But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (Acts 24:14, N.K.J.V.)
As part of his defense before the Roman governor Felix, Paul unashamedly proclaimed that he believed all the things that were written in the Law and in the Prophets. This meant that he believed everything written in the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), and it also meant that he believed everything that was written in the books from the various prophets of the Old Testament era. Even more than that, since the term “The Law and the Prophets” can be used to refer to the entirety of the Old Testament (Matthew 7:12), Paul believed everything written in the “wisdom” books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) too.
And just what is it that believing all of the Old Testament entails? Oh, not much. You just have to believe a whole bunch of things that a whole bunch of people call utterly unbelievable. Here is a list of 20 such things to get you started:
- God created all of creation in six 24-hour days (days with an evening and a morning).
- Adam and Eve were real people who ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
- God once flooded the entire earth with water that covered the highest mountain peaks worldwide.
- God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone because of the rampant homosexuality that was pervasive in those cities.
- God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush.
- God struck Egypt with ten devastating plagues.
- God parted the waters of the Red Sea so the Israelites could walk through on dry ground.
- God made a donkey talk to the prophet Balaam.
- God parted the waters of the Jordan River so the Israelites could walk through on dry ground.
- God made the sun stand still for Joshua.
- Samson killed 1,000 Philistines in one day using only the jawbone of a donkey as a weapon.
- David killed a giant named Goliath, who was almost ten-feet tall.
- At the word of the prophet Elijah, it didn’t rain in Israel for three-and-a-half years.
- Elijah didn’t physically die but was instead taken up into heaven by way of a chariot of fire.
- The prophet Elisha raised the son of a Shunamite woman from the dead.
- The Angel of the Lord killed 185,000 soldiers in one night as they slept.
- The prophet Daniel survived being cast into a den of ravenous lions.
- Daniel’s three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) survived being cast into a fiery furnace.
- The story of Jonah is literally true, even the part about him living inside the belly of the great fish/whale/sea monster.
- All the prophecies from the Old Testament prophets about a coming Messianic kingdom upon the earth will one day come to pass.
The fact is that scientists who dogmatically hold to the theory of evolution can’t get past the first item on that list. Liberal preachers who think the story of the Garden of Eden is some type of mythical allegory can’t get past the second item. Archaeologists who think the flood of Noah was merely a localized catastrophe can’t get past the third item. Anyone who thinks that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle in the eyes of God can’t get past the fourth item. Agnostics can’t get past the fifth item. You get the idea. Just name your Old Testament story, and there’s someone out there who doesn’t believe it as written.
This is to say nothing, of course, of believing the entirety of the New Testament as well. Certain academic types question that Jesus ever lived, let alone that He performed miracles, died on the cross for the sins of the world, and arose from the dead. Liberal theologians doubt the virgin birth. Feminists don’t believe all those passages in which Paul says that the wife should be submitted to the husband. Pacifists don’t believe Romans 13:1-5, a text that describes where capital punishment fits into God’s plan for government. Racists don’t believe all the verses that say that God is no respecter of persons and shows no partiality. Satanists don’t believe Revelation 20:10, which promises that Satan will spend eternity in the lake of fire. Atheists don’t believe the passages that describe heaven and hell. Legalists don’t believe that salvation comes simply by grace through faith in Jesus. Women preachers don’t believe 1 Timothy 2:11-15, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9, three passages that plainly teach that only men should serve as pastors.
How sad it is that so many people attempt to treat the Bible like a buffet line at a restaurant. They pick and choose the stuff they like, what they can accept as being believable truth, and then refuse to accept the rest of the book as being of the same ilk. Speaking as a preacher, I can’t imagine operating that way. If I had to figure out which passages I was going to believe and which ones I wasn’t, I’d just quit preaching altogether. Like Paul said in his day about the Old Testament, I believe all the things that are written in the book. Show me a preacher who doesn’t, and I’ll show you a man who should quit the ministry. For that matter, show me a supposed Christian who doesn’t, and I’ll show you a person who has good reason to doubt that he or she is even saved at all.