In these few days, this hymns has been in my mind, so i decided to do some research over it.

This hymn was written by George Bennard (1873-1958) and the hymn has been sing by many famous people. hmm I did not notice that Elvis Presley sang that before also. From the comments in youtube, I think it is a very common funeral hymn in the US.

As I thought about the cross and death by Crucifixion, I am not sure how many of us knew that Crucifixion is one of the worst punishment that can be meted out by the Roman Governors. It is usually done to the worst of all criminals in ancient Rome and is often use in Judea as a punishment to rebels and messiah wannabes who wanted to lead the people to rebel against Rome.

The criminals are often crucified at hills so that they can be seen from afar, this serves as an deterrence to all rebels and messiah wannabes in the time of Jesus.

When one is crucified on the cross, his blood will be left to drip, while he needs to use his legs to constantly pull himself up in order to breath. It is a very painful way to die, and the Romans would often give the victim a mixture of sour wine mingled with gall (Matt 27:34), it will serve as a anaesthetic to make the death less painful. They often view this act as the last humane thing they could do for the victim.

Usually, the victim is left to die on the cross, but if there is a need for them to die quickly, the soldiers may break the legs of the victim (Jn 19:31). The purpose of this is to make sure the victim will not have the strength to pull himself up to breath and thus die by suffocation.

In the case of Jesus, because he looks dead, so the centurion decided to pierce his body. Most combat medics will tell you, if a person is dead for some time, the red and the white blood cells would be separated hence “blood and the water came out” (Jn 19:34). That is used to confirm the death of the victim.

This is the mechanics of Christ punishment.

It is through such a gruesome punishment that God opened the true and living way to salvation. Sometimes i wonder why did God choose such a painful way to pay for our sins. Perhaps i guess the real answer will only be known when we get to heaven to ask him. Right now i have the tendency to believe that only by such death can all his blood be poured out. The new covenant that God made with man is based on the blood of Jesus (Heb 10:1-18).

Yet, often or not, we preach the message of the sacrifice of Jesus and the way to be reconciled with God to the world, we are often viewed as fools.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – Paul (1 Cor 1:18)

Sometimes i wonder how many of us still hold on to that conviction that Christ has paid for all our sins using that old rugged cross. How many of us really treasure our relationship with God, and have we often traded our old rugged cross with something else?

During the time of the apostles, the term “Christian” is actually an insult, and a derogatory term for the believers of Jesus. Being a Christian then often means that one will have to flee for their lives, hiding in the catacombs and the outskirt of the city. Being burnt on the stake and being thrown into the lions den for the entertainment of the Romans.

One of the most interesting account that left a deep impression in me is found in one of the records of the early church fathers, about Polycarp, a bishop in Smyrna during the second century AD. He was burnt on the stake in the stadium during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. he was 86 years old when he died. (Some claimed that he is older, and he was only converted to Christianity for 86 years before he died). He tried his best to run away but was eventually captured by the Romans

This conversation is based on a early Christian writings known as “The Epistle and Martyrdom of St Polycarp” (I have rephrased some of the old English to help readers to understand what Polycarp said)

When he was brought into the stadium, there was an uproar in the stadium he was being trialed by the Proconsul (thats a high ranking Roman official) who did not really want to kill the old man.

Proconsul: “Have respect to your old age,
                        Swear by the fortune of Caesar;
                        repent, and say, Away with the
                       Atheists.”

Polycarp:  “Away with the Atheists.”
                      (Refusing to swear by Caesar)

Proconsul: “Swear, and I will set you free,
                         reproach Christ;”

Polycarp: “Eighty and six years have I served
                       Him, and He never did me any wrong:
                       how then can I blaspheme my King
                       and my Saviour?”

Proconsul : “Swear by the fortune of Caesar,”
                         (Trying to urge him again)

Polycarp:  “Since you urged me saying that, I
                       should swear by the fortune of Caesar,
                       and pretended not to know who and
                       what I am,  therefore hear my bold
                       declaration,

                       I am a Christian. And if you wish to
                       learn what the doctrines of Christianity
                       make an appointment with me , and
                      you shall hear them.”

Proconsul: “Persuade the people, ”

Polycarp: ” I have offered to share my faith with you,
                       for we are taught to give all due honour to
                       the powers and authorities which are
                       ordained of God. But as for these people,
                       I deem them unworthy to receiving any
                       testimony from me.”

