We are supposed to be people of the Book, but how can we know that the Bible is the word of God? Can we prove the Bible is true? Let's examine some things that prove the validity of the Bible.
[Frank Dunkle] Many, many years ago, actually back before the Middle Ages, when Muslims began conquering the Middle East in the 7th Century, many people don't realize that at first they gave special treatment to Jews and Christians. They treated them a little different than the other people they conquered, and this was largely because they thought of them as having one thing in common with them. They called them "fellow people of the Book. People of the Book." That's because Muslim's official teaching is that the Koran adds to God's revelation to mankind, and they believe that much of what we call the Old Testament and the New Testament are valid as the Word of God. Thus, people of the Book held a special place in their society.
I believe their views have changed a little bit since then, and I'm not at all endorsing Islam. I don't want to give that impression. But I wanted to lead into that to say, in many ways, we still are people of the Book, people of this Book. We believe that we have a set of writings that are God's words, His inspiration and His Revelation to mankind revealing Himself to us and teaching us how we should live.
The authority of the Bible is one of the fundamental beliefs of the United Church of God. Is it your belief? Have you convinced yourself of it? And I might ask ‑‑ and I don't want to answer right now ‑‑ but why or why not? I'm not going to turn there, but Matthew 4 in chapter 4, one of the scriptures we probably earliest memorize, is that Jesus said,
Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
American King James Version×‑ "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
Assuming that the Son of God really did say this, who could argue with something like that? But some might question did Jesus really say this? And some would even question was Jesus of Nazareth really the Son of God, or was He just some influential rabbi who gained a reputation? Such lines of questioning leads us to basic questions that we need to have settled in our own mind. As I said, is the Bible the authoritative Word of God? What does it say about itself? How did we get these writings? And how do we know if what we think is true?
What we know is the Holy Bible and, of course ‑‑ and a lot of what I'm going to say today is bringing back memory of something many of us have heard many times. And I thought maybe I should apologize for that. And then I said, "No, Frank, you should exactly not apologize for that. It's good for us to remind ourselves, to review what we know and why we know it.
Bible is from the Greek for biblios, books. Although it's a holy book; it's from God. It was written by 40 different authors living in ten different countries over the space of about 1500 years. These authors represent 20 different occupations, including kings, statesmen, fishermen, priests, shepherds, a physician, several prophets, a tax collector, farmers, a general, and a rabbi who made tents on the side.
But we claim the real author was God, the Almighty God who created all things. And we could ask how could that be? Let's look into this. And I want to start by exploring some of what the Bible says about itself. So if you'll join me, I want to first turn to 2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
American King James Version×. Some people say this makes me look more professorial, but at least I can see. This is another scripture we often commit to memory
2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
American King James Version×‑ All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and it's profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
That's a pretty clear claim. All scripture is inspired. Or we often like to remind ourselves the Greek really could be translated as "God breathed." God spoke this Word. And many who put ‑‑ many of the men who put pen to paper ‑‑ when I put that down here, I didn't think that would be that hard to say ‑‑ they went further and claimed God spoke to them. Ezekiel 6:1 Ezekiel 6:1And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
American King James Version×says ‑‑ actually, let me just quote this. If you want to turn and look at it later, but it says, "The word of the Lord came to me, saying," and then he continues, and you see that phrase over and over again, often in the prophets.
I do want to turn to Exodus 33:11 Exodus 33:11And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
American King James Version×. I think I set myself up for one little problem in this. I brought ‑‑ I borrowed one of my wife's Bibles because I thought it would make a great prop. I could say, "Look at this impressive Bible." But I can't find stuff in it as easily as normally the one I speak from, so that might make me slow down a little bit.
Exodus 33:11 Exodus 33:11And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
American King James Version×‑ So the Eternal spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And I'll stop there. But the Bible says, "God spoke to Moses face to face." That's how we got what he wrote in what we call the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch.
The Bible also says that Abraham was God's friend. If you want a note for that, James 2:23 James 2:23And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
American King James Version×says that. And in the Hebrew, actually it calls Him his very best friend. And Genesis 18 gives a story of God dropping in on Abraham. Just like a friend, they have a meal together, they chat, they talk directly.
