Top Ten Discoveries In Bible Archaeology In 2016

I have the privilege of being part of the Associates for Biblical Research, a group of archaeologists and Bible scholars dedicated to demonstrating the historical reliability of Scripture through archaeological and biblical research.  I serve in a small way by following the happenings in the world of biblical archaeology and writing a weekly Current Events update for their website – biblearchaeolgy.org.

As we approach the end of 2016, I thought I’d look back at the most exciting discoveries and announcements from the archaeological world that relate to the Bible.  In choosing the top ten, I focused on discoveries that were both spectacular and also specifically related to biblical people, places and events (as opposed to the many discoveries that are made in Bible lands which teach us much about the different cultures; these discoveries are helpful too, but I’ve chosen to narrow the focus for my list).  Here then are what I consider to be the top ten discoveries in biblical archaeology in 2016.

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The Archaeology of Christmas

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P75 – The earliest manuscript of the Luke’s gospel, (2nd/3rd century AD). Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Many people approach the Christmas story in the Bible the same way they do the story of jolly old St. Nick.  It’s a nice tradition to celebrate during the festive season, and possibly based in some historical fact, but more myth than truth.  I mean really, shepherds seeing angels? Wisemen bringing gifts?  A virgin birth?  (You do know how babies are made, right?!).

However, the two earliest records of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth were written by a man who spent years following him (Matthew) and by a historian who carefully investigated the claims by speaking directly with eyewitnesses (Luke).  Further, they were written within the lifetime of those who actually knew Jesus: his mother, his siblings, and his disciples.1 Peter himself said, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pt 1:16). Finally, the accounts of that first Christmas contain numerous historical synchronisms and descriptions of specific places and customs.  Is it possible over 2000 years later to determine the credibility of the Christmas story through archaeology?  I believe it is.

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“Useful for…”

Dr. Voddie Baucham (in his Expository Apologetics 101 sermon)  states: “There is a piece to discipleship we’ve neglected.  It’s called indoctrination…[Instead] we’re producing passionate people with empty heads who love the Jesus they don’t know very well, and who are driven to and fro by every wind of doctrine.”

Indoctrination has come to be synonymous with brainwashing.  That’s not its original meaning however.  At its heart it means “to instruct especially in fundamentals” (notice the root word is doctrine).

As I head into my third decade of youth ministry, I’ve come to realize more and more the importance of teaching sound doctrine to teens, and stressing the need for them to obey the teaching of Scripture.  At it’s heart, this is what it means to be a disciple (See Matt. 28:18:20 and 2 Tim. 2:2).

On Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, I led a seminar at Boot Camp North, a youth leader training seminar organized by Jeremy Edgar at Bible Fellowship Assembly.  My topic was entitled: “Useful For…The Importance Of The Bible In Discipleship.”  Anyone who is interested can download my seminar notes here:  useful-for-the-importance-of-the-bible-in-the-process-of-discipleship

I’ve also made available the first three lessons of my teaching series, “Word Up,” which is an apologetics unit designed to teach teens the core doctrine of Scripture (Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Authority), as well as answer common questions or objections to this teaching.  You can download the Powerpoint presentations and lesson plans here:

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-Lesson 1: word-up-inspiration-lesson

-Lesson 2: word-up-inerrancy-lesson

-Lesson 3: word-up-authority-lesson

The Powerpoint presentations for the above lessons can be found here:

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/p1d23dpurdrvp/Word_Up_Lessons

Feel free to share and use for glory of God!

 

Clarity Amidst Confusion

Our children are growing up in a culture of confusion when it comes to the issues of gender and sexuality.  Facebook now allows uses to choose between 58 gender options.  To date people identify with over 2o sexual orientations, including heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, autosexual, demisexual, omnisexual, pansexual, polysexual, spectrasexual, etc.  Ontario’s new Health and Physical Education curriculum reflects and promotes this confusion.

As elders at Island Bible Chapel, we understand our role as shepherds (1 Peter 5:2; Acts 20:28).  Part of being a shepherd is protecting the flock. We are concerned for the protection of our children’s innocence and about the moral teaching of the young in our church.

To give parents assistance and direction as they care for their children in a world with much gender and sexual confusion, I (with the blessing of the elders at IBC) presented a seminar entitled, “Clarity Amidst Confusion: How Christian Parents Can Respond To Ontario’s New Sex. Ed. Curriculum.”

