Dr. Steven Collins serves as the dean of the College of Archaeology at Veritas International University and a consulting research professor at Trinity Southwest University. He is also the director of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan, which is believed to be the location of Sodom.
Over 175 million people in the United States need some sort of vision correction. From glasses to contacts and corneal reshaping to corrective surgery, there's no question that seeing clearly improves people's quality of life. But what about our spiritual vision? With so many religious, philosophical, and ideological lenses to look through, how do we find the right lens? In this series, Skip Heitzig brings the core doctrines of Christian faith into clear focus. These are the truths that define who God is, who we are, and the choices that every person has to make.
Connect Recap Notes: July 5, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Steven Collins Teaching: "Biblical History: Fact or Fancy?"
Dr. Steven Collins serves as the dean of the College of Archaeology at Veritas International University and a consulting research professor at Trinity Southwest University. He is also the director of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan, which is believed to be the location of Sodom. In his teaching "Biblical History: Fact or Fancy?" Dr. Collins explains the importance of biblical reliability and history as we live by biblical principles in a world that has largely failed to embrace the Bible as truth.
Almost everything that is wrong in the world today is the result of a failure to embrace biblical history, to adhere to a biblical worldview, or to live by biblical principles. One way to show the historicity of the biblical narrative is through archaeology.
Many archaeologists do not believe that the Bible is historically reliable. If we destroy the foundation of the first seven books of the Bible, the Bronze Age texts, the rest of the Bible becomes very suspect. Sixty percent of people aged 18-25 don't think the Bible is reliable.
The responsible archaeologist needs both the trowel and the Bible to understand the ancient world.
Criticism against the historicity of the Bible arose during the nineteenth century with the documentary hypothesis.
Though this hypothesis has been disproved, many scholars still hold to it because they don't want the Bible to interfere with their personal lifestyle.
Liberal scholars ultimately believe in a nonhistorical approach to the ancient world, but their criticism stands on faulty foundations.
The reliability of the Old Testament stands up on many accounts:
Right geography: Genesis 10 correctly identifies the heart of civilization
Right history: Abraham's covenants match the unique structure of the Middle Bronze Age
Right events: archaeology has shown that an airburst event leveled Sodom
Right economy: Joseph was sold into slavery for twenty shekels, the standard price for the period
Right ethics: the Mosaic law conforms to the configuration of Hittite treaties and contracts of the Late Bronze Age
Exodus events: the Bible records the exact time of the collapse of Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty
Moses' travel: the towns listed in the Bible correspond to the evidence
Israelite literacy: the Semitic alphabet was developed in Egypt during the time the Hebrews would have lived there
Canaanite practices: archaeology confirms the religious practices of the Canaanites as described in the Old Testament
Conquest of Joshua: archaeology shows Joshua conquered Canaan at the right moment—during the Eighteenth Dynasty's collapse
Battle of Jericho: Jericho was not occupied before or after the fourteenth century BC—Rahab could have only lived in fourteenth century Jericho
People of Israel: the Merneptah Stele confirms that Israel was recognized by Pharaoh Merneptah as one of the enemies of Egypt
Philistines and Homer: Homer's Iliad confirms the authenticity of an Aegean-style ritual described in the Bible
David and Solomon: the empire of David and Solomon precisely fills a geographical void in the archaeological record
Davidic dynasty: archaeological evidence for David's existence.
Names: Lawrence Mykytiuk has positively identified fifty-three Old Testament names in extra-biblical inscriptions
Connect Up: Throughout the Bible, God calls His Word true. Jesus also said God's Word is true (see John 17:17). And if Jesus is the truth (see John 14:6), what He states must be true. Even more telling, God puts His Word above His name (see Psalm 138:2). What does this tell us about the importance of God's Word? Read 2 Samuel 7:28 and Psalm 119:160. If the Bible is true, why are things like archaeology important for Christians when defending the Bible?
