Sermons for Today

Mt.Gilead CHURCH OF CHRIST

"Where you are always welcome"


Sermons for Today

        

Christian Evidences

(Inspiration of the Bible)

 

Introduction


I.             There is a God.

This one fact makes all miracles possible in the time frame and setting specified by our Creator.  Therefore the Bible is not ridiculous or out-of-touch with reality.

II.           Importance of the subject. John 12:48  That is, if there is a God, then What does he want from us?  Answer:  to follow his word!

But do we really have his word?  How can we test the Bible to see if it is from him?  The rest of this paper/outline is for the purpose of analyzing methods and reasons for Biblical inspiration.

Body


I.             Eliminating the possibilities.

A.           There are only so many works of significance that claim inspiration.

1.                  The Koran – Moslems

2.                  The Book of Mormon and related works – Latter-Day Saints

3.                  Bogovad Gheta – Hindu writings

4.                  The Bible

B.           Of these, the Hindus and Buddhists don’t really look at their religion as having a guide for reality, but rather for philosophy.  In other words, they would not care to debate the accuracy or “correctness” of their writings since they don’t feel constrained to follow them like a pattern or rulebook.  So we will leave off consideration of idolatrous philosophical works like this.

C.           The Book of Mormon is supposed to be in addition to the Bible and rely upon Bible truths.  If the Bible is shown to be inspired then the Mormon book stands or falls on what the Bible says about its own completeness.  In short, the Mormon books are not needed and have no independent value or corroboration in fact. – cf. 2 Pet.1:3 and 2 Timothy 3:15-17

D.           As to the Koran, it denies the Divinity of Christ.  If Christ’s divinity can be established then that work will have been shown false.  Furthermore, the Koran cannot be tested to provide evidence of inspiration.  Where are its prophecies?  Where are its insights into History, Science, or Sin?  If its founder is a violent conqueror with various defects (Mohammed), then his writings that justify him must be false as well.

E.           This leaves us with the Bible.  Either it is inspired or God has left us without direction.  Let us examine it.

II.           Unity of the Bible (Genesis to Revelation)

A.           The Bible was written over a period of about 1500 years or more (depending on when Job was written).

B.           The Bible, though with many different authors, was written as one complete book.  It’s unity is seen in the many details.

1.                  The central figure of every book is the Lord Jesus Christ, either overtly stated or implied in the verses.  Even Old Testament books show this by prophesying about Christ or detailing some characteristic of God which Christ fulfills.

2.                  For example, all of the prophecies of Christ are in harmony with one another and complement each other to give a full picture of what was to come in the form of Jesus.[1]

C.           A sample comparison of just two books, Genesis and Revelation, show incredible unity.

1.                  Gen: Creation of the heavens and the earth (1:1)

2.                  Rev: Creation of the new heavens and the new earth (21:1)

3.                  The first man, Adam, with his wife in an earthly paradise, called to reign over the earth (1:27-28)

4.                  Christ, the last Adam, with his bride, the church, in the paradise of god, there to reign forever (21:9; 3:21)

5.                  In the midst of the garden, the tree of life and the river to water it (2:9-10)

6.                  In this paradise, the tree of life and the river of water of life (2:7; 22:1-2)

7.                  Appearance of Satan, the Tempter (chap.3)

8.                  Final judgment of Satan (12:9; 20:10)

9.                  Beginning of sin and the fall of man; who, expelled from paradise, became subject to the first death (3:19,24; Rom. 5:12)

10.              End of sin, with the restoration of man.  Marrigae feast of the Lam and eternal life in paradise.  (19:7; 22:1-5)  Second death fo the impenitent (20:14-15; 14:10-11)

11.              First, universal judgment, by the flood (chapters 6-9)

12.              Last judgment by fire (20:11; 2 Pet. 3:6-12)

13.              At Babel, God’s destruction of the unity of the human race, and confusion of tongues (chap. 11)

14.              Before, the Heavenly throne, unity sealed by the blood of the Lamb, gathering together of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. (5:9)

15.              Preparation by God of the redemption of humanity through his creating of Israel, the elect people, the beneficiaries of eternal promises. (chapter 12)[2]

16.              Redemption of the true Israel of God, the elect of the New Covenant in 21:12-14, see Galatians 6.

17.              Let’s see man do that!

Therefore, even though written over hundreds of years (make reference to Dead Sea scrolls) the Bible is still one story, even though written by the hands of many men.

