Monday, October 31, 2016

Six Reasons I Believe the Bible is True

How do we know the Bible is the truth?[1]

1. Internal Witness - The Bible says it is the truth.
2. Historical Witness - 2000 years of church history.
3. Universal Witness - The word works in every culture.    
4. Personal Witness - The Word has changed my life.
5. Spirit Bearing Witness - The Holy Spirit reveals the truth of God’s word.
6. Witness of others - the Word changes people’s lives.

[1] Dr. Howard Ervin

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Proof for God's Existence - The Bible

6. The Bible - Biblical Proof
(1) The Bible is true.
(2) The Bible says God exists.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

Is the Bible trustworthy? Is the Bible reliable? Or is it just legend written by primitive shepherds? Some might say that  ancient shepherds wrote the Bible. I reply, “Yes, it was written by a shepherd, a Good Shepherd, who is looking for you, His lost sheep.

a. The Bible is Reliable
The Bible contains 66 books written by around 39 different authors over 1,600 years (between approximately 1700 B.C. and 100 A.D.) in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The authors of these books include shepherds, prophets, kings, priests, poets, students, musicians, philosophers, fishermen, a tent maker, and a doctor. It is full of poetry, proverbs, letters, laws, histories, prophecies, philosophy, and stories.

Throughout the Bible there is remarkable unity. Despite being written by many different men and in many different time periods, the entire Bible has one theme, our salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Bible was inspired by God and written down by men. “All Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). We do not read the Bible in the same way that we read other books. When people read the Iliad or Shakespeare they read those books as literature. But the Bible is God’s word to you. Before you can grasp the Bible, you have to choose to believe it. If you are not willing to kneel when you read the Bible, you will never fully understand it.

The Bible was faithfully transmitted.
We do not have the original manuscripts of the Bible, however scribes carefully transcribed the original writings. These copies were carefully made and are very accurate. The scribes who copied the Bible considered it to be God’s word and they were meticulous as they copied each letter. Their method of copying is so precise that the New Testament is 99.5% accurate.

There are almost 6,000 copies of the New Testament in the Greek language and 21,000 copies in other languages including Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic. Among all these copies, there is less then .5% variation (half of 1%).[1] Most variations can be accounted for by a slight spelling variation, or word repetition or omission. These variations can be easily corrected by comparing the vast number of manuscripts that we have available.

Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament is Overwhelming.
Based on manuscript evidence, the New Testament has been faithfully transmitted to us far more accurately then the writings of any other ancient writer. For example, Plato died in 347 B.C., but the earliest manuscript of Plato that has survived is from A.D. 900. There is a 1,200 year gap between the time of Plato and the approximate date of his earliest surviving manuscript. Unfortunately, only seven copies of his manuscripts are known to be in existence. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) studied at the feet of Plato and tutored Alexander the Great. His earliest surviving manuscript is from A.D. 1100, one thousand years after he wrote. We have a mere 49 copies of his writings. Homer wrote the Iliad around 900 B.C. His earliest manuscript is from 400 B.C., five hundred years after he wrote. We have 643 known copies of his writings.
In contrast, the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament are dated to around 130 A.D., less then one hundred years after the Apostles penned the originals. There is one fragment of the book of John that might date to the late First Century or early Second Century.[2]
We have seven copies of Plato’s writings and over 5,600 copies of the New Testament. Yet, few scholars question Plato’s existence or doubt the validity of his writings. There is far more evidence for the New Testament and the life of Jesus then there is for any other historical figure from his time period. If one rejects the evidence for the manuscripts about the words of Jesus, then one must equally reject the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Homer because there is far more evidence for the reliable transfer of the New Testament then there is for any other ancient manuscript.
It is likely that the entire New Testament was written during the First Century. If Jesus was crucified in A.D. 30, every book of the New Testament was written within seventy years of his death. When Paul talks about the reality of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:4) he is writing only twenty years after the event took place. In contrast, the earliest bibliography that is available about the life of Buddha was written over six hundred years after Buddha’s death. When the New Testament was being written, there were still people alive who remembered the events of his life, death, and resurrection. The Bible is not legends passed down over centuries; it is living history recorded by participants in the events.

