Exposing The Da Vinci Code, Pt. 3
2 Peter 3:14-18 Luke 1:1-4
As we have learned over the last 2 sermons, there are problems with the many blasphemies within “The Da Vince Code” and there is the burden of proof that goes unanswered by Dan Brown’s silly scholarship. Barnamin Bailey, the great circus entertainer once said, “You may be able to fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all of the time!” That’s an appropriate statement that describes just what’s happening with this book of fiction.
We live in an increasing hostile world towards the Bible, faith and miracles. The group that is waging this battle falls into the category called…“Philosophical Naturalism”. From the pulpit to the politician this thinking is becoming a rampant and dominant force!
This is a term that all Christians need to become familiar with.
Philosophical Naturalism = the idea that the physical reality falls within the boundaries of space and time, and that’s all there is. The supernatural doesn’t exist!
So the possibility of a resurrection is unthinkable and the power of God working in a person’s life is absurd!
Key: The scholarship that drives “The Da Vinci Code” is soaking in this philosophy!
Since the 20th century, there has been a deliberate attempt to give every other book of antiquity unquestionable validation. I see a double standard. I ask, don’t the Gospels deserve to be treated at face value, as generously as any other historical document?
A.N. Sherwin-White writes a generation ago in “Roman Society and Roman Law in The New testament”, “It is astonishing that while Greco- Roman historians have been growing in confidence, the 20th century study of the Gospel narratives, starting from no less promising material, has been taken so gloomy a turn.”
With that said, let’s turn the corner and head for the finish line. Now that we’ve exposed 4 false codes for what they are, let’s take into consideration the gospels. What other evidences do we have that help solidify our position that the N.T. as we have it is reliable?
For the sake of time let’s just look at Luke…
1. Who Was Luke?
A. The author of the third Gospel never uses his own name, but through careful comparison of Scripture with Scripture we find that he was "Luke, the beloved physician" (Col. 4:14).
B. He was a close traveling companion of Paul from his second missionary journey on. (Acts 16:10, "we")
C. He was a man with high academic training as a doctor, and faithfully ministered to Paul’s physical needs (II Tim. 4:9-16).
D. He was a historian of great intellect, writing in exquisite style and of Greek in both Luke and in the book of Acts.
E. Luke was not an eyewitness to the events recorded in his Gospel.
F. Most think that Luke wrote this book before Paul was martyred in Rome about 65 A.D.
In verse 4:
“Certainty” = this is a rich word that was used in very seriously in classical Greek. Homer, the Greek philosopher and poet used this word in 900 B.C., which meant…“That which is immovable, steadfast, unshakable and unfailing.”
The word developed over the next 50 years to describe a technical legal term for money that was paid as an assurance that one would live up to his word. Modern day we would see this as a security deposit or the bond of one’s word.
“Instructed” = catechize; we get our word “catechism”
It’s possible that he was a recent convert to Christianity and he was about to be baptized, “New Believer’s Class”. Delivered from a pagan background!
2. What Did Luke Use For His Primary Source?
Eyewitnesses! Vs. 2
Notice in verse 3: “Having perfect understanding of all…”
Literally: “having traced out all things from their source.”
· Luke tells us that he researched his facts before he penned them. He did not just decide to make up a bunch of stuff. He investigated what he wrote.
· He spoke to the eyewitnesses that could have included, Mary the mother of Jesus, his brothers (Matthew 12:47-49, John 2:12, 7:3-10), the seventy (Luke 10:1) and others.
· It’s one thing to write something, it is another to research the facts. Journalism seems to fall a little short on that one.
· It is possible that when Paul was in prison at Caesarea, Luke had 2 years time to be able to meet many of these eyewitnesses and get his records correct and then be led by the Holy Spirit to write a masterpiece!
Luke says that the sources that he used were those who were eyewitnesses. In a court of law, we do not accept hearsay evidence. The most accepted form of evidence is from an eyewitness.
Get this: If you have primary source information, then once that information is compiled together then what do you have – a “Primary Source Document”.
That’s exactly what the Bible is and there’s nothing more powerful used in court cases!
Listen to a couple of passages:
1 John 1:3 “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:16 “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
Acts 4:19-20 “But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard."
3. How Well Does Luke Perform?
Sir William Ramsay writes: “The present writer takes the view that Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness. At this point we are describing what reasons and arguments changed the mind of one who began under the impression that the history was written long after the events and that it was untrustworthy as a whole.”
In all, Luke names thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands without error.
F. F. Bruce writes: “Now, all these evidences of accuracy are not accidental. A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where the means for testing him are not available. Accuracy is a habit of mind, and we know from happy (or unhappy) experience that some people are habitually accurate just as others can be depended upon to be inaccurate. Luke’s record entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy.”
Henry J. Cadbury, a professor from Harvard University, writes: “The historical worth of the Acts of the Apostles is not to be expressed merely in such negative terms. In itself it often carries its own evidences of accuracy, of intelligent grasp of its theme, of fullness of information. Its stories are not thin and colorless but packed with variety and substance. There is reason for the modern scholar to ponder them carefully, to examine them in detail...It can be cited to show that the author of Acts is dealing with facts and reality.”
4. What Does All This Prove?
I am going to be giving you fascinating facts:
There had been efforts to discredit the Bible by liberal scholars who start off with the premise that the Bible cannot be the Word of God.
