Rabu, Agustus 04, 2010

THE BIBLE’S PROOF

Updated July 27, 2010 (first published April 10, 2002) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org)

In the final analysis, a man must accept that the Bible is the Word of God by faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

At the same time, Bible faith is not a blind leap into the dark. It is confidence in a believable Record that God has given, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The writers of the Bible explain to us that they were not delivering cunningly devised fables but an inspired record based on “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3; 2 Peter 1:16).

Following are some of the objective, time-proven reasons why we can have complete confidence in the Bible:

1. The Bible’s unique construction proves that it is the Word of God.

The Bible was written by 40 different authors representing some 19 different occupations (shepherd, soldier, farmer, fisherman, tax collector, medical doctor, king, etc.) who lived during a period of some 1,600 years. That is approximately 50 generations. The first 39 chapters of the Bible were written in the Hebrew language over a period of about 1,000 years. There was then a 400-year gap when no Scriptures were written. After that, the last 27 chapters of the Bible were written in the Greek language during a period covering roughly 50 years. The writers could not have collaborated, because they did not live at the same time. Yet the product is one book that fits together perfectly and contains no contradictions or errors. There is nothing else like this in all of man’s history. Some have claimed to have found mistakes in the Bible, but I have studied it for 37 years and each time I have considered a supposed error or contradiction, I have found that the Bible is true and the critic is wrong. (See our book Things Hard to Be Understood: A Handbook of Biblical Difficulties.)

2. The confidence and sincerity of the Bible’s authors prove that it is the Word of God.

The Bible testifies that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21), and an examination of the lives of the Bible’s writers rings true to this testimony. These were serious men. They came from all walks of life. They were men of good reputation and sound mind. Many of them were viciously persecuted and killed for the testimony they held. They were not enriched by the prophecies they gave. Far from it; many were impoverished. Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible, chose to live a life of terrific hardship in the service of God as opposed to the millionaire’s life he could have lived as the adopted son of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Many Bible writers made similar choices. Their motivation certainly was not covetousness and worldly advantage. These were not perfect men, but they were holy men. They claimed that God had put His hand upon them to speak His Word. The lives they lived, and the testimonies they held, and the deaths they died gave mighty evidence that they were telling the truth.

3. Fulfilled prophecy proves the Bible to be the Word of God.

The Bible contains a vast amount of prophecy, much of which has been fulfilled. The predictions are precise and detailed, and the fulfillment is exact.

Prophecies Pertaining to Jesus Christ

Jesus’ entire life was written down in the Old Testament part of the Bible before He was born. These prophecies described His birthplace (Micah 5:2), virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), sinless life (Isaiah 53:9), miracles (Isa. 35:5), wonderful speech (Isaiah 50:4), rejection by the Jewish nation (Isaiah 53:2), crucifixion (Psalm 22:16), burial in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9), resurrection (Psalm 16), and many other things.

Prophecies about Israel

The continued existence of Israel is one of history’s most amazing stories, and it was prophesied in Scripture in great detail.

Israel’s history was prophesied by Moses and recorded in the book of Deuteronomy about 4,000 years ago. God warned that if Israel broke His law she would be “plucked from off the land” and scattered “among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deut. 28:63-64). There the Jews would “find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life” (Deut. 28:65-66).

This is an accurate description of Israel’s history from the first century until now. Jerusalem was conquered in 70 A.D. by the Roman armies under Titus. The Jewish temple was destroyed and the city walls were torn down. Sixty-five years later Jerusalem was plowed under on the order of Emperor Hadrian in response to the Jewish rebellion led by Bar Kochbar. The Jewish people were scattered to the ends of the earth and found no rest. They were hated by the Muslims and hounded and persecuted by the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church for a thousand years. Hitler’s regime tried to destroy them. Giving preference to the Arabs, England tried to keep them from returning to their land after World War II. They are the object of hatred until this very day. Most of the world is opposed to Israel and the reporting in secular publications about the Middle East crisis is generally slanted against her.