Proconsul: “I have wild beasts at hand; I will cast you
                         into their den unless you repent”

Polycarp: “Call them then, for we are not accustomed
                       to repent from what is good in order to adopt
                       that which is evil; but it is well for me to be
                       changed from what is evil to what is righteous.”

Proconsul: “Since you despise my punishment, I will
                        sentence you to be burnt by fire, unless
                        you repent”

Polycarp:  “You threatened me with fire which burns
                       for an hour, which will get extinguished in
                       a little while, but you are ignorant of the fire
                       of the coming judgement and of eternal
                       punishment, reserved for the ungodly. So whats
                       holding you back? Bring forth what you said.”

According to the epistle, he was burnt on the stake but the fire did not hurt him, and in the end they knife him to death. As it is the writings of the church fathers and not part of the Christian Bible, I will not attempt to prove if the epistle is true or not.

Personally as I read the story of Polycarp, I am very moved by his conviction, especially how he made the stand before the proconsul. Indeed he cling on to that old rugged cross even in the face of death. I remember Jesus once said

” Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” – Jesus (Matt 10:32-33)

I really wonder if I am trailed in the same way, will I ever have the courage to do the same.

Let us learn to cherish the old rugged cross just like the Christians before us.

Hmm I did not notice i spoke so much..I intially wanted to just write a simple message before the tune. But nonetheless.. lets sing it together

Title: The Old Rugged Cross
Lyrics and Tune : George Bennard

(Stanza 1)
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross
where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

(Chorus)

(Stanza 2)
Oh, that old rugged cross so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God
left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.

(Chorus)

(Stanza 3)
In the old rugged cross,
stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross
Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

(Chorus)

(Stanza 4)
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day
to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

(Chorus)
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

I only found 2 stanzas on youtube.. if you have the full tune please let me know

Its nearing the end of the Chinese New Year. The Chinese calls this festival 春节 Meaning Spiring Festival. As the celebrations draw to a close, the earth slowly returns to Spring. The farmers will be planting and many new plans and dreams takes off.

I remember that the last Th day of the spring festival was also a very tough point in my walk of faith. as I review and take pulse of my faith. There are many times during this walk of faith, i find that when the situation gets difficult and tough, I would be closer to God in prayers and my faith goes uphill. At the same time, there are times when I pleaded with God again and again, yet God remains strangely silent.

There comes a time where our patience grows dim, and we ask God “How many times do you want me to repeat my petition?” and slowly we grows to a stage where our hearts are cold and hard. We started to move on without considering God. The springtime is a good time to remind ourselves to prepare our hearts, to renew our faith. To once again put our trust in God.

In times like this, I like to remind myself of this verses spoken by the prophets

“Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah (Is 40:28-31)

“Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls-
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.”- Habakkuk (Hab 3:17-19)

“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
” Therefore I hope in Him!” – Jeremiah (Lam 3:22-25)

One thing that is common among this 3 prophets, was the fact that they knew about the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah. Despite their pleas to God to spare the people, they continued in their faith in God, no matter what happens.

So in this new year, let us bring back the springtime in our faith, let us continue to wait on the Lord, let us pray to ask God to bring back the springtime as we are facing life’s difficulties.

Title: Bring Back the Springtime
Lyrics: Kurt Kaiser, 1970

When in the spring, the flowers are blooming bright and fair,
After the grey of winter’s gone.
Once again the lark begins his tuning,
Back in the meadows of my heart.

Chorus
Lord, to my heart bring back the springtime.
Take away the cold and dark of sin.
And, Oh refill me now, sweet Holy Spirit:
May I warm and tender be again.

Lord, make me like that stream that flows so cool and clear
Down from the mountains high above;
I will tell the world the wondrous story
Of the precious stream filled with your Love.

Chorus
Lord, to my heart bring back the springtime.
Take away the cold and dark of sin.
And, Oh refill me now, sweet Holy Spirit:
May I warm and tender be again.

This is a very beautiful hymn that my friends have been trying to sing.

Personally this hymns had been featured in the movie Places In The Heart, it won 2 Academy Awards in 1984.