To download the notes from this seminar, please click here: clarity-amidst-confusion-sex-ed-curriculum-for-parents

I believe it is important to speak the truth in love on this important issue.  In order to be seen as “loving” some do not want to confront issues with the truth.  In order to cling to the “truth” some communicate in a loving way.  My goal has been to avoid both extremes and speak the truth in love.

Finally, I will end with a quote from Rick Warren, which I believes captures both our culture and the way I want my response to be: compassionate with conviction.

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

 

 

Encouraging Teens With The Archaeological Evidence For The Reliability of Scripture

It was a privilege to speak recently to teens at Camp Aush-Bik-Koong (campabk.com).  This year I chose to preach on Heb. 11, the classic passage in Scripture about faith.  In the evenings we studied the chapter bit-by-bit.  In the morning sessions I looked at the archaeological evidence for some of the major people of faith mentioned.

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know that I have an affection for the field of biblical archaeology, and do some writing for the folks at biblearchaeology.org (the Associates for Biblical Research – a group of bible scholars and archaeologists dedicated to demonstrating the historical reliability of God’s Word through their work).  Their research was very helpful as I prepared to speak to the teens at Camp ABK.  Several of the archaeologists at ABR were gracious enough to take time out of their busy schedules to share a word or two with the teens at Camp ABK.  ABR Website Read the rest of this entry

Three Biblical Archaeological Discoveries You Probably Never Heard About

I’m always interested to hear how people describe the Bible.

In a Huffington Post article from a few years ago Jeffery Small declared, “I fear that an insistence on a literal or historical reading of the Bible will ultimately lead to the irrelevance of Christianity in our society. By throwing off the shackles of having to believe in the historicity of the Bible, we are free to interpret the stories as a testament to the religious experiences of people from a different age”

While the author and I would disagree about whether a historical reading will lead to the irrelevance of Christianity in our society (I would argue the exact opposite is true), I do agree that discarding the historicity of Scripture allows one to freely interpret the stories however one likes.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing.  Moreover, it ignores a crucial fact that cannot be escaped:  the Bible claims to be a document rooted in actual history.

Consider…

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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Spring Folly

Spring Folly logoSpring Folly is northern Ontario’s longest-running Christian youth retreat.  Thousands of teenagers have attended over the years.  Maybe you were one of them.  Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Spring Folly:

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The Story About Jesus You Haven’t Heard

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of how Jesus walked on the water, or about how he calmedgnosticgospel the storm, healed the blind man of Jericho and turned the water into wine.

How about the story of how Jesus curses a boy who bumps into him, causing him to fall down dead? You’re not familiar with that one?

All five stories are told in ancient documents about Jesus. The first four come from the biographies of Jesus in the Bible (The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John respectively).   The last one is from a document called The Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

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The Bible and Indiana Jones

I’ve always had a fascination for biblical archaeology. I think this stems from both my love of the Bible and my secret desire to be like Indiana Jones. (I know, I know… archaeology not nearly as glamorous as Indie portrayed).

 
I like to follow the latest archaeological finds in Bible lands and learn how they inform and confirm Scripture. A couple years ago, my parents gave me the Archaeological Study Bible for Christmas. It’s a wealth of information and I highly recommend it.

 

Another resource that I have appreciated over the years is ABR (the Associates for Biblical ABR-Logo657x493Research – biblearcheaology.org). They’re a group of Bible scholars and archaeologists who hold a high view of Scripture, and who are dedicated to demonstrating the historical reliability of the Bible through archaeological and biblical research.   I used to follow their “Current Events” section regularly, until it stopped being updating. Since I followed a number of other biblical archaeological sites already, I reached out to ABR to see if they would be interested in having me update their current events page on a regular basis. To my surprise, Scott Lanser, ABR’s Director contacted me and, after a lengthy discussion and seeing some a sample of my work, agreed to allow me to volunteer in this way.   (So in the interest of full-disclosure, I write for the website I’m about to promote.)

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The Hope Of The Nations

Years ago, I read Max Lucado’s book, God Came Near.  I highly recommendbaby-jesus-in-manger-with-mary-and-wise-men it as a great way to prepare your heart for Christmas.  You can find a taste of it here.  It inspired me to write this song.  Since I don’t have time to do a proper recording of it (I’ll save that for another year), allow me to share the lyrics.  I wish you a blessed Christmas as you celebrate the birth of the One who is the Hope of the nations.

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