Summary: What is the reason for your hope. Are you relying on God to carry you through or are you counting on the false hopes of the world to carry you through?
"A REASON FOR OUR HOPE"
1. In 1 Peter 3:15, we find Peter giving the following command:
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;"
2. Here we learn that we are to always be ready to explain the basis of our hope...
a. What reasons are there for the hope we have in Christ?
b. We must be ready to provide such reasons!
3. In this lesson, I wish to share with you a reason for MY hope...
a. There are many reasons I could give, for the evidences for my faith are many
b. But this is where I would begin if I were called upon to give a reason for my hope
4. In sharing with you a reason for my hope, perhaps I can...
a. Strengthen and confirm the hope of my fellow Christians
b. Create faith and hope in the hearts of some who may not yet be Christians
[Let me begin by suggesting some facts which no one can deny, even if one is an atheist or an agnostic...]
I. FACTS WHICH CAN’T BE DENIED
A. JESUS LIVED...
1. Only the most ignorant or prejudiced skeptic would question the historicity of Jesus
2. The reason? The evidence from unbiased sources:
a. Roman historians attest to this fact
1) Tacitus (112 A.D.) in his "Annals"
2) Pliny the Younger (112 A.D.) in his letter to the emperor Trajan
3) Seutonius (120 A.D.), a court official under Hadrian
b. Jewish sources, while denying His deity, attest to His historicity
1) Flavious Jospehus (b. 37 A.D.), a Jewish general and historian makes several references to
2) The Talmud
a) Books of Jewish law, they speak frequently of Jesus
b) Denying not that Jesus lived, only that He was not what He or others claimed
c. Thallus (52 A.D.), a Samaritan historian who tried to explain away the darkness at the
3. So overwhelming is the evidence, even atheistic historians admit Jesus lived
a. "One is obliged to say, ’Here was a man. This part of the tale could not have been invented.’"
(H. G. Wells, Outline Of History)
b. Will Durant spent two chapters on Jesus in his book, The Story Of Our Civilization
B. EVIDENCE FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT AS A HISTORICAL DOCUMENT IS
1. Its authors claim to write as historians or even eyewitnesses to real events
a. Luke, the physician
1) His gospel (Luke) and history of the early church (Acts) compose over a third of the New
b. John, the beloved disciple
1) His gospel (John) was written as an eyewitness account - John 20:30-31; 21:24-25
2) In his epistle (1st John), he claimed to be an eyewitness - 1 John 1:1-4
c. Paul, the Jewish rabbi
1) Half of the books of the New Testament are his personal letters
2) He claimed to have been an eyewitness, along with others - 1 Cor 15:3-8
2. As a historical document, it’s evidence is remarkable!
a. It was written soon after the events it records
1) As stated by Nelson Glueck, former president of the Jewish Theological Seminary in the
Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and renowned Jewish archaeologist: "In my
opinion, every book of the New Testament was written between the forties and eighties of
the First Century A.D."
2) "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book
of the New Testament after 80 A.D." - W. F. Albright, Biblical archaeologist
b. It is noted for its historical accuracy in areas that can be tested
1) "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a
Biblical reference." - Nelson Glueck (noted Jewish archaeologist)
2) "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is
possessed of the true historic sense...in short, this author should be placed along with the
greatest of historians." – Sir William Ramsay
c. The manuscript attestation is for the New Testament unsurpassed
1) In the number of copies for the purpose of comparison
a) There are over 4,000 Greek manuscripts, 13,000 copies of portions of the New Testament
b) Contrast that with other historical documents (Caesar’s "Gallic Wars", only 10 Greek
manuscripts; "Annals" of Tacitus, 2; Livy, 20; Plato, 7; Sophocles, 100)
2) In the time between the originals and earliest copies
a) Fragments exist that are within 50-100 years; complete copies that are within 300-400
years after the originals were written
b) Compare this with manuscripts of other classical histories:
1/ "Histories of Thucydides" - earliest copy is 1300 years removed from the original