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Reasons for Believing
By NiteOwlDave
If you're like me and want things explained in clear, concise, and understandable terms, boy do I have a book for you!
It's titled "Reasons for Believing, A Seeker's Guide to Christianity" by Dr. Frank Harber (published by New Leaf Press of Arizona). Harber is an evangelist, university professor, and Christian apologist.
Harber responds to tough-issue question with simple clarity. He tackles subjects like:
1. Can I know for certain that God exists?
2. How do I know if the Bible is totally trustworthy?
3. Was Jesus Christ God or just a good teacher?
4. Can it be proven that Jesus rose from the dead?
5. Is Christianity the way to God?
My type of questions, my type of understandable reading. (KISS, Keep It Simple, Stupid.) It is the best $17.75 investment I've ever made.
What follows is a collection of statements from Harber's "Reasons for Believing" which gets two thumbs up, way up, from me.
God Exists
Jesus gave His word that anyone who conducts an honest search for the truth shall find the answers. [page 11]
The number one reason people reject Jesus is the love of sin. [page 12]
Becoming a Christian is really not an "intellectual" issue as much as it a "willingness" issue. Your main problem is not in your "head," it's in your heart. [page 12]
Many seekers delay exercising faith because they seek absolute assurance before they will make a faith commitment. But God's promise of assurance must be preceded by faith. [page 15]
Delaying a faith decision is spiritually perilous in light of the fact that it can become a permanent position. [page 15]
The theory of evolution is the number one cause of the loss of religious faith. [page 22]
The past and present evidence indicate "extinction" not "evolution." [page 23]
To believe the theory of evolution requires a great deal of faith, which requires belief in many illogical and impossible scenarios. [page 25]
The Christian faith is built upon solid scientific and historical evidence. [page 25]
The universe exhibits an incredible design and purposeful order. [page 27]
The world contains 11million different kinds of species. Each of these represents an amazing design in engineering and life. [page 28]
Pollster George Gallup once commented that the existence of God was statistically provable: Take the human body alone—the chance that all the functions of the individual could just happen is a statistical monstrosity. [page 28]
Every intelligent design indicates a designer. [page 28]
The brain weighs just over three pounds but can do what tons of electrical equipment cannot. It contains up to 15 billion electrical neurons, each a living unit within itself. Over 100 thousand billion electrical connections are present which is more than all the electrical appliances in the world...greater than the entire communications network on earth. [page 29]
The human eye contains 130,000,000 light sensitive rods and cones. [page 29]
A single bacteria cell is as complex as a chemical factory. [page 30]
All scientific observations point to the fact that life only comes from life. [page 31]
If all the DNA (each containing 46 segments) of the body were stretched out, it would stretch to the moon and back more than 500,000 times. [page 33]
Evolutionists argue that with enough time, even the most improbable events become probable...Sir Fred Hoyle equates the chances of the universe happening by chance with that of a tornado blowing through a junkyard containing the parts of a 747 and accidentally assembling the parts, making it ready for flight. [page 33]
In Darwin's day, a cell was thought to be very simple, but with the advent of powerful microscopes, we know that the likelihood of evolution of simple to multi-cell organisms has been vastly overestimated. [page 35]
No transitional fossils have been found. Where are the millions of creatures that should be part-reptile, part-bird, and part-human? [page 35]
The flood of Genesis explains why fossils from one supposed evolutionary age are found mixed in with fossils from another age. [page 36]
Several problems exist with the big-bang theory. Many astrophysicists do not hold to this theory. Why? Explosions produce disorder, not order. [page 38]
An explosion would direct all planets and moons to rotate the same way. Six of the 63 moons, along with Venus, Uranus, and Pluto rotate in opposite directions to other heavenly bodies. [page 38]
The universe does not resemble the chaotic remains of an explosion. Rather, the universe is a marvel of orderliness. [page 38]
The sun is the perfect distance from the earth—93 million miles. Its surface is 11,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and its core is 40 million degrees. If 50 degrees of more heat reached our planet, life would cease to exist. [page 39]
The earth rotates at a speed of over 1,000 miles per hour, a speed which perfectly balances both cold and heat. [page 39]
The earth is traveling at a rate of 64,800 miles an hour. If that rate was slowed by even one-third, life would be burned up, as the earth would be pulled too close to the sun. [page 40]
The atmosphere shields this planet from 8 deadly rays emitted from the sun and from 20 million meteors a day traveling at speeds up to 30 miles per second. [page 40]
If the moon were to move in just one-fifth closer than its distance of 240,000 from earth, the ocean tides would plunge earth underwater twice a day. [page 40]
Psalms 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament (Earth) shows his handiwork."
Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." [page 41]
Only 4,000 stars can be seen without a telescope. Modern giant telescopes reveal there are 10 million, billion, billion known stars in the universe. Genesis 22:17 says the number of the stars are as the sand of the seashore. [page 41]
The notion that the universe came from nothing is illogical. Nothing always produces nothing. [page 42]
If you wanted to tell a colony of ants of your love for them, the best way would be to become an ant. This way your message could best be understood. God did exactly this. He became a man and visited planet Earth. Thus, if one wishes to know who God is, one needs only to read the Bible. [page 44]
Some consider life appears to be one cruel joke. They choose to be an atheist and contend there is no God, or an agnostic which means "no knowledge" or, in Latin, "ignoramus." [page 46]
The evidence for God's existence is not only external, but internal. There is a spiritual vacuum in every person that only God can fill. This is what Augustine meant when he said, "Our hearts are restless until they find rest in thee." [page 47]
Perhaps you are seeking to know if God exists. Be extremely careful of demanding so much evidence that you become immune to the evidence that lies before you. [page 48]
Christians have faith because of solid, historical evidence which leads it to the truth. The Bible in Hebrews 11:1 defines "faith" as being based on "substance" and "evidence." [page 48]
The Bible Is True
The Bible never tries to prove the existence of God.
There are many religions of the world, each of which claims that its god is "real."
Many religions also have scriptures which claim to have the same authority as the Bible.
Other scriptures include the Book of Mormon of the Church of Latter Day Saints; the Koran of Islam; the Eddas of the Scandinavians; the Tripitokas of the Buddhists; the Zendavesta of the Persians; the Analects of Confucianism; the Kojiki and Nihongi of Shintoism; and the Divine Principle of the Unification Church (the Moonies).
The Bible emphatically proclaims that all other gods are false and that there is only one true God. (Psalms 96:4-5). [page 52]
What's at stake about which we choose to believe? Just eternal life or damnation!
The Old Testament contains well over 2,000 predictive prophecies, which are very specific and detailed. [page 53]
Only in the Bible does one find predictive prophecy. This important verification is noticeably absent from all other major religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, or in the writings of Confucius and Lao-tse.
Other self-proclaimed prophets such as Nostradamus, Mother Shipton, Edgar Cayce, and Jean Dixon have delivered prophecies of which almost all have failed. [page 54]
There is no other God besides me, says Isaiah 45:21. [page 55]
Leviticus 26 talks about the Jews being scattered across the earth if they were disobedient to God.
That promise is indeed fact.
For 1,900 years Jews wandered the earth being scattered and persecuted, yet Jesus predicted the Jewish race would be intact when He (Jesus Christ) returns to this earth.
One never hears today of the other peoples of the Old Testament like the Hittites, Philistines, Hivites, Moabites, Jebusites or Ammonites.
Who remains? The Jewish people, just as the Bible states.
In Ezekial 36 and Amos 9, the Bible says the once-scattered Jews would one day return to their homeland, Israel.
