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Article 33 - Christian Evidences
Christian Evidences: An Overview
Jon Gary Williams
What Is Christian Evidences?
While most have heard the expression "Christian evidences," many do not know what it means. A brief and accurate definition would be: "Information supporting that which is revealed in the Bible." It involves the use of physical data and logical inferences that reinforce the Christian viewpoint.
Physical data are things that are observed with the senses. Logical inferences are conclusions based on rational judgment. Often these two are joined together. For example, although we did not see the people who created the great pyramids of Egypt (physical data), reason (logical inference) tells us that they were designed and built by intelligent beings.
Areas most often included in Christian evidences are: the existence of God (verses atheism), creation (versus evolution), the inspiration of the Bible (versus modernism), the divine nature of Christ, Biblical miracles and Christianity (versus other world-religions). Such profound and far reaching concepts demand a method of verification in keeping with their seriousness. Christian evidence provides this verification. It is a valuable tool which every Christian will find extremely helpful.
Why Study Christian Evidences?
There have always been those who opposed the Christian perspective. Even in New Testament times this was true. Defenders of the faith were called upon to meet the challenge (Jude 3; I Tim. 6:20). This is even truer today. With the passing of time opposition to basic Christian beliefs has increased and today there is an ever growing need for Christians to fortify themselves.
In the late 1700's, with the dawn of the "age of reason," began the modern attack on belief in God and the Bible. Since then the assault on these basic beliefs has expanded one hundred fold, being advanced through almost all the major areas of discipline and especially through higher education and the sciences. The primary reason this is so is because men who challenge the Christian viewpoint are, to a very large degree, those who dominate these areas. They consistently promote views that are opposed to basic religious beliefs.
This anti-religious antagonism has had an incredible impact on society. Very few have escaped its influence. Spinoff philosophies such as humanism and materialism have had an adverse effect on mankind by making man and/or his material possessions more important than God. This mindset has caused many non-Christians to feel comfortable in their passiveness toward God and the Bible and even some Christians have been so conditioned by it as to question their faith in these matters. And this is often so subtle that people are not aware they are being influenced.
A knowledge of Christian evidences is essential. It is essential for the well-being of the church, the individual Christian and the home. The Lord's church cannot be strong if it does not defend Christian belief. The individual Christian will be weakened if he does not have confidence in what he purports to believe - - and the home cannot do its job if it does not give children a reason for their faith. Parents with school age children find that a knowledge of Christian evidences is helpful in dealing with issues their children face.
Many parents have been hit by the reality of a materialistic world when their children come home wondering about such things as: "Is the Bible really true?" - "Why do we believe in God?" - "How do we know evolution is not true?" - "Why do we believe Jesus rose from the dead?" Christian parents cannot hide from these issues. It is a major mistake to assume that children will just somehow know how to defend themselves. Parents have an obligation to be informed on these matters and to teach their children how to respond to those who question the Bible.
The Role of Faith in Christian Evidence
Though the Christian viewpoint is a system of faith, it is not blind faith. Rather, it is faith based on and confirmed by evidence. A "leap in the dark" type of faith is not adequate. For example, the following are not sufficient reasons for believing the Bible: "Because I want to...because my parents do...because my friends do...because I'm afraid not to...because it seem the right thing to do." Faith which is not based on evidence is nothing more than prejudice. True faith must have a foundation, for without a foundation it is worthless.
What is faith? The place faith occupies is unique. It lies between opinion and knowledge. On one hand opinion is only a guess with no support, on the other hand, however, knowledge nullifies faith. While true faith is less than absolute knowledge, yet, since it is built on evidence, it is greater than opinion. The very nature of the case means the Bible believer operates in the realm of faith.
The Right Approach
The information drawn from physical and logical evidence easily confirms the Christian's belief in those things revealed in the Bible. However, those who reject the Bible refuse to look at the evidence honestly. They either avoid the obvious conclusions or twist the data to suit their particular theories, which is nothing but prejudicial, biased reasoning.
To benefit from a study of the evidence it is essential to be objective. Being objective is to be open-minded, receptive to obvious truth; it is to be unbiased, not being bound to preconceived ideas. The right approach is extremely important. Objectivity in viewing the Bible will not only help the skeptic to understand its integrity, it will also help the Christian in fortifying his faith.
I. THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Does God exist? Either he does or he doesn't; there is no middle ground. There are two views regarding God's existence: 1) The theist says, "There is a God." 2) The atheist says, "There is no God." The agnostic (an atheist without conviction) says, "I don't know if there is a God.") Who is right? How can this be determined, or can it?
God is a concept transcending the natural, physical realm and into the realm of the metaphysical (beyond the physical) or supernatural (above the natural). This means God can neither be established nor refuted with the scientific method. Hence, accepting or rejecting God's existence is a matter of belief, that is, both views are held on philosophical grounds. Faith in God is essential (Heb. 11:6). Though the Christian accepts God on faith, it is not blind, unfounded acceptance. Rather, it is faith based on evidence (Heb. 11:1). This evidence furnishes proof for the existence of God - proof drawn from logical inferences.
A. Atheism, the alternative to belief in God, cannot be proved.
It is absurd to try and prove atheism. No one can do it because it is impossible. A truism: "Even if the atheist is right, he can never know it!" Why? He cannot know it now and since he denies consciousness after death he could not know it then, if his belief is indeed reality! How depressing it must be to spend one's life believing and defending a view but never being able to know if it is true! (Rom. 1:18-23)
B. Atheism, the alternative to belief in God, has nothing better to offer.
Atheism has no hope to offer. It says there is nothing beyond this present physical life. (I Cor. 15:19) What can atheism do for man that belief in God cannot? What hospital, orphan home, health care center, shelter for the poor, home for the aged, rehabilitation center, or any other humanitarian institution have atheists ever established? By believing in God there is everything to gain and nothing to lose. However, the atheist has everything to lose and nothing to gain.
Prior to their debate, Alexander Campbell told the famed atheist Robert Owen: "You say you have no fear in death; have you any hope in death?" Owen said, "No." Then, pointing to an ox standing nearby, Campbell replied: "Then you are on level with that brute. He has fed till he is satisfied, and stands in the shade whisking off the flies, and has neither hope nor fear in death." Over the atheist will always hang the possibility that God exists (Ps. 19:1).
