Summary: Part 1 of 6 in a series on Basic Bible Doctrines.
INTRODUCTION: Most of us know the basics. Big God. Baby Jesus. Our Sin. The Cross. The Resurrection. But beyond that, many of us don’t really know much more about Christianity. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the church when more often than not we don’t actually have clear answers when we get asked about our faith. In this series we’ll look at the foundation of our beliefs and build a Christ-centered confidence built on His truth as we learn why we believe what we believe.
BACKGROUND: The Bible is unarguably an incredible book. Even the most skeptical cannot deny its impact on our world. It is the best-selling, most quoted, most published, most circulated, most translated, most influential book in the history of mankind, and there is no close second. But in the world in which we live an issue that a few generations back would have been a no-brainer, is today one of vital importance – is the Bible reliable? Can we trust what it says? Today we’re bombarded with questions such as
• How can we know that the Bible isn’t just an ancient book of fiction, folklore, or cleverly devised tales invented by deceitful men?
• Haven’t the contents of the Bible been tampered with down through the centuries?
• Isn't the Bible out-of-sync with scientific discoveries?
• What makes the Bible any different than other religious books like the Quran or the Book of Mormon?
These are questions that are being asked, questions we can’t ignore nor be afraid of (they’re not going to go away) perhaps there questions we ourselves have asked or are currently asking… There are (upon honest investigation) a great many reasons to accept and believe in the reliability of the bible, we could do a whole series on this, but for today we’ll just look at a few of them…
• Fulfilled prophecy is something that sets the Bible apart from every other religious book. And the Bible does have some competition today.
• There are 26 other religious books that people of faith believe are divinely inspired (the Hindu Vedas, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, etc.).
• Of these twenty-six books, none of them contain any specific, fulfilled prophecies. None.
• In stark contrast to these other writings; the Bible is literally filled with hundreds of specific, detailed prophecies that were written hundreds of years before their fulfillment.
• In fact 27% of the Bible contains what was predictive prophecy at the time that it was written.
• The authors of the Bible did not just predict some vague things (ala Nostradamus or Jeane Dixon)
• Peter Stoner, a scientist in the area of mathematical probabilities, said in his book Science Speaks that if we take just eight of the Old Testament prophecies Christ fulfilled, we find that the probability of their coming to pass is 1 in 10 to the 17th power
• 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 chances
• What does scripture itself say about prophecy? (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
• Many critics who brush off the Bible as nothing more than compilation of folklore and legends
• Walter Brugemann identified the bible as “remembering an imagined past”
• This however overlooks the fact that thousands of archaeological discoveries over the past century have verified the truthfulness of the Bible.
• “No archeological discovery has ever controverted [overturned] a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.” – Nelson Glueck
• Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence
• Here are a few examples of discoveries that have helped to shed light on the Bible’s reliability
• The Hittites – The critics’ verdict was that the Hittites were nothing more than mythology
• Then in the late 19th century archeologists discovered Hattusa – the Hittite capital
• David - The critics’ verdict was that David was “nothing more than a figure of religious mythology.”
• Then in 1993 the Tel-Dan Stele was discovered inscribed “house of David”
• Pilate – Again the critics’ verdict was that Pilate was “religions mythology”
• Then in 1961 the Pilate inscription was found is Caesarea reading “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.”
• Archaeology has not proven so helpful for other religious writings. Consider the Book of Mormon.
• Not a single solitary item, location, ancient text has been found to support its claims
• From the first book of the Bible, Genesis, to the last book, Revelation, the Bible is absolutely consistent in what it teaches. A claim the bible makes for itself (Proverbs 30:5-6)
• The critics’ evaluation is that scripture is full of errors and contradictions
• Bart Ehrman – “There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament” a pretty damning claim… and it’s true – but it doesn’t mean what we think it means