The New Testament is very clear in saying Jesus Christ was the Son of God. He was God in the flesh. Let's turn there, if you will, to Galatians chapter 1:12, because the apostle Paul, who wrote a large chunk of the New Testament, claims to have talked to Jesus Christ, and to have done so after Christ was crucified, spent three days and three nights in a grave, and then rose again. We're turning to Galatians, but I'll site 1 Corinthians 9:1 1 Corinthians 9:1Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not you my work in the Lord?
American King James Version×. Paul says there,
1 Corinthians 9:1 1 Corinthians 9:1Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not you my work in the Lord?
American King James Version×‑ "Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?"
He says that he saw Him. And in Galatians 1:12 Galatians 1:12For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×, speaking of the things that he was teaching, specifically of the gospel, he says,
Galatians 1:12 Galatians 1:12For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×‑ I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, implying by man ‑‑ not by man, but it came through the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Putting some other scriptures together we get the idea that Paul went out in the desert and spent about three years being taught by Jesus Christ. Now, we might differ on the time, but he got this instruction from the Son of God. So the writers in the Bible are very clear in saying that God spoke to them directly in many cases. And in others, they were at least inspired by God's Spirit.
We've seen the Bible claims to be profitable for reproof, correction, instruction and righteousness. It makes some other pretty broad claims. If you'll turn to the book of John, John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version×. I think the print in my Bible is bigger, even though it's smaller. Christ is praying to His Father, and He says,
God's Word is held as the standard of what truth is. Jesus Christ said it. Is it our standard for what is truth? Back a few pages to chapter 10, John 10:35 John 10:35If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
American King James Version×. He's quoting from the Old Testament,
John 10:35 John 10:35If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
American King James Version×‑ If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came. And then, as an aside, He says, (and the Scripture cannot be broken.)
Jesus is claiming that the Scripture will stand. It will not be broken. Other things might fail. God's Word will not fail. With claims like I've been reading, we would have to say the Bible either is what it claims to be, and it claims to be the infallible Word of God, or it's what? A fraud. It couldn't be good literature and have such false claims. It couldn't be charming folktales and still be worthwhile, if it were claiming to be the very Word of God that teaches us how to live. It has to be one or the other. And it is one or the other. I believe it's what it says it is.
The same logic could apply to Jesus Christ Himself, because there are people out there ‑‑ probably many in this very city ‑‑ who say, "Well, Jesus Christ wasn't really the Son of God, but He was a good teacher. He had some good moral understanding." I would say that's ridiculous. If Jesus was not the Son of God, He was a liar. He was a fraud and not a good person. A good person doesn't teach good moral bases and say, "By the way, I'm God in the flesh." No, He's not a good person if He's lying to you about that. Of course, He wasn't lying. He was what He said.
Consider that within the pages of the Bible are the words of one who claims to be God and challenges others. Back in Isaiah chapter 44:6 ‑‑ I'll mention this is in the midst of one of my favorite sections of the Bible. Those of you who are new students will hear me talk about this a fair later in the semester.
Isaiah 44:6 Isaiah 44:6Thus said the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
American King James Version× ‑ Thus says the Eternal, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last, besides Me there is no God.
He's saying I'm the only one. If you'll turn ahead a few pages to Isaiah 46:9 Isaiah 46:9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
American King James Version×.
Isaiah 46:9 Isaiah 46:9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
American King James Version×‑ Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there none like Me,
V.10 ‑ declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand.
God is here saying He can predict the future. Not because He can just figure things out. But also He has the power to bring about what He says will happen, and He challenges others.
I'm not going to read the other Scriptures but there's places where He addresses the idols, the things men made, and says, "Do something," you know, "Come on. Make it rain. Do something." And then He just laughs and says, "You're nothing at all. Anybody who worships you is a fool because those idols are nothing, but He is God." Those are strong words. Some people would say, "Yeah. And they're just words." They say of the Bible nothing.
Can we prove that it is something? And I'm speaking primarily to ourselves, because there's a way to present an academic proof. You know, I've done that many times and we've put things together. But what really matters is are you convinced? Somewhere in your life have you first convinced yourself there is a God? There is a Creator who created all this stuff, and then there's His Word. I'll do my best to help you, but, of course, it has to be something you've done yourself. And I think everybody in this room has done so. And it's good for us now and then to go back and remind yourself what it is we proved, what we know, so that when we look to it for guidance in our lives, we know and we know that we know that it's from God.
