Bible Facts- Essentials of Discipleship

Posted: August 2, 2012 in Devotionals & Bible Studies
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ESSENTIALS OF DISCIPLESHIP

Session 2 – The Importance of God’s Word in a Disciple’s Life

BECOMING FULLY DEVOTED FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32

What is meant when we say that the Bible is the Word of God?

When we say the Bible is the Word of God, we do not mean that all the words are God’s words. Some are words of men, angels, demons, and even Satan. However, it is in its entirety the Word of God in the sense that God, through the person of the Holy Spirit, divinely directed and inspired the writing of it and supernaturally controlled its overall construction, design, and recording of contents.

Evidence Overwhelming and Conclusive

Though the following proofs can help stimulate intellectual confidence in the Bible, a person must exercise rational faith which acts upon the logical facts presented in order for the Word of God to have its intended effect upon his/her life.

  1. 1.      The Unity of the Bible

The Bible displays an amazing continuity of message in spite of the fact that it contains many complex ingredients:

  • It was written over a 1600      year period, covering 60 generations.
  • Over 40 authors were      involved in its final composition, each from a variety of cultural and      occupational backgrounds. These included kings, peasants, a fisherman, a      tax collector, a rabbi, philosophers, statesmen, scholars, a doctor, a      poet, and a general.
  • It was written from many      different locations, under a variety of conditions, from three different      continents (Asia, Africa, Europe.)
  • It was written in three      major languages, Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek.
  • It covers hundreds of      controversial subjects, and involves a variety of literary styles,      including history, poetry, law, prophesy, and biographies.

Yet, in spite of this multitude of contributing factors, the Bible is a single, unified book with a single, unfolding theme concerning God’s redemptive plan for mankind. A unity of such scope gives strong, silent testimony to its divine authorship and design. No other religious work on earth can equal such an accomplishment.

To Illustrate this fact, a test was proposed which would involve ten authors, all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one continent, one language, and just one controversial subject to see whether they would totally agree. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they obviously would not.

2. The Bible’s Indestructibility

In spite of the determined and aggressive assaults against the Bible, it has not only survived, but has consistently triumphed over its enemies. For example, during the 18th century, Voltaire confidently boasted of the eventual extinction of Christianity and the Bible. However, only fifty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to produce countless Bibles.

3. Its Enduring Popularity

The Bible still remains the all-time best seller of human history. The Bible was the first major book printed by Johannes Gutenburg’s press in 1456. Since that time, over 7 billion copies have been printed. The Bible’s enduring popularity among countless millions testifies of the universal reverence and respect which it deserves as the inspired, authoritative Word of God.

Testimonies of great men and women

  • Abraham      Lincoln — “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given      to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us      through this book.”
  • George      Washington — “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without      God or the Bible.”
  • Patrick      Henry — “The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been      printed.”
  • Andrew      Jackson — “That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic      rests.”
  • Charles      Dickens — “The New Testament is the very best that ever was or ever      will be known in the world.”
  • Sir      Isaac Newton — “There are more sure marks of authenticity in the      Bible than in any profane history.”
  • Immanuel      Kant — “The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the      greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt      to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”
  • Thomas      Huxley — “The Bible has been the Magna Charta of the poor and      oppressed. The human race is not in a position to dispense with it.”
  • Theodore      Roosevelt — “If a man is not familiar with the Bible, he has      suffered a loss which he had better make all possible haste to      correct.”
  • Napoleon      — “The Bible is no mere book, but a living creature, with a power      that conquers all that oppose it.”
  • Sir      William Herschel — “All human discoveries seem to be made only for      the purpose of confirming more strongly the truths contained in the sacred      scriptures.”
  • Woodrow      Wilson — “When you have read the Bible, you will know it is the Word      of God, because you will have found the key to your own heart, your own      happiness, your own duty.”