C. There is something that is eternal - the first cause.
There never could have been a point in time when there was nothing. Why? Because if there ever was such a point then there never could be anything. Why? Because nothing cannot produce something.
A logical inference: "Something is. Something cannot come from nothing. Therefore something always was." Though difficult to comprehend, it is a philosophical truth that something has always been. There is no escaping this conclusion! There has to be a first cause, something that is eternal in and of itself, something that was not caused but that caused all else that exists. What was it that always was?
Everything that exists falls into one of two categories: mind or matter. One of these has to be eternal. There is no escaping this conclusion! Which position is more rational, believable and defensible? Where is the logic in believing that matter is eternal? Where is the rationale in believing matter produced life and intelligence? (Which one is superior - - mind or matter? Can the inferior create the superior?)
If it cannot be believed that matter is eternal and that it produced life and intelligence, then there is only one alternative! (Heb. 11:3)
D. The universe bears marks of intelligence through design.
An atheist once asked Benjamin Franklin how long it took him to make his room-size replica of the solar system. He responded, "Why, no one made it! It just happened!" To which the atheist replied: "You must be joking!" Franklin then said: "And you must be joking, when you say that the actual solar system just happened!"
Design demands a designer. For example, when we see a house we know it did not design itself. Even though we did not see the designer, yet we know there was one. But, a house is nothing compared to all of creation (Heb. 3:4). The watch on your wrist bears marks of intelligence. It is a marvelous timepiece. Did someone design it? Only a fool would say "no." Yet, the earth on which we live is a much more precise timepiece than a wristwatch.
Did the complicated electrical system of New York City have a designer? Obviously so! Then what of man's complex spinal cord and nervous system networking throughout the body? Did the telescope design itself? If not, how could the more advanced human eye have designed itself? Our universe exhibits many billions of examples of remarkable design. This can only point to a master designer!
E. Morality demands a moral governor.
Man is a moral being possessing conscience. Where did this originate? Did it just happen by accident or does it require some special explanation? Why does man have concepts of right and wrong? Why does he contrast "good" and "evil"? Could such complex perceptions have merely evolved?
If there is no God then there can be no purely objective standard of right and wrong. If this is true, morality has no meaning. Without a higher, moral standard "right" and "wrong" are only what man himself perceives to be right or wrong. Man, therefore, becomes his own standard.
If there is no God (hence, no higher moral standard) how is something determined to be wrong? Who could say that anything is ever wrong? Is it wrong for one man to kill another? If so, on what standard is such a judgment to be made? What is the difference between killing a man and killing a bug? Is the molestation of a child wrong? If so, how is this determined? All men, including atheists, can be driven to the point where they will defend some standard of right and wrong.
Following World War II, the Nurenberg trials condemned leading Nazi war criminals to death for killing millions of Jews. But, to what law did the court appeal? American? German? French? English? Russian? The judges said they appealed to a "higher moral law" based on belief in a higher, universal standard. These war criminals were convicted of "crimes against humanity." The fact that morality exists demands a supreme, moral law giver. Were it not for a moral Creator man would have no moral nature and would have no need for such.
F. Man is instinctively a worshiping being.
Man has an inherent need to worship something. This is a universal impulse recognized everywhere in the world, even in the darkest regions. People who lose sight of the true and living God will invariably create their own "gods" (Acts 17:23; 19:26; Rom. 1:23). Even those who intellectually reject God will often create "gods" in the forms of wealth, recognition, pleasure, and so on. This innate need in man to look to something higher is evidence that God exists.
G. The majority of scientists and philosophers have been believers in God.
Most of the greatest minds of all times have found that belief in a supreme being is the only rational, acceptable viewpoint.
Astronomer, Fred Hoyle: "It is inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect higher intelligence, even to the point of God."The list of believers in God includes such names as: chemist Louis Pasteur, physician William Jenner, geneticist Gregor Mendel, physicist Robert Millikan, philosopher Immanuel Kant, mathematician/naturalist Isaac Newton, pathologist Rudolph Virchow, anatomist George Culver, astronomer Johann Kepler, developer of the scientific method Francis Bacon, physicist and Director of the United States Institute for Space Studies Robert Jastrow, to name a few.
Physicist, William Kelvin: "If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to belief in God."
Even Charles Darwin admitted that the greatest minds of all times were believers in God: "The question of whether there is a creator and leader of the universe has been answered in the affirmative by the greatest spirits that have ever lived."
The real reason people reject God is because of a biased mindset. They are anti-religious and cannot accept the idea of one day being accountable to someone higher than themselves. Isaac Asimov said: "I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism."
It is difficult to believe that a person who has spent his life rejecting God, could face death and not have serious doubts and anxiety about his destiny.
The Christian believes in an eternal God, while the atheist believes in eternal matter. One has hope, the other has nothing.
II. CREATION VERSUS EVOLUTION
The first section, dealing with the existence of God, illustrated the conflict between theism and atheism. The theistic view says that all things originated as the result of plan and design. The atheistic view says that all things originated as the result of accident and blind chance. Both views offer a method for how things came to be as they are. Theism points to creation while atheism points to evolution. This is where the conflict continues.
For many years the question of how life came to be has been a battleground between creationists and evolutionists. These two views are mutually exclusive. If creation is true, evolution is false. Likewise, if evolution is true, creation is false.
Studying the origin of things is not a science. To qualify as science a thing must be able to be demonstrated and duplicated. This means that both creation and evolution are beliefs. Hence, the creation position is no less a science and no more a belief than is evolution. The question is, which position is supported by the evidence?
What Is Creation?
The Bible is clear in presenting the creation account. "In the beginning God created..." The word "created" is the Hebrew word BARA. This word is used only of God's action and means a creation out of nothing.
The creation as presented in the Bible is fiat creation. This means God commanded things to exist. He spoke all things into existence - - "And God said..." (Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24; Ps. 33:6; 148:1-5; II Cor. 4:6)
Christ was the medium through which creation was accomplished. (Jn.1:3, note: Christ is called the "word" - Jn. 1:1) (Jn. 1:10; I Cor. 8:6; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2)
The earth and life upon it were created within the framework of a six day period. (Ex. 20:11; Gen. 2:1) The days of Genesis chapter one were solar (twenty-four) days. That this is true is shown by the following.
a. Each day is combined with a numeral - "first day...second day...third day..." In the Hebrew Old Testament whenever a number is used with the word "day" it is always and without exception referring to a normal, twenty-four hour day.The first life forms were created fully-grown and had the capacity to reproduce. The law of biogenesis states that only life can produce life. New forms of life were limited to the likeness of their parent forms - "after his kind." (Gen. 1:11,12) The law of biogenesis further states that life can only produce life of the same kind. (That this account is supported by the evidence will be demonstrated later.)
b. Each day is qualified with the expression "morning and evening" which is a Jewish idiom for the night and day (or light and dark) portions of a normal day.
c. In literature a word is to be given its literal meaning unless there is something in the context that demands otherwise. There is nothing in the context of Genesis chapter one that demands a figurative meaning for the word "day." The only reason men have come to suggest a figurative meaning for "day" is because they have come to reject a literal creation!
