What would the world be like if Jesus was never born?

Imagining history without certain major figures can be an entertaining exercise. What would the world be like if Buddha, Ghandi, Socrates, Einstein or Newton had never lived? Would things be better off? Would someone else have come along to make similar contributions to history? These kinds of questions are ultimately impossible to answer, but attempting to answer them provides insight into the real significance of historical figures

A reasonable argument can be made that the accomplishments of great men and women likely would have been made by others. The philosophy of Buddha was not just the product of his own mind. Buddhism grew out of the philosophy of others and was added to by those who followed Buddha. His ideas are likely to have risen, maybe in a slightly different form, from the mind of another. The genius of Einstein was not limited to Einstein. His discoveries probably would have been made by others. However, Jesus stands alone in history as totally irreplaceable.

Jesus is not another great philosopher like Aristotle or another influential teacher like Ghandi. Jesus is the Son of God who became human. His contribution to history is more than being a great example of compassion or of founding a religion. In His thirty-three years of life Jesus changed the world. By His death on the cross Jesus paid the penalty for sin. All those who trust Jesus for salvation are forgiven, made new in Christ and given the Holy Spirit.

After Jesus was crucified and rose again, God began to make His name known to the world in a new way. For much of recorded history before Jesus’ birth God was working in the world through the nation of Israel. God called the world to come to Israel and see His glory. Because of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus God sends Christians out into the world to tell all mankind of Him.

Because Jesus died, rose again and returned to heaven He sent God the Spirit to reside in all believers. The Holy Spirit transformed the disciples from a group of terrified men into a bold force that proclaimed the gospel in the face of intense persecution. The gospel they preached spread across the world.

Jesus transformed Saul of Tarsus. Now known by his Greek name Paul of Tarsus traveled the Roman Empire preaching the gospel. The apostle Paul could have been replaced by many other men. Only Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and the promised Messiah, could transform and enable Paul to preach as he did. The history of the western world has been shaped by the gospel of Jesus.

Jesus is not done shaping history. As God He is actively working now to bring history to His intended conclusion. The final thousand years of history will take place after Jesus’ conquers the wicked nations of the world and establishes a worldwide, righteous empire. He will bring history to its God designed conclusion.

Jesus is not another great religious leader. Buddhism would have probably found its entrance into he world, but without Christ there is no Christianity. Other Christ’s rose in Judea before and after Jesus, but none were the true Messiah. They faded off the scene and have left little impact on history. Jesus is the true Messiah, the promised Savior and Son of God, who transforms history. The work Jesus did in bringing salvation to the world cannot be duplicated.

Why doesn’t the Bible mention the Ice Age?

The ice age was one of the most significant events in the earth’s history. Those who hold to an old age for the earth (4.5 billion years old) say the earth has gone through multiple ice ages over the eons, and we are currently in the middle of an ice age. The Bible says nothing about the earth ever experiencing an ice age.

The evidence for an ice age is significant and apparently beyond dispute. The ice age had a significant impact on the entire globe. Since the Bible includes stories of men since the beginning of creation why does it not mention the ice age?

Evolutionists and creationists are in agreement about the extent of the global ice coverage during the last ice age. At its peak the ice age locked a third of the world in snow and ice. In the northern hemisphere ice sheets crept down from the pole to cover most of Canada and reached into the northern American states. Some portions of the ice sheet stretched as far south as Iowa and Indiana. Northern Europe was covered with ice that spread into France, Germany and Poland.

The location of the northern ice sheets provides a clue to why the Bible never mentions the ice age. Scripture is not intended to be a complete history of the world. The Bible says nothing about most of the events that have taken place in the earth’s history. The Bible was never designed to tell everything significant that happened in the world.

Scripture does not say anything about the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Thera in 1600 BC. The volcanic eruption was relatively close and effected the climates of Palestine and northern Egypt. The Bible is completely silent on the Minoan eruption. The Bible’s silence on this and other historical matters does not reveal deficiency of information but precision of purpose.

God’s Word is concerned with the history of God’s working to redeem to Himself a people who will eternally praise Him. In relating the story of redemption the Bible touches on much human history with complete accuracy.

Most of the Old Testament is focused on God’s chosen people, the Israelites. The fathers of the Israelites lived in the region of Palestine which was 1,500 miles away from the ice sheets. The weather of that era would have been different from the weather in Palestine today. The summers were cooler and storms probably were more severe, but Abraham and his offspring would not have know they were in an ice age. Glaciers were not forming in the Negev and woolly mammoths were not roaming the hills of Galilee.

The world’s climate at the time God called Abraham out of Ur is not important to the story of the Bible. What is important is God’s promise of a kingdom, of worldwide blessing through a descendant of Abraham and of righteousness to those who believe Him.

Is Halloween Evil?

In a few days the sidewalks will be filled with pint sized nurses, vampires, pixies, zombies, movie characters, rock singers, aliens and all manner of strange creatures. The roving bands will move through the neighborhoods of our town demanding plunder and threatening unpleasant consequences if the loot is not forthcoming.