Impossible thought, but in 1948 the Jews returned to their homeland from all parts of the earth. [page 57]
Just as God judged people in the past for rejecting Him, He will judge men for rejecting Him in the future. [page 58]
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, says 2 Timothy 3:16. [page 58]
God does not use men as tape recorders making the Scripture some kind of mechanical dictation. God did not place each writer in an unconscious trance to deliver His message. [page 59]
The material in the Bible comes directly from God. Moses was not present at the creation and had to be provided with the details of the creation in a supernatural way. [page 60]
The Bible is God's method of communication to us. [page 60]
Some assert that only parts of the Bible are true. If this is so, how do we know that any of it is the truth? [page 61]
What most people claim as errors in the Bible are not "errors" but "difficulties." [page 61]
In all places that the Bible deals with scientific matters, it is completely accurate. [page 64]
The Bible forbids murder but allows capital punishment of a "guilty" person for the reason of justice and deterrence. [page 66]
Prior to 1947 the oldest existing Old Testament copy was the Massoretic Text which is dated about A.D. 900. In 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves at Qumran, in Israel.
Many of the scrolls dated back to around 150 B.C. making them almost 1,000 years older than the Massoretic Text.
The Dead Sea Scrolls read identical to the Massoretic Text. [page 67]
More than 24,000 partial and complete copies of the New Testament are available today.
No other document of antiquity can even come close to such large numbers. Homer's Iliad is second with a mere 643 existing manuscripts. [page 67]
Unlike Buddha, whose sayings were not recorded until 500 years after his death, all the books of the New Testament were probably written within 30 years of the death and resurrection of Jesus. [page 67]
Archaeologists have uncovered over 25,000 sites which have a connection with the Old Testament period. [page 70]
The Bible towers above all other books as the all-time bestseller in history.
Over 40 authors combined to write the 66 books found in the Bible.
It was written over a span of 1,500 years, in three languages, and was composed in 13 countries on three continents.
The Bible was written by men from all walks of life including kings, peasants, herdsmen, tax collectors, philosophers, statesmen, fishermen, poets and scholars.
It uses various literary forms such as history, poetry, proverbs, preaching, prophecy, parables, allegories, biography, drama, exposition , law and letters.
In spite of all this diversity, the Bible is not a mere collection of books—IT IS JUST ONE BOOK. [pages 72-73]
No human conspiracy could supervise such a 1,500-year project.
Only an omniscient, all-controlling, all-directing architect could construct such a drama and such a book.
Every single author in the Bible is in perfect harmony with all the other writers in the areas of doctrine, ethics, faith, and the plan of salvation. [page 73]
The theme of Jesus Christ runs throughout the entire Bible. The Old Testament is the preparation for the coming of Christ. [page 74]
The Old Testament closes with the Book of Malachi where the promise of the appearance of Messiah is the next major event. Four hundred years passed before the writings of the New Testament begin with Jesus Christ being proclaimed as the promised Messiah. [page 74]
There is no chance of human conspiracy in the writing of the Bible. The first writers had no way of knowing what others would write centuries later. [page 75]
To reject Scripture is in essence to reject Jesus. [page 75]
Jesus used the Old Testament to validate who He was. See John 5.
Jesus rebuked the religious Pharisees for making their traditions equal with the Scriptures (Matthew 15:6).
He authoritatively answered His critics with statements like, "It is written," "Have you not read," and "Search the Scriptures." [page 76]
If the Bible was the invention of human minds, the characters of the Bible would have been cast in a favorable light.
Yet, the great victories of the Israelites are never attributed to courage or superior strategy.
The weakness of men is exposed, as the greatness of God is extolled.
Even the greatest heroes of God are exposed when they erred in their own judgement.
A forged Bible would have tried to cover up all the negative elements.
One finds the prominent disciples arguing, struggling with doubts, and giving up hope. [page 78]
If the writers of the Bible did not tell the truth, there were plenty of people around who could refute them.
Because most of the New Testament was written between A.D. 40 and 70, there was not enough time for myths about Christ to be told without refuted. [page 79]
Even when subjected to persecution and martyrdom, the New Testament writers maintained that what they had preached and taught was truth.
No atheist would be willing to die for such an elaborate religious sham. [page 79]
In A.D. 397, a church council was held in Carthage which endorsed the exact same 27 books of the New Testament we now regard as canonical. [page 80]
Attacked by emperors, popes, kings, and scholars, the Bible has endured attacks by intellectual, political, philosophical, scientific, and physical forces. [page 81]
In the early years of the Bible, the Roman emperor Diocletion not only burned every confiscated Bible, but put thousands caught with a Bible to death.
