The absolute authority of the Bible as God's Word is being undermined as never before. The world's need for a Savior is grounded in history. Undermine and destroy that history, and you make the Gospel an ultimately meaningless invention of mankind...
This article was first published in the Fall 2005 issue of Bible and Spade.
As many of our readers know, the Associates for Biblical Research is dedicated to demonstrating the historical reliability of the Bible through archaeological research and fieldwork. Readers of Bible and Spade magazine find our articles interesting, informative, and edifying.
However, in reflecting on this, several questions rise to the surface: How does the work of Biblical archaeology affect the eternal destiny of human beings? Do we merely study the research from the archaeologist's spade so that we may increase our knowledge? Or, why even expend energy in archaeology when there are what can seem to be 'more important' issues to be addressed, such as divorce, abortion, pornography and preaching the Gospel to the lost?
While we acknowledge the importance of these social and moral issues, we believe that many members of the Christian community are missing the vital role ABR plays in the body of Christ. The absolute authority of the Bible as God's Word is being undermined as never before. The truths found in Scripture are the source from which Christians determine that the moral issues of our time need to be addressed. Most importantly, the world's need for a Savior is grounded in history. Undermine and destroy that history, and you make the Gospel an ultimately meaningless invention of mankind.
The enemies of the Gospel sometimes understand this reality better than the church. Consider the words of the famous atheist Thomas Huxley:
I am fairly at a loss to comprehend how any one, for a moment, can doubt that Christian theology must stand or fall with the historical trustworthiness of the Jewish Scriptures. The very conception of the Messiah, or Christ, is inextricably interwoven with Jewish history; the identification of Jesus of Nazareth with that Messiah rests upon the interpretation of passages of the Hebrew Scriptures which have no evidential value unless they possess the historical character assigned to them (1897: 206-208, emphasis added).
The Jesus Christ that the Christian world proclaims as Lord and Savior of all stepped into history, and His existence, actions and statements are absolutely grounded on the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. Huxley then accurately built a bridge to the New Testament:
Further, it is affirmed that the New Testament presupposes the historical exactness of the Old Testament; that the points of contact of 'sacred' and 'profane' history are innumerable; and that the demonstrations of the falsity of the Hebrew records, especially in regard to those narratives which are assumed to be true in the New Testament, would be fatal to Christian theology (ibid., emphasis added).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is permanently bound to the historical record clearly spelled out in both the Old and New Testaments. When that history is undermined, the Gospel's power is emptied. Its message becomes irrelevant. The secularist Huxley was correct in his assertion that proving the historical record in Scripture to be false 'would be fatal to Christian theology.'
The archaeologist's spade has confirmed, illuminated and supported the Biblical record in innumerable ways. In demonstrating the historical reliability of the Bible, ABR is standing for the authority and absolute reliability of Scripture. From the very Word of God, we derive the objective, absolute, propositional truths that form the foundation for morality, ethics, finances, righteousness - all of life!- and, most importantly, the eternal destiny of human beings.
In our post-modern culture, the Biblical record is dismissed by many as unreliable and irrelevant. Many teenagers, for example, are entering secular and compromising Christian colleges, and leaving with their faith in tatters. Many of their professors and classmates reject the Biblical world view a priori, and young Christians are completely unarmed and unprepared for the battle.
God has raised up ABR to arm these young people (and many others) with the facts that support the Biblical record. When people have the information from archaeology that supports Scripture, God's Holy Spirit can use that information to remove obstacles that prevent people from receiving the Gospel, and quench seeds of doubt that hinder faith. As you read, study and enjoy this latest edition of Bible and Spade, remember that Biblical archaeology is not just about accumulating knowledge. Indeed, Biblical archaeology does affect lives, and it has eternal implications!