The celebration of Halloween is huge business in America with a history in European Paganism and Catholic Christianity. The unmistakable pagan influences and the many costumes reflecting demons and sorcery have prompted Christians over the years to denounce Halloween as an evil holiday. Many other Christians see Halloween as nothing but harmless fun. Is Halloween evil?

Certain aspects of Halloween’s celebration are sinful and should be avoided. Drunkenness, immorality, drug use and vandalism are sin. Halloween, nor any other holiday, is justification for engaging in behavior forbidden by God. Caution is also necessary in the choice of costumes. Some things are wrong even when done in play. The real question is: is it wrong to participate in Halloween as we practice it today?

Answering this question requires some consideration of where Halloween came from and how it became what it is today. The history of Halloween is not easy to determine. Conflicting ideas abound and much error has crept into common knowledge about Halloween. People have distorted the facts to promote their own agenda. What seems undeniable about Halloween is that it finds it’s origins in two religious observances: the Celtic Samhain and the Catholic All Saints Day.

Samhain was the festival of the Celtic New Year that prepared them for the long winter ahead. The Celts believed during Samhain the barrier between living and dead was thinnest. The spirits of the dead could be seen roaming the earth. Divination- determining the future by the aid of spirits- was most effective during Samhain. The celebrations included offerings to the Celtic deities and riturals in reverence of the dead.

All Saints Day is the Catholic memorial for all the saints. In Catholic doctrine saints are those who have entered into heaven. Christians on earth and people in purgatory are not, in Catholicism, seen as saints. The evening before All Saints Day was a Hallowed Evening of preparation for the veneration to occur on the following day.

The dates of Samhain and All Saints Day coincided which resulted in the two eventually merging. The Halloween practices that followed continued to evolve over the centuries. The founding of America brought many European traditions into the New World, but Halloween was not a particularly important holiday in the newly formed United States. The late 1800’s saw a rise of American interest in Halloween, but this Halloween had been stripped of its major religious principles.

Today all that is left of the original Pagan and Catholic celebrations are a few of the many traditions. If these traditions were still practiced with their religious beliefs intact, then I would have to consider Halloween a sinful practice, as evil as worshiping Mother Earth or praying to Mary. If children wandered the streets begging food with the promise to pray for the souls of those in purgatory, then I would say confidently that participating in Halloween is sinful. If people bobbed for apples to honor the goddess, then I would say participating in Halloween is sinful. If people carved pumpkins to ward off evil spirits, then I would say participating in Halloween is sinful.

The absence of any overt religious intent in its celebration makes Halloween, in my estimation, nothing more than an excuse to dress up, get free candy and have a good time with your friends.

How can I find out more about the people in the Bible?

The Bible leaves out a lot of personal details. Peter was married but did he have any kids? The Bible doesn’t tell us. Were any of the other apostles married? Did they have families? God’s Word is mostly silent on these things. How can we find out more about the lives of the people in the Bible?

The Bible is silent on many personal details because it’s purpose is not historical or biographical but theological. Any details provided are incidental to the truth being communicated. Biographical details always serve the purpose of teaching greater theological truths. God is not interested in satisfying our curiosity about the home life of the Biblical characters. He is communicating that which is necessary for people to come to salvation and for Christian’s to live lives pleasing to Him.

Unfortunately historical details about the people of the Bible are almost impossible to find. Some particulars can be found in the writings of the early church Fathers. Some of these men lived in the first hundred years after the apostles and a couple were personally acquainted with the apostles themselves.

Ancient church historians, like Eusebius, provide additional details about the lives of the apostles. The Works of Josephus provide a generally reliable historical perspective of events in Israel around the time of the beginning of the church. Some church traditions probably give truthful accounts of what happened to the apostles. The best resource is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs which tells of the death of the apostles and other ancient Christians.

Care needs to be taken when looking for more information about the people in the Bible. The things passed down through history and tradition are not necessarily accurate. Because a book talks about the apostles or Biblical people does not mean the book is accurate. Hold loosely to any extra-Biblical facts about Biblical characters.

Be especially suspicious of the books known as the gnostic gospels. Some of them claim to be first hand accounts of the early life of Jesus but they are, at best, questionable sources of information. They were written several generations after Jesus and have the definite agenda of promoting the false teaching of gnosticism.

Be careful of modern “scholarly” books offering to give new information about Jesus or the disciples. Many modern books that talk about Bible history are written by people who have already decided the Bible is not true. The goal of many of these books is not to search out the truth, but to convince the reader of the author’s opinion. Whether they be written by popular fiction authors or by degreed professors, be careful to not confuse propaganda with truth.

In the end, we only have one source that is certain and accurate about Jesus and His followers. That source is the Bible. The biographical details of the people in the Bible are interesting but not vital to rightly understanding the truth of God’s word. Learn more of the history, traditions and culture of Bible times and people that you may better understand the great truths taught in Scriptures.