His efforts failed, for within ten years Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. [page 81]
Eighteenth century Voltaire attacked the Bible and predicted that within 50 years it would be forgotten.
However, 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used Voltaire's printing press and home to produce Bibles. [page 82]
Today, more has been written about the Bible than any other 1,000 books put together. It has now been translated into over 1,700 languages. [page 82]
God himself promises the perseverance of His Word: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Matthew 24:35) [page 83]
The Bible is at the same time the most loved and the most hated book of all time. [page 83]
The problems most people have with the Bible are not its alleged difficulties, but with its teachings on how sinful man is reconciled to a Holy God. [page 83]
Mark Twain once said, "Most people are bothered by those passages in Scripture which they cannot understand. The Scripture which troubles me the most is the Scripture I do understand." [page 84]
Acclaimed British thinker and author C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity proclaims, "Either this man (Jesus Christ) was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse." [page 85]
Jesus Is God
Jesus Christ claimed to be God—a claim which Buddha, Confucius, nor Mohammed never made. [page 87]
Jesus not only claimed to be God, but also He claimed that His way of salvation is the only way sinful men can be restored to a right relationship with Holy God. [page 87]
Amazing similarities exist between the lives of Socrates and Jesus.
Both strived to improve mankind, gathered disciples, and unjustly died.
However, Socrates left this world unchanged, and his teachings soon were forgotten.
When Jesus departed, He had forever changed the world.
Whereas Socrates was found to be a man, Jesus was found to be God.
History has never been the same since.
History itself is divided by two epochs—before Christ (BC) and after Christ (AD). [page 90]
Jesus never wrote a book and yet He remains the subject of more books than anyone in history. [page 90]
The name Christ is the Greek equivalent of the term "Messiah."
Jesus is one of over 40 Jewish men who have claimed to be the Christ, so how do we know that Jesus of Nazareth is really the promised Messiah?
Jesus of Nazareth is the only one person in history who has fulfilled every one of the many specific messianic prophecies.
These prophecies, found in the Old Testament and written over 400 years in advance of Jesus' birth, serve as a screening process for anyone who would claim to be the Messiah so that He could be identified upon His arrival. [page 91]
In Jesus Christ, 456 identifiable prophecies were uniquely fulfilled. [page 93]
Examples include:
Being born of a virgin—Isaiah 7:27, Matthew 1:22-23
Being born in Bethlehem—Micah 5:2, Luke 2:4-11
Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver—Zechariah 11:12-13, Matthew 27:9-10
Crucified with thieves—Isaiah 53:12, Luke 23:33
His side would be pierced—Zechariah 12:10, John 19:34
He would be buried in a rich man's tomb—Isaiah 53:9, Matthew 27:57-60
His betrayal money would be returned—Zechariah 11:13, Matthew 27:3-10
None of His bones would be broken—Psalms 34:20, John 19:33-36
His resurrection from the dead—Psalms 16:8-l0, 30:3; Luke 24:6; 31-34 [page 90]
Some today advocate the miracles of Jesus with naturalist explanations... A denial that Jesus performed any miracles is tantamount to denying that Jesus is the Christ. [page 94]
Jesus told His disciples that those who had seen Him had actually seen God (John 14:9). [page 98]
Do you believe that Jesus is God? Jesus emphatically declared, "If you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins." [page 102]
Jesus Rose From the Dead
What makes Jesus different from all other religious leaders?
The answer is found in the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth—it has no tenant.
The bones of all other dead religious leaders may be found buried here on earth; however the tomb of Jesus remains empty.
Christianity does not ask its followers to follow a dead religious leader, but to follow a resurrected Christ. [page 105]
Every encyclopedia and history of the ancient world records the fact of Jesus' existence.