III.          Harmony of the Bible (no contradictions)

A.           Christians should ever be ready to challenge unbelievers to find just one.

B.           Remember that omissions are not contradictions!  You wouldn’t need four gospel accounts if each one was identical in subject matter.

C.           J.W. McGarvey does a wonderful job of showing coincidences between the gospel accounts that were obviously not designed.[3]

IV.         Historical Accuracy

John 20:30,31 The integrity of the writers cannot be impugned.  Archeology testifies to it, and secular writers even back up its references to Jesus.  The Bible passes all the tests, so there is no other sane conclusion than that it is inspired.

A.           All the cities existed.  All the titles given to Roman officials are true.  All the geographic locations are there even to this day.

B.           Secular writers give testimony (though theirs is flawed in detail and contradicts – it is from man) to the rise of Christianity.

1.                  Tacitus(55-117 or so A.D.) – He said Nero, the Roman Emporer, “falsly charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians…Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius…”

2.                  Pliny the Younger(c. A.D.112) – He was governor of Bithynia and having a hard time with persecuting such a large number of Christians, speaking of trying to make them “curse Christ, which a genuine Christian cannot be induced to do.”[4]

3.                  Josephus(37-100A.D.) – A jewish historian, he wrote of “the so-called Christ” and had other things to say about Jesus.[5]

C.           The point of the last few observations is that the Bible is not based on mythologies of supposed places and happenings.  These points will be brought up later on in some arguments.

D.           There are three basic tests of a document to determine its reliability: 

1.                  Biographical Evidence test – have the Bible documents been transmitted down through time?  The answer here is an obvious, yes.  There is no other historical document that can even come close to the literally thousands of ancient manuscript copies of various parts of the Bible which show faithful transmission over the centuries.  In fact, if we had the originals, there would be a problem of having someone sneak and change something which others would then think the writers actually said.  No one can sneak and change thousands of copies all over the globe.

2.                  Internal Evidence test – As to the text of the Bible itself, we find that the Scripture testifies to itself, and that the writers bore consistent eye-witness to the things that they speak of. The Bible does this in the New Testament by giving us the testimony of Jesus (Luke 24:46,47; Heb. 10:7; Rev. 19:10).  Thus, the New Testament claims its own inspiration by proclaiming the promises of Jesus and the fulfillment of those promises.  It is recorded in the New Testament that Christ promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth (John 16:12-15).  This point needs to be remembered for later reference.    In addition, Matthew 10:19,20 tells how the Holy Spirit would speak for them when they faced opponents and critics (see also Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12).  All of this is presented in such a way as to give multiple witnesses to the truth of what was said.  These witnesses cannot just be discounted, and they would not in a court of law.

3.                  External Evidence test – Does the world situation when the books of the Bible were written, match the description given in the Bible?  Yes, they do.  Whether it be the location of a city, the title to an official, or the custom of the people, modern finds and coincidental information show that the Bible is totally reliable in what it says existed and when it existed.[6]

V.          Prophecy Fulfillment

A.           “His coming was prophesied in the fine detail, as to lineage, birthplace, time, career, purpose, nature of death, resurrection, and many other things, hundreds of year prior to His actual appearance.  Of no other religious leader – indeed, of no other man – in all history was such a thing true.”[7]  See I Pet. 1:20

B.           Isaiah 41:22-23a

C.           Prophecies relating to Christ Deut. 18:18; Micah 4:2; Micah 5:1,2

D.           Prophecies relating to the kingdom and covenant, Jer. 31:31-14; Dan. 2:44

E.           Many others could be given, but let us examine the possibility of the prophecy being “cooked-up”.

1.                  There are two basic reasons, and probably many more, as to why the prophecies are not fabricated.

a)                  First, there was no reason for the Old Testament prophets to give the prophecies to start with.  Why tell small details about a Savior that will come far in the future and leave it as an incomplete picture of what is to come at best.  There was no way of knowing others would prophecy like you were and fill in the gaps.  Even if others did prophecy, there’s just no point in it (if they were really ungodly men).  Not to mention that none of the prophets, if uninspired, could have know that there would be a bunch of people coming around in several hundred years to write fulfillment to their prophecies!  They could not have known of the coming of Christianity!

b)                  Secondly, the New Testament writers couldn’t have started a movement the way they did in the first Century.  Their reasoning for why people should become Christians is that Jesus fulfilled prophecy and answered to the things mentioned in the Old Testament.  If  in fact Jesus did not do the things they said, or the prophecies were not in place, then no one would have understood Sermons like in Acts 2, much less believed them!  The fact is that they did believe, and Christianity spread like wild fire based on fulfillment of prophecy – see Acts 6:7.