All of this was foretold in Bible prophecy, but the prophecy also said that Israel would be brought back into her land and that she would remain a nation even after all of this, and that is exactly what happened in 1948. Never before in the history of the world has a nation of people been scattered throughout the world and persecuted for 2,000 years and then come back together as a nation with their ancient language intact. This is a divine miracle.

Bible prophecy describes the restoration of Israel in two parts. First, she would return to the land in a position of unbelief. Then she would be converted. The amazing prophecy in Ezekiel 37:1-14 describes Israel’s restoration in these two stages. She is described as a valley of bones that are resurrected.

“Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4-6).

In verses 11-14, Ezekiel states that this vision pertains to the restoration of Israel to her land and to her repentance toward God. The dry bones symbolize Israel in her scattered, spiritually dead condition. When Ezekiel prophesies, the bones are brought back together and given life and become a great army, and this happens in two stages (verse 7-10). First the bones are given sinews and flesh, and next God breaths upon them and they live.

The first part of the prophecy has been fulfilled. Israel has been back in her land as a nation since 1948, but she is there in unbelief and spiritual death. She continues to reject her Messiah, Jesus Christ. She has no temple and priesthood and no true worship. She lives in constant fear.

But she is back in the land just as the Bible prophesied. In 1800 there were only six thousand Jews in Palestine, but by 2000 there were over five million (John Ecob, Amillennialism Weighed and Found Wanting, Herald of Hope, p. 44-45).

During the Great Tribulation God will grant repentance unto Israel and will breathe spiritual life into her and she will live.

The continued existence of Israel is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is a very great miracle and an irrefutable evidence of the divine inspiration of the Bible.

4. The Bible’s factualness and scientific accuracy proves that it is the Word of God.

Everything the Bible says is true and factual.

For example, the Bible says man is a sinner, and that is not difficult to confirm. Just look at the world! When asked for his opinion on original sin, Samuel Johnson, the famous British lexicographer, replied, “With respect to original sin, the inquiry is not necessary, for whatever is the cause of human corruption, men are evidently and confessedly so corrupt, that all the laws of heaven and earth are insufficient to restrain them from crimes.” David Berlinski, a Princeton-educated “secular Jew,” says, “One need hardly be a Christian to appreciate the wisdom in these remarks” (The Devil’s Delusion, p. 33).

The Bible is true not only in its statements about man, but also in its statements about everything. Though the Bible is not a scientific manual, it is scientifically accurate, even from its earliest pages, which were written nearly 4,000 years ago.

Following are some examples of the Bible’s scientific accuracy, beginning with statements from the pages of Job, probably the oldest book in the Bible. The late Henry Morris, who had a Ph.D. in geology, said:

“These references are modern in perspective, with never a hint of the mythical exaggerations and errors characteristic of other ancient writings ... perhaps of even greater significance is the fact that in a 4000-year-old book filled with numerous references to natural phenomena, there are no scientific mistakes or fallacies” (The Remarkable Record of Job).

Job said the earth is hung upon nothing (Job 26:7). This is obvious to our modern generation, as we have seen the actual pictures of the earth hanging in space, but to previous generations it was not obvious and there were many commonly-held myths about the earth sitting on the back of Atlas or a turtle or an elephant, etc.

Job said the air has weight (“the weight for the winds,” Job 28:25). It was not until the 17th century that Galileo discovered that atmosphere has weight, and the modern science of aerodynamics is based on this scientific fact. Further, the weight of air is important in the function of the earth’s weather. “The ‘weight of the winds’ controls the worldwide air mass movements that transport the waters evaporated from the oceans inland over the continents” (Morris, The Remarkable Record of Job).

Job described the springs of the sea (Job 38:16). Man had no way to know about the fresh-water springs on the ocean floor by firsthand observation until recent times. Modern science has discovered that there are thousands of underwater springs that add millions of metric tons of water into the oceans each year.

Job understood that light has a way and that darkness has a place (Job 38:19). “That is, light is not to be located in a certain place or situation. Neither does it simply appear, or disappear, instantaneously. Light is traveling! It dwells in a ‘way,’ always on the way to someplace else. Though usually traveling in waves, sometimes it seems to move as a stream of particles, but it is always moving. When light stops, there is darkness. Thus, darkness is static, staying in place; but light is dynamic, dwelling in a way” (Morris).

