Can I Trust the Bible – Part 2

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Are there errors in the Bible.  I get asked that question a lot.  And what they really want to know is how do we know that the Bible is reliable?

Today I’m going to give you 10 powerful reasons why the Bible can be trusted.  No disrespect meant to our Native American friends, but that’s the way it is with these 10 evidences.  No single one will make the case by itself, but when you put them all together, they hit you like a stagecoach.  These 10 proofs will knock you flat with the truth.  Let’s look at them one at a time.

  1. Manuscripts

The manuscripts we have, have been preserved carefully and accurately, so that we can confidently say that somehow God miraculously preserved the Bible.

  1. Archaeology

Archeology has again and again proven that the Bible does correspond to historical reality.

  1. Historical accuracy

Every year there are an increasing number of discoveries and Not one has yet to contradict any single Biblical item!

  1. Scientific agreement

The Bible is not a scientific textbook but it accurately describes life the way it is.   The amazing thing about the Bible is that it was written in a pre-scientific age yet it was preserved from these primitive notions!

  1. Fulfilled Prophecy

This is one of the strongest arguments there is.  There is a wide range of fulfilled predictions in the Bible, many in amazing detail.  In fact we can say that 100% of all the Bible’s prophecies that should be fulfilled, are fulfilled.  It has never once been wrong.

  1. The Bible claims it came from God

Most religious books do not claim they came from God, But not so with the Bible.  3808 times in the Old Testament the writer says something like, “Thus says the Lord.” or “The Word of the Lord came unto me.”

2 Timothy 3:16   All scripture is given by inspiration of God

2 Peter 1:21   men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 2:13  When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you did not receive it as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the very word of God.

This is not proof, in and of itself, but if we are going to claim the Bible came from God, at the very least, it should claim that it did!  Now that we have the claim, if it checks out, we are left with the stunning conclusion that yes, the Bible did come from God!

  1. Jesus lived

If it can be shown that the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – present an accurate record of the life and ministry of Jesus, then Jesus Himself becomes an argument in support of the truth of the Bible.

We’ve already talked about that a few weeks ago.  Now consider the amazing amount of evidence for the resurrection.  There is more evidence for Jesus resurrection than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived, or that Alexander the Great died at the age of 33. It is strange that historians will accept thousands of facts for which they can produce only shreds of evidence.

The first author outside the church to mention Jesus is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote a history of Judaism around AD93. He has two references to Jesus.[i]  One is a reference to James, the brother of “Jesus, the so-called Christ”.  The other is an amazing passage which states:

Around this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. 21 For he was one who did surprising deeds, and a teacher… He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was believed to be the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who in the first place came to love him did not give up their affection for him, for on the third day, (his followers claimed) he appeared to them restored to life… And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, have still to this day not died out.

About 20 years after Josephus we have the Roman politicians Pliny and Tacitus, who held some of the highest offices of state at the beginning of the second century AD. Pliny says that, where he was governor in northern Turkey, Christians worshipped Christ as a god.[ii]

From Tacitus we learn that Jesus was executed while Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect in charge of Judaea.  [iii]

Celsus, the Platonist philosopher, considered Jesus to be a magician who made exorbitant claims.39

Pliny the Younger, a Roman governor and friend of Tacitus, wrote about early Christian worship of Christ “as to a god.”

Suetonius, a Roman writer, lawyer and historian, wrote of riots in 49 C.E. among Jews in Rome which might have been about Christus but which he thought were incited by “the instigator Chrestus.”

Mara bar Serapion, a prisoner of war held by the Romans, wrote a letter to his son that described “the wise Jewish king” in a way that seems to indicate Jesus but does not specify his identity.42

Here is what we learn about Jesus from outside historical documents:[iv]

  1. He unquestionably existed.
  2. His personal name was Jesus.
  3. He was called Christos in Greek and the Romans thought that his name was Christus.
  4. He had a brother named James.
  5. He won over both Jews and Gentiles.
  6. Jewish leaders of the day expressed unfavorable opinions
  7. Pilate rendered the decision that he should be executed.
  8. His execution was specifically by crucifixion.
  9. He was executed during Pontius Pilate’s governorship over Judea during Tiberius’s reign.

Strikingly, there was never any debate in the ancient world about whether Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure. In the earliest literature of the Jewish Rabbis, Jesus was denounced as the illegitimate child of Mary and a sorcerer. Among pagans, the satirist Lucian and philosopher Celsus dismissed Jesus as a scoundrel, but we know of no one in the ancient world who questioned whether Jesus lived.