[2] John Rylands Papyri A.D. 125.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

My Father's Testimony Proves that God Exists

My father was chosen to attend West Point, the most elite military school in the United States. He was intellectual and arrogant. He read lots of philosophy and at one point he thought he was one of the five smartest men in the world. He said, “I never met the other four, but I figure I am in the top five.” But, two weeks before graduation, a great tragedy happened in his life. My father walked into the campus bookstore and saw a jacket that he liked. He had money in his pocket, but instead of paying for the jacket, he tucked under his arm and walked out of the store. Two military policemen saw him and arrested him for theft. He told them, “I just forgot to pay” but they did not believe him. Because of this incident he was not allowed to graduate.

If my father had graduated, he would have entered the military as a second lieutenant. But, because of his mistake, he was forced to serve as a private. The Army sent him to Germany where he was assigned to be an orderly at a military hospital. Instead of commanding troops, he was cleaning toilets.

In the hospital, he met a man who was a Christian. The man tried to witness to my father, but my father argued vehemently with him. My father thought the Christian was foolish and stupid because he had no answer for my father’s philosophical diatribes. But one day, my father realized he was miserable and the Christian man was happy. My father thought to himself, “Why am I so smart but miserable while this dumb Christian man is always happy?” My father decided to investigate Christianity.

My father read through the entire Bible in four months. He started in Genesis and read straight through to the book of Revelation. By the time he finished, he realized that he believed the Bible and he became a Christian. Once he became a believer, his life completely transformed. His arrogance and pride went away and he started caring about other people.

A few years later, after my father met and married my mother, he was called into the ministry. He remembered that his Christian friend had talked about attending school at Oral Roberts University. My father decided to apply to the seminary at ORU. When he arrived on campus, he found the apartment of the man who had witnessed to him and knocked on the door. The friend never knew my father had become a Christian and all he remembered was the bitter arguments. He actually tried to slam the door in my father’s face. But my father stuck his foot in the door and exclaimed, “No you don’t understand. I have changed. I am a Christian now!”

The Testimony of Saul
There is no greater testimony then that of Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle. He was born a Jew and studied under Gamaliel, the greatest rabbi of his time. He fervently hated  Christians. He stood by when one Christian named Stephen was stoned and he threw Christians in prison. He received permission to travel to Damascus and persecute Christ-followers there. On the road to Damascus he had a surprise encounter with the risen Christ. Jesus appeared to him in a bright light. The bright light blinded him and he knocked him off his horse. Because of this encounter, he became a Christian and wrote over half of the New Testament. Saul went from murdering Christians to being a Christian. A living God instantly changed his life and the same God still changes people’s lives today.

Old things become new.
When people give their lives to God, a radical change happens in that person’s life. Thousands of Christians have testimonies about how their lives have been changed by the power of God. The Apostle Paul explained, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Proof for God's Existence - The Religious Experience Argument

Redemption - Religious Experience Argument
(1) I know a man who used to lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, and even murder.
(2) After he became a Christian, his life was completely changed and he s
topped his self-destructive behavior.
(3) God was the cause of his turnaround.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

There is often a tangible, visible change when someone becomes a Christian. When I see a man who is a compulsive gambler, a mean drunk, and a wife abuser become a Christian and turn his life around completely, I say, “Yes, God is there!”

Luis Palau shares a story about an atheist who proclaimed during a debate, “Atheism has done more for the world than Christianity.” In response, the speaker challenged the atheist to bring one hundred men whose lives have been changed for the better by atheism and he promised to bring one hundred men whose lives have been changed for the better by Christ. The atheist was forced to sit down because he knew he would lose the challenge.[1]

Atheists mock Christian faith by pretending to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Invisible Pink Unicorn. They ask the Spaghetti Monster to extend his noodly appendage, and they offer fake worship to him with macaroni strainers on their heads. But, whose life has ever been changed by these make-believe gods? When did the Invisible Pink Unicorn ever cure a drug addiction? When did the Flying Spaghetti Monster ever turn a wife abuser into a loving husband? Christianity is the only religion that can completely change a man’s life instantaneously.

[1] Luis Palau, God is Relevant. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1997.