Connect In:When we study the Bible, we are studying God's revealed truth. Because of this, how are we to study the Bible with integrity? Discuss how you study the Bible both personally and corporately (at church). Is there a method you follow, such as inductive Bible study? What have you learned and how have you grown through the study of Scripture?
Connect Out: How would you explain to an unbeliever the Bible's historical reliability as the truth of God? Here are two broad points to discuss:
External evidence: the Bible connects to the broader world
Reliable description of geography: How does the Bible's geography show historicity?
Reliable description of history: How does history support the biblical record?
Accurate assessment of science: What parts of the Bible confirm scientific discoveries? (For example, the universe had a beginning.)
Fulfilled prophecy: How does prophecy show the Bible to be true?
Accurate representation of the human soul: Sin and the need to worship are ingrained in the human soul. How is this confirmed in the Bible and in the world?
Message Summary Hiram Johnson said, "The first casualty in war is truth." God’s people have been in a cosmic battle since the fall. Satan’s first allegation against truth was in Genesis 3:1: "Has God indeed said...?" Deception regarding truth is Satan's primary occupation. We now live in what might be dubbed a post-truth culture wherein the very idea of absolute truth is considered archaic and even offensive. In this series, we will look to the "Scripture of Truth" (Daniel 10:21) to reinforce our foundation and engender biblical literacy. Here at the end of Paul's life, he could foresee the abandonment of truth, and he gave Timothy this antidote: "Preach the Word!"
Message Summary God is presented in Scripture by a variety of images. He is called our Rock, our Refuge, our Warrior, our Shepherd, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Redeemer, our Fountain, our Husband, and our Vinedresser. But no motif is as powerful and personal as seeing God as our Father. With this title, the invisible God becomes the intimate God. Today, on Father’s Day, we consider the singular phrase "Our Father in heaven" as an introduction to the doctrine of God. Let’s turn over each word and mine the depths of the riches contained in this great verse.
Message Summary The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, I think we’ll be both lifted up and humbled all at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe. Let’s examine five stages of this relationship.
Message Summary People have written and spoken about God for millennia. It’s what I have done for nearly four decades. But today we get to hear from God Himself as He gives to Moses His own autobiography. Here He introduces Himself by stating His name and His occupation as God. He states His primary character traits, thus framing what our relationship with Him is going to be like. This is a primary passage of Scripture, meaning other biblical authors make reference to it later on in their writings. Let’s find out what God says about Himself.
Message Summary A person with knowledge can be intimidating. They spew facts and figures and can dizzy us with information and understanding. But rightly seen, a study of God’s comprehensive knowledge can be a source of great comfort to us. In this series, 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we come to grips with the fact that God sees everything most clearly. His knowledge is vast, infinite, comprehensive, specific, and personal. But let’s observe how God’s omniscience can become inspiring rather than intimidating.
Message Summary One of the Beatles’ most melodic hits expressed a couple’s romantic desire to be together at all times and in all places and was simply titled, “Here, There and Everywhere.” This title also expresses a unique attribute of God (what theologians call an incommunicable attribute). He is everywhere present in the totality of His being! This may be one of the hardest-to-understand characteristics of God, but one that brings great comfort to us.
Message Summary God is called Almighty fifty-seven times in Scripture. It means that the resources of His power are boundless. He is unlimited in His ability and unconstrained in His capacity. God’s attribute of omnipotence is helpful for us to remember when we are feeling overwhelmed with threatening circumstances. Just as we feel confident when our mobile devices have plenty of battery power to spare, we can live confidently knowing that our great God has power for any of our problems.
Message Summary Holiness sounds scary. Thoughts of dusty, cloistered halls of a monastery fill our minds when we hear the word. We might think of chants and long prayers rather than anthems and short prayers. It hardly seems like an appropriate word for the twenty-first century! But according to one theologian, God’s holiness is the one attribute that binds all His other attributes together. This is the characteristic that most uniquely describes God. Let’s consider it today.