What Is Evolution?
Evolution is the theory that lifeless matter, acted upon by natural forces, gave rise to minute living organisms which have since produced all extinct and living plants and animals, including man.
Facts about the theory of evolution.
Evolution is a concept - a belief, a speculation, an opinion. Technically, evolution is not a theory but rather it is a hypothesis - or "educated guess." Evolution is believed, not because of the evidence, but in spite of the evidence!
Why should evolution be rejected?
1. Because many scientists reject evolution and many others have serious doubts about it.
2. Because the evolutionary concept is not scientifically grounded. It can be refuted without denying one single fact of science.
3. Because evolution contradicts the first and second laws of thermodynamics (entropy).
a. The first law states that while energy can be converted from one form to another, the total amount always remains constant. This means that energy is not being created and that the total amount of energy in the universe has always been at maximum level. However, evolution says that energy, like everything else, began at a minimum level and has expanded. The first law of entropy points to creation, not evolution!4. Because evolution cannot explain:
b. The second law states that the amount of useful energy is always decreasing or becoming less available. This means there is a tendency for things to run down, a tendency for greater randomness and less complexity. (Physicist James Jeans explained that the universe is like a gigantic clock that has been wound up and is running down.) However, the basic premise of evolution is that things are winding up and developing greater complexity. Evolution says that in nature, instead of greater randomness, there is a constant higher degree of organization. The second law of entropy and evolution are diametrically opposed.
a. The origin of life.5. Because there is no physical evidence for evolution.
b. The origin of protein.
c. The origin of photosynthesis.
d. The origin of protozoa.
e. The origin of metazoa.
f. The origin of amphibians and reptiles.
g. The origin of birds.
h. The origin of mammals.
i. The origin of "odd" creatures.
j. The origin of specialized organs.
k. The origin of instincts.
l. The origin of cross-pollination.
m. The origin of endoparasites.
n. The origin of metamorphosis.
o. The origin of colonial living.
p. The origin of skeletal armor.
q. Insect population "checks and balances."
r. Why "extinct" forms are still found living.
s. The stability (fixity) of chromosome numbers.
a. There is only one place to go to find physical evidence which could verify the theory of evolution - the fossil record. Fossils are either imprints or petrified remains of plants and animals found in the earth's geological strata. (Remember, evolution says that over millions of years the trail of evolving life has been progressively recorded.)How is evolution defended? Evolutionists use various arguments:
b. If evolution is true what would it predict should be found at the supposed beginning of the fossil record? Should not only the very smallest of life forms be found? Likewise, if evolution is true what should be found throughout the geological record as the evolutionist interprets that record? Should not many intermediate fossils be there? Should not intermediate fossils be the rule and not the exception?
c. What does the fossil record reveal? First, at the base of the record (known as the Cambrian) there are fossils of highly complex animals. Second, nowhere in the fossil record do intermediate forms appear. That evolution and the fossil record disagree is indisputable!
d. On the other hand the creation view blends well with the evidence. The creation view predicts that the entire fossil record would exhibit complex fossils and that throughout the fossil record no intermediate forms would be found.
e. Due to the obvious lack of transitional fossils to support the theory, evolutionists are now turning to another explanation - explosive evolution. Also called punctuated evolution, this view says that evolutionary changes did not take place in small, intermediate stages, but fast her by sudden leaps from one generation to the next. Though absurd and lacking any support, this new view "explains" the lack of intermediate fossils. That this theory is accepted shows that evolutionists have no confidence in the fossil record.
a. Vestigial organs - organs said to be no longer useful.All arguments used by evolutionists are based on subjective reasoning.
b. Comparative anatomy - similarities in body structures used to show progression.
c. Blood comparison - used to show closeness of relation in animals.
d. Embryonic recapitulation - the embryo is said to resemble "past forms" of life.
e. Mutations - genetic accidents in reproduction said to be the mechanism of evolution.
f. The geologic record - fossils said to be "missing links."
Consequences of the evolution doctrine.
1. It is not beneficial to scientific progress.Why Christians cannot believe evolution.
2. It promotes atheism - which tends to create attitudes leading to amoral conduct.
3. It has helped promote corrupt systems of government.
1. It denies the instant (fiat) creation of heavens and earth. (Gen. 1:1)Theistic Evolution
2. It denies there was one original man. (Gen. 2:7)
3. It denies man was created in the image of God. (Gen. 1:27)
4. It denies woman was made from man's side. (Gen. 2:21-23)
5. It denies man has an immortal soul. (Eccl. 12:7; Matt. 10:28)
6. It denies that the first plants and animals and humans were created full grown. (Gen. 1:11,12,20-25)
7. It denies that plants and animals only produce "after their kind." (Gen. 1:11,12,21,24,25)
8. It denies man's fall. (Gen. 3:1-6) This means no first sin, no punishment and no redemption. This makes void the redemptive plan of man's salvation by the blood of Christ. (I John 1:7)
Theistic evolution is an attempt to harmonize evolution with the Bible. Why do some hold this position? Because, while they do not agree with either evolution or creation exclusively, they do not want to be rejected by either side. Usually such people have little knowledge of either evolution or creation.
The theistic-evolutionist is caught in between. His position has no credibility. In order to make his position "work," the theistic-evolutionist much make modifications in both the Bible and evolution. A little evolution is put into creation and a little creation (God) is put into evolution. In other words, God started it all and then turned it over to evolution. However, this view leads to a serious problem. The Bible puts the entire creation into the framework of one week. (Exodus 20:11)
What is the theistic-evolutionist to do? Somehow, he has to force millions upon millions of years into only six days! He says, "The days of Genesis 1 were long periods of time." This is referred to as the "day-age" theory.
