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Text: Psalm 119:133; Hebrews 4:12
Psalm 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Today we will affirm how the Bible is the Word of God, even from unsaved Historians, and that we can trust the Bible to be the authority of our lives and our church.
ARGUMENTS OF NON-BELIEVERS
1. We have no proof that Jesus even existed except for the Bible!
Richard Dawkins, in his book, “The God Delusion” says, “Professor G.A. Wills of London University says that a study of history gives a serious historical case that Jesus never existed.”
2. Jesus isn’t God! He was a good man but not God.
Emperor Constantine invented the idea that Jesus is actually God in the 4th Century. He elevated Jesus from being a good Jewish teacher to being God. Under his instructions the Nicene Council of 425, 4th Century, declared Jesus to be God and not just a man.
3. In the Greek N.T. there are some 136,000 words. Of all the different manuscripts, when composed there is between 300,000-400,000 variances in those manuscripts. How do you explain that?
“So when you are challenged to why you believe the Bible is true what will you say?” We will answer all three of these arguments.
HOW TO KNOW THE BIBLE IS TRUE: THREE TESTS HISTORIANS APPLY TO ANCIENT BOOKS:
I. THE HONESTY TEST
Did the writer care about truth and were they honest in making sure what they said was true?
Luke 1:1-4 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Does this sound like someone who cares about truth?
Some say the story of Christ is just a myth. Listen to what Peter said who spent years with Christ.
II Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Observe the “senses” John uses when he tells us about Jesus Christ.
I John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
ILLUSTRATION: When people make up lies & stories they leave them vague. They are intentionally vague because they can’t prove their story to be true. If they give a lot of detail you had better check them out.
EXAMPLE: Evolution: Big Bang…but where are the details?
QUOTE: “If all of creation came from a “Big Bang” then God is the Big Banger.”
NOTE: Look at the details:
Luke 3:1-2 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
NOTE: 15th year, not 14th or 16th…15th! When, during the reign of Tiberius Caesar….details.
If it wasn’t true, skeptics could prove it wrong and discredit it.
FACT: Even skeptical scholars believe Luke is an incredibly accurate historian. He cared about truth and details.
SIGNS OF CREDIBLE TESTIMONY:
1. CRITERION OF EMBARRASSMENT: IF THEY CARE ABOUT TRUTH, THEY WILL PRESENT FACTS AND INFORMATION EVEN THOUGH IT MAKES THEM LOOK BAD.
EXAMPLE: “No one likes to make themselves look bad, they lie to make themselves look good.”
QUESTION: Do the gospel writers say things that make themselves look bad?
1. Peter told how he denied Christ. (IN ALL 4 GOSPELS)
2. Told how Jesus called Peter, satan, told him to get behind him. (Matthew and Mark)
3. How they argued over who was the greatest among themselves. (Mark 9:34; Luke 22:24)
4. After many teaching sessions, they privately asked Jesus to explain what He had taught because they did not understand. Were they dumb? (Matt, Mark and Luke)
5. How they slept in the Garden when Jesus needed them to pray: (Matthew, Mark and Luke)
6. How after His arrest they ALL forsook him. (Matthew 26:56)
7. Paul: Killing Christians, conflict with Barnabas, conflict with Simon Peter.
8. Resurrection Day: Women discover the empty tomb. Why is that odd? In that culture, women were not educated and could not testify in a court of law, so their testimony would have been considered worthless. (All 4 gospels)
“If you were not interested in truth and details you sure wouldn’t tell the resurrection story that way.”
2. CRITERION OF DEATH: THEY WERE WILLING TO DIE FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVED. “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ”
5: Peter, Andrew, Phillip, Simon the Zealot, Thaddeus (Judas, son of James) were crucified.
1: Bartholomew was beaten to death then crucified upside down
1: James beheaded by Herod
1: Matthew/Levi died in Ethiopia, chopped to death by an axe.
1: Mathias was stoned to death
1: Judas hung himself
1: Thomas was thrust through 4 times with a spear
1: John lived to an old age and his body was never found.
Two more: Both were Anti-Jesus before their conversion (John 7:5): 1) James, ½ brother to Jesus and 2) Paul “Both willingly laid down their lives for Christ.”
“What more could these writers do to convince us that what they told us about Jesus Christ is true.”
“They cared about truth.”
II. THE TELEPHONE TEST
Game: One person tells a phrase, and then the next person repeats it, on and on until the last person quotes the phrase out loud. Information is lost as it is passed from one to another.