I understand that the inspiration for the hymn was the scene written in John 20:1-18. Where Mary Magdalene came to the garden to find the tomb of Jesus, and was crying when she could not find it. The part where “He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing” He is referring to Jesus calling to her “Mary”

When Mary realised that it was the risen Lord, all her pain and grief all disappeared

This hymns means alot to me as well, as it reminded me of the times I spent praying in the morning. Personally as all the pressures of surviving alone cave in, when you pray again and again. There are times when we wonder, “Doesn’t God already know my prayer? Why am I made to repeat this again and again?”

This hymn captured that intimate feelings we should have whenever we knelt before God and make our supplications before God.

Alot of times, when Christians were facing the pressures of life, we tend to forget that Jesus is walking with us and he does talks to us, through sermons, through thinking over the words of God. Sometimes the Holy Spirit would just bring to remembrance the bible stories that we have heard and sometimes God would just highlight a portion or detail that we kind of forgets while we browse through the scripture.

So.. can we hear the sweet voice of God? Do we like to stay in the garden with him? Perhaps it is time to turn closer to God and ask him to walk closer with us. Many a times it is us who walked far away from God. While God is trying very hard to ask us to walk holding on to his hand. Sometimes we tend to be too focus on our problems that we failed to look at the hands of God stretched out.

May our prayers be as sweet and as intimate with God like what this hymn suggest.

Title: In The Garden
Lyrics: C Austin Miles
Sang By: Brad Paisley and Elvis Presley

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

(Refrain)

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

(Refrain)

Note: I cant find a youtube with a full tune. But I find this version really nice.

Earlier on, I was sharing with everyone how we can be sure that the Old testaments in the bible is indeed unadulterated as well as the various evidence to prove its authenticity.

As I was reviewing that article, i believe I have not talked about, how we can prove the bible’s Divine authorship. To Christians, the although the bible was pen down by many people, ranging for Prince of Egypt (Moses), Shepherd Boy Turn King (David), Kings (Solomon) , Prophets , Fisherman (Peter, John), Pharisees (Paul) , Tax collector (Matthew) & Doctor (Luke). Despite their differing backgrounds, they all spoke unanimously on the salvation of God and there was no contradiction.

Hence, to Christians, these people are merely pens-man and the author is non other than God. the bible took thousand of years complete, and spans across major periods in the time line, yet the message is never contradictory.

We covered the Old testament the previous entry. Now I would like to discuss the authenticity of the new testaments.

How Is The New Testament Canon Done?

There are some people who claimed brazenly in their books that the Christian churches began canonising the bible because they wanted to hide the truth about Jesus. In fact, the canonisation of the New Testament is more or less completed around the 3rd to 4th century AD, with the first canon completed at synod of hippo 393 AD)

The reason of this canonisations is because, then there were many heretics who wrote their own books supporting their teachings, claiming it to be from the apostles. One of the most notable groups of people are the Gnostic’s. The books written by them are known as the Gnostic Gospel, which found limelight recently as it was used by frictional writers in The Da Vinci Code and the gospel of Judas.

It is precisely because many fake gospels has flooded the world. In order to preserve the original writing of the apostles, the church started its duty to canonised the scriptures, this is definitely not a plot to silence the truth, but to preserve the truth.

Personally I would believe that God being the author of both the Old Testament and New Testament will want to preserve the words of God so that people in the end days could read it. Hence his hands must have guided the people to preserve his gospel.

The new testament Canon is based on the following summary principles.

1. The books must be an written by an Eye-Witness of Jesus. (Writing by the early apostles)
2. The books must be commonly known and used by numerous churches (Many churches use it to be read during services)
3. The books must not be self contradictory and contains heretical teachings.

Interesting Early Translation Of The New Testaments and Early Manuscript.

As Christianity is spreading within the Roman Empire, it is not hard to imagine that the first few translation are from Greek to Latin, So There were 2 versions Vetus Latina and Vulgate. While other Christians churches had their first few translation done to common languages. Syriac (known as Aramaic, mainly use in Mesopotamia) and Coptic, which are found in Ethiopia and Egypt.