However, the days of Genesis chapter 1 were literal days!
- This is the natural meaning of the Hebrew word "day" (YOM). It is always to be understood in its literal sense unless something in the context demands otherwise.If the days of Genesis one were long periods of time, many problems arise when attempting to harmonize the Bible and evolution.
- Each day is numbered. "first day....second day....third day...." In the Old Testament, whenever the word "day" is used with a numeral, it always refers to a literal day - there are no exceptions to this!
- Each day is qualified with the words "morning and evening." This was the Jewish way of speaking of both portions of a day, equivalent to our expression "night and day."
a. Vegetation was created on day three and insects on day six. How, then, did plants which depend on insects for cross-pollination exist for millions of years without them?The theistic-evolutionist must deal with the issue of when man first possessed a soul. At what point on his evolutionary trip did this occur? According to evolution, by the time man evolved to the point of being "man," there were many of them! Did God "zap" souls into all these creatures at the same time?
b. Vegetation was created on day three but rain ("mist") did not exist until day six. How could plants have existed for millions of years without water?
c. The earth was created on day one and stars on day four. However, evolution says that stars existed long before the earth.
d. The sun and moon were created on the same day. However, evolution says the sun existed long before the moon.
e. The first life forms were created on land. However, evolution says the first life appeared in the water.
f. Plant life was created on day three and animal life was created on days five and six. However, evolution says that plant and animal life evolved together.
g. Fruit trees were created on day three and marine life was created on day five. However, evolution says marine live evolved long before fruit trees.
h. Birds were created on day five and insects were created on day six. However, evolution says insects evolved millions of years before birds.
i. Fish and birds were created on day five. However, evolution says fish appeared long before birds.
j. The first water life was called "great whales." However, evolution says the first water life was microscopic.
k. Birds were created on day five and reptiles were created on day six. However, evolution says birds evolved from reptiles.
l. All original life forms were created full grown. In addition, woman was made full grown from man's side. Evolution flatly denies this.
m. The distinction of sex in the human race began at the creation of man and woman - "male and female created he them." However, evolution says that sexual distinction began long before this, when life was in its "primitive" form.
The Bible shows man created in a perfect state ("in the image of God"), but then falling from that state. However, evolution pictures man beginning in the "slime" of some ancient pool and then slowly progressing upwards. These are two totally different pictures of man.
If evolution is true, then there was no first man (or woman), no first sin, and no fall. Hence, there is no need for a redemptive plan. The theistic-evolution position strikes at the heart of Christ's work in redemption. It makes Christ's death meaningless.
III. THE RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE
What Is Inspiration?
False views of inspiration.
Several false views of inspiration have been promoted, all of which are designed to evade acceptance of complete inspiration.
1. Natural inspiration. Some teach the writers of the Bible were "inspired" in the same sense that Shakespeare was "inspired." However, this would make them uninspired.The correct view of inspiration - plenary-verbal inspiration.
2. Partial inspiration. Some advocate that only parts of the Bible are inspired. However, if this be true, who determines what parts are inspired? Must not such a person have to be inspired?
3. Mechanical inspiration. Some feel that Biblical writers were merely instruments to whom God dictated his word. However, this makes them nothing more than robots, whereas, we know God allowed them to write in their own styles.
4. Thought inspiration. Some teach that only the "thoughts" of the Bible are inspired, not the words. But, this view makes no sense. It suggests that inspired thoughts can come from uninspired words! How could one be inspired and not the other?
Plenary means "complete." Verbal means "word." The revealing of the words of the Bible was completely and precisely overseen by God. While men were allowed to express things in their own styles, they were, nevertheless, under the control and guidance of God's Spirit. Hence, their writings were an errorless recording of what God desired to give man.
Is The Bible Inspired By God?
It seems to be.
The very nature and character of the Bible set it apart from all other secular and religious literature. This is almost always man's unbiased, first impression. Its remarkable unity cannot be attributed to chance. It was written over a period of 1600 years by 40 men who lived at different times and places, yet their writings blend together perfectly.
One central theme works its way through the Bible - Someone! The Old Testament says, "Someone is coming!" The gospels say, "Someone has come!" The rest of the New Testament says, "Someone is coming gain!"
Its preservation affirms its inspiration. No other book has been so maligned and hated. Though for centuries it has been butchered and burned, yet it has survived. We cannot help but believe that its preservation has come through divine guidance.
Its style and plan reveal a level above human ability. Its overall scheme and the intricate way in which its accounts are unfolded are beyond man's genius. For example, the precise and complex way its types and anti-types are discussed cannot be attributed to chance.
It claims to be.
It affirms inspiration for itself. (II Pet. 1:19-21; II Tim. 3:16,17) It is referred to as: "the word of God" (Isa. 40:8; Heb. 4:12); "thy word" (Psa.119:105); "my word" (Matt. 24:35); "word of the Lord" (Jer.1:4); "the word that the Lord hath spoken" (Amos 3:1). More than 3000 times the scriptures are said to be God's word!
It proves to be.
There is an abundance of information which verifies the fact that the Bible is inspired by God. The information is so compelling, that to reject it one must have a biased attitude toward the Bible. The following data is testimony to the Bible's inspiration.
Proofs Of The Bible's Inspiration
A. From the standpoint of science
Those who reject the Bible often say, "The Bible and science are opposed." To make such a remark shows that a person is ignorant of the Bible, ignorant of science or ignorant of both.
Not all that men attribute to science is true. Likewise, not all that men attribute to the Bible is true. It is essential to ask: "Does science really say this? Does the Bible really say this?"
Some who believed the Bible have claimed the earth was flat. Likewise, some scientists have claimed the earth floated in a sea of water. However, neither the Bible nor science support either of these views. Some who believed the Bible have said the earth is 6000 years old. And, many scientists have claimed the earth to be 4-1/2 billion years old. Yet, neither the Bible nor science support either of these views.