In this game, 1) the less people involved and 2) the less time lost between times of sharing, the greater chance for accuracy.
NOTE: before the printing press, everything was written by hand. As the paper or skins they wrote on faded or disintegrated they would recopy. Over and over and over they had to recopy. The longer the generations passed the greater chance for error.
NOTE: 2,000 years have passed. Do we have reason to believe what has been passed down to us is accurate?
Textual critics ask 2 questions:
1. How much time do we have between the time it was actually written to the copies you have in front of you?
REMEMBER: The original would disintegrate or fade, then it would have to be recopied before it was lost…repeated from generation to generation.
So, the questions is, how close can we get back to the original? The more generations that pass, the greater chance of error.
2. How many manuscripts or portions do we have?
ILLUSTRATION: HOW MANY COPIES OR PORTIONS TO RECONSTRUCT FROM
1. WRITINGS OF CAESAR 10 MANUSCRIPTS
2. PLATO’S TETRALOGIES 7 MANUSCRIPTS
3. TACITUS 20 MANUSCRIPTS (MOST RELIABLE ROMAN HISTORIAN)
4. POEM: ILIAD OF HOMER 643 MANUSCRIPTS
5. NEW TESTAMENT 24,633 MANUSCRIPTS
ILLUSTRATION: TIME TABLE FROM ORIGINAL, TO THE FIRST KNOWN COPIES
1. PLINY THE YOUNGER 750 YR. GAP (ROMAN HISTORIES)
From the time between him writing it and the copy or portions we presently have.
2. PLATO’S TETRALOGIES 1200 YR. GAP
“Do you think secular scholars are skeptical about reconstructing what they wrote?” NO!
3. WRITINGS OF CAESAR 1000 YR. GAP
4. NEW TESTAMENT 50 YR. GAP
QUOTE: Dan Wallace: Dallas Theological Seminary: “We have more and earlier manuscripts about the person of Jesus Christ than we do of anyone else in ancient history, including Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great! There are not too many skeptics of these guys:
“We have more evidence that Jesus existed than any other person in the ancient world, that no one ever questions their existence.”
REMEMBER: Basically 136,000 words in Greek N.T. and there are 300,000-400,000 variances: Here is your answer:
1. 75-85% is just spelling: Ex. John, Johnn = 2Ns
2. Other: Ex. Book of Mark: Some scribes used the word “He” in many places instead of using the name Jesus…others wrote in the name Jesus.
3. Fact: A) Some of the variants don’t take away the meaning of the text, in fact some help give clarity. B) Less than 1% of all variants have anything to do with central doctrines or important events. C) What this means: even if you are a skeptic and not a Christian, if you apply these Tests (Honesty, Telephone) you have to conclude that what we hold in our hands as N.T. Scripture is what the disciples first wrote down 2,000 years ago. There is more evidence for Jesus and his claims than any of his contemporaries, even though they had far more secular power and position and prominence than Jesus.
III. THE CORROBORATION TEST: EVIDENCE OUTSIDE THE DOCUMENT THAT SUPPORTS OR CONFIRMS THE CLAIMS OF THE DOCUMENT
These scholars are very careful, detailed, and even considered boring by those who are looking for a “headline”. Jesus is gay, Jesus had an affair with Mary Magdalene.”
They deal with only what they can prove without adding drama or exaggeration.
“THERE ARE 10 NON-CHRISTIAN SOURCES THAT REFERENCE JESUS AND WHO HE CLAIMS TO BE.”
1. Thallas: Historian who wrote Koine Greek: Some believe his works give the earliest reference to the historical Jesus, some 20 years after his crucifixion.
2. Mara-bar-Serapion: Stoic Philosopher, writing from prison, refers to the crucifixion of Jesus, “the execution of the wise king of the Jews.”
3. Josephus: Jewish Historian: refers to Jesus two times: 1) As the famous teacher and healer 2) As the brother of James who was executed and that Jesus was referred to by the title Christ.
4. Tacitus: Considered the greatest Roman Historian: confirms Jesus was executed under direction of Pontius Pilot.
5. Pliny the Younger: 61-112 A.D.: Lawyer, Author and Magistrate of Ancient Rome: He executed Christians for their worship and belief in Jesus Christ.
6. Suetonius = Roman Historian: 69-122 A.D. Referred to Christians and Jesus Christ in his work, “Lives of the 12 Caesars”.