As Christianity spread, the gospels are so commonly copied and translated, that many manuscripts survived. Some of the most notable ones are

The Chester Beatty Papyri (Greek; the New Testament portions of which were copied in the 3rd century)
The Bodmer Papyri (Greek and Coptic; the New Testament portions of which were copied in the 3rd and 4th centuries)
Codex Bobiensis (Latin; copied in the 4th century, but containing at least a 3rd-century form of text)
Uncial 0171 (Greek; copied in the late-third or early 4th century)
Syriac Sinaiticus (Syriac; copied in the 4th century)
Schøyen Manuscript 2560 (Coptic; copied in the 4th century)
Codex Vaticanus (Greek; copied in the 4th century)
Codex Sinaiticus (Greek; copied in the 4th century)
Codex Vercellensis (Latin; copied in the 4th century)
Curetonian Gospels (Syriac; copied in the 5th century

Can The New Testament Be Easily Altered?

Personally, I think it is hard to make changes to the new testament. The main reason behind this view is because, by the grace of God, Christianity literally spread from the upper room of the house of John Mark in Jerusalem,, to Samaria as well as to parts of Africa, Mesopotamia and Europe in a very short span of time.

It is because of the speed of growth, and the lack of printing press, many New Testament Manuscripts are quickly copied and distributed to many  churches. Therefore, in order to “alter” the new testament, a massive recall of all manuscripts is necessary. This tasj will be at the scale that even modern technology would find it difficult to accomplish.

Therefore, we can be rest assured that the new testament we have held in our hands cannot be too easily altered.

How can we be sure that the Apostolic Authorship Of New Testament ?

Actually as I was pondering over this, the gospels are written sometimes after the death of Jesus, Approx AD 33-30, and the last book of Revelations is written somewhere before AD 70. Although there wasn’t a complete manuscript of the new testaments, the earlier scrolls ever found of the new testaments is dated AD 150. This would mean that the copies we had is approximately 80 years apart from the actual completions.

In fact, there were so many manuscripts found that historians need a 5 category classification of the manuscript found.

The Categories are done separated base on the type of language found on the manuscript. The more ancient the language, the higher the categories. The Categories are

I: Base on Alexandrian type text type
2. Byzantine Text Type
3. Mixed or Eclectic text type
4. Western Text Type
5. For classifying text from Byzantine Periods

In fact, if we would like to combine all the manuscripts ever collected and compare them with many other famous historical documents, the New Testament is voted the most copied as well as the documents which had copies that dates very close to the completion period of the New Testament

The Comparison results of the historical books are in this table

Ancient Books

No of Copy (Manuscripts)

Span of years
from authorship

Errors

New Testament

25000 Fragments copied
5600 Fragments in Original Greek

125 years from the original (complete)

40 disputable lines

Homers Iliad

643 Manuscripts

500 Years

764 disputable lines

Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars

10 Manuscripts

1000 Years

 

Pliny the Younger’s Natural History

7 Manuscripts

750 Years

 

Thucydides’ History

8 Manuscripts

1300 years

 

Herodotus’ History

8 Manuscripts

1350 Years

 

Plato

7 Manuscripts

1300 Years

 

Tacitus’ Annals

20 Manuscripts

1000 years

 

Therefore my friends, if you can trust that Homers wrote his Iliad, and Gallic Wars is written by Julius Caesar, you should not have reasons to doubt that the New Testament is indeed the works of the Apostles.

I hope that, through these 2 blog entries, I would be able to help everyone to be strong in their conviction, of the authenticity of the scriptures.

Finally, I would like to remind everyone the real purpose of the scriptures and his author with this verse wrote by Apostle Paul

“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.” – Paul 2 Tim 3:16-17

May all of us learn to treasure, to read, and to understand our scriptures well.

As this is the beginning of a new year, I would first like to send greetings of peace to all my friends. May God continue to guide all of us in our walk of faith.

Today I would like to share with every one about how the bible came about and how did it came to existence. It is important for Christians to understand how the scriptures came about, because it is the source and the only authority that governs our faith. To many people in the world, some people viewed the scriptures as a mere historical documents, the history channel often have documentary saying that the holy bible was the record of numerous UFO encounters with mankind. There are some people who claimed that King James of England wrote the kings James version of the bible, and similarly there are other people who claimed that the scriptures were corrupted.

In this article I would like to share with everyone how the bible came about, for us to be convinced that it is indeed the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the bible is very important in our lives, we can see how Jesus and the early apostles based their teachings from it. Lets take a look at what they say about the bible.