The way liberals scholars try to discredit the Bible is to say that the New Testament books were written in the 2nd century A.D. This would discredit the fact that eyewitnesses wrote the books.
· How many of you have heard of the Greek poet Homer who wrote among other things the classic the Iliad? Homer wrote this book in about 900 BC. Guess how old the earliest copy we have is? 400 B.C. That’s a 500 years gap!
Do you hear people doubting the accuracy and authenticity of The Iliad?
· By the way did you know that there are only 643 manuscripts still in existence from antiquity!
Homers’ writing was the most well supported document in antiquity with 643 copies.
· No one doubts the accuracy of Caesars Gallic Wars which we wrote between 58-50 B.C. citing his military campaigns.
· Guess what, there are only 10 good copies of this and the oldest one dates to 900 A.D., over 1,000 years from when it was penned?
· Aristotle’s writing are taken as accurate.
There is over a 1,400-year gap between when he wrote and the oldest copies we have. Further more, there are only 49 copies of any one of his writings.
· This theory came crashing down when the John Ryland fragment was found which contained John 18:31-37. This text dated to 125 A.D. it shows that the book had to be finished before that time since it was a known fact that the Gospel of John was the last book completed.
You see…if you get the New Testament written in the second century, then you have a book that is making false claims.
Today many people say: if the Bible was the word of God that it can’t be today because it was copied so many times. This is a concern that needs to be answered.
· The New Testament has over 24,000 manuscripts with the earliest one dating 125 AD, within 25 years of the completion of the New Testament.
· From 125 A.D. to 325 A.D. we have over 5,000 partial or full Greek (we have close to 20,000 in other languages like Latin) manuscripts of the different books of the Bible. When you put all of them together, there is less than one half of a hand-written page (of over 500 pages in the Greek) of the New Testament that comes into question. None of that ½ page changes any doctrinal teaching.
· Let me put it this way…if we all had to copy a 500-page book by hand, each of us would miss a word or a phrase, but when you put all 100 of us together and compile our work, you would have an accurate copy of the original.
· The Old Testament used to take a lot of heat from the scholars because the oldest known copy of the Old Testament came from 900 A.D. They say, “You can’t trust the accuracy of the Old Testament since the last Old Testament book (Malachi) was written around 425 B.C.” These are the same people who would not question Aristotle, Caesar or Plato with better than 1,000 years between the oldest copies and when they wrote them.
· In March of 1947 an Arab shepherd was looking for a lost lamb when he tossed a rock into a hole in a cliff on the West side of the Dead Sea about 8 miles south of Jericho. To his surprise he heard the shattering of pottery. He discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls that had been written around 200-100 B.C. They were hidden in the cave just before Titus The Roman General marched into Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and destroyed the city. There were several jars with leather scrolls that had not been opened for over 1900 years!
· Guess what they found. When they looked at the scrolls, one thing they found was a full scroll over 24 feet long and 10 inches high of he book of Isaiah. When they translated it from the Hebrew, they found that in Isaiah 53 of the 166 words, there were only 17 letters in question, 10 of them were simply a matter of spelling and the others were stylistic changes that did not alter the meaning.
· Two of the Isaiah scrolls when translated, proved to be word for word identical to our Hebrew Bible over 95% of the text, word for word.
· The Bible was written over a 1500 year span. It was written over 40 generations by over 40 authors from every walk of life from Kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, scholars, etc.
· It was written in different places, on 3 continents. It was written in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and some Aramaic. It covers 100’s of subjects and it has a central theme that flows together. It does not contradict itself! WOW!
· If I had time I could go into…the accuracy of predictive prophecy in Isaiah 53 and many other places. He predicts over 400 years before Jesus came exactly what would happen to Him. Whenever the Bible can be proven, it ALWAYS has been proven very accurate.
The great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson said that, “The real concern is only with a thousandth part of the entire text. This would make the New Testament 99.9% free of significant variants.
Professor Bruce Metzger, of Princeton, estimated that, “The Mahabharata of Hinduism is copied with only about 90% accuracy and Homer’s Illiad with 95%. By comparison, the New Testament is about 99.5% accurate.”
I gave you a lot today. I did that because I feel that if we are going to grow in Christ, we have to believe with 100% certainty that the Bible is the inspired word of God.
It has been said in studies that 90% of the homes in the US have a Bible, but that less than 50% take time to read it. Folks, there is a treasure waiting for us to grab, that treasure is Jesus; we will find Him in the Bible. The New Testament is one of the most -- if not the most -- accurately copied books from the ancient world.
Sherwood Eddy in his “PORTRAIT OF JESUS” gives us a beautiful description of His character.
"More than 1900 years ago there was a man born contrary to the laws of life. This Man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity...Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which He lived… that was during His exile in childhood.
In infancy He startled a king: in childhood He puzzled the doctors: in manhood He ruled the course of nature, walked upon the billows as if on pavement, and hushed the sea to sleep.
He never wrote a book, yet all the libraries in the country could not hold the books that have been written about Him. He never wrote a song, and yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the songwriters combined. He never founded a college, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students.”
The names of the past-proved statesmen of Greece and Rome have come and gone. The names of the past scientists, philosophers, and theologians have come and gone; but the Name of this Man abounds more and more.
Though time has spread 1990 years between the people of this generation and the scene of His crucifixion, yet He still lives. Herod could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him.
He stands forth upon the highest pinnacle of Heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by saints, and feared by devils, as the living personal Christ, our Lord, our Savior and God."