Now, most of us have had a pre‑existing tendency to accept what the Bible is. You know, I grew up all my life being told this is the Word of God. I believed it. I only thought of proving it when there was a challenge. So critics might write and say, "Oh, it's just a collection of myths. It's folktales." And then they'll say science has disproved it. And that's where I wanted to prove this up. Once again, another prop. I'm kind of glad we're with the small version now. We produced this version that says, "Is the Bible True?" And I kind of like the approach it takes. It's designed for people like me who started off thinking that the Bible was true. And so you only go to prove it once people say, "Oh, science or archeology can disprove it." Well, this booklet goes out of its way to disprove ‑‑ you know, it shoots down those arguments. It shows: No, they don't hold up.
We have a chapter in this booklet called the "Bible in Archeology," and it sites many discoveries in archeology that turn out to match the Bible record. When earlier scholars said, "Oh, there's nothing to prove them." I'm not going to turn here in the booklet, but I copied what it said. There's a section in page 24 called The Testimony of History. It shows one of the proofs we can look to is how the writer Luke, the doctor ‑‑ or no. The tax collector ‑‑ Matthew was the doctor ‑‑ uses the correct use of names that match history and archeology.
Let me quote. "Luke not only writes about these people, but he mentions details, sometimes relatively minute facts, about them. 'One of the most remarkable tokens of Luke's accuracy is his sure familiarity with the proper titles of all the notable persons who are mentioned. For example, Cyprus was an imperial province until 22 B.C. It became a senatorial province in that year, and it was therefore no longer governed by an imperial legate but by a proconsul." But now, that might sound like Greek to you, but there are certain definitions, you know, certain titles that apply.
"And so, when Paul and Barnabas arrived in Cyprus around 47 A.D., they were met by proconsul Sergius Paulus. And Luke mentioned other particulars about offices and titles of officials in the Roman Empire. And in every case he gets it right," even though we had no way of knowing that until we made discoveries in archeology centuries later. It's a fact the entire Bible holds a remarkable record of accuracy when compared with the findings unearthed through archeology. So it holds up over the centuries, the Bible is true.
Now, once a person starts thinking cynically, looking for proofs of things, he might naturally challenge the scholars. You might think, well, how do I know what they're telling me is true, or the book's right? How do I know they're true? There's lots and lots of books in the library. Do I know that they're not just made up? Now, I'm talking about the nonfiction section. There's a lot of novels in the library. I hope they are made up.
I don't know if you've ever thought about this, but there are some people that say, you know, "Abraham, King David, Jesus, they're just made‑up characters. You know, you can't prove they were there." And then you might say, "Well, yeah. What about people like Captain John Smith, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington? How do I know they weren't just made‑up characters? You know, are they any more real than Santa Claus and the Easter bunny?" You know, I've never seen George Washington. I've never met anyone that knew him in person. Wait a minute, I'm a history teacher. I've seen documentation written in his own hand. Wait a minute, Frank. You didn't see Washington write in those documents. You took somebody's word that he wrote those. How do I know that somebody wasn't lying? And the reason I'm bringing this up is I wanted to share some experience of my own that's built a great deal of trust in me.
I went to college for about 12 years, which I don't recommend unless you want to, you know, be a professor. But I gained a lot of trust because I've learned that scholars studying into these things have to document. They have to show that what they're writing is true, because other scholars are looking to shoot them down. It's kind of a vicious world when you get into grad school, where you've got to prove what you are writing. And if you can't, if your sources are kind of faulty, they'll point it out. That's been going on for decades. It's been going on for hundreds of years, and even thousands.
There is a good way ‑‑ there's a good case we could make that it was going on in the days of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was a scholar. And when he wrote things quoting the Old Testament, if he misquoted, you'd better bet there were other rabbis who are going to point it out and criticize him and make sure people throw away what he wrote. You know, on occasion, fraud will be attempted. Sometimes it slips by for a while, but it gets caught. It always gets caught. So we keep and preserve historic documents that have proved the test, that have proven to be true. Those who are fraudulent, we mark, a lot of times are completely destroyed.
I wanted to share something that happened back in 1991. I was working on my Masters Degree as a student at U.T. Tyler – University of Texas in Tyler, and I took a travel study class. Well, I looked fondly on the travel study class because it was a lot of fun. We studied for several weeks there in Tyler. And the class was on the world wars in the western front. And then we went to France and visited the western front. We got to see a lot of neat things that have nothing to do with this sermon. But one thing that does relate, Tyler, Texas is sister cities with Metz, France. And so we stayed in the dorm of the University of Metz. Until then, I didn't know there was a University of Metz. And it's not New York Mets. It's M‑e‑t‑z.