4. Accuracy of the Manuscripts

The manuscript evidence supporting the Bible’s accuracy is overwhelming. There are over 5,400 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, over 10,000 of the Latin Vulgate, and at least 9,300 other early versions. A total of 24,000 manuscript copies or portions of the New Testament today.

Compared to other ancient writings such as Homer’s Iliad or Caesar’s Gallic Wars, the Bible has more manuscript evidence than any ten pieces of ancient literature combined! So conclusive is the evidence supporting this fact that one prominent scholar noted, “To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested to bibliograpically as the New Testament.”

5. Scientific Accuracy

Not a single scientific fact or discovery has ever disproven a biblical statement. In fact, the advances of science have repeatedly confirmed the scriptures accuracy.

  • The      Bible revealed that the earth was round nearly 2,200 years before 15th      century explorers discovered that the world wasn’t flat after all (Isaiah      40:22) “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…”      The Hebrew word translated as “circle” in this verse actually      means “sphericity” or “roundness.”
  • Before      the invention of the telescope, Ptolemy established the number of stars at      1,056; Tycho Brahe figured 777, and Kepley counted 1,005. These figures      seem foolish to 20th century man, but in 600 B.C.the prophet Jeremiah revealed that the number of stars      was innumerable when he wrote, “the host (stars) of heaven cannot be      numbered” (Jer 33:22)

6. The Fulfillment of Biblical Prophesy

Another pivotal proof supporting the accuracy of the Bible centers on the issue of prophetic fulfillment. The Bible is saturated with specific prophesies concerning nations, cities, historic events, and individual. But what lends such overwhelming credibility to the divine origins of these prophesies is that fact that hundreds have been literally fulfilled in the most minute detail. In fact, so convincing is the proof that God himself established the issue of prophetic fulfillment as a legitimate test of divine authorship and authenticity. (Isaiah 41:21-23,46)

A classic example of the many remarkable fulfillments which could be cited involves the 6th century B.C. prediction of the overthrow of the city of Tyre (Ezekiel 26). Seven specific things were predicted, each of which was literally fulfilled to the letter during the 4th century B.C. The mathematical probability of this happening has been calculated to equal 1 in 75,000,000. (Stoner, Science Speaks, 80)

Probably the most amazing series of prophetic fulfillments involves the multitude of Messianic predictions concerning Christ. The Old Testament contains 332 specific prophecies, which were literally fulfilled by Christ. This fact not only establishes his divine credentials, but substantiates the divine authorship of the Bible as well.

Examples include:

  • Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2/Luke 2:4-7)
  • born of a virgin (Isa 7:14/Matt 1:18,24,25)
  • entered Jerusalem on a donkey(Zech 9:9/Luke      19:35-37)
  • betrayed by a friend (Ps      41:9/Matt 10:4)
  • betrayed for 30 pieces of      silver(Zech 11:12/Matt      26:15)
  • hands and feet pierced(Ps 22:16/Luke 23:33)
  • didn’t answer his      accusers(Isa 53:7/Matt 27:12-19)
  • given gall and vinegar to      drink(Ps 69:21/Matt 27:34)
  • crucified with thieves(Isa      53:12/Matt 27:38)
  • his side pierced(Zech 12:10/John 19:34)

7. The law of compound probabilities

Simply stated, the law of compound probabilities is a mathematical law, which can be used to calculate the probability of a specific set of conditions, requirements, or qualifications being fulfilled.

Professor Peter W. Stoner used this l            aw to determine the odds of a certain proscribed number of biblical prophecies relating to Christ being fulfilled. His studies were carefully evaluated by the American Scientific Affiliation and found to be sound and convincing. His findings rule out coincidence, chance, or human manipulation in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

Stoner started by calculating the probability of one lone individual precisely fulfilling only eight prophecies relating to Christ. He computed the odds at 1 in 10 X 17. Or, 1 followed by 17 zeros. This would be the equivalent of covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars, specially marking one of them, and instructing a blindfolded man to pick the right silver dollar on the first try.