Message Summary One of the most fundamental yet challenging truths in Scripture is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Try to explain it and you might lose your mind, but try to explain it away and you might lose your soul. The Bible openly teaches the plurality within the Godhead—three persons who are distinct from one another yet perfectly One in essence. How are we to think about this? And how should it affect us personally?
Message Summary Perhaps the biggest impediment to believing in God (as stated by those who don’t) is the presence of pain and suffering in the world. How can there be a God who is benevolent and omnipotent with the sheer volume of grief, misery, travail, and torment at any given moment? Today we explore the theme of a loving God in a universe pockmarked by pain. As Jesus was in Jerusalem with His disciples, they came across a blind man. I’d like to show you four features of this most common and universal of human experiences.
Message Summary At the very center of history’s stage stands Jesus Christ. He has no peers. The Father in heaven sent Him on the mission of redemption and He humbly surrendered. When it was accomplished, He conquered death itself by resurrection and returned to glory. In what is considered by many to be the greatest single statement about Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Paul succinctly framed His humiliation, His exaltation, and His example to us.
Message Summary Wasn’t there any other way for God to save human beings than by sending His Son to die? The very idea of a bloody crucifixion sounds brutal and barbarous to some, yet it is the centerpiece of our faith. What is the big deal about the atonement? Why the cross? Why had it been the plan of God through the ages? Today we examine the death of Christ for us and, in His own words, His own estimation of its necessity and consequence.
Message Summary Just as your own heart is the pump that brings life-giving blood to your entire body, so is the resurrection of Jesus that gives life to the gospel message. Without it, our faith would be totally useless; our message would be utterly powerless. The resurrection is also what separates Jesus Christ from every other spiritual leader and would-be messiah. It validates His teaching. It authenticates His claims. It substantiates His promises. And it corroborates our confidence in Him as our Savior and Lord.
Message Summary We are not alone in the universe! That’s the premise of most sci-fi documentaries, but I’m not referring to alien life from another galaxy, rather to the living God Himself. In particular, I am referring to the Holy Spirit. He has a particular role when it comes to working in this world, and that is to awaken people to their great need for Christ. In our series 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we will turn in the next few weeks to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. What is His role in the life of the unbeliever and the life of the believer?
Message Summary There can be a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding the Holy Spirit. When we look to Scripture, however, the third person of the Godhead comes into clear focus. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig describes the person of the Holy Spirit, His work both at scale in the world and individually in the hearts of believers, and how He helps you gain a deeper understanding of God's Word.
Message Summary Someone said to me this past week, “Life is hard, but God is good!” We all know it’s true. To live for God in an ungodly world is challenging, sometimes daunting. But God never intended for us to try it alone! He has provided for us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who is not only at work in the world around us but is very busy working inside of us. Let’s drill down into the promise Jesus gave to His disciples in the upper room about the coming Spirit.
Message Summary After spending several weeks considering God’s nature and character, we now turn to mankind. What is the purpose of the people inhabiting this planet? How can we fulfill the God-given destiny that He originally had in mind when He placed us here? Someone once said that the two most significant days in one’s life are first, the day we were born, and second, the day we discovered what we were born for. Let’s go back to the beginning.
Message Summary God created humans in His own image. But even with God's imprint in humanity, people have a dark side—a sin nature—because of Adam and Eve's rebellion. One consequence of our rebellion against God is guilt, but in today's society, many people try to minimize both sin and guilt by casting them in a deceptively benign light. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig looks at what the book of Romans has to say about our true condition and its only remedy.
Message Summary Of all the doctrines that adorn the New Testament, salvation is the most personal and the most transformative. Below are the various stages that every saved person goes through in coming to Christ. Today, try to remember what it was like for you when Jesus became real to you and you realized your need for Him to save you, then answer this fundamental question: How has your conversion changed your contentment?