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” – Jesus (John 5:39)

“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.” – Paul (2 Tim 3:16-17)

“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.” – Peter (2 Pet 1:20-21)

Therefore, it is important for Christians to know how the scriptures came about and be convince that it is preserved by God for the modern man so that man can continue to find eternal life and salvation in the Lord. And we must be ready to defend the scriptures and explain to skeptics.

In fact through out history there are voices of skeptics who claimed that the bible will remain in the museum and be viewed as obsolete. One of these person who left the most impression to me is a French philosopher Voltaire who claimed “Another century And there will not be a bible on earth”. There was a very big misunderstanding that Voltaire’s house was used by the Geneva Bible Society to print the bible, but one thing we can be sure, that alot of the works of Voltaire remained only to be read by academics while the bible continued to be the worlds best seller 223 years after his death.

But then, i am sure there will be a time where someone will ask you, how can you be sure that the scriptures are the authentic unadulterated word of God from the hands of Moses all the way till John. Hence I would like to share some of the facts that I have discovered while doing some research on the Internet. I would hope you would find these findings useful to be assured of the bibles authorship.

The Making Of The Bible

The writing period of the modern Christian bible spans across thousands of years. If one were to read my blog entry about the “Time line Of The Old Testament” one could safely say that the first books of the bible was penned down by Moses roughly about 1100-1000 BC. There was a short span of 400 years from the book Of Malachi (332 BC ) till 30 AD before the new testament is written. Along the way, the Apocrypha were written, and that is only found in the catholic bible. The new testaments were written approximate around 40-50 AD and finished before 70 AD roughly before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman General Titus in the Jewish Revolt. The reason for this assumption is because the destruction of Jerusalem is not mentioned by John in Revelation, which most likely means that the book of Revelation must have been completed prior to the Jewish revolt.

There are 66 books in the bible, 39 came from the Old Testament and 27 in the new testament.

The Old Testament

The old testaments is made up of many authors who are all inspired by the holy spirit. They are people from different backgrounds.
Some notable biblical pen men included kings and princes (Moses, David, Solomon), Generals (Joshua), Priests (Ezra), Devote Jews (Nehemiah) and Prophets. Other interesting writers of the bible included Foreign Kings (Like King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon) ,

The bible reports the history of the chosen people, and even mentions the good and bad of many characters in the bible. For example, it records the good deeds of king David, as well as his evil deeds (his adultery with Bathsheba). Therefore, it cannot be viewed as an ancient document created to glorify kings and prophets.

Note that the Old Testament Scriptures of the bible correspond exactly to the Jewish Scriptures, except that the arrangement of the books are slightly different, they can be seen in the table below. Jesus once mentioned about the Law, The Prophets And The Writings in Luke 24:44, this table will give you an understanding what he means

Generally, the old testament is written in classical Hebrew with exception of certain passages that are written in Aramaic they are Ezra 4:8-6:18, Ezra 7:12-26, Jer 10 :10 and Daniel 2:4-7:8. Note that Samuel, Kings And Chronicles are each one scroll and the minor prophets (Hosea – Malachi) are all in one scroll.

Books of the Old Testament (Lk 24:44)

Law (Torah)

Prophets (Nevi’im)

Writings (Ketuvim)

Genesis

Joshua

Psalms

Exodus

Judges

Proverbs

Leviticus

Samuel

Job

Numbers

Kings

Song of Songs

Deuteronomy

The Twelve
(Minor Prophets)

Ruth

Isaiah

Lamentations

Jeremiah

Ecclesiastes

Ezekiel

Esther

Daniel

Ezra-Nehemiah

Chronicles

The Canon Of The Old Testament

Canon means the rule or standard. Generally, the Jews had a fix canon of the books which they regard as authentic scriptures known as Tanakh. The Jewish canon happen around 200 BC – 200 AD. At the time of Jesus it has been already pretty standard.

There are also a group of other books known as the Apocrypha, they are mainly not included in the bible because the authorship of the books are unclear. They can be found in the catholic bible under the Apocrypha.

Important OT Versions : Masoretic Text

The Masoretic Text is current authoritative Hebrew Text Of The Old testament currently used by the Jews. It is regarded universally as the official version of the Hebrew Scriptures. They had been faithful copied by the scribes to preserve the textual accurately.