  1. Internal Evidence

Consider the following experiment.  Imagine setting up a massive literature project which has the goal of answering the greatest questions of life:  questions like:

  • How did the universe come into existence?
  • Does God exist? And if so, what is He like?
  • Why does man exist?
  • What is our purpose for being here?
  • Why is there evil and suffering in the world?
  • What happens to us after we die?

It is going to be difficult enough to get experts to agree on these questions.  However you have some other problems.

This project will take 1500 years!  That’s right, the best you can do is just arrange things ahead of time.  You start it, and then hope it continues smoothly for the next 1400 years.

There must be 40 different writers, in three distinct languages, on three different continents!

They will write in a variety of locations and represent the greatest possible variety of backgrounds:

  • fishermen
  • politicians
  • farmers
  • a doctor
  • scholars
  • uneducated men
  • a General
  • a servant
  • a fig picker

Most of them will never know each of the others, thus you open yourself to the risk that some men will go against the conclusions of the others.

Many will be hounded to death.  Their writings will not be widely accepted, and some of their ideas will bring persecution.  And this pressure may break their resolve and cause them to change their minds, and their writings.

Their historical references must be perfect.  As well as their scientific observations.  After all, if you can’t trust their historic and scientific claims, can you trust their moral judgment?

Now taking all of these disruptive influences, and spreading the effects across 15 centuries, somehow these forty men from the widest possible variety of educational and cultural backgrounds, must produce 66 books, dealing with these awesome questions with no sign of disagreement or disunity!

The Bible was written in three different languages; Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, on three different continents by authors who represented eastern and western culture… yet in spite of all these factors, the Bible is perfectly harmonious!  Only the Bible meets these requirements.  And only God could design and complete such a project!

  1. The Bible has endless depth

There is a depth in the Bible I know nothing about . . .That shows its Divine authorship.

It is simple enough for a five year old to understand its central message, yet an old grey philosopher can never completely grasp its depth.  You can read the Word over and over and because it is a supernatural book, it will constantly give you a fresh new insight each time you read the same passage.

Consider the simple verse from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”  Simple verse, isn’t it!  We can all understand it.  But how simple is it really.

Let me suggest an experiment.  Take any writer.  Say Shakespeare or another great writer.  Read the same passage every day, for a week, with an open mind and heart.  Look for help for your life, guidance in decision making, and fresh insights daily.

Then try the same thing for a week with any chapter in the Bible.  The Bible will come alive with insight and freshness, while Shakespeare will just be the same old story.

10 Life Changes

Millions of people have been changed when they come to Christ.  Drug addicts, drunks, prostitutes, politicians, middle class people;  every kind of person who comes face to face with the claims of Christ and gives in has a changed life.

The story is told of a college professor who visited the Fiji Islands.  Being agnostic, he critically remarked to an elderly chief, “You’re a great leader, but it’s a pity you’ve been taken in by those foreign missionaries.  They only want to get rich through you.  No one believes the Bible anymore.  People are tired of the threadbare story of Christ dying on a cross for the sins of mankind.  They know better now.  I’m sorry you’ve been so foolish as to accept their story.”

The old chief’s eyes flashed as he answered, “See that great rock over there?  On it we smashed the heads of our victims.  Notice the furnace next to it? In that oven we formerly roasted the bodies of our enemies.  If it hadn’t been for those good missionaries and the love of Jesus that changed us from cannibals into Christians, you’d never leave this place alive!  You’d better thank the Lord for the Gospel; otherwise we’d already be feasting on you.  If it weren’t for the Bible, you’d be supper!

A poet put it this way:

Century after century, there it stands!

Empires rise and fall and are forgotten, There it stands!

Emperors decree its extermination.

Legislators outlaw its teaching.

Atheists rail against it.

Critics deny it.

Fogs of argumentation conceal it temporarily.

Modern man tries to explain it away.

Infidels predict its abandonment.

There it stands!

Storms of hate swirl about it.

Thunderbolts of wrath smite it.

An anvil, that has broken a million hammers!

The flames are kindled about it.

The arrows of hate

are discharged against it.

The tooth of time gnaws but dents it not.

There it stands!

It is God’s highway to Paradise.

It is the light on the pathway

in the darkest night.

It answers every question of the soul.

It solves every problem of life.

It is a fortress which never fails.

It outlives, outlifts, outloves, outreaches, outranks,

outruns all other books.

Trust it, love it, obey it,

and Eternal life is yours…THERE IT STANDS!

 

[i] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/14/what-is-the-historical-evidence-that-jesus-christ-lived-and-died

[ii] https://www.bethinking.org/jesus/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources

[iii] https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/did-jesus-exist/

[iv] https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/did-jesus-exist/

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