But there's a cathedral in Metz that's been there for, I think, about 1500 years or more. And so since we were there, even though we were studying, you know, the mid‑20th Century, they wanted us to have a chance to visit the archives. They took us in, and they brought out documents from the Middle Ages that were handwritten on parchment with these wax seals on them, and they actually let us hold them and look at them. They'd been around for hundreds of years, I think some over a thousand years. Only the ones that had been tested and checked by scholars and believed to be true back then were preserved. And I thought this system has been in place for all that time. And it's been continued. Frauds aren't allowed to continue in the scholarly world.
So when I read about how historical manuscripts, you know, handwritten copies of the Bible have been preserved and copied for hundreds and thousands of years, I believe it. If it were a fraud, it would have been uncovered a long time ago, and the evidence would be well known. So I'm not believing blindly with no evidence to back it up. But everything in my experience tells me to continue believing this is what it says it is.
Now, I'll point out also – if one claimed to be able to predict the future – that would be some pretty powerful evidence of the power and authority of whoever did that. Prophecy is one of the more objective proofs that the Bible is the word of an Almighty God. Who else could predict world events centuries in advance, maybe even millennia. Only a Being who had the power to bring these things to pass. Notice, if you're still in Isaiah 46:9 Isaiah 46:9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
American King James Version×‑10 ‑‑ I want to review what we just read earlier, but he said,
Isaiah 46:9 Isaiah 46:9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
American King James Version×‑ Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
V.10 ‑ declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand.
Now, some would point out one of the biggest weaknesses in this proof is there's a lot of Bible prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled. A lot of it is for what we call the end time. But there are quite a few about the rise and fall of governments, even specific leaders, that has been fulfilled, just as predicted, and that gives us a lot of confidence that the others will be.
Now, often we site several prophesies from the Book of Daniel. I think Daniel is pivotal. And, of course for those of you who are students, Mr. McNeely will discuss this quite a bit in his classes. But Daniel came on the scene when God stopped working with Israel as a nation. He still knew who they were, had a destiny of plan, but he gave the framework of how the gentile empires would progress through history until the time of Christ's return.
Our booklet, again, "Is the Bible True?" goes through the prophecy of Daniel 11, the longest continuous prophesy in the Bible. And citing the Expositor's Bible Commentary shows how accurate it is. And I'm not going to go through all that today. We'd need extra time for the sermon. Daniel has so many fulfilled prophesies, critics of the Bible say, "That has to be a fraud. It's so accurate, it had to be written hundreds of years later than it says." Of course, it claims to have been written during the latter Babylonian and early Persian empires. If there weren't a God, I would accept that. I would say, of course, he had to write it later.
But, as I said, I've proved to myself that there really is a God. And I believe that if there is a Creator God, He would want to communicate with the intelligent life that He put on this earth. And the Bible, which is one of the things I didn't mention earlier, it's really the only religious work on the planet that claims to be that. There are other religious works that say certain things. They've got ancient poems and ancient statements. They don't say they're the Word of God. The Bible does, and because it is. And because of that, since I believe there's a God, I believe this is His Word, I think that the prophecies of Daniel 11 weren't written after the fact. They're prophesies.
Let's look outside of Daniel, since we're still in Isaiah, if you'll turn to Isaiah 45, let's just look at one significant one that we know, and we'll look at some others too.
Isaiah 45:1 Isaiah 45:1Thus said the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
American King James Version×‑ "Thus says the Eternal to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held ‑‑ interestingly, he's speaking in past tense about something that's going to happen hundreds of years in the future, but, of course, God can speak in past tense of something he's determined to have happened ‑‑ to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held ‑‑ to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, that the gates will not be shut:
V.2 ‑ 'I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.
V.3 ‑ I will give you the treasure of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know I, the Eternal, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.
V.4 ‑ For Jacob My servant's sake, and for Israel My elect."
