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Bible Studies

Below are some Bible studies for you to enjoy.

More will be added later.


1.  Did Jesus Really Exist?

2.  Heaven

3.  The Rapture





Did Jesus Really Exist?


 Leader: Pastor Dan McQuality

 

Did Jesus Really Exist?    10 Questions For Those Who Deny That He Did 


Who would have ever thought we would face such a question in our lifetimes?  Yet, the question if Jesus ever even existed is out there and the challenge is on!  Many so called scholars are now even questioning if Jesus ever existed; TV shows center around this question; and as we send our youth off to college, their faith will be bombarded by thoughts like this.  So let's examine the question and talk about it as thinking people:
 

1.  The sayings attributed to Jesus are among the most amazing words in the world.  They are filled with incredible and unparalleled wisdom.  If Jesus, the Son of God, did not say these incredible things, who did?  Surely not unlearned fishermen in Galilee.  Who would speak such things, not seek credit for themselves, and then give the credit to an imaginary person? 

 

 2.  Christian martyrdom is without question well documented to the earliest of times.  Why would such men and women, who lived so close to the time when Jesus lived, have surrendered their lives to extreme suffering and death if Jesus never existed? 

 

 3.  Today, one can make the case that some use the name of Jesus to ‘dupe’ money out of the masses.  They exploit Christ’s name to receive large gifts/salaries, to sell books, or gain fame and applause for themselves.   However, for early Christians there was little gain and instead the opposite was received.  Their faith in Jesus often brought on a more difficult life of hardship, persecution, and even death in many cases.  What would there have been to gain for early Christians to make up Jesus? 

 

 4.  Everyone who lives, makes a “thumbprint” in this world. Every life affects a family, friends, community, and sometimes the world.  The thumbprint of Jesus of Nazareth can still clearly be seen 2000 years later, and it can well be argued that no one has ever made a greater impact on the world.  We even changed the calender after His birth to reflect 'In the Year of our Lord A.D.'!  If Jesus did not exist, how can we explain His “thumbprint” on human history? 

 

 5. Over all things, the concept of “truth” has always been the main tenet of Christianity.  In Matthew’s Gospel alone, Jesus is recorded as saying “I tell you the truth” no less than 30 times.  (cf. John 1:14,17; 3:11; 3:21; 4:23,24; 5:33; 8:44; 14:6; 15:26; 17:17; 18:23; 19:35; Acts 20:30; Romans 9:1; 2 Cor. 4:2; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; 2 Thes. 2:10-12; 1 Tim 2:4-7; 1 Jn 1:6-8, 2:4;  3 Jn 1:4).  To my knowledge, no other religion, people, or ideology has been so diligent to uphold the concept of ‘truth’.  Christian martyrs have specifically died rather than to “deny the truth”.  It seems totally out of character then for early Christians to have based their Faith and trust on something that was a “lie”.  How can one reconcile this with the theory that Christians ‘made up’ Jesus, lying about Him? 

 

 6.  Despite claims by some of inaccuracy, the New Testament is extraordinarily accurate and detailed in its accounts.  These 27 books describe real towns and cities which we know for a fact existed.  They describe specific landmarks in cities, events, Rulers, Pontiffs, names of high priests, peoples, dates, and other facts all quite accurately.  Why should these things have been so accurately recorded, and yet these same writers aspire to make the central figure of Jesus Christ purely fictional? 

 

 7.  If Jesus is mythical, why are there no early historical sources that deny the existence of Jesus Christ? 



 8.  Claims that main biblical characters are mere fabrications in Jewish history is nothing new.  Liberal scholars long dismissed that David ever existed.  Yet in 1994, archeologists unearthed an undisputed 8th century B.C. victory stele with the words “House of David” inscribed on it. Pontius Pilate is another example of a biblical character which liberal scholars denounced as existing. Yet in 1961 Italian archaeologists excavating a Roman amphitheatre near Caesarea-on-the-sea unearthed an engraved limestone block. On this dedication to Tiberius Caesar, it clearly reads that it was from “Pontius Pilate; Prefect of Judea”. Many similar examples can be stated. So with such a track record of liberal scholastics being incorrect and the Bible so often vindicated, why should we not trust in the biblical record of Jesus’ existence rather than the speculations of modern skeptics? 



9. In both Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, a careful, historical, and detailed genealogy is given of Jesus’ ancestry. These genealogies were clearly listed as so as to verify to those early Jews the validity of Jesus as the Messiah. Why would such writers have documented this had Christ not existed? And certainly early Jews would not have accepted Jesus as Messiah were this not a convincing proof. 



