Eleven years ago a friend of ours asked my wife Vicky why she believed that what is written in the Bible is true. The friend said that she had read that there were scholars who questioned much of what the Bible says. Some had even gone as far as reporting that based on their analysis Jesus only said four of the things that are in the Gospels. The friend said that the scholars reported all the rest of his words were made up by his followers and later by the leaders of the church in the second and third centuries. Apparently making up the words really was self serving because it made the whole of the Christian religion possible. This gave the members of the church importance and its leaders power. That’s what the scholars said.
Over the years Vicky and I have experienced the truth of the Bible in our lives. The events of living give us ample evidence of the reliability of the Bible. But there is another and perhaps more profound reason we know the Bible is true.
There is a “voice” somewhere “inside” that tells us that the Bible contains the very words of truth.
Before I had given my life to Jesus this was not true. I was looking for answers (along with most everybody I knew) to some pretty large questions about life so I read the Bible and The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” in all eleven volumes, all of Loren Eiseley’s stuff, translations of the Vedic Scriptures, Buddhism’s “The Three Jewels”, the “Tiptaka,” Carlos Castanada, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Darwin, Sherlock Holmes, reams of philosophy, Ron Hubbard’s Scientology material, The Iching, countless scientific books, The Book of Urantia, The Course in Miracles, and I mean just about everything in The University of Washington Library on metaphysics. Eventually I studied Transcendental Meditation and even Jyotisha. By the late 1970’s I had kind of settled on a self directed combination of everything above. It was a sort of New Age Mystery Cloud Philosophy of living and the universe.
Of course I grew up in the sixties and the seventies and lived in Seattle and it seemed normal to me to be doing all of this exploration. I mean, all my friends were in to this stuff. We thought we were on the leading edge of discovering the meaning of life and once discovered we just knew that whole new vistas were going to open up right before our eyes just like in “2001 A Space Odyssey.”
The major characteristic of the path of living developed in this model is that the individual is in charge of elucidating from all available sources what makes up truth, then subsequently living out that truth in their life. In this paradigm new information often means new truth which means a change in the way we live. You can call this evolution. The question is, “which truth works best for survival?” The assumption is, “survival truth is higher truth.” The only accountability we have is to ourselves in the diligent pursuit of what is truth. And in monitoring ourselves as the truth is lived out in our lives.
History seems to verify this process. That is perhaps why the approach is so compelling. Society and philosophy and scientific knowledge, and knowledge in general seem to evolve in a quasi-Darwinian manner and so this must be the way things work. In this environment the Bible is an early attempt by one segment of humanity to explain what is going on around us. Reading it is essential for making sense of the state of truth “today”. But the Bible is just one of the building blocks of that truth. It represents merely one of the places human-kind had been along the road to truth and is only relevant as an historical marker.
By “today,” whenever that today was, truth had evolved way beyond the need for God and His Son. Hell was a myth, The Garden was a myth, Adam and Eve – it is amazing that anyone ever believed that one. (a fellow Seattle-ite, Robert Leaky had discovered the missing link, after all) Now the resurrection story was not that hard to believe, it had been around for milennia before Jesus lived, and we knew advanced science would accomplish resurrection. But the whole bit about one man’s death paying for the sin of all human-kind, that was tough. We knew that we were responsible for ourselves. Besides, what is sin anyway? Human-kind had evolved beyond that concept.
There was no way any I or any of my friends back in the seventy’s or eighty’s were going to accept the Bible as the complete, definitive revelation of truth. It came out of a primitive time. It claimed crazy things like the earth being created in six days, and Jonah living three days in the belly of a fish. Back then we knew the earth was 4 billion years old. And man, we just knew that digestive acid would have disappeared Jonah in three days. The Bible was like Ulysses, a creation of ancient literature and we studied it as such. We knew Ulysses and even the Hobbit contained just as much truth and that writings like “The Teachings of Don Juan”, “Stranger In A Strange Land”, and “Atlas Shrugged” were full of far more relevant answers to our questions.
Human-kind was in charge of its destiny. Our path was certain, ever expanding and increasing knowledge and capacity until the human intellect filled the universe and became one with it.
My Dharma Breaks Down (Dharma. a Sanskrit word that means Righteous or Virtuous Path of Life)
In 1994 I realized that I was a complete failure. Now I had all kinds of material things. I had made money in my life. I had thrown away a lot of money too. My head was full of knowledge. I had some social standing from time to time. I had been married several times. (I saw that as a kind of success, I had tried to love after all.) I was on the path that my understanding of truth dictated. But as I looked at things one morning there was a sense of complete emptiness inside. I had walked head long and knowingly into the random universe of physics and self actualization and, this one awful morning, I looked back and saw it filled with ego and futility and I loathed what I had created for myself. I despised what I had become. And inside me the bright, loving, little boy I had been once wept, on the verge of death. I knew he was still there, his sad eyes gazed at me across the years, and I knew suddenly that my life had been full of sin. The concept I had rejected had become real. I knew that my sin had destroyed me.
You may have not ever reached this place but I tell you it does exist. It is horrible. I discovered that I was on the wrong path. I discovered, suddenly, with surreal clarity that there was a right path. My world abruptly came crashing down around me, at least inside my head. But I knew that loss was not significant for my way of life had made me vain and futile in my thinking. Only in my self-centered imagination had I been anything. I was sitting in my living room, alone, when this happened.
I began weeping uncontrollably.