And so He's saying I'm not doing this for you, but for them. I've called you by your name. I've named you, though you haven't known Me. This prophesy was given to Isaiah well before Judah was even conquered by Babylon. And, yet, it's foretelling the fall of Babylon and even how it would happen. This was fulfilled when Cyrus, the emperor of Persia, was able to lead armies to divert part of the Euphrates River that flowed right under the wall of Babylon. And, of course, they diverted enough of it to lower the water level so soldiers could march on the riverbed, go under the walls, and open the gates and open those lead gates that the prophesy refers to. And, of course, they could come in and conquer the city without even having to destroy it.
Now, there are prophesies on other subjects. There's one I would like to address, because a large number of prophecies converge, and they were fulfilled about 2000 years ago. Throughout the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi, are prophecies of the coming Messiah. Now, what's interesting, we know now from our perspective that there's a mixture in those prophesies of telling things about His first coming and also about His second coming. I think that was deliberate so that the people at the time when Christ did come would be confused. They'd be looking for a conquering king who would rule the world, and they overlooked or got confused about the prophecies of a suffering servant who would pay for the sins of mankind.
But we could consider Daniel's seventy weeks prophesy. It's found in Daniel 9, and it's complex enough I'm not going to go through it, but it tells from the time of the command to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Remember when Cyrus conquered Babylon, later the emperor of Persia said you guys are free to go back. And it was Artaxerxes made that decree in 457 B.C. And said from that time there would be 69 weeks until the coming of Messiah. Actually, in the Hebrew, it's 69 sevens. So from that year, 457, you could start counting forward. And you have to bring in understanding of other prophesies, what we call "the day for a year principle." I'm not going to turn the Numbers 14, but it's there. And also, in Ezekiel chapter 4, that gives us this 69 sevens comes out to 483 years. You count forward from the time of the proclamation, you come to 27 A.D., the year that we believe John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River and He began His ministry, and the prophesy of Daniel made hundreds of years before that was fulfilled. And we believe Jesus continued fulfilling that prophesy by doing a three‑and‑a‑half‑year ministry and then being crucified in the middle of the 70th week. It wasn't all made up afterwards. And Jewish scholars were looking for and expecting the Messiah at that time, because they knew that prophesy.
Just as I said, because of the confusion about the second coming and the first coming ‑‑ which the Bible doesn't describe that clearly for them ‑‑ they didn't recognize Him when He came. But if you turn to Micah, let's notice an interesting prophesy. The Book of Micah, chapter 5, beginning in verse 2. Micah's one of those little minor prophets. Obadiah, Jonah and then Micah. The ones ending in A‑H are all together there. It says,
Micah 5:2 Micah 5:2But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
American King James Version×‑ "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be a Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
V.3 ‑ Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel.
V.4 ‑ And He will stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Eternal, in the majesty of the name of the Eternal His God; and they will abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace.
This is obviously a prophesy of the Messiah. Actually, in this addition of the New King James version, there's a subhead that says "The Coming Messiah." And the rabbis in Christ's time knew that.
Now, let's turn ahead to Matthew. Not very far ahead. Matthew 2:1 Matthew 2:1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
American King James Version×. We'll see the fulfillment of the prophecy is very simply stated.
Matthew 2:1 Matthew 2:1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
American King James Version×‑ Now, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea...
Okay. Jesus was born in the very town that was prophesied well in advance. And looking further ahead in verse 4, this is speaking of Herod the Roman king at the time. It says,
V.4 ‑ And when he gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born.
Christ, of course, is just another word for Messiah. Where is this Messiah that's prophesied to come? They said, "Where He is going to be born?" Well, in Bethlehem of Judea, because it's written in the prophecy. And they site these scriptures we just read. They knew these prophesies. They were looking for Him, and He fulfilled these prophesies. As I said, they missed it because they were looking for a conquering king, but that doesn't make the prophecy any less fulfilled. And, of course, the other parts of the prophecy that we read will be fulfilled when Christ returns.
Let's look another one, in Isaiah 35, if you'll turn back there, beginning in verse 4.
Isaiah 35:4 Isaiah 35:4Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.
American King James Version×‑ Say to those who are fearful‑hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with recompense of God; He will come to you."
Interestingly enough, this is a prophecy of the Messiah. But while the Jews were expecting Messiah, many of them didn't understand that He would be God in the flesh. So they were looking for a man, and that confused them also. But it says,
V.4 ‑ "He will come. Your God will come and save you."
V.5 ‑ Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
V.6 ‑ Then the lame shall leap up like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing, for the waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.