10. It can surely be found that millions have over the centuries trusted Jesus as their God and Savior. As such, they have cried out to God, praying in Jesus’ name, and received the help and answers that they sought. If Jesus does not exist today as the real, risen, King of kings and Lord of lords, then how does one explain to the masses their answered prayers in Jesus’ name, and the help and kindness Jesus has convincingly shown to them?

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Heaven

Leader: Pastor Dan McQuality

HEAVEN

If you ask most people what they think will happen to them after death, most answer that they will go to Heaven.  But ask them about the details and they are usually pretty sketchy:  What is Heaven?  Where is Heaven located?  What is it like and who will go there? 

While many religions talk about some sort of afterlife, the Bible is our only source of information about "Heaven" itself.  People often say that they imagine Heaven to be like this or like that, but then it becomes just that - a product of their own imagination.  Since God is the creator of Heaven, dwells in Heaven, makes a way for us to go there, we are blessed and know the truth when we listen to what He says about Heaven.



1.  What is Heaven? 

1 Kings 8:30  "Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive."

John 14:1,2  "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."



2.  Where is Heaven located?

Acts1:9-11  "After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

2 Corinthians 12:2-4   "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell."

Luke 16:22  "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side (in Heaven)."

John 14:3  "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."



3.  What will we do in Heaven?

In Heaven, we will find full deliverance from all the pains and evils that we experience presently.  There will be no more death, tears, pain, or sin.  Here will be full satisfaction in life.

Revelation 21:4  "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

2 Timothy 4:18   "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

2 Corinthians 12:4  "And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise. He heardinexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell."



4.  When do we go to Heaven? 

Philippians 1:22-24  "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

John 14:3-6   And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (see also Luke 16:22 above)

Ecclesiastes 12:7  "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it."

Luke 23:42  Jesus said to the criminal on the cross "Today you will be with Me in Paradise"

Hebrews 9:27 "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then, the judgement."



5.  How do we go to Heaven?

John 11:25-26  "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

John 14:6  Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

John 10:9,10  Jesus says, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief (devil)comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Romans 6:23  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

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THE RAPTURE
Leader: Pastor Dan McQuality


THE RAPTURE

A friend of mine in Tennesse sent me this question: 'Good Morning Pastor! I have a question for you, what do you think that the verse I quoted to you about two men in the field then one missing? I have done a lot of thinking on this. That is one of the few verses that I have found that might pertain to rapture. I am very concerned because the bible says that in the end times many will be deceived even the elect. I want to stay away from false doctrine. ' The quoted Scripture verse is listed below and we'll talk about that in a minute.  But take a minute a think over a few things first:

  • What is the "Rapture"?  How would you define this popular teaching?
  • How and when will Christ return?
  • Are you ready for that Day should it be tomorrow?  How can one be 'ready'?

Well, the 'Rapture' is the teaching held in many Pentecostal and non-denominational Churches today.  In fact, the popular book and TV series "Left Behind" is centered upon it.   Relatively speaking, the teaching of the 'Rapture' is actually quite new - only coming about in the 19th century.  The Rapture, simply defined, is 'the belief that Christ will come again to earth, but instead of coming to judge the world right away, He will come and bring out (aka 'rapture') Christians from the world and take them to Heaven while the end times unfold.  Then later, Christ will return on another occasion to judge the world.' 

Now, the Bible is very clear on the teaching of Christ's return:
  1. No one will know the day or the hour when Christ is coming.  Matthew 25:13 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or thehour.  Matthew 24:36  "No one knows about that day or hour..."
  2. That Day will come unexpectantly:  Matthew 24:44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.  1 Thessalonians 5: 1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
  3. Christ will come only one more time.  The first time He came as a "lamb", then He shall come as a "lion".  He came first as a Servant Redeemer; the next time, He shall come as the Judge of all the earth. Revelation 20:11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
  4. Christ's return is something that the Christian need not fear!!  Instead, we can rejoice because our souls and our lives are safe in the Hands that were pierced for our salvation!  Revelation 7:15 And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

But the teaching that Christ will first come and 'rapture' out all the Christians before the end of the world, is not a teaching of the Bible, and we need to understand why.  So since our friend from Tennesse asks such a great question, let's go straight to the Bible on this one: What about that verse he mentioned from Matthew 24?:
36"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (emphasis added) 

42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” 

As I read this in context, I don’t take it as Christ talking about a mode for leaving the earth.  The comparison is instead about readiness.  Note that you have first the talk about the days of Noah as the illustration (this is what is “known”), and then Christ ties the illustration to what will happen by saying, “That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (and so how it will be in the “future”).  The one is an example for what is yet to come. 