Dr. Stoner then calculated the odds of one individual fulfilling 16 prophecies at 1 in 10X45. Imagine a ball of silver dollars twenty times the size of the sun. The probability of picking the right silver dollar is equivalent. He further calculated 48 prophecies at 10 X 157. Ten to the 157th power. This figure is astronomical and beyond human comprehension, but Christ fulfilled over 300 distinct prophecies.

8. Historical accuracy according to Christ

Another important pillar supporting the Bible’s infallibility centers upon the testimony of Christ. In spite of numerous attempts by skeptics to ridicule its contents and rationalize away its miraculous accounts as being nothing more than a collection of myths, folklore, and fanciful allegories, Jesus repeatedly confirmed its historic accuracy. He verified the accounts of the creation (Matt 19:4,5), the murder of Abel (Matt 23:35), Noah and the flood (Matt 24:37-39), and the reality of Jonah the prophet (M att 12:40).

Not only has secular research proven the Bible’s historic accuracy, but Christ’s endorsement lends powerful support.

9. Sacrifice of Millions

Another significant support of the Bible’s divine authenticity is the fact that countless millions have laid down their lives in defense of it. Christians have suffered martyrdom, mutilation, torture, imprisonment, banishment, and confiscation of properties because of their firm belief that the Bible is the only inspired word of God.

10. Its Transforming Power

One of the most profound proofs of the Bible’s divine authorship centers upon its dynamic, life- changing impact upon the lives of men and women, the course of history, and the destiny of nations. Hundreds of millions of ‘born-again’ Christians can testify of the transforming power of the Word of God. Their lives are living proof that the Bible not only changes a man outwardly, but produces a radical inner transformation of the heart, mind, and soul. Their lives confirm the fact that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new” (II Cor 5:17).

11. The testimony of Christ

Christ personally endorsed the reliability of the Bible. In so doing, he put his divine stamp of acceptance and approval on its source of inspiration, its message, and its infallibility. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me” (John 5:39)

12. The resurrection of Christ

One of the most forceful arguments for accepting the Bible as the Word of God is because Jesus said so! But what gives such impressive clout to his words is the reality of his resurrection from the dead. The historical resurrection can be substantiated by “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). The enormous weight of evidence in favor of this reality is overwhelming. For example, the post-resurrection appearance of Christ was verified by over 500 eyewitnesses (I Cor 15:6) The evidence pertaining to the historic reality of the resurrection is absolutely conclusive. As one noted scholar confirmed, “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proven by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than that great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” (Thomas Arnold, cited in Therefore Stand: Christian Apologetics, by Wilbur Smith)

13. The Self-Witness of Scripture

The Bible makes some very strong claims concerning its divine source of authorship, inspiration and content. It confirms that God is both the architect and author of its contents. This is emphasized by the following passages:

  • “Knowing this first, that no      prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophesy never      came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by      the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20,21)
  • “All Scripture is given by      inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for      correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Tim 3:16)
  • “Heaven and earth may pass away,      but my words will by no means pass away” (Matt 24:35)

What is more, in over 3,800 instances in the Old Testament alone, the divine source of its authorship is referred to with such phrases as: “God spoke to…”, “The Word of the Lord came unto…”. or “The Spirit of the Lord spoke…”

Faced with this support, the burden of proof does not rest on the shoulders of Christians to prove the Bible’s reliability, but upon the shoulders of the doubters to disprove it.

PSALM 119:97-104  Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. 98Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. 99I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.  100I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.  101I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.   102I have not departed from your laws,   103How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  104I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Bible Facts

Comments
  1. mark says:

    Well said. What I find amazing is that this even needs to be said. The fact that this statement needs to be made, might explain many misdirected Christian views.

    • Exactly. I am going to do a video on this in a few days and see what dialog it generates. People need to be reminded today that Biblical Christianity shaped Western Civilization and gave them the freedoms they have now. Those statistics will also be in another video.

      Anthony

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