Though the Bible was not designed to be a book of "science," when it speaks on scientific matters it proves to be correct. The following examples establish this:
a. The very first verse in the Bible contains the five components of existence - time, force, energy, space, matter. "In the beginning (time) God (force) created (energy) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter)." How did Moses know this over 3400 years before it was ascertained by modern science?B. From the standpoint of Historical Accuracy
b. Genesis one states that light existed before the illuminating light from the sun and other stars. Gen. 1:3,16-18 What this light was we cannot be sure, but it did exist before the sun and stars. For centuries men of "science" said this could not be. Only rather recently has it been discovered that light can, indeed, exist separate from illumination - for example, luminiferous ether. How was this fact known to the scriptures so long ago?
c. Many years ago the Bible spoke of the earth as round and not flat, as "science" of ancient times taught. Isa. 40:22 Job 22:14 Only in rather recent times has science learned that the earth is a sphere. How could this fact have been known over 700 years before Christ without the aid of modern science?
d. The Bible says the earth hangs on nothing. Job 26:7 Science in ancient times taught that the earth was supported by some kind of foundation. It was not until the late middle ages that man finally discovered that the earth was, indeed, suspended on nothing. How did Job know this great scientific truth so long ago?
e. The Biblical principle of procreation says that life comes from life. (Gen. 1:11,12,21,24,25) This was in contrast with "scientific" views of Moses' day, which said life arose spontaneously. It is now an established fact that life comes only from life - in modern terms this is called "the law of biogenesis." The Bible was right all along. (In view of this truth, it is amusing how those who reject Biblical creation are still trying to show that life can come from non-living matter!)
f. The Bible teaches that man was created in God's image. Thus, man is separated from the lower animals. Gen. 1:1:27,28 This separation is clearly seen in the world today. While both man and beast have physical bodies and are animated by life, yet, man, being in the image of God, possesses something that separates him from lower animal life. This is called will - by which man thinks, plans and decides. The Bible helps us understand this difference, a difference not accepted by those who reject God and the Bible. (I Thess. 5:23)
g. The unity of the human race is clearly set forth in the scriptures. All men, regardless of race, are said to be "of one blood." Acts 17:26 However, science of past generations rejected the notion of transfusing blood from one race of men to another. How did Luke, the writer of Acts, know this great truth almost 2000 years ago?
h. The Bible states that life is in the blood. Gen.9:4; Lev.17:11,14 It is, indeed, blood that carries oxygen and nutrients to the body. Life is literally "in the blood." Though Moses did not understand how, he knew that life was in the blood. How could he have known this? Remember, this has been known to science for less than 100 years.
i. The book of Psalms speaks of the paths of the sea. Psa.8:8 Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873) after reading this text and believing the Bible to be true, set out to find the these "paths." Over several years he did, indeed, discover the great ocean currents and began charting them. His work gave him the title "the father of oceanography." How did the psalmist, over 3000 years ago, know the seas had "paths"?
j. Solomon wrote about the global circulation of wind and water. Eccl. 1:6,7 He mentions things that science has only rather recently discovered - the great circulating wind currents in the northern hemisphere and the circulation of water from land to ocean and back.
k. The Bible reveals that the stars are numberless. Gen.15:5; Jer.33:22 In ancient times men thought the stars could be numbered. Various estimates were given ranging from hundreds to thousands. In ancient times, apart from the Bible, no one ever suggested that the stars were numberless. How was this known without divine guidance?
One of the greatest proofs of the Bible's inspiration comes through the spade. Archaeological research has unearthed a wealth of evidence that the Bible is historically accurate. Each year more information is turned up which verifies Biblical places, people, things and events.
Some skeptics have claimed that the Bible is not historically accurate. However, over and over again, the spade has confirmed the Bible to be the most accurate book of antiquity. The history of the scriptures is so accurate that for many years the Bible has been used as a guideline for historical study in the middle east. Archaeological discoveries pointing to the accuracy of the Bible are massive. Following are just a few examples:
a. The record of the Pentateuch (the books penned by Moses near 1500 B.C.) implies that Moses had the ability to write in a complex language. However, for many years it was assumed that an advanced form of writing such as that of the Hebrew Old Testament, could not have existed in 1500 B.C. But now it is known that this assumption is false. The Code of Hammurabi, predating Moses by at least 750 years, reveals a language comparable to that of the Bible. Indeed, Moses could have written in a complex language.C. From the standpoint of prophecy
b. The ancient city of Nineveh is mentioned several times in the Old Testament (Gen. 10:11; Jonah 1:2). For many years modern skeptics claimed this city to be fictional. However, in the 19th century it was discovered and has been extensively excavated.
c. The city from which Abraham came is called Ur. Gen. 11:31 Prior to the mid 19th century outside the Bible nothing was known about such a location. Those who denied the Bible would not accept this as a legitimate, historical location. However, that the city did exist is now well known. Excavations have unearthed its great 80 feet high and 70 feet thick wall which spans more than two miles. Much has been learned about its occupants.
d. The Bible frequently speaks of a nation called the Hittites. (Gen. 15:20; 23:10; 25:9). The Bible even refers to "the land of the Hittites." Josh. 1:4 Critics at one time claimed that such a people never existed and were only the invention of Bible writers. However, archaeology has shown that this nation did exist. It is now known that at one time they controlled much of what is now eastern Turkey. Their capital, Hattusas, covering over 400 acres, has been discovered and contains a vast library with tens of thousands of clay tablets telling about Hittite history.
e. The Bible speaks of the city of Jericho, a city which lay just west of the Jordan river north of the dead sea. It was destroyed by God and conquered by the Israelites (Josh. 6). Did this city actually exist? Was it destroyed in an unusual way? Not only has the spade discovered this city, but has verified that it suffered an unusual demise. Its walls have fallen outward, which is not what would be expected if conquered by a frontal attack. Carbon dating has even placed the date of its fall at about 1400 B.C.
f. The scriptures speak of a pagan god called Baal. Judg. 2:11-13 That this was, indeed, a preeminent god of the Canaanites has been well established by archaeological research. Places of sacrifice ("high places" Num.22:41) have been found in many different locations throughout Palestine.
g. The Bible gives a dramatic description of Solomon's stables. (I Kings 9:19; 10:26-28) Did such stables actually exist? Is there any evidence to support this? Several different excavations at ancient Megiddo have revealed stable compounds capable of accommodating more than 450 horses.
h. One of the kings of Israel is named Jehu. II Kings 9:11-14 That this man existed is shown by his name appearing on a stone called the Black Obelisk found in the palace of king Shalmanezer at Calah, near Nineveh. The stone describes some of the exploits of Shalmanezer, including his conquering of king Jehu. It depicts king Jehu bowing before him and giving tribute.