 

VI.         Unique preservation of the Scriptures

A.           When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, they agreed with other Hebrew documents from 1000 years later.

B.           Having copies of manuscripts and not the originals actually prevents tampering in that it would be impossible to go and change all the copies.

C.           We have much, much more copies (in the thousands) of the New Testament than any other work from the same time period in history.

D.           “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” – Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33

VII.       Inspiration by Common Acceptance

A.           By this I mean that there are certain reasons why people believe in the Bible, and these reasons do not necessarily have to do with archeology, science (although we will touch on that), or other disciplines.

B.           People believe in the Bible because it has the ring of truth to it.  Think about it.  When you were younger, did you believe because of that one prophecy someone showed you?  I doubt it.  Did you believe because of some scientific wonder just discovered that the Bible had already mentioned.  I don’t think so.  When you read the Bible, you read it as truth, and in hearing it and reading it, it confirmed itself to you as truth in the nature of the message.  I am not talking about some mysterious moving of the Spirit.  When you read a mystery book or a fantasy book, you know that what you are reading is fiction.  Now, what if someone tore off the front cover and told you to read the book.  You would still know very soon that you were reading fiction.  The Bible is different from that.  That is, when you picked it up you were probably influenced by someone who you respected as rational and sincere.  This person or these other people believed it, why shouldn’t you?  And then when you read the words, they spoke to the needs of your heart.  Think about it, you may have been a young teenager, but you were searching when you read the Bible, and in it you found what you were looking for.  God has given us all a sense of right and wrong (conscience), and when you read or heard of Jesus Christ and the Cross, that conscience was stirred.  Further investigation of the Bible showed you that there were some matters that you deemed to be boring in it, but that just heightened your appreciation for its attention to detail and made you realize that it was not given to the sensationalism that keeps peoples attention in the works of fiction.  There are great mysteries revealed in the Bible, to be sure, but not so much philosophy as to keep you from learning what God wanted you to do.  The more you heard the gospel and read it, the more disturbed you became, until you were motivated to obey.  But obedience requires belief.  So, for the most part unconsciously, you decided in your mind what every ounce of common sense and accumulated knowledge was telling you, that the Bible was truth.  Now we may strengthen that truth by looking at the details of all these things we have been examining, but it still remains that these details are just ways of putting into words what already knew in general.  You knew that reality was consistent, practical, and cannot be ignored.  Likewise the Bible has been there and will always be, stays focused on Jesus, and answered to your every need.  Therefore, you accepted its truths.

VIII.     We know of God and observe His creation, but what gives the creation meaning and explains it? (Bible & Science)

A.           The Bible was not designed as a science textbook, so if it gives us any insights into the scientific field, that is all the more astounding.

B.           The Bible naturally is in accordance with modern scientific understanding and common sense.

1.                  For instance, let us look at Genesis 1:1.  Modern science says that there must be a continuum of space, time, and matter/energy before something can exist.  In Genesis 1:1 we find just these things:  “In the beginning (time), God created (energetic happening) the heaven (space) and the earth (matter).”[8]

2.                  Ecclesiastes 1:7 speaks of the process of condensation and evaporation.

Isaiah 40:22; Job 38:16; Levitical laws of cleanliness; many more).  Are all of these just lucky guesses?  Note that the Biblical writers were not given to flights of fancy in describing the world or nature like mythologies or other ancient writers do.

 

Conclusion


I.             The Bible and profound themes

A.           The Bible provides man with a complete revelation and deals with all profound themes.

B.           Right and Wrong, Mankind’s destiny, his salvation, the Creators nature and plan for man, it is all in there.

II.           “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.” – Isa. 40:8

III.          Matt. 24:35 – Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass…



[1] Tom W. Snyder, “Unity as proof of Inspiration”, (Tenn. Bible Col., 1987)

[2] Ibid., p.7, from lecture by E.R. Brannon.

[3] J.W. McGarvey, Evidences of Christianity, (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Co., 1974), pp. 83ff

[4] Ibid., p.12.

[5] Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), pp. 323-324.

[6] Dennis Lowe, “Historical Evidence of Divine Inspiration”, (Tenn. Bible Col., 1987)

[7] Henry M. Morris, Many Infallible Proofs, (El Cajon, Calif.: Master Books, 1974), p. 12.

[8] Ibid., p. 230