Why Believe

WHY BELIEVE? ENGAGING TOUGH QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD

Part 4 – How Can I Know The Bible Is True?
2 Peter 1:12-21

February 4, 2018
Dr. Mark S. Hartman, Lead Pastor

INTRODUCTION

1. TWO POPULAR OBJECTIONS TO THE BIBLE

  • Objection #1 – The Bible has been changed so many times over the centuries that we don’t actually know what the original writings were.
  • How and when the New Testament books were actually written:

Jesus was crucified and resurrected sometime between the years 30 – 33 AD. Within 15-20 years of His resurrection many of Paul’s books like Galatians, Philippians and 1 Corinthians had been written. In 1 Corinthians 15:3–8, Paul inserts an official statement that had been agreed upon by all those who had seen and met with Jesus after His resurrection – a group of over 500 people. That statement was based upon information formed immediately after the resurrection.

The Gospel of Mark is believed to be the first gospel written, around 60 AD, within 30 years of Jesus’ resurrection. It was written by Mark but dictated to him by Peter, himself. Over the course of those 30 years, Peter had been teaching all those stories found in the Gospel of Mark about Jesus over and over again to groups for three decades from Jerusalem all the way to Rome. Those stories were collected and made up the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Matthew and Luke were both written with 5 years of Mark, using the Gospel of Mark as one resource. Another resource was a second official collection of stories about Jesus which had been put together by all the apostles and eyewitnesses. Scholars call it the “Q Source”. Luke also used other eyewitness accounts, one of which is believed to be Mary, the mother of Jesus. Matthew was himself an eyewitness.

All of the rest of Paul writings were completed by 65 AD, the year he was executed in Rome. The Gospel of John and the book of Revelation were the last two books of the New Testament written, both written by the Apostle John, an eyewitness, just a few years before his death. My point is, the New Testament books were written by apostles, eyewitnesses and men whose books had been approved by those who were actually there to physically see the events.

  • (Bible scholars and historians have totally discredited Dan Brown’s claims about the Bible in the Da Vinci Code. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_The_Da_Vinci_Code)
  • The Actual Development of the New Testament Canon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon

No government leader determined which books would be included in the New Testament.

  • Over the last 60 years of research on the Dead Sea Scrolls (discovered in 1947), which originated from 150 BC – 70 AD, has revealed many truths but one of the most astounding is this – these scrolls of the OT are 99.5% identical to what you have today in your Bible. That is a span of over 2,000 years! The only differences are a little word here or there spelled differently or accidently left out over a vast number of chapters. But not one of those differences impact any bible doctrines about God.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls prove how accurately our Bible has been preserved. The same care that was given in preserving the Old Testament was also used to preserve copies of the New Testament.
  • Previously, our oldest fragments of the New Testament date back to between 100-125 AD. But, in 2012 a new fragment has been found dating back into the 1st Century from the Gospel of Mark. In addition, we have many books which still exist that were written by early church leaders starting with the end of the 1st Century through the next several hundred years. Each of them quote scripture extensively. From all our existing fragments and all those writings, we can reconstruct much of the New Testament. That reconstruction reads just like your New Testament today.
  • The claims that the New Testament and Old Testament have been changed over time have been proven to be totally false and there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate it.
  • Objection #2 – The Bible holds some positions which are culturally offensive.
  • Murray Harris, Slave of Christ, provides documentation that shows that most slaves, not all but most, in the 1st Century Roman Empire were usually the equivalent of indentured servanthood. Indentured servants are people who work for someone else for a set period of time to pay back a debt or because of a benefit they received. For instance, many of the European settlers came to the United States as indentured servants. Their way to America was paid by a landowner in exchange for that person to work for him for an agreed upon number of years and then be set free. This was obviously very different from African slavery in American. But, in the 1st Century Roman Empire, there were also many who were conquered people from wars who were made slaves for a prescribed limited time. In the 1st Century there were strict laws to protect them.
  • Murray Harris observations:
    • First century slaves were not distinguishable from anyone else by race, speech, or clothing.
    • First century slaves were oftentimes more educated than their owners and many times held high managerial positions.
    • First century slaves earned the same wages as free laborers and, therefore, were oftentimes not poor and often accrued enough personal capital to buy their own freedom.
  • As you read the information from the Wikipedia source I am giving you, make sure you differentiate between 1st Century and earlier centuries in Rome because by the 1st Century most, but not all, of the abuses had ended.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_ancient_Rome

  • Abuses connected to 1st Century slavery such as being beaten or kidnapped and sold into slavery were all condemned by Paul. (Ephesians 6:9: Colossians 4:1; 1 Timothy 1:9-11; Book of Philemon; Exodus 21:2; 20-27; Deuteronomy 24:7)

1st Century Christianity gave slaves an equal place in the church with everyone else, allowing them to participate even as pastors and elders. Several of the most prominent early church leaders were actually former slaves who had bought their freedom. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_ancient_Rome

  • In the Old Testament most slaves were actually indentured servants and had to be treated with dignity. (Exodus 21:2;20-27; Deuteronomy 24:7)

2. The unity and CONSISTENCY of the Bible indicates God’s Hand.

The Bible was written by over 40 authors from very diverse walks of life over a period of 1600 years (that is over 60 generations) in many different places on three continents. Most of them never met each other and never read what the other wrote. They address many controversial subjects, yet you can read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and it reads like one book formed by one mind.

3. Its historical accuracy.

William Albright, world famous archeologist and historian and the author of the book, The Archaeology of Palestine adds: ‘The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history,’

(The Archaeology of Palestine: Pelican Books; Harmondsworth, Middlesex; 1960, pp 127, 128)

4. THE FACT THAT THE BIBLE WORKS IS THE GREATEST PROOF OF ALL.

Multitudes of people, past and present, have found from personal experience that its promises are true, its counsel is sound, its commands and restrictions are wise, and its wonderful message of salvation meets every need for both time and eternity.