|Vol. 15 No. 12 December 2013||
When I was a teenager, I received a book titled: “Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible,” authored by John W. Haley. The volume was written in response to a pamphlet claiming to expose contradictions within the Word of God.
Mr. Haley said the tract was “cunningly adapted to deceive the ignorant and unwary.” While responding to the supposed contradictions, Haley noted that he came to see clearly “the flimsy and disingenuous character of the objections alleged.”
Through the centuries, men have tried to discredit the Scriptures. However, the Bible is like an anvil upon which skeptics blunt many hammers.
Paul wrote: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Yet, Luke wrote that Zacharias and Elisabeth “were both righteous before God” (Luke 1:6). Is this a bona fide contradiction? No. When taken out of context it might appear so, but Luke was complimenting this godly couple for being relatively “blameless” (Luke 1:6), while Paul’s discussion dealt with righteousness in the absolute sense.
Mark recorded that when Jesus was crucified “it was the third hour” (Mark 15:25), while John wrote that the trial before Pilate was still in progress at “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14). The apparent contradiction vanishes when we realize that the Jews began each day counting hours from six in the morning, while the Romans reckoned time more as we do, beginning from midnight. So at about 6 a.m. Jesus was before Pilate, and by 9:00 a.m. our Lord was nailed to the cross. John’s account was written sometime after the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), so it makes sense he would use Roman time.
Many casual readers have difficulty harmonizing the four accounts of the life of Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) because they assume that each is given in chronological sequence. However, Matthew frequently follows a thematic approach, and John’s purpose is to provide a sampling of the miraculous signs Jesus performed to produce belief (John 20:30-31).
Mr. Haley’s book and others like it are filled with answers to a multitude of alleged Bible contradictions. Peter admitted that some of Paul’s writings were “hard to be understood” (2 Peter 3:16), so we shall make the same admission. However, with diligent study, a reader can dispel whatever might appear at first glance to be a contradiction. It seems that the ones who cry against the Bible the loudest have read it the least.
Adam B. Cozort
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). The word in this text translated “transformed” comes from the Greek word metamorphoo (from which we get the word “metamorphosis”). It means “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure” (Thayer).
The import of the use of the word in this context is quite interesting. As Christians, we are to be those who are not conformed to or cut out of the pattern of the world. We have come out of the world through obedience to the Gospel; consequently, our lives are to be transfigured into something else.
Certainly the greatest example of transfiguration was given by the Lord Himself. This same word is used in Matthew 17 and Mark 9 concerning Jesus’ transfiguration before Peter, James and John. As one notices that account, it is evident that Jesus did not just appear to be different, but He was actually changed during this event. The same is expected of our transfiguration; it is not to simply be a supposed transformation, but an actual one.
Additionally, this metamorphosis has an originating point—the mind. Paul taught that one becomes transfigured “by the renewing of your mind.” The word “renewing” comes from the Greek word anakainosis, which means “to renovate.” As Christians, the first thing that must change is our mindset. When the standard is the world, anything goes. One can think whatever he wants, believe whatever he wants and practice whatever he wants because there are no hard and fast rules. However, the Christian has to change that mindset. The renovation of the mind comes with the recognition that God makes the rules and we must conform our lives to those rules. As my mind is renovated, my focus is changed, and my understanding is ncreased. Then, there will begin to be a metamorphosis in my lifestyle. Nevertheless, as with all things, the change starts on the inside.
When a Christian begins renovation of the mind, it is evidenced in transfiguration of the person. He or she acts and reacts differently toward others; the things that one finds important in life change. The places he or she is willing to go and the things one is willing to do are directly affected. The way that these Christians dress and talk are altered. The way that he or she approaches work changes. The way that one approaches God changes, and these changes are open and apparent to everyone around.
When an individual is transfigured, friends, family and coworkers still out in the world will notice the difference because they are still living in conformation to the world’s pattern. Peter talked about that difference in 1 Peter 4:1-4 when he wrote:
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.
The Christian does not hold the same appeal to the worldly person once transfiguration has occurred.
However, there is one other matter of emphasis that must be conferred upon our thinking. If I have become a Christian, but nobody sees any change in me, have I been transfigured? The answer is, “No!” If my life has not changed, if my decision-making has no new standards, if my life is still equally filled with the worldliness and the selfishness that presented itself before I became a Christian, there has been no transformation, and there has been no transformation because there has been no renovation of the mind. We see an example of this in Acts 8:9-24 when Simon the Sorcerer was converted, but at the time Peter and John visited that town he had not been transformed. He offered the apostles money for their ability, but he was rebuked and told to repent because he had not adequately renovated his mind.
Have you been transfigured? Have you renovated your mind and gone through the metamorphosis of the Christian life? It will not happen all at once. One does not come up out of the water with everything magically changed. It is a process of focus, study, understanding and application that works to completely transform the self-serving man into a servant of God. If you have not undertaken the process of transfiguration, it is never too late to begin, and the start is only a determination of mind and a change of heart away. Will you start today?