The copying of the scriptures is done under a strict quality controls rules, the rules of the scribes when copying the scriptures are
1. They decreed that when copying,if the original page has 268 words, the copy must have 268 for that page
2. Every line is check, if the first line has 9 words, the copy will be the same
3. when copy is finish, the numbers of letters are counted and compared to original
4. Comparison is not compared sentence by sentence or word by word, rather its letter by letter

5. A Second Scribe will check at the middle of the page, to count phases
6. Any mis-copied scrolled are cut up and destroyed on the spot.

The earliest fragments of the Old Testament Masoretic Texts are around 900 AD. While the first complete surviving version is known as the Aleppo Codex, which dated around the 10th Century AD

 

Important OT Versions : Dead Sea Scrolls

The Date Sea Scrolls are found by a Bedouin Shepherd boy, it is generally believed to be copied by a sect of Jews known as the Essences. They do not destroy the scriptures when they are old and worn out, rather they stored the scrolls in jars and kept them in the caves.

Although the dead sea scrolls does not contain the full old testaments, and it also includes many other writings of unknown origins, they had many copies of the old testaments scrolls that allowed the scholars to compare them against the Aleppo Codex, bringing the early manuscript much closer to the original writing period of the Scriptures close to a thousand years.

Important OT Versions : Septuagint

The Septuagint was commissioned by a Greek king Ptolemy Philidephus (285-247 BC) who made arrangement to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek, for the benefit of the Greek speaking Jews in Egypt. He put together 72 man and put them into separate caves to do translation, it continued for approximately 75 years. However, the Septuagint included the apocryphal books. This version is commonly used by the Greek speaking Jews in the time of Jesus.

They are often used to compare with the original Masoretic Texts due to to the fact that the translation is done very close to the completion of the complete old testament books.

The oldest 3 surviving copy of the Septuagint are known as
Codex Vaticanus (4th Century AD)
Codex Sinaiticus (4th Century AD)
Codex Alexandrinu (5th Century AD)

I have tabled up the different versions for everyone to have an idea the number of years difference between the surviving codex and the original creation of the text.

Old Testaments Manuscripts

How can we be sure that the text are preserved?

Between the present day Masoretic Texts and the first surviving copy, they are almost no discrepancy, because of the strict rules employed by the scribes when copying the scriptures. So we can safely say that for 1011 years , the Hebrew scriptures has not been changed at all.

Between the Aleppo Codex to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the scholars did a comparison between the scrolls and came up with the following conclusion

Using Isaiah Chapter 53 as the comparison
17 mistakes are found
1. 10 Characters are written incorrectly.
2. 4 Characters are completely different
3. 3 Characters are added by accident

These 17 Mistakes did not alter the textual meaning of the text. Although the book of Daniel is being disputed


I have not really been writing here for sometimes as lately I have been feeling a bit tired looking for a job in the midst of the economic crisis. Although they keep saying that “We are out of the recession”. “Citigroup – Beat wall street expectation AGAIN!” .

It seems to me that everyone is trying hard to find good news headlines, and it made me wonder, yes, it is good to hear many good news in the market. But I wonder really, what does these news have to do with the real situation around you? Or does people used the business headlines for marketing reason? Haha i guess only the companies who are featured there will know. Sometimes it kind of puzzle me why certain companies need to forecast and hit the headlines with news that really had no meaning to the others except for themselves… Maybe we are all desperately trying to find a life buoy to hold on to I guess.

Today I would be sharing on the topic, what does it really mean to be a Christian?

This is an old sharing I did for this years theological course with the students, it seems that although the truth found here is something that every Singaporean student there could recite, sometimes I wonder how many of this is actually done by all of us? Although some may say this is boring but heres it.

Today I would like to take the opportunity to get all of us to read some of the verses that will attempt to answer the following questions.
1. What does it mean to be a Christian?
2. What does God wants us to do?
3. How can we prepare to perform the work God wants us to do?

The Christians are only given this name by the people in the Roman empire around the time of Acts 11:26, in a place called Antioch. In the past I believe, being called a Christian certainly isnt sometimes as glamorous and it is often used as a derogatory term for worshipers of Christ. Many people views Christianity as a sect of Judaism commonly known as “The way” Acts 24:13. These people in the churches
knew the commission and the commands of Jesus

Matt 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

They also knew that God called them out specially to be the Salt and Light of the world. Matt 5:14-15.
The Light of the world because God wanted the Christians to shine in their deeds and actions, to direct people to where God is and to bring salvation to them, leading them away from the darkness of sin.
The Salt of the world because God wanted them to be like salt, to help man reconcile themselves with God and to help prevent the moral decay that is happening to the world.

