He had previously admonished pastors and teachers to never say, “The Bible says.” The result is that biblical doctrine is stripped of its biblical attire and dressed in faddish contemporary fashion. Such meddling is an assault on the power and authority of the Bible. God knew how He wanted His doctrine dressed, and people do not have the liberty to rearrange it to their own preference.
Once such ideas become entrenched, doctrine degrades until it comes to flatly contradict the Bible. This accurately describes the state of many churches today, where the man-centered, therapeutic doctrine they preach flies in the face of the biblical text.
The call for us today is to return to the doctrine of the Bible as God has intended it to be presented. God has set forth His truth in His chosen biblical contexts, proportions, and relations, and in such stories, parables, analogies, and narratives. He knows what suits the soul of man, and under the work of the Spirit of God, no other forms can supersede or improve on the Word of God. It is characterized by objectivity, rationality, veracity, authority, and integrity.
If God’s people desire to fulfill their calling to be salt and light in this sinful world, they must cultivate a high view of His Word. The church must embrace and proclaim Scripture in its fullness, boldly holding it forth as God’s standard for life and godliness.
Current projections estimate that in the next 15 years, all people groups will have at least some portion of Scripture available in their own language, while 95% will have a complete Bible, and 99.95% will have a New Testament. Poole continued: “Each new translation is exciting because it means more people are able to access the Scriptures in their own language. That accessibility is key to helping people truly comprehend the gospel message, and to seeing lives transformed by Jesus. “We are fast approaching a key milestone in world history.
God is making sure that people will be without excuse when they say they did not know that God has provided an answer to all of the problems evident in this world including death.
The biggest crisis facing the evangelical, global church today is the growing lack of biblical literacy worldwide, according to Thomas Schirrmacher, the newly elected secretary-general of the World Evangelical Alliance. I agree with him.
“Our biggest problem is that Bible knowledge is fading away,” Schirrmacher told The Christian Post. “This is the utmost problem we have beyond all theological differences, financial problems, and political questions.”
According to the State of the Bible 2020 report released by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, U.S. adults who say they read the Bible daily dropped from 14% to 9% between early 2019 and 2020.
The study found that the proportion of Americans who read the Bible daily also fell to fewer than one in 10 (9%), the lowest number on record during the 10 years of the State of the Bible research study.
We are talking about God’s Word, our Creator’s Word, that He wants to convey to His creation. To those, He made in His image. What could be more important? It contains the message of who we are, why we are separated from our Creator, why the world is like it is, and more importantly what God has done and is doing to put it right. The Bible gives us an accurate history of this world so different from the godless evolutionary view inspired by the god of this world, Satan.
Schirrmacher, who studied theology in Switzerland and the United States, and serves as the WEA’s Associate Secretary General for Theological Concerns, said that in the Western world “more and more kids that come from evangelical families are not really rooted in the Bible,” and many of them leave the faith.
In an increasingly polarized society, Schirrmacher also emphasized the importance of unity, stressing that the “biggest obstacle” to the spread of the Gospel are divisions within Christianity.
“We need to discuss much more and long for what is the DNA, I would say not only of evangelicalism but of Christianity,” he said. “What we have together is the Bible, Jesus, and the Gospel.” We cannot allow these central teachings of Christianity to fade away together with minor topics. Then, there will be nothing left.”
Fortunately, the good news is, God is active in His world. He will accomplish His purposes and it will unfold exactly as He tells us in His Word. As I have mentioned countless times before on this website, there are more prophecies about Jesus soon coming return then there were about His first coming to earth and there were more than 300 of those. It should be reason enough for everybody on this planet to want to spend time in His Word and for those who know Him to want to share the good news with others.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
How good is this Scripture for teaching us how to live the Christian life, to be a Kingdom warrior, to do the will of God, to live life with an eternal focus now.
1. REJOICE ALWAYS
2. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
3. GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
4. DO NOT QUENCH (OR GRIEVE) THE HOLY SPIRIT – The Holy Spirit indwells the Spirit of every believer. Jesus sacrifice on our behalf made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to be our counsellor, teacher and comforter. He produces the fruit of the Spirit (9) in our lives and He provides the gifts of the Spirit (9) for ministry.
5. DO NOT DESPISE PROPHECY BUT TEST EVERYTHING (WITH SCRIPTURE)