To God’s glory and by His power, Noah and his family believed God’s Word.  For 120 years they built this giant boat on land, nowhere near the sea;  in a time (pre-flood) when it had not even rained upon the earth (Genesis 2:5).  What a sermon this had to be to the people as Noah and his family believe and act on God's Word!  For over a hundred years, generation after generation came up to Noah the “preacher of righteousness”(2 Pt.2:5) and he proclaimed that God was going to judge the world and that they should repent and trust in Christ.  But they went on with business as usual…eating, drinking, marrying…ignoring the warning and also the call to Faith.  Then suddenly one day, God’s judgment came.  Eight in all were “taken”, and millions (most likely) were “left” in the judgment!  No second chances! 

So the point is that when Christ comes again, He will come suddenly, and He will save believers but judge and destroy the world and unbelievers.  Now is the time of grace where God’s Word is preached to the people.  Now is the time to repent and get ready for Christ’s return, because He’s ‘coming quickly’ and ‘as a thief in the night’.  This is the point Christ is making – not telling us of a mode of taking Christians literally from the earth.  And instead of 120 years, the Lord has graciously given the world nearly 2000 years to heed the message to “get on God’s boat and be saved”.  But the problem that I have with the rapture is that the implication is that unbelievers will get EVEN ONE MORE chance to repent after Christ comes.  Supposedly, after all the airplanes and cars with Christians raptured out of them, crash all over the world, some will remember what Christians said and THEN become believers.  It makes for a great movie, but I don’t find this teaching in Scripture and it is dangerous to think we can put off repentance and faith!  Now is the time to repent and be ready for God’s judgment – that is Christ’s point here.  Just as the world didn’t get a second chance in Noah’s day, so God’s judgment will come swiftly and completely when He comes again. 

Here another problem I see.  In the context here, Jesus is talking about the second coming (see the whole chapter of Matthew 24 or at least verse 36 here).  The thing with the Rapture teaching is that it adds more than a second coming, but logically, a third coming of Christ, and that teaching is completely foreign to Scripture.  Jesus only talked about a “second coming” – not multiple returns -  and there are probably 50+ verses to back this up.  Even in v.36, Christ says “that day/that hour” – it’s singular, not plural: the next time He comes back it will be to judge the world!  But in the teaching of the Rapture, Christ comes, sort of just out in ‘outer space’, and ‘raptures’ up all the Christians, and then takes them away for years and years.  The world then goes on for years in chaos with the anti-christ, etc. and then Christ finally comes back (the 3rd time) and judges the world.  No where in Scripture do I find a teaching of Christ coming back a third time.  And think of how dangerous this teaching can potentially be.  Someone can say, “so what if I don’t believe in Christ.  If someday I see Christians ‘raptured’ out, then I will get my life right with God and believe”.  But if Christ comes tomorrow, and there is no rapture with it’s supposed ‘second chances’ to believe, and Christ comes to judge the world right then:  then this man has lost his soul.  In a way, it is similar to the Catholic teaching of Purgatory, in that there is a supposed ‘second chance’ someday, past the time of what we have been given now.  There were no ‘second chances’ in Noah’s day, and Jesus says “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (v39) 

Nowhere that I know of will you ever find the teaching of the ‘Rapture’ in all Church history until 1827.  Rev. J.N. Darby resigned from the Church of Ireland claiming he had found this secret doctrine of the Rapture, and he built his whole doctrine of the Rapture on only 2 verses of Scripture:  Matthew 24:40,41 and 1 Thes. 4:17.   I think we have to be careful, because anyone can take a couple of Bible verses and make them say about anything that they want them to say.  But for proper exegesis of the Word, you have to first of all look at what is being said in context of the surrounding passages.  Plus, we should use the Bible in such a way that the clearer verses are used to shed light on the verses that are less clear.  Scripture interprets Scripture, and never will it contradict itself, because it is God’s Word.  My opinion is that Darby misuses these verses by taking them out of their context and reading into them more than what the Bible says, even contradicting other verses.  I believe, as Scripture says, that we will be ‘caught up with Him (Christ)’ (1 Thes.4:17) when He comes to judge the world on Judgment Day, but not before that Day, as the traditional teaching of the Rapture does. 

I’m glad you are thinking about these things!  It’s good for me too.  Continue to be a good Berean and test everything against the Word.  I promise to do the same!