More information exists about His death than any other person in the ancient world. [page 109]
Jesus repeatedly predicted His death and subsequent resurrection. Such an original claim cannot be found falling from the lips of any other great religious leader. [pages 112-113]
The tomb of Jesus never became a place of veneration as the tombs of other famous prophets. Why? Jesus is not there! [page 114]
The appearances of Jesus lasted for over 40 days until His ascension. He appeared to a variety of people from individuals to large groups in various locations. [page 116]
Many people have died for a cause they believed was true even though it was false; however, no one ever eagerly dies for a cause knowing it to be false. [page 119]
The Church can be historically traced back to A.D. 30 in Jerusalem. At this time Sunday replaced the Sabbath as a day or worship. [page 121]
Women at the time of Christ held low social status and did not even qualify to be legal witnesses.
First century Jewish historian Josephus wrote, "From women let no evidence be accepted, because of the levity and temerity of their sex."
If the account was truly a legend, then male disciples would have been the ones to make the Resurrection discovery, and not women as the Bible points out. [page 123]
The risen Christ is said to have eaten. Hallucinations do not eat. [page 124]
If the authorities had stolen the body of Christ, they would only had to display the corpse to end the birth of Christianity. [page 126]
If one contends that Jesus was entombed alive, how could a beaten man in need of medical attention trick a trained Roman execution squad, escape from heavy wrappings, move a two-ton stone, overcome the soldiers at the tomb, walk 14 miles to Emmaus, and then convince His disciples He was the mighty conqueror of death? [page 127]
The key to Christianity is the Resurrection. [page 129]
Jesus Is the Only Way to God
One of the greatest stumbling blocks in accepting Jesus as Saviour is Jesus' claim to exclusivity.
Jesus claimed that He is the only way of salvation and that the teachings of different religious leaders are false. (See John 10:7-13)
He promised that those who believe in Him will have eternal life and all who did not believe will suffer the wrath of God. (See John 3:36)
Jesus did not merely claim that His teachings are the truth; he claimed that He is the only truth for mankind. (See John 14:6) [page 133]
Non-Christian religions are man's search for God, but Christianity is the story of God's search for man. All other religions were founded by sinful men, whereas Christianity's founder is God. Other religions were founded upon teachings, Christianity is based upon a person. [page 135]
Jesus is not simply another religious leader who spoke to us in a new way. He is God among us, showing us the way to everlasting life. [page 135]
The world's major religions are based upon earning one's salvation, whereas Christianity is based upon faith in what God has done in Jesus Christ. [page 135]
Sincerity does not determine truth. One can be sincerely convinced of the truth and be sincerely wrong. [page 136]
If Christianity truly is the only cure for mankind's problem, would not Christians be cruel and unloving if they did not share the real truth with the world? [page 137]
Some who raise questions about the fate of those who have never heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ, often use it as a smokescreen to try to rationalize their own rejection of Christ. [page 137]
God himself determines what will happen to those who have not heard. [page 138]
Jesus died on the cross to become the Saviour of the world, but He cannot become "your" Saviour until you receive Him. [page 138]
Those who teach anything other than the true gospel are "accused". (See Galations 1:9) [page 139]
Intellectual Objections
Because hypocrites attend Christian churches does not nullify the entire structure of Christianity. [page 143]
Christ's harshest words were reserved for hypocrites. (See Matthew 23: 27-28) [page 144]
Jesus foretold the ultimate fate of hypocrites: they will be identified and separated from true Christians for judgement. [page 145]
Skeptics expect Christians to hold to standards they themselves could never dream of attaining. Morever, when Christians do try to live up to these standards, they are often accused of false piety and pretense. [page 146]
Much evil has been perpetrated by "so-called Christians" who did not practice true Christianity. [page 148]
The first crusade was generated by Muslims who captured Jerusalem and much of the Holy Land. Christians were slain, churches were burned, and all who did not convert were killed by the sword.
When one considers that the so-called Christian crusades were responses to the Muslim war, then balance and perspective are found. [page 149]
In the last 50 years, more than 150 million people have been killed by atheistic governments - in wars with no religious links.