And it goes on from there. But I want to turn over to another scripture and read of Jesus Himself saying that He's fulfilled this prophesy. It's in Luke 7:19 Luke 7:19And John calling to him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Are you he that should come? or look we for another?
American King James Version×. As I said, I'm going to resist apologizing for making you turn to so many scriptures. It's good practice for what we'll be doing in class. And for those of you who won't be sitting in class, which I know is the vast majority, you can say, whew, maybe it's not so bad sitting in my office. Now, I know you're envious. You all wish you were sitting in class. Luke 7:19 Luke 7:19And John calling to him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Are you he that should come? or look we for another?
American King James Version×. This is during Christ's ministry.
Luke 7:19 Luke 7:19And John calling to him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Are you he that should come? or look we for another?
American King James Version×‑ And then John ‑‑ this is John the Baptist, who had been in prison ‑‑ called two of His disciples to them and sent them to Jesus Christ to say, "Are you the Coming One?"
Once again, the Coming One, they were looking for the Messiah.
V.19 cont. ‑ Are you the Coming One, or should we look for another?"
V.20 ‑ And when the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to You, saying, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?
So they accurately brought the message.
V.21 ‑ And that very hour, He ‑‑ that is Jesus ‑‑ cured many people of their infirmities, afflictions and evil spirits, and to many who were blind He gave sight."
So Jesus answered and said go tell John the things you've seen and heard. Say don't listen to me. What have you seen and heard? Tell him.
V.22 ‑ The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who's not offended because of Me."
Now, he was saying that largely to give some encouragement to John the Baptist who was in prison. But you can see that Jesus probably had that prophesy in Isaiah 35 in His mind. And He could've been saying, "Look, I'm fulfilling the prophecies of the Messiah. I'm healing the blind and the deaf. That's what was prophesied, and I'm doing it. Yes, I am the Coming One. Let John know that." And John would need that encouragement. He was going to have his life taken from him, not long hence. But I suspected that did encourage him. He probably went to his grave believing yes, the Messiah has come.
And I hope that's in our minds, that we can read this and say, yes, the Messiah has come. And because those prophesies were fulfilled, we can be encouraged that the others will be fulfilled also. He will come again.
Now, let's look at another scripture. How did we get the scriptures? How do we have the Bible? You know, it was written all those years ago by those priests, prophets, fishermen. Well, the biggest portion of the Bible is the Old Testament. It's been around the longest, and it clearly pertains to the people of Israel. Those of the tribe of Judah were one part of Israel, but the Bible says they were given the responsibility to preserve it. It's in Romans 3. I'm going to turn there just to make sure we're clear on that. Romans 3:1 Romans 3:1What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
American King James Version×, the apostle Paul makes this statement. He says,
Romans 3:1 Romans 3:1What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
American King James Version×‑ What advantage has the Jew or what is the profit of the circumcision? Well, much in every way! Chiefly the best thing to them is to them were committed the oracles of God.
To them were given the oracles. Now, you might wonder what that is. I'm not going to turn there. But in Acts 7:37 Acts 7:37This is that Moses, which said to the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you of your brothers, like to me; him shall you hear.
American King James Version×‑38 it refers to Moses speaking to God and God giving him the living oracles. So the Word of God is the oracles. And the Jews preserved it.
Another scripture we often site is when Christ was speaking of the scribes and Pharisees, and He told His disciples, "Look. They're sitting in Moses' seat, so do what they tell you." You know, "The Jews, the religious leaders, have some authority. They got the job of keeping the Bible. Do what they say. Don't do what they're doing, because they say one thing and they do another." But He says, "You know, pay attention to what they're telling you. They're preserving God's Word."
And before we consider how the Jews did that, I want to turn to one other thing, in Matthew 5:18 Matthew 5:18For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
American King James Version×. I know many of you have memorized this. And largely, we site this to remember that God's law does not pass away. It's still in effect. It wasn't nailed to the cross. That's what we think of when we read:
Matthew 5:18 Matthew 5:18For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
American King James Version×‑ For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled.