i. The Bible mentions another King by the name of Ahab. (I Kings 16:29) He is described as one of the most wicked kings of Israel who had a very wicked wife, Jezebel. Was he a true character in history? Studies in archaeology prove that he was. The Monolith Inscription found in Assyria, records king Shalmanezer's victory over Ahab. "At Karkar I destroyed...2,000 chariots and 10,000 men of Ahab king of Israel." Also, Ahab's 300 feet long, two story "ivory house" ( I Kings 22:39) has been found.
j. The Bible speaks of a conduit (tunnel) king Hezekiah had built to help provide water supply during attacks by enemies. II Kings 20:20 This was a fantastic engineering achievement. It was about two feet wide and between 4 and 20 feet high and covered a distance of 1700 feet (1/3 mile) through solid rock. This account was ridiculed by Bible skeptics - until the tunnel was discovered in 1880.
k. Nebuchadnezzar and the city of Babylon are prominent in Biblical history. (Dan. 1:1) That they are just as significant in secular history is beyond dispute. Nebuchadnezzar's name has been found in many places throughout the ancient middle east. One such find is a Babylonian brick on which his name, as well as the name of his father, Nabopolazzar, are found. Likewise, the capital city of the Babylonian Empire is well documented. It has been excavated hundreds of times and many of its great buildings have been restored.
l. King Herod (The Great) is said to have ruled at the time of Christ's birth. (Matt. 2:1ff) Did he actually live or was he only myth? That he lived and ruled, the spade of archaeology has clearly confirmed. Even his high rise city, Herodium, with the remains of his beautiful gardens, has been found.
m. Another prominent figure of the New Testament is Pontius Pilate, the governor before whom Jesus appeared. Matt. 27:11-14 Did this man really live or was he merely fantasy? Again, archaeology has given an answer. Among other places his name has been discovered on a large slab near Jerusalem.
n. The Bible speaks of Golgotha, also known as the "place of a skull." (Matt. 27:33) This was the site of Jesus' crucifixion. Was there such a place outside the walls of Jerusalem? For many years such a site has been known. There is little doubt that this is the place.
o. The Bible records that when Paul was in Athens he saw an altar with the inscription, "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." Acts 17: 23 Did people of that time have an unknown God? In the city of Pergamos an altar has been discovered dedicated to a God described in just that way. That such a god was worshipped in Paul's day is beyond dispute.
The Bible contains many remarkable prophecies. These prophetic messages are not vague generalities, but are quite specific. Most of these prophecies were made many years before being fulfilled, the fulfillment of which can be verified in several ways. Such astounding predictions help to establish the inspiration of the Biblical record. They deal with various people and events. Following are a few examples.
Many prophecies pertain to nations and cities. The fall of nations and cities is a major
prophetic theme in the scriptures.
a. When the kingdom of Israel became deeply involved in sin, Isaiah foretold that God would raise up the Assyrians as a "rod of anger" to punish them. Isa. 10:5-10 This was later fulfilled through king Sennacherib. (II Kings 17:5,6)
b. When the kingdom of Judah lapsed into sin Jeremiah said that Babylon would be raised up to punish them. (Jer. 25:1,9-11) This was accomplished through the powerful king Nebuchadnezzar. (II Kings 24 & 25)
c. The prophecy of Daniel of the four world empires is astounding. The "great image" in Nebuchadnezzar's dream was explained to be four empires. (Dan. 2:31-40) That there were four ancient world empires is well established in history. In succession they were: the Babylonian empire, the Medo-Persian empire, the Grecian empire and the Roman empire.
d. Babylon, the first world empire and the "glory of the kingdoms," was to be destroyed by the Medes and would be left desolate with no people ever dwelling their again. (Isa. 13:17-22) (cf. Dan. 5:25-28) The fulfillment of this is a solid part of history.
e. Prophecies about the fall of many cites are found throughout the Old Testament. For example, Nineveh (Nahum 2:8--3:19) and Tyre (Isa.23; Ezek. 26:7-11).
f. In the New Testament the destruction of Jerusalem was predicted by Jesus before his death. (Matthew 24:15-22, 34; Luke 21:20-24) In his prophetic statements Jesus gave some remarkable details that identified the nature of the fall of Jerusalem and that this would be at the hands of armies. Did such an event take place? Indeed it did. The great Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote about this in dramatic detail.
There are also numerous prophecies pertaining to Christ. Here we find some of the most remarkable prophetic statements in the Bible.
a. His virgin birth. Isa 7:14 - - - Matt. 1:21-23
b. The tribe from which he came - Judah. Mic. 5:2 - - - Heb. 7:14
c. The town where he would be born. Mic. 5:2 - - - Matt. 2:4-6
d. Massacre of the innocents. Jer. 31:15 - - - Matt. 2:17,18
e. Flight into Egypt. Hos. 11:1 - - - Matt .2:15
f. Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Zech. 9:9 - - - Matt. 21:1-9
g. Betrayed by a friend. Ps.41:9 - - - Jn. 13:18; Lk. 22:47,48
h. Sold for thirty pieces of silver. Zech. 11:12 - - - Matt. 26:15
i. Smitten and spat upon. Isa.50:6 - - - Matt. 26:67; 27:30
j. Led like a lamb to the slaughter. Isa. 53:7 - - - Acts 8:32,33
k. His garments parted, lots cast for his vesture. Ps. 22:18 - - - Jn. 19:24
l. Hands and feet pierced. Ps. 22:16 - - - Matt. 27:35
m. Crucified with thieves. Isa. 53:12 - - - Lk. 22:37
n. Prayed for his persecutors. Isa. 53:12 - - - Lk. 23:34
o. Offered vinegar and gall. Ps. 69:21 - - - Matt. 27:34
p. Bones not broken. Ps. 34:20 - - - Jn. 19:36
q. Buried with the rich. Isa. 53:9 - - - Matt. 27:57-60
D. From the standpoint of internal evidence
There are several features about the Bible that clearly reveal special guidance. These are things that one would not expect to find if the Bible was of purely human origin.
The unity of the Bible
The 66 books of the Bible were written over a period spanning 1600 years, beginning with Moses in the desserts of Arabia and concluding with John on the isle of Patmos. These books were penned by 40 men who were from widely different backgrounds: kings, soldiers, shepherds, farmers, physicians, tent makers and fishermen. These books present a common story with a central thread running throughout. They reveal God's dealings with mankind as he unfolds his redemptive scheme.
Yet, in view of these time and personal differences, the books written by these men show absolute agreement. Could this have come about by sheer accident? To believe this would call for no less faith than to believe the Bible is inspired by God.