The Bible says that the light creates wind (Job 38:24), but it is only in recent times that modern weather science has discovered that wind is created as the sun heats up the surface of the earth, causing the hot air to rise and cooler air to fall, creating weather systems.

Job describes the amazing hydrological cycle (evaporation, atmospheric circulation, condensation, precipitation, run-off) (Job 38:25-30). The process of evaporation and condensation was not discovered until the 17th century and not well understood until the 20th.

The Bible says plants and animals reproduce after their kind (Genesis 1). This is in perfect harmony with everything that can be observed and tested by modern science. There is great variety within kinds, all sorts of different roses and trees and frogs and dogs, but there is no reproduction between kinds, between roses and trees or frogs and dogs.

The Bible says the heavens cannot be measured and the stars are without number (Genesis 22:17; Jeremiah 31:37). Before the invention of the telescope, man could see only a few hundred stars with the naked eye. Yet today we know that the stars are innumerable, just as the Bible says. There are 300 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone. In 1999, observations by NASA astronomers, using the Hubble Space Telescope, suggested that there are 125 billion galaxies in the universe. The most up-to-date star count was announced in July 2003 as 70 sextillion observable stars (70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). This was the conclusion of the world’s largest galaxy study, the Two-Degree Field Galaxy Redshift Survey, which is considered 10 times more accurate than previous ones. The team of scientists did not physically count the stars. Instead they used some of the world’s most powerful telescopes to count all of the galaxies in one region of the universe and then to estimate how many stars each galaxy contained by measuring its brightness. They then extrapolated these figures out to the whole universe visible through telescopes. This massive figure, of course, probably covers only a tiny percentage of the actual stars.

The Bible says there are paths in the sea (Isaiah 43:16). Since the 19th century the ocean currents or paths have been charted and ships travel these paths just as trucks travel on roads. Writing in the mid-1800s, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Superintendent of the U.S. Navy’s Depot of Charts and Instruments in Washington, D.C., observed, “There is a river in the ocean: in the severest droughts it never fails, and in the mightiest floods it never overflows; its banks and its bottom are of cold water, while its current is of warm; the Gulf of Mexico is its fountain, and its mouth is in the Arctic Seas. It is the Gulf Stream” (Maury, The Physical Geography of the Sea, 6th ed., 1856, p. 25). Since then, other sea paths have been discovered.

The Bible says the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). This was written about 3,500 years ago, but it was not understood scientifically until recent times. For centuries doctors used “blood letting” as a healing method. George Washington, America’s first president, probably died because of this bogus practice. Modern medicine has learned what the Bible has taught all along, that the life of the flesh is in the blood. The amazing system of blood vessels and capillaries carries the life-giving oxygen and other necessary elements to every part of the body. The blood also forms a major part of the infection fighting and clotting systems, which are necessary for the “life of the flesh.”

The Bible is not book of science, but wherever the Bible touches on science it is accurate. This proves its divine origin, because all other ancient books are filled with scientific errors. Even science books just 100 years old are filled with errors.

5. The Bible’s candor proves that it is the Word of God.

When men write biographies of their heroes, they commonly omit or whitewash their faults; but the Bible exhibits its divine quality by showing man as he is. Even the best of men in the Bible are described with all their faults. We read of Adam’s rebellion, Noah’s drunkenness, David’s adultery, Solomon’s apostasy, Jonah’s pity party, Peter’s disavowal of his Master, Paul and Barnabas’ petty strife, and the disciples’ unbelief in the face of Christ’s resurrection. The Bible was written by Jews, yet it candidly describes the faults of the Jewish people: their stubbornness and unbelief that caused them to have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years; their idolatry during the period of the judges; their rebellion that caused them to be rejected from the land and scattered throughout the earth for two millennia; their rejection of the Messiah.