7. Lucian of Samosata: Satirist: Comedian A.D. 125-180
8. Celsus: Greek Philosopher: in all of his 1st books addresses the person, Jesus, as “Chresto”
9. Talmud: Jewish Law Book
10. Jewish Bible
FACT: Jesus existence, fame as a teacher and healer and crucifixion under Pontius Pilot and being called by the title “Christ” would be regarded as beyond reasonable doubt by virtually all professional historians in any reputable university around the world.
Example of today’s atheist: Richard Dawkins: “The God Delusion”: He claims that Jesus Christ did not even exist. His authority that he uses is Professor G.A. Willis of London University. WOW! What he doesn’t tell you is Professor Willis is a professor of music, not a historian….something fishy about these “new atheists”.
B. MULTIPLE ATTESTATIONS
Historians regard the Gospels as a very important source for our knowledge of historical Jesus.
KEY: The N.T. is a collection of sources from different writers over the span of many years.
The writers wrote independently of each other. They did not write in collusion with each other. Even the skeptics accept this fact.
Because these different sources say roughly the same thing about persons and events, that makes their teaching more believable and historically reliable.
C. EARLY EVIDENCE
Some skeptics say the N.T. was written 100’s of years after the life and death of Christ. That is not true!!
NOTE: The oldest book (written test) is St. John. It was written in 90 A.D. That is 57 years after Christ’s death.
INCREDIBLE: “Oral Teaching”: What followers of Christ believed and taught before the books of the N.T. were written.
I Corinthians 15:3-5 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
The Gospel: The death, burial and resurrection is believed to have been taught within months after the death and resurrection of Christ. Scholars and historians place this around 35 A.D.
FACT: As Paul quotes the “Gospel” and puts it into print, it proves that the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ was not from a legend growing up over time, but was written in the N.T.
QUESTION: Why is that so important?
How long after Christ’s death was the literature of Christ written? That is the issue!! (50 years)
1. Mohammed: founder of Islamic faith: the earliest biography of him was written around 760 A.D. That is 125 years after his death.
2. Buddha: the earliest records of his life were written 350 years after his death.
“All Islamic and Buddhist scholars agree.”
Pool of Bethesda: John 5 “Pool 5 columns holding up the porches over the pool.
Pool of Siloam: John 9: Dug all around in the Siloam district of the city but could not find the pool. June 2004 while working on the sewage in the old city, they accidentally uncovered the steps leading down to the pool.
Remember I began by telling you the teaching that Christ was God was invented in 425 by Constantine at the Council of Nicene, in the 4th Century. Jesus was just a man. Dan Brown used this information to write “The Da Vinci Code”.
Nov. 8, 2005: In Megiddo, when adding onto a prison, they found a house (renovated into a church) that is the oldest church in Israel. It pre-dates Constantine and the Nicene Council by more than a century. On the floor of this house/church is a Mosaic 580 sq. ft. This Mosaic has fish symbols and Gr. Inscription that these believers worshipped the God, Jesus Christ.
Most people aren’t free: Enslaved to Past, Habits, Fears, Expectations of Others, Finances, Bitterness and Can’t Forgive, Own Desires, and don’t know how to change, things you don’t like about yourself but you can’t change.
“Know the truth, the truth will set you free.”
CONCLUSION: ALL OF THESE FACTS ARE GREAT, BUT THE MOST COMPELLING FACT IS, THE BIBLE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.
John 8:31-32 “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 14:6 “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
1) You can’t just straddle the fence.
2) You can’t just be impartial about Jesus.
3) If Jesus isn’t who He said He was, then let’s go home: Close churches, hospitals, and schools because they were all started by Christians. First school and hospital and church!
4) If He is the way, truth and life, you owe him your life. You owe Him your worship.
ILLUSTRATION: My name is Doug Ripley.
I am a good teacher: ok, I buy that.
I am a godly man: ok, maybe.
I am a Prophet of God: ok, speaks God’s Word.
I am the Son of God, the only way to Heaven: That changes the situation: Jesus is either the biggest con-man or the Son of God.
I’m betting my life that the Bible is true. What are you betting your life on?
1. Don’t let blood be thicker that Bible.
2. Don’t let money be more valuable than Bible.
3. Don’t let sin be more exciting than Bible.
4. Don’t let career be more important than Bible.
5. Don’t let anything or anyone take your Bible away from you!