The impartial nature of the Bible
Unlike religious books of human origin, the Bible reveals the negative side of its outstanding characters. If the Bible was forgery, it would not record the fears and doubts of its heroes, nor would it expose their sins. Note these examples:
1. Moses' sin of disobedience.The literary content of the Bible
2. Aaron's sin of idolatry.
3. Saul's cruelty and jealousy.
4. David's adultery.
5. Elijah's lack of faith.
6. Peter's denial of Christ and his hypocrisy.
That the Bible contains a literary quality unmatched in the annals of literature is recognized worldwide. There are no other writings that can compare to it. All attempts by men to compose and label books as inspired are no comparison. Even those who reject the Bible as inspired admit its superior nature. There is no explanation for the vast difference between the Bible and other literature, other than to acknowledge its supernatural origin.
E. From the standpoint of external evidence
In a number of ways the Bible has had a positive effect on the world. Where the Bible has gone, numerous defective traits of human nature have been affected by its influence. Corrupt practices have been suppressed as a result of the Bible's influence. These include slavery trade, servitude of woman, infanticide, gladiator contests, sorcery and immorality.
F. From the standpoint of the Bible's presence
No other book has been as maligned and persecuted than the Bible. It has undergone more abuse than any other religious writing in history. Concerted efforts to burn and destroy it have been a constant threat to its very existence. Yet, the Bible remains intact. If it had not been overseen by the providential care of God, it would not have withstood such an attack.
IV. RELIABILITY OF BIBLICAL MIRACLES
The Word Miracle
How is the word "miracle" defined? The English word miracle derives from the Latin, miraculum, meaning "to wonder." In the New Testament the word miracle comes from dunamis (denoting unusual power - Jn. 2:11; Jn. 4:54) and semeion (denoting a sign - Matt. 12:38; I Cor. 1:22 ).
The word miracle is used in different ways:
1. A natural act - such as the birth of a child or the healing of a wound.What characterizes a Biblical miracle? It is supernatural or beyond the natural realm; it alters the laws of nature.
2. A providential act - by which God overrules in the affairs of men (for example, in response to prayer).
3. A supernatural act - that which goes beyond nature and providence.
Bible Miracles Have Become The Focal Point Of Skeptics
What if the Bible had contained no record of miracles? Were it not for the miracles in contains, the Bible would have never been subject to criticism. Void of any miracles, its historical record would have never been questioned. The presence of miracles in the Bible has affected the attitudes of skeptics toward the Bible.
If the miracles of the Bible are true, the Bible is true. However, if these miracles are false, the Bible is false. Hence, skeptics are desperate in their efforts to disprove Bible miracles. They know that if they can show its miracles to be false, they can destroy the foundation of the Bible, and with it the Christian system.
Agressive denial of Bible miracles is of rather recent origin. In the first century miracles were not denied, even by those who opposed Christianity. (See Acts 4:16) For over 1500 years this is the way it remained. The first serious, agressive denial came following medieval times in the 17th century, being promoted by men like the Jewish philosopher, Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677).
During the 18th century rejection increased, being encouraged by the works of others like English philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776). In the 19th century it intensified even more with the likes of German skeptic, Fredrick Strauss and French skeptic, Ernest Renan. Until the late 19th century, only atheists, agnostics and other skeptics denied Biblical miracles.
However, since then, the flood gates have opened, and criticism of the Bible runs rampant through a 20th century secular society. Even many "theologians" have joined the ranks of those who deny Bible miracles. In this case, however, they merely try to explain them away as natural events. For example: The parting of the Red Sea was caused only by a natural wind and the fall of the walls of Jericho was caused by a military attack.
Analyzing The Bible Skeptic
If Bible miracles are true, the critic must accept the fact that all the Bible is true. This means he must also accept the truth regarding the Bible's moral and spiritual contents. But, this, he will not do. Hence, miracles hang over the skeptic like an axe ready to fall.
The Skeptic's Defense
Skeptics respond to Bible miracles in different ways. They may say:
"Bible miracles are not logical or reasonable."
They were not intended to be logical or reasonable. They contradict human logic and reason, this is why they are miracles. If they were logical and reasonable, they would not be miracles and they would serve no purpose.
"Bible miracles contradict science."
Indeed, they do. Science is limited to the realm of human experience. Bible miracles are beyond science, this is why they are miracles. If they were scientific, they would not be miracles and they would serve no purpose.
"Bible miracles contradict universal experience."
This is just another way of saying, "No one today has seen a Bible miracle." It assumes that what man experiences now is what man has always experienced. However, since no man has experienced all things at all times at all places, it is illogical to assume that such miracles never did exist. This argument is dubious. At best, it can only mean that there are no such miracles now.
Why Believe In Bible Miracles?
A. If God is real, the whole universe (our very existence) rests on a supernatural basis.
The first thing to resolve is belief in a Supreme Being. If one does not believe in God, there is no need discussing miracles. But, if one believes in God, he will realize that belief in miracles is not so difficult - for both comprise the supernatural realm.
B. The nature of the Bible.
If all there was to the Bible was stories of various miracles, no one would have reason to believe to believe it or them. However, the Bible integrates these miracles with confirmed, trustworthy history. Being interwoven with the history, these miracles do not stand alone. Likewise, since the Bible contains much evidence of divine inspiration (see section III), this is further cause to accept its recorded miracles.
C. The recording of Bible miracles.
The way in which some Bible miracles were recorded, makes them easier to believe than not believe. For example, the feeding of the 5000 (Matt. 14:13-21). This was recorded by four men. Since two of these writers were apostles and since the apostles were present at this miracle, at least two of the writers were present. Could they have been deceived? Could anyone be deceived into thinking they saw 5000 people fed with only two fish and five loaves of bread? Either these writers intentionally recorded a lie or they recorded a fact. Which is easier to believe?
D. Some miracles hold the best explanation for how some things came to be.
1. The origin of the universe. The universe either made itself or it was made. Which is the most believable explanation? The evidence clearly favors a miracle of "creation" by intelligence. (Gen. 1 & 2)E. The character of the men who recorded the Bible miracles.
2. The distorted nature of the earth's outer crust. The layers of strata which make up the earth's outer crust are greatly distorted. Such distortion clearly points to a massive catastrophic event which could have only been brought about by unbelievably vast amounts of water. The miracle of the Biblical flood provides the best (and only) explanation.