Then, inside my mind, I saw a time twenty years prior in 1971 in the spring. A few of us had skipped classed to go to Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill, in Seattle. during the day. We had been going there on Sunday nights to hang with all of the other kids that gathered there but we had never been there in daylight. Anyway, we got there and went through the big doors that opened on the sanctuary in to that incredible space. It is cavernous. (if you have read the Bible, think Isaiah 6:1) In my mind I saw it again, the springtime Seattle light streaming through the tall windows like a waterfall. I remembered feeling bathed in light. I remembered feeling “pulled” down the wide aisle in the very center of the room toward the raised place where the pulpit and the reading lectern stood. I felt my self climbing the steps to the pulpit, the warm, yellow-orange, light all around me. Then suddenly standing on the top of the platform I “heard” a voice saying, “I have a purpose for you, you are mine.” Looking down the aisle I saw my friends, laughing, saying, “Look at Bob, the preacher.” I walked down off the platform as fast as I could and we left the room.
Then in this vision or what ever it was I saw my dad and I was telling him about what had happened. I saw and heard him saying to me, “Bob there is no God. You have to concentrate on your life and get serious about what you are going to do with it.” Then in the vision I saw myself dropping out of the first class at Evergreen State College where I was set to study Human Development with a great teacher, mountain climber, and philosopher, Willie Unsold. I later enrolled in a conventional college and began the pursuit of career and what I thought were the things of life.
The vision of the past ended. I was back in my living room.
Then I heard that voice, the one from Saint Mark’s, saying in my head, “You can still come to me. I have been waiting.”
I heard my self saying out loud, “Please Lord Jesus, save me.”
An Ancient Path
Suddenly, I realized, everything had changed. All I could think about for the next hour or so was the Bible and what I had read in it. Some how I KNEW it was all true. ALL OF IT. Before you think too much about all that I have said in the proceeding few paragraphs stop and just hear what I am going to say NOW.
I believe that God The Creator of The Universe and Human-kind is speaking to all of us all the time. I do not believe He singles out any one of us to speak to in our AGE as He did single out people from time to time in the Old Testament Age (The time before Jesus came). Scripture tells us this.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. John 16:12-15
In Acts Chapter Two Peter tells us:
“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.'”
Acts 2:17 – 18 Peter quoting the prophet Joel
In telling you about my experience I am not claiming a unique experience, I am hoping to either validate an experience you have had or tell you that such a thing can happen for you – if you someday find your world crashing down around your head. Or even if you just, for no reason at all, begin to listen anew.
This event that happened in my living room that day in early summer 1994 set my feet on a new path and at the same time put my past life in perspective. God seemed to be showing me what it was all about and was telling me that He would take it and do something with it if I would only let Him. The Scripture tells us:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man
who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, O Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.
Psalm 40:1-5 (NIV)
There are some reading this who may discount my story as some kind of psychological aberration. A story made up by a troubled mind. Some may say it is some kind of heresy to talk about hearing the voice of God. I thought about these possible comments long and hard before writing all these words on the internet. But in-order to explain how I know the Bible is true I felt I had to tell this part of my journey to you. I needed to tell you this so that you might begin to listen for the voice of the Spirit of God in your heart and mind. The Bible tells us in John:
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. John 16:8-11 (NIV)
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26 (NIV)
What these words of God tell us is that if you have not yet met Jesus, the Spirit is pointing the way, drawing you to Him, showing you your deepest need. If you have met Jesus and submitted to Him with your very life then the Scripture here is telling you that YOU WILL by the power of the Spirit of God be taught of God and be made aware of the complete life of Jesus and all he showed us to do.
So, if you have already become part of what I have called the ichthysgeneration, then rejoice and listen for Him who has called you to Himself. He has much in store for you and for all of us as we are, by His great power, His witnesses to a world that needs His Love and His Great Salvation.
If you have not yet answered His call to join with Him as a part of His Bride I hope that this has given you something to ponder. My changed life is witness that Jesus is alive. I know so many whom He has changed. You may not think you need to change or may not think there is a way that you can change. But I tell you that Jesus is standing beside you and waiting for you to hear Him. I mean no disrespect to your philosophy or science or knowledge or achievements by saying this to you. I am just telling you that there is a place set aside for you in His Kingdom and He is delaying all of creation for you.
To ignore this great mystery is to enter into the black abyss of self deception and ultimately an eternity with out any hope of receiving the love of God and finding the deepest joy. The Scriptures tell us that if we harden our hearts and reject Savior Jesus we, ourselves, will be choosing to enter in to Hell, The Lake of Fire reserved for satan and his angels and those who reject Jesus. It is a horrible fate. Even if you do not believe you can see it is very important to know if the Bible contains the true words of God!
To go back to the beginning of this to the question asked by my wife’s friend;
How do we know the Bible is true?
Because we have a witness, sent by God, who testifies to us that it is true.
We know because before we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior we thought The Gospel was foolishness and irrelevant just as the Scriptures tells us we would feel in First Corinthians 1:18.
We know it is true because as we have lived by it our lives have changed beyond recognition and love and joy in Jesus have filled us up even in the midst of many hardships and trials! We know it because we know many others who have also experienced life transformation as they have followed it to Jesus and begun to live in Him.
Join us as part of the generation who have given their lives to Jesus as His witness to the people of the world. Join the icthuse generation as through our individual and collective lives Jesus shows His great love to the world!
There is REAL TRUTH
I hope you have discovered that our Creator, God, did not leave us alone to figure out the universe on our own, as I once thought he did. I hope you have seen that The Truth (in Jesus) has been with us all along. It was our ancestors and my and your rejection of the truth that has led to our current state of affairs, not by any means His abandonment of us. I hope you will take time to read His very words to us, His letter of love to us, in The Bible. I hope you will experience for yourself the voice of The Witness as He confirms the Scriptures unchanging truth – the only unchanging truth!
I look forward to walking with you as we learn from Jesus and in Him find completeness, His Joy and His abundant life!
Robert Curtis – activist, the ichthysgeneration – santa rosa beach, florida