Monday, September 13, 2010

A Biblical Foundation Part 5: The Bible is Believable

The Bible isn’t something we can try and prove using the “scientific method”. Historical events aren’t observable, measurable and repeatable. Although Isaac Newton may have used the scientific method to prove that gravity exists, we cannot use the scientific method to prove that Isaac Newton discovered gravity itself. So if you actually had a problem with the Bible because you can’t apply the scientific method, you have got a problem with history itself.

If something is written, you must use evidence as the witness to its truth. The only way you can question it is if you don’t have corroboration or there is internal inconsistency. There is no credible claim of any internal inconsistency and we have multiple streams of corroboration. We have three different languages used in scripture; Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. We have three different continents that scripture was written on; Asia, Africa and Europe. We have over 40 authors who contributed to the writing of scripture, most of whom never met one another because they wrote over a period of some 1600 hundred years.

Based on the evidentiary method, not the scientific method, we conclude, as some have summarized, that the Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eye witnesses during the lifetime of other eye witnesses. They report to us supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecy and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin.

Jesus and the Old Testament – Jesus said the OT was about Him (Luke 24:27 / John 5:39). He quotes from every section: the Pentateuch, the Wisdom Literature, the Poetry, the Prophets (both major and minor), and the Historical material.

When dealing with the people of His day, whether it was with the disciples or religious rulers, Jesus constantly referred to the OT: (Matthew 12:3, 21:16 (citing Psalm 8:2), and 22:31).

Jesus confirmed many of the historical accounts in the OT, such as the destruction of Sodom and the death of Lot’s wife (Luke 17:29, 32), the murder of Abel by his brother Cain (Luke 11:51), the calling of Moses (Mark 12:26), the manna given in the wilderness (John 6:31-51), the judgment upon Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 11:21), and many others.

Jesus also authenticated some of the passages that are most disputed today. Many modern scholars do not believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the OT, but Jesus did (see Matthew 19:8-9 / Mark 12:29-31 / John 7:19). Some modern scholars also assume the existence of more than one writer of Isaiah, but Jesus believed in only one. In Luke 4:17-21, He cites Isaiah 61:1-2 (the so-called second Isaiah), while in Matthew 15:7-9, He refers to the first part of Isaiah’s work (Isaiah 6:9). The account of Daniel is rejected today by many, but the Lord Jesus believed him to be a prophet (Matthew 24:15). The account of Adam and Eve often is ridiculed today as legend, but Jesus believed the story to be true (Matthew 19:1-6). Likewise, the narrative of Noah and the great flood not only is authenticated by Jesus (Matthew 24:37), it also is used as an example of His second coming. The account of Jonah and the “whale” is used by Jesus as a sign of His resurrection (Matthew 12:39ff).

Jesus used the OT authoritatively – Matthew 4:1-10 – The devil actually uses Scripture to tempt Jesus (Psalm 91:11-12), but Jesus quotes right back to him: (Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16, 6:13). Jesus believed in the OT.

Jesus and the New Testament – John 16:12-13 – Some talk as if only the words of Jesus are needed and the words of the Apostles are not necessary, as if the words of Jesus are somehow against the words given by the Holy Spirit to the other biblical writers. Jesus himself dismisses with this idea, Christ said that the Spirit would not only bring all the teachings of Jesus to their remembrance, but that He would also bring new truth and revelation to the Apostles upon His death. The epistles do not confuse the teachings of Christ, they magnify them. Paul declared that “we have the mind of Christ” in accordance with Jesus’ own words (1 Corinthians 2:16). If we want to truly be “red letter Christians” then we ought to pay attention to what those red letters of Jesus have to say about the authority of the apostolic writings. Jesus believed in the NT.

Jesus and KJV only – 1 Peter 1:24-25 (Isaiah 40:8) / Psalm 119:160 – God’s Word endures in some form believers will be able to access from generation to generation. It is not that every single word will be preserved in a certain form, but every concept, principle, law, doctrine.

In Matthew 5:18, when Jesus uses the phrase – “iota or dot (jot and tittle)” this does not mean that we will always be able to point to a single copy and say that every period and paragraph is written exactly the same as in the original. A letter perfect form of God’s Word could not be identified with certainty even in Jesus time. Multiple copies already existed, and variations included whole words. Jesus quoted freely from the handmade copies of the Greek version of the OT known as the Septuagint.

Scripture is Trustworthy – we can trust the Bible even if we don’t have the original documents.

The Abundance of Existing Manuscripts – the New Testament is by far the most preserved text of the ancient world, both in terms of the number of existing manuscripts and the time difference between the earliest manuscripts we have and the originals they represent.

The Insignificance of Most Variants – There are many good reasons for a rock solid confidence that 98-99% (not an abstract number) is the same as the original, and even then, it is not that 98-99% percent of the original text exists; it is that more than 100 % exists. We have all the originals say; in that 1-2% that is different, scholars try and find what is likely not original and discard it. It is never mere conjecture. This confidence in the text is shared by people of many theological positions, across conservative/liberal lines, denominational lines, etc.

The Preservation of Primary Doctrines – no major doctrine of the Christian faith is affected in any significant way by any viable textual variant. Those few places where we are not sure never encroach on any issue of major significance, they are doubts on how to spell a few names, word order, differences in style, or confusion concerning synonyms.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

1 comment:

Even So... said...

This is part of session #2 in a basic training and membership class at our church. You can see all nine weeks in .pdf form on the front page at

You can also see and download them from our "eDocs" section at SermonAudio...