What good are the truths of scripture if there is no truth to scripture?
This may not be a hurdle many Christians have to jump over but for a young non-believing Jeff, realizing that the bible was more than some old book written by a couple of dude’s wanting to push their agenda was essential for me coming to Christ. Up until this point, I had heard of Jesus and heard of God but didn’t see how the Bible could be true. It was a book, written forever ago with the intention of pushing the Christian belief. It was full of miracles, magic, and healing. It sounds like a Disney movie, right? What makes it different than Humpty Dumpty or Pinocchio?
You can understand why this line of thinking is a problem? It is hard to trust in God if you can’t trust what you know about Him. I eventually, through the direction of God, came to the realization that the bible is unlike any other book. It is indeed true. Here’s what brought me to that conclusion:
It is not a book.
Let me explain. Many people pick up the bible thinking it is like any other book, it isn’t. Other books have a single writer with a single agenda written at a set time in history. The bible is a collection of 66 writings from over 40 different writers, that lived hundreds of years apart. Yet, it has a single thread through it, telling the same narrative throughout. You couldn’t have 40 members of the same church in 2020 do the same thing. Let alone, 40 different writers that lived at different time periods, faced different trials and yet all pointed to Jesus. Notice I said 40 different writers and not 40 different authors because there is still only one Author. Yahweh.
Did you know that the Old Testament has over 300 prophecies about the Messiah? So when the Messiah came, there would be no doubt who it was. Yet, Jesus fulfilled them all. In fact, Dr. Peter Scoffard, a science professor at Edmonton University, got permission to do a study with over 600 students to determine the mathematical odds of the messianic prophecies.
They began with one, that he would be born in Bethlehem. They simply took the population of Bethlehem and the population of the world at this time. Turns out, Jesus had a one in 1 in 300,000 chance of being born in Bethlehem. However, a lot of the students and professors didn’t believe the bible was true. So they left the bible out of it.
They decided to calculate the odds of eight messianic prophecies that historical documents of the day confirmed were true. There are eight messianic prophecies that historical accounts outside of the bible confirm that Jesus fulfilled. What are the odds that a mortal man could do that?
The mathematical odds of Jesus fulfilling all eight, not the entire 300 He did but just the eight that are confirmed outside of the bible, well here’s the number:
1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000
That number is beyond comprehension. So they created an illustration, to sum up, the impossibility at hand. If you took this amount of half dollars and laid them touching each other, they would fill up the entire state of Texas and they’d be two foot high. This number is saying, you marked one of those half dollars that are stacked two-foot high and fill the entire state of Texas, you then take a blindfolded man and drop him somewhere in the middle and he is allowed to pick up one-half dollar to be the marked one. That’s the odds we are talking about that Jesus would fulfill just eight of the Messianic Prophecies out of the 300 that He did fulfill. For mortal man, this is absolutely impossible.
Many of the prophecies, He had no control over. For instance, where He would be born, the family He would be born into, even the Roman census was prophesied, He had no control over the way He would die, etc. There is no such thing as that kind of luck. He is the Messiah, He is God!
Everything, literally EVERYTHING we know about history comes from the documentation. The people of that day, documented life, royalty, death, etc. and we now consider that history. We know what we know about Rome and Caesar because of historical documents. We have the teachings of Plato and Aristotle, not because any of us knew them personally but because we have their literature.
For thousands of years, the internet didn’t exist, so the people of their day would write hand-copied documents, we sometimes call them manuscripts. Our entire view of history is based on these manuscripts, yet there is significantly more documentation for the books of the bible than there are for any other historical fact. There is more documentation about Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth than there is Julius Caesar, the General of Rome. In fact, there is more documentation that Jesus rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived.
Historical documentation proves the authenticity of scripture.
Life of Jesus
Any scholar who has actually done the work will tell you that Jesus of Nazareth, actually existed. He was a real person, He walked this earth, He taught many people, He died a heinous death and His movement exploded after His death. This is what history teaches us about Jesus.
The single most important Jewish historian in the ancient world was a man named Flavius Josephus, he penned the Jewish Antiquities to explain the Jewish people and their beliefs to the Romans. Most of what we know about the First Century comes from the Jewish Antiquities.
In The Jewish Antiquities 20.200, Josephus writes:
“when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned:”
He mentions James, the brother of Jesus, and how Ananus had James killed. In this, Josephus is confirming the existence of Jesus and His brother James.
The writings of Josephus are but one example, there are many more that confirm the existence of Jesus outside of what is referenced in the bible. Although, the biblical manuscripts are still history. They were written by people documenting what they seen and heard. Paul for example is confirmed to have been a prosecutor of the church, killing Christians to end the movement. He suddenly does a complete 180 and begins spreading the gospel.
What we know as the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, are all eye-witness accounts of Jesus. In fact, all eleven of the disciples would go and die a brutal death for what they seen and heard. Yet, they never denied the fact that Jesus was risen. Is this because they are really good liars? No! They had no motivation to spread a lie of Jesus rising from the dead, uttering that phrase was a death sentence, what in the world could convince 11 dudes who were cowered in a house hiding three days prior, to go out and proclaim words that would get them killed? One thing, an encounter with the risen Savior.
Honestly, I could keep writing on this topic all day… I actually don’t know how long this blog is yet but if you made it here, congrats! However, five seems like a good number to end on so this will be our last point. I think I saved the best for last!
Lives are changed when we encounter the Word.
Just look at the people in scripture, Saul the killer becomes Paul the evangelist.
C.S. Lewis was an atheist who became one of the world’s most influential Christian apologists.
Ravi Zacharias, who recently went home to be with the Lord, was one of the loudest voices in me coming to Jesus. He was a brilliant apologist who began as an atheist who tried to take his own life.
John Newton was a slave-ship owner who converted to Christianity and wrote the hymn known as “Amazing Grace.”
The list goes on and on but when people encounter the risen Savior, their lives are changed. Jesus redeemed me and radically changed my life. You cannot disprove what He has done in me and millions of others.
I pray today if you are struggling to have faith in the truth of scripture that something you read today spoke to you. I know the struggle, the doubt, and the feeling of shame that comes along with that doubt. You can have faith today, knowing that what you read in the bible is historically, scientifically and mathematically sound. Some people disagree with it, yes, but there will always be people who disagree with truth. That does not make it any less true.
Have a blessed day and open your bible today!