Hitler was responsible for between 11 and 16 million deaths. Joseph Stalin was responsible for killing 40 million.
Mao Tse-tung is estimated to be responsible for 72 million deaths.
More people have been killed by 20th century atheistic states than in all the other wars combined in history. [page 149]
No other organization in history can compare to achievements of the Christian Church. [page 149]
The difficult question secular philosophy has had to answer is, "If there is no God, why are so many people religious?" [page 150]
It seems quite doubtful that someone with a fear problem would invent the God of the Bible.
One would be far more likely to invent a less threatening god who could be more easily managed or appeased. [page 151]
It is a false assumption that just because one is a Christian, one is weak. Christians endure religious rejection, ridicule, and persecution for their beliefs.
It would be a much easier path not to stand for Christ. [page 152]
Man cannot live by bread alone (material things) but craves spiritual fulfillment. (See Matthew 4:4) [page 153]
Many object to being punished for something that Adam did. But this complaint does not reflect the fact that we are guilty enough because of our own sins.
The key is realizing that God is not responsible for sin, people are. [page 155]
Free choice gives possibility to wrong choice. [page 155]
Evil is not discretionary; like a bomb where the innocent may be injured by the blast. [page 155]
In a world where evil is allowed to thrive, innocent suffering will occur. [page 156]
Just as parents often allow their children to make mistakes and suffer, God similarly acts in a parental fashion with His creation. [page 157]
Hypocritically, many skeptics who object to suffering do not lift a finger to feed the hungry or clothe the naked. [page 158]
Not all suffering is bad...The initial pain of touching a hot stove can help a child to avoid permanent damage to his/her hand. [page 159]
Suffering is a signal. C.S. Lewis writes, "God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." [page 159]
The hope of heaven enables the Christian to cope with suffering in a way those without hope will never experience.
Revelations 21:4 says, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain for the former things have passed away." [page 160]
Hinduism's concept of the law of Karma which teaches that all suffering is the result of previous evil-doing. [page 160]
In Luke 13, Jesus answered a question about why 18 people were killed by the collapse of the tower of Siloam with the warning, "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
Instead of wondering why the tower fell on the 18 people, they should have been asking why the tower did not fall on them. Instead of questioning God's justice, perhaps we need to give Him thanks for His mercy. [page 16l]
Evil and suffering are temporary; all pain will one day be eliminated. Though evil is very real, it is also very temporary. [page 162]
The sad fact is that many people make the decision not to be part of God's heaven. God will not send them to hell, they will send themselves...Atheist Jean-Paul Sarte noted that the gates of hell are locked from the inside by the free choice of men. [page 162]
Man cannot earn salvation by good works. (See Ephesians 2:8) We are already condemned and have been judged as unrighteous by God. (See John 3:17-18) [page 166]
Becoming a Christian is more than just believing facts about Jesus.
It is about personally accepting what Christ has done for you.
Mere intellectual belief in God will not get you into heaven.
You must commit your life to Christ to follow Him as your personal Lord and Saviour.
Trusting Jesus means that he becomes your king.
If you are not willing to live the Christian life then you cannot become a Christian. [page 167]
How does a person become a Christian?
Pray a prayer something like this:
Dear God:
I now confess to You that I am a sinner.
As best I know how, I will turn from my sin and place my trust in You.
I believe that You died for me on the cross and rose again from the grave.
I ask that You to forgive me of my sins as I now receive Your gift of eternal life.
In Jesus' name. Amen. [page 168]
A changed life is the most powerful evidence that a person is a Christian.
The lack of a changed life is likewise a strong indicator of the absence of Jesus Christ in a person's life. [page 168]
When you receive Christ, the first step that you will want to take is to publicly profess Jesus Christ in a local fellowship of believers.
Be sure and find a church which teaches salvation through faith, believes in the authority of the Bible, and demonstrates a love for reaching others in evangelism.
As you serve Christ in your local church, pray, read your Bible, and share your faith with others.
Please take the truths of this book and share them with a hurting world which longs to hear the truth about Jesus Christ! [page 169]