Message Summary Once you decide to repent from your past, say yes to Jesus Christ, and invite Him into your heart, you begin a lifelong relationship with Him. Nothing stays the same. Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Conversion is the gateway to transformation. Let’s consider four clear experiences that happen in the life of everyone who believes.
Message Summary Angels are largely relegated to the realms of mythology and childhood fantasy. Most people never think about them. But angels are very, very real. Martin Luther commented, "An angel is a spiritual creature created by God without a body, for the service of Christendom and of the church." He was partly correct, but angels serve an even greater role than being strictly for the church. Their ministry objective is principally concerned with the glory and majesty of God. Let’s explore some of the noteworthy traits that angels have.
Message Summary Most people today don't believe in the Devil. For them, he's merely a symbol of evil, or he's reduced to a mythical figure with horns and a pitchfork. But the Bible is clear: Satan exists. There is no more powerful foe we face as believers. In this message, Skip Heitzig reveals six surprising facts you may not know about our Enemy.
Message Summary Many voices today are decrying the church, rejecting its message and doubting its relevance. And yet, according to its founder, Jesus Christ, the church is essential. COVID-19 has only served to accentuate the voices on both sides of the argument about the church’s importance, so we find ourselves on a timely subject. As we consider the nature and purpose of the church in this message from our 20/20 series, let’s be committed to being the people of God as the New Testament presents them to be.
Message Summary Not only is the church essential, it is purposeful and practical—it has a reason to exist. Since Jesus said He would build His church, He gets to decide what the distinctive marks of this new community should be. In this most intimate prayer of Jesus recorded in Scripture, we hear what He wants most for His people who He calls His church. Today we will consider the first two characteristics of the church Jesus had in mind.
Message Summary The prayer of Jesus in John 17 is His longest and most intimate recorded in Scripture. Here our Lord expresses His wishes for the new community of His followers we call the church. Since the church belongs to Jesus, since it is Jesus who builds the church (see Matthew 16:18), and since it’s Jesus who paid for the church (see Acts 20:28), He gets to decide what it should be like. So what are the characteristics He wants to see in His followers? What are the marks of a true church? We noted two last week and today we unpack two more.
Message Summary When it comes to the last days or the end times or, for that matter, any Bible prophecy, there is no shortage of speculation and sensationalism. Every generation has its doomsday preachers predicting the end of everything, trying to fit current events into the predictive prophecy so prevalent in Scripture. Yet one day the world will end. So what are the last days and what are the characteristics of that time period? Let’s consider five features.
Message Summary The word rapture is not found in most English translations of Scripture, but the concept of it most certainly is. Latin translations of the New Testament have the word plainly rendered as rapturo, which simply means a catching away or a snatching away. The Bible presents two stages of Jesus’ second coming: first, He will come suddenly in the air to snatch away believers; then He will return to earth at the end of a seven-year period called the tribulation.
Message Summary Jesus said He was coming back (see John 14:3), and an angel told His disciples He would come back to the earth (see Acts 1:11). The second coming of Christ will be the culmination of redemptive history. After history runs its sinister course, after the final period of man’s rebellion, Satan’s retaliation, and God’s judgment is poured out, Jesus will return to planet earth. Today, we will consider four aspects of His return as found in Revelation 19 and throughout the Scriptures.
Message Summary What happens when a believer dies? What will heaven be like? I’ve heard the craziest stories and descriptions about the afterlife over the years, often at funerals. I have since discovered that most people’s (even Christians) ideas about what heaven will be like are vastly different than what Scripture reveals. First off, I hope you indeed are going to heaven. Let’s examine a few things that might surprise you about your heavenly home.
Message Summary Hell is an eternal and biblical reality, but it’s one that has become relegated to the junk pile of modern myths. Actor Woody Allen once said that hell is the abode of all people who annoy him. People speak of hell in daily conversations usually as an expletive without any thought of the somberness of the place. Certainly, of all the Christian doctrines unfolded in Scripture, hell is the toughest one to handle. Let’s get the scriptural scoop.