Okay. And all has not yet been fulfilled. We've already seen many prophesies are yet to be fulfilled. Now, this is speaking of the law, the ideas, the concepts. But it struck me – as I was preparing this – that Jesus speaks of jots and tittles. Those are aspects of handwriting. We even saw it's like dotting an “I” or crossing a “T.” And He says none of that is going to pass away. So I think we can take this as a promise from God that the written word, as well as the law it represents, is never going to pass away. It's not going to disappear. It will not fail. God will protect it. And the Jews who had the job of copying scriptures – all the way from Christ's time until the Middle Ages – had very exacting and precise rules and procedures they followed.
Now, there were a group called the Masoretes who followed the Masorah and it was considered an offense to lock in the scripture. And it did things like counting how many vowels or how many certain letters appeared. And when they finished copying, they count them all, and then it would tell them which letter would be the middle of each book. And they would count, and if it wasn't right, they might have gotten something out of order, and they'd go back and check. And one of the things I say, I know that's careful. You might say, well, they weren't around before the time of Christ. Well, one of the things I say is Christ was the Son of God. If the scriptures weren't right at that time, He would have fixed it. He would have told somebody. So knowing it was preserved since His time gives us great, you know, confidence that it's been preserved.
Now, the New Testament scriptures were written in Greek. That was the common language of their date. Now, the Greek people themselves had no ‑‑ they didn't have a common religion. They didn't have anybody to appoint to preserve the scriptures. But there's a prophesy back in Isaiah that I think will show us that God had someone in mind, and it's the obvious choice.
Isaiah 8:14 Isaiah 8:14And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
American King James Version×‑ He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling, a rock of offense. That tells us that He is Jesus Christ. He told the people in his day, "I'm the rock of stumbling. I'm the stumbling stone." And says, "to both the house of Israel and a trap to ensnare the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
V.15 ‑ As many as snare them ‑‑ what I want to do is get to verse 16 where Jesus says,
V.16 ‑ "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples.
"Among My disciples." This seems to be a prophecy that Jesus Christ's disciples would be the ones to bind up the testimony. And the Hebrew for where it says, "bind up" can also be properly translated as complete. Like a command to the disciples, "Complete My testimony, finish putting My Word together and preserve it." And they did.
Now, we don't have a book in the Bible that tells us that they wrote the Bible. We know that they did, and we can look from the record of what exists of how well they did. I want to read something from our fundamental belief statement. It says, "There are more than 4,000 Greek manuscripts of the complete New Testament, and there are 13,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament. Compare that to other writings of ancient times. Only ten good copies exist of Caesar's Gallic wars. That was Caesar writing an account of his wars before he became ruler of the empire, the oldest of which was copied 900 years later than Caesar's time. There are only two copies of the history of Tacitus. Only 8 manuscripts of the history of Thucydides. And I want to note, as a historian, that those works aren't disputed. Scholars today assume that they're correct.
There are thousands of manuscripts and partial manuscripts of the New Testament. Some of these we believe were copied within 50 years or less of the original. No body of literature can be so well attested by such a wealth of documentary evidence as the New Testament. The large number of New Testament manuscripts greatly increases our ability to determine what the original autograph said. In addition, numerous theologians who lived within 100 years of Christ, names like Irenaeus, Tertullian and Augustine ‑‑ once again, I never was tempted to name my son Tertullian, but these are names you will come to recognize ‑‑ they argued their doctrines by quoting the extent writings and/or copies of New Testament books. They quoted from gospels, the gospels from Acts, epistles and Revelation.
It is said that Sir David Dalrymple, a later scholar, reconstructed the entire New Testament, all except for 11 verses, from the quotes of those writers, rather than from the New Testament itself. So, in other words, the Bible has been quoted so often by other scholars that our fundamental belief statement says, "If every Bible were to disappear overnight, we could virtually reconstruct it from other sources." That's pretty convincing. That tells me what we have brought to us is the Word of God. It's been preserved. We have it in our hands, and we can read it.
Now, you might ask about the Bible in English. And actually I've got some pages of notes that I'm going to skip over and we can talk about another time. But the Bible is preserved in its original languages, Hebrew, a little Aramaic and Greek, for centuries. Latin was a common translation, and that was around.
But in 1611 a new king of England authorized a translation of the Bible. There had been a few before that, and some that were pretty good. But the Authorized Version is what we call the King James Version. King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. And to appease the Protestant movement, he brought together a committee of 47 scholars who knew Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. They followed elaborate procedures for various committees who would do their works, check each other's work and make sure they were doing things right.
