|Volume 20 Number 6 June 2018||
Isidor Isaac Rabi, one of America’s outstanding physicists, became a scientist for one overpowering reason. He said, “I couldn’t help it.” Brought to this country as an infant, he has never forgotten his mother’s daily query when he came home from public school on Manhattan’s Lower East Side: “Did you ask any good questions today?”
Some questions are good to ask, but others are not and can be untimely. Take for example, the account of Jesus healing a man born blind in John 9:1-12. We read in verses 1-2, “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Other questions appear in this account, too. In verse 8 we read, “The neighbors therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?” In verse 10, “Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?” However, among all of these questions came one that stands out, and it is one that many people ask about the Savior today: “Then said they unto him, Where is he?" (v. 12).
It amazes us how the people were focused on such questions. Yet, the one question in verse 12 is one of worthy consideration. A good answer would be the statement that Paul made in Acts 17:27, where Luke recorded, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.”
It is necessary for men to seek after the Lord, although He is not far from us. How is the Lord near to us? He is a vital part of our lives. He gives us life, the ability to move, reason and our very existence. Solomon said the whole duty of man was to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). He is near us every minute of every day. He knows all about us.
Where is He? He is closer than you might think!
Donald R. Fox
People in general love the mysterious. Back in 2006, news media and magazines revived an apocryphal gospel, under the title of The Judas Gospel. We wonder how many folks believed this bogus, spurious material, and thus, had their individual faith in the Word of God shaken? Apocrypha is a word used in theologies, which signifies some gospels or writings that may falsely claim to be sacred. “Apocrypha” literally means hidden or mysterious. Some claim that these books or gospels are lost books of the Bible. Sadly, many uninformed folks pay attention to these magazine articles concerning apocryphal writings as true and as missing parts of the Bible that were lost and now have been found. Joined with apocryphal works, there have been recent fictional books such as the novel, The Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown in 2003. This fictional book was made into a popular movie in 2006. With these recent works, the faith of some has been weakened. This is very sad!
The number of these hidden or mysterious gospels and literature, to say the least, is huge. Apocryphal literature was produced for both the Old and New testaments. Lists of lost and preserved apocryphal works may be viewed in any number of encyclopedias or Bible dictionaries. One definition of apocryphal literature appears below.
The general character of the writings here grouped as “Apocrypha of the New Testament” will appear from even a cursory perusal of them. It did not require any great discernment to distinguish between these and the canonical books of the New Testament… But attention may well be called to certain historical facts in regard to these apocryphal writings: 1. No one of them ever obtained any general recognition among Christians; still less, a place in the Canon of the New Testament. A few so-called Gospels are referred to by early writers; some obtained local recognition; others, written for a purpose, were pressed into notice by the advocates of the tendency they were written to support: but, as a rule, the books were soon rejected, and never obtained extensive circulation. 2. Though a few of the Apocryphal Gospels are of comparatively early origin, there is no evidence that any Gospels purported to be what our four Gospels are, existed in the first century, or that any other than fragmentary literature of this character existed even in the second century. 3. “The work done, he took care to conceal his own name, and inscribed his book with the name of some apostle or disciple, in order to give it authority.” “As a rule, therefore, the Apocryphal Gospels give details regarding those periods of our Lord’s life about which the New Testament is wisely silent. The genesis of much of the literature resembles that of modern “Lives of Christ” written to present a view of the Person of our Lord which is not in accordance with the obvious sense of the New Testament. Probable some of the Apocrypha Gospels and Acts were not intended to be forgeries, but only novels with a purpose.” (Riddle)
It is interesting to note that no apocryphal literature was quoted in the New Testament as Scripture. However, we remember that pagan poets were used in the New Testament to emphasize truths (Acts 17:28). It is not surprising that so-called lost apocryphal writings are exploited by those that seek to shake the faith of those who believe in the God of the Bible and His plan for mankind.
“God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). There is and has always been a discernible distinction between Holy Scripture and apocryphal writings.
Riddle, M.B. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. “Introductory Notice to Apocrypha of the New Testament.” 21 May 2018. < https://www.tertullian.org/fathers2/ANF-08/anf08-66.htm>.
[Editor’s Note: Much apocryphal literature is contemporary with the inspired books of both testaments of the Bible but does not claim to be inspired or amounts to extra-biblical historical information, sermons or commentaries respecting Scripture. God’s people have always known the difference between the miraculously received and validated Word of God and the mere writings of mortals. A segment of apocryphal literature known as pseudepigrapha (false writings) falsely claims to be inspired, falsely claims to be written by a biblical character or falsely claims to have been written anciently. Apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings have been known for centuries, and it is misleading and dishonest for publishers to represent these uninspired writings as newly found lost books of the Bible so they can sell newspapers, magazines and books. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]