Knowing that this is a tough job to do, God gave his Holy spirit to the church to counsel and help the church members to accomplish these difficult task. The effects of the Holy spirit can be seen in the early believers like this
1. The holy spirit moved the members to have one soul and one mind, sharing everything that they had and to love one another
2. They studied into the word of God daily, and having fellowship daily, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
3. As the crowds was watching this, the Holy Spirit moved many others to join in, so God added to their numbers daily those that are being saved
4. The holy spirit move the church with compassion, and the church takes care of widows, orphans and the people who are in need. They have regular distributions to the poor and needy.

So, as we are gathered together here, reading this verses about Why are we called Christians, and what does God want us to do.as well as how the church was like in the past…. How are we to prepare for this daunting task ahead?

1. We should put in all our heart and mind into prayers, as it is the holy spirit that moved the early believers to accomplish many of the task.
2. Love one another, as we are staying together in the group, learn to accept each other faults and differences. help our fellow classmates who needs help to handle tough assignments. Serve each other, encourage each other whenever possible.
3. Focus on the bible studies, remember that we are searching the scriptures not because we wanted knowledge. But because we know that through the scriptures God talks to us, and we can use the lessons we learnt here in our daily lives. 2 Tim 3:6
4. Most importantly, we must continue to guard our hearts, even after the course when we return to our respective lives Prov 4:23

Now we would pray to ask God to help us remember our commission as well as to give us the strength to carry out what we had learn here.

Finally i was thinking of ending this with a hymn which i believe everyone knows how to sing. Rethink about what the early church is like, and sing this with
conviction and rededicate ourselves to God once again.

Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart.

Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart.

Gen 19
Background to Gen 19

Gen 19 records the destruction of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah; it could be broken up into 3 sections
Gen 19:1-11, describes the state of morality of the city of Sodom as they gathered themselves outside the house of Lot

Gen 19:12-29, describes the reluctance of Lot to leave the city of Sodom and Gods justice and compassion as he delivered the family of Lot from the impending destruction of Sodom

Gen 19:30-36, describes the effect of Sodom on the family of Lot, how the daughters committed sin with their father.

Questions

  1. Do the people of Sodom like the family of Lot?
  2. Why is Lot reluctant to leave the city of Sodom?
  3. What are the effects of Sodom on the life of the family of Lot? What warning does it serves for us today?

Answers and Thoughts

  1. The people of Sodom do not like the family of Lot, we can see this in their response to Lot in Gen 19:17. In fact they were not happy with the fact that Lot has a higher moral values compared to them and keeps being a judge among the people. They wanted to do harm to Lot as well.This reminded me of what Jesus said in Jn 15:17-19. The world does not like the believers of God because they are shunning away from the light and they do not want to know about the light in the word of God. However, the apostles had also encourage us to continue live peaceably with those around us (Rom 12:17-19)
  2. Lots reluctance to leave the city can be seen from the speed of his departure. He lingered in the city even after the angels told him to run (Gen 19:15-16). And they have to drag the hand of Lot, his wife and the two daughters out of the city in order to save them. Lots wife missed the city, turned back and became a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26)what is the thing in the world that takes our sight away from God? For Lot, it is the many processions that he had tied his heart to. Jesus once said, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt 6:21). Like the city of Sodom, we all know that God would one day destroy and judge the world we are in, at the brink of Gods judgment, will we continue to linger in the city, or would we choose to follow God’s instruction and flee?

The effects of Sodom on the family of Lot can be seen in a few instances
a. Lots response to the demands of the people of Sodom (Gen 19:6)
b. The daughters idea of committing incest with their father came from “The custom of
all the world” which should come from Sodom (Gen 19:30)
Sometimes, we may unknowingly start to adopt the standards of the world into our lives. Just like Lot slowly finds shift his morality and his judgment and almost used a smaller sin to cover a bigger sin. As believers living in a world of sin, we must constantly remember that we are actually the people of God. Hence we should all learn not to love the world or to be part of the world