6. The Bible’s indestructibility proves that it is the Word of God.

The following is from the Christian Home Bible Course:

The Greek writer, Porphyry, tried to destroy the credibility of the Bible back in 304 A.D. In the process he wrote fifteen books against the Bible and Christianity in general. Did he succeed? Apparently not. The Bible is still around. And as for Porphyry, well, let’s put it this way; can you name his fifteen books? Can anybody name just one?

Porphyry is just one of the many people who, throughout history, have tried to ban, burn, destroy, outlaw, restrict, ridicule, or discredit the Bible.

Another example is a Greek writer of satire by the name of Lucian, who wrote two books in the second century to ridicule the Bible. These books were named The Dialogue of the Gods and The Dialogue of the Dead. There’s an extremely good chance that you don’t have a copy of either of these two books in your personal library. Yet you probably have a Bible somewhere around the house, which is a testimony to the Bible’s ability to “out survive” its attackers.

If Porphyry and Lucian would have just read the Bible instead of attacking it they could have saved a lot of time, because the Bible says: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:6-7).

In A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict to stop Christians from worshipping Jesus Christ and to destroy their Scriptures. Twenty-five years later his successor, Constantine, issued another edict ordering fifty Bibles to be published at government expense. Too bad Diocletian didn’t believe the Bible’s promise. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Atheist Robert Ingersoll once boasted, “Within 15 years I’ll have the Bible lodged in a morgue.” Well, within 15 years, Robert Ingersoll was lodged within a morgue, but the Bible lives on!

Down through the centuries many attacks have been made against the Bible, but there have been some, who after examining the facts have changed their opinion. Here are two examples:

General Lew Wallace was a territorial governor following the days of the U.S. Civil War. He had been a senator in Indiana at the age of 29 and was considered a very scholarly man. He had no confidence in Christianity or the Bible, so he set out to write a skeptical book to disprove both. In his study he instead found the Bible and Jesus Christ to be true, and became himself a devout Christian. General Wallace never wrote his book against the Bible. He wrote instead the classic Christian novel Ben Hur.

William Ramsey, the English scholar went to Asia Minor with the expressed purpose of proving the Bible was historically inaccurate. As he painstakingly poured over the ancient artifacts and details, to his amazement he found that the Bible was accurate down to the tiniest detail. The evidence was so convincing that Sir Ramsey himself became a Christian and a biblical scholar.

Down through the years, the Bible has been a mighty anvil that has worn out many of the puny hammers of the scoffers. (This information is adapted from the Christian Home Bible Course.)

7. The Bible’s doctrine of salvation proves it is the Word of God.

The Bible is the only religious Scripture that teaches the doctrine of salvation by grace. Every other one teaches salvation by works. Hinduism says salvation is through practicing dharma and working out one’s karma. Islam says salvation is by surrender to Allah and obedience to his commands. Buddhism says salvation is by reaching nirvana through life works and meditation and asceticism. If you visit the Buddhist monastery at Boudha in Kathmandu any time of the day you will find Buddhists walking clockwise, fingering their prayer beads and twirling their prayer wheels. They do this because they are trying to work out their salvation.

The Bible, on the other hand, says that salvation is God’s free gift to sinners. This gift was very costly for the Giver. It was purchased with a great price, which was the atoning sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross. But for the sinner it is free.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The Bible says there is nothing that the sinner can offer God in order to atone for his sins. What could we offer? Righteous works? The Bible says our righteousness is as filthy rags before God’s great holiness (Isaiah 64:6). Money? What would the God of creation do with our pathetic currency? A pure heart? The Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). How, then, could we purchase our own salvation?

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

No, salvation is the free unmerited gift of a loving and deeply compassionate God. As the Christian hymn says, “We owed a debt we could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe.”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

8. The Bible’s invitations prove it is the Word of God.

The Bible invites the hearer to partake of its spiritual realities and thus prove for himself its genuineness: “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8); “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28); “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17); “ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ... come ye, buy and eat” (Isaiah 55:1); “look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22).

The Bible promises that “he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself...” (1 John 5:10).

God will prove Himself to the sincere seeker.

We have looked at eight major evidences that the Bible is what it claims to be, the very Word of God.

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