The chief translator was named Lancelot Andrews. Now, that's a cool name. Lancelot Andrewes spoke 15 modern languages and 16 ancient languages. You know, that's mind‑boggling to me. But they did an incredibly good translation. Now, interestingly, it wasn't that popular when it was first published, because it was not an idea‑for‑idea translation. It was first a word‑for‑word translation. By the way, it came out in 1611, I wanted to mention. Only a few years ago we were celebrating its 400th anniversary. I say "we." I don't know if any of you had a little party, but scholars celebrated its 400th anniversary.
As I said, it brought new phrases to the English language, because it brought Hebrew idioms and ideas, words that we're familiar with, like have you ever heard the term "broken heart?" That's from the King James Bible. "Saved by the skin of your teeth." "There's a fly in the ointment." "Somebody's got a case of sour grapes," or if you've ever "poured out your heart." Those were things that were in the Bible that became part of the English language because of that. And it's been the most popular version of the Bible ever since, even though the Bible has since been translated into more than 2,000 languages and dialects. Counting to the present time, Bible societies have distributed more than 4 and a half billion copies of the Bible, and there have been enough Bibles sold for every person on the planet to have at least one.
But there's still a very important thing about the Bible that we should consider. The last thing I want to bring to you is that, with all I've just described, we could say that the Bible is the most well distributed book in history. Most people have a copy. Few people know what it says or believe it if they do. I've discussed various proofs that the Bible really is the authoritative word of God, but there's one that I haven't mentioned yet that I think is the most important, and that most important proof of the Bible is faith and experience. The most sure word ‑‑ most sure way ‑‑ I'm quoting from the Bible, a sure word of prophesy ‑‑ the most sure way to know that the Bible is accurate and what it teaches is true is experience it yourself. You have to step out on faith and live according to this word. Study it. Live by it. You'll find that it is true. It does work, and there's no better proof.
I'm going to site Malachi 3:10 Malachi 3:10Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
American King James Version×where it speaks of tithing, "But God said, bring the tithes in now and prove me in this." The New King James says, "Try me." Either way you say it, prove it, try it, you'll like it, it means the same. Studying and living by God's word is the surest way to know that it is God's Word. And I can stand up here and not have a lot of you smirk at me, because I know most of you have been doing that, many your whole lives, for decades, many of you longer than I've been alive. You've been living by it. You've proved it. You know beyond a shadow of the doubt this is God's word. And I hope that's a testimony to those who are younger. You see those who have been living by it, and they know it works. Trust them. It works. But don't just trust them. Do it yourself. By searching the scriptures, we'll see they do have eternal life.
As a matter of fact, I got ahead of myself. I want to read John 5:39 John 5:39Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
American King James Version×. Again, Christ is talking to some of His detractors, and He says,
John 5:39 John 5:39Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
American King James Version×‑ You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; now these are those which testify of Me.
I'm sorry I got ahead you there, but searching the scriptures is a way of seeing that they do have the words of eternal life. They do testify of Jesus Christ. And while you have your Bibles open, let's turn back again to 2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
American King James Version×. We read this earlier, but I want to recap it. Again,
2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
American King James Version×‑ All scripture is given by inspiration of God. And that's exactly true. It's profitable for doctrine, it's profitable for reproof, it's profitable for correction, and it's profitable for instruction and righteousness.
This is the Bible telling you that the Bible is God's inspired Word. It's a valuable guide for your life. And the most convincing proof you'll ever have of that is if you study it and you do make it a guide of your life.
And you might have guessed, I wanted to speak on this subject going into the new school year for Ambassador College because you're going to ‑‑ new student ‑‑ spend a lot of time studying this Word, and it's going to sometimes feel more wearying. We'll talk about that more on the orientation Monday. But there are a lot of graduates here who will tell you it was worth it. And so let's study this Word. Let's turn back a couple of pages to 2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 2:15Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
American King James Version×.
My New King James says, "Be diligent," but I prefer the Old King James, where it says.
2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 2:15Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
American King James Version×‑ Study to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
That's something we want to do. This book ‑‑ I'm going to get my money's worth out of it as a prop ‑‑ it's been around a long time. For it to be what it says is a miracle. For it to have been preserved intact without error all these years, that's a miracle. To be able to really understand what it says requires a miracle. It's a good thing I believe in miracles, and I'm guessing you do too. In my life I've tested this book, and I know that it works. And I urge you all to join me in trying it, and I know you'll find the same.