There is nothing to warrant disbelief in their testimony. The record of their lives reveals men who were honest and above suspicion. (Some of them gave their lives defending a way of life built on their record of the greatest miracle of all - the resurrection of Christ.) Their character justifies belief in the miracles they recorded. If there is cause for doubt, skeptics who question their writings are obligated to show why.
Why Do People Deny Bible Miracles?
What good reason can be given for denying the miracles recorded in the scriptures? There is none. The reason people do not accept Bible miracles is because they don't want to. Why? Because to accept miracles means to also accept the Bible's supernatural foundation; and to accept this means to accept its moral teachings and consequences. Those who reject the Bible do not want to face the fact that there is One to whom they will one day give account.
A Final Question: "Why is it that Biblical-type miracles do not exist today?"
The answer is found in the fact that God had a special place and purpose for them. When they accomplished their purpose, they were no longer needed. The New Testament explains the duration of the age of miracles. (I Cor. 13:8-10)
V. CHRIST AND CHRISTIANITY DEFENDED
Occasionally Christians are called upon to defend their belief in Christ and Christianity. We are admonished to be ready to give an answer to all those who ask about our hope in both Christ and his church. (I Pet. 3:15)
Why emphasize these two areas? Because: (1) Christ is the center of our profession of life; and (2) Christianity is the way of our profession of life. Actually, the two are inseparable, and to accept one is to accept the other.
A. Three questions need to be considered.
1. Is Christ defensible?B. Was there a historical "Jesus"? Yes!
2. Do Christian evidences play a role in the discussion?
3. Is faith in Christ more than blind acceptance?
The man the New Testament record calls "Jesus" actually lived in the first century.
1. He is mentioned by a great many of the early "church fathers." For example, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Barnabas, Diognetus and Ireanaeus.C. The most important historical event in the history of Christ - His resurrection.
2. He is also mentioned by Greek historians of the first and early second centuries A.D.
a. Pliny, in a letter to the emperor, Trajan, advised him on how to deal with Christians whose practice it was to assemble and sing hymns "to Christ as if to God." (Epistles, X.96)3. One of the foremost non-Biblical testimonies of Christ comes from the writings of the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus. Though not sympathetic toward Christianity, he wrote: "About this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous....They [his disciples] reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion." (Antiquities, XVIII, 3.3) He also wrote that one Ananus "assembled the sanhedrin of the judges and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who is Christ, whose name was James." (Antiquities, XX, 9.1)
b. Tacitus refers to "Christus, who in the reign of Tiberias as emperor was condemned to death by the procurator Pontius Pilate." (Annals, XV.44)
c. Suetonius wrote that the emperor Claudius expelled Jews from Rome "because of constant tumults under the leadership of Christus." (Life of Claudius, XXV.5)
d. Others who made mention of Christ were Secundus and Thallus.
1. If this event is true, all things the gospels relate about Christ are true. If false, all are false.
2. Some facts about the record of Christ's resurrection.
a. There are only four Biblical accounts of this event.
b. Either these Biblical accounts mean something or they mean nothing at all. (That is, they are either fabricated lies or truthful historical records.)
c. There are no writings of contemporary history denying or contradicting these accounts. (All contemporary, non-Biblical references to his resurrection assume it to be a fact.)
d. The Bible skeptic, not able to produce any documents contrary to these accounts, must reject them on the basis of disbelief alone! (They just don't fit his belief system!)
e. The Bible skeptic is trapped between the obvious historical nature of the gospel records and the miraculous nature of Christ's resurrection! (He must accept one while rejecting the other.)
How Skeptics Deal With Christ's Resurrection
A. Skeptics, including many liberal theologians, reject the resurrection of Christ. While accepting in a general way the gospel accounts of his life, they deny that he was raised from the dead.
B. They do this by presenting several different theories.
1. The unconscious theory
a. It is claimed that though Jesus was crucified he never died, but was only unconscious (Skeptics choose only those parts of the gospel accounts they wish.)2. The spiritualistic theory
b. However, the text states he was dead. (Matt.2 7:50; Mk. 15:37; Lk. 23:46; Jn. 19:30)
c. How could Jesus have survived a crucifixion for three days without medical attention?
a. It is taught that only the spirit of Jesus was raised, not his body.3. The vision theory.
b. However, the tomb was empty. (Matt. 27:6) The apostles preached a bodily resurrection. (Acts 2:27,31; I Cor. 15:1-4,35-40,44)
c. Note: The only thing that can be raised is that which dies. But man 's spirit does not die.
a. Some say that Jesus only appeared to the disciples in vision form.4. The mistaken women theory
b. However, they ate with him and touched him. (Matt. 24:30; Jn. 20:27)
c. In this instance the skeptics create a miracle to remove a miracle.
a. It is said that the women went to the wrong tomb. Such reasoning is absurd.5. The Joseph theory
b. Did the men also go to the wrong tomb? Were the angels who were at the tomb also mistaken?
c. Why didn't the enemies of Christ point this out and direct his disciples to the right tomb?
a. Some claim that Joseph removed the body to a different location.6. The disciple theory
b. But how did he convince the guards to let him have the body? (They were under penalty of death to guard the body.)
c. If skeptics accept the Bible record that Joseph was a real person, why not accept what it says about his character? He was "honorable." (Mk. 15:43) Would such a man intentionally deceive others?
a. This theory says that the Lord's disciples removed the body.7. The enemies theory
b. If they did, why did the soldiers have to be bribed to tell this story and say that it happened while they were asleep? (Matt. 28:11-15) (Note: If they were asleep, how could they have known the disciples stole the body?)
c. If the disciples removed the body, then they lied about the resurrection. However, these men gave their lives defending the resurrection. (Note: Would men give their lives defending a known lie?)
a. Some claim that the enemies of Christ stole his body.
b. The question is: "Why would they do this?" What purpose would it have served? (Note: By stealing his body, they would have only enhanced the disciples' claim that he had been raised from the dead.)
c. If they did steal it, why didn't they produce it and refute the claim that Jesus was raised from the dead?
To establish belief in Christ is to establish faith in Christianity, for the two go hand in hand. However, the Christian system can be defended on its own merits.
Important questions to ask - questions with which the skeptic must deal.
1. Is there anything about true Christianity which is contrary to the needs of man?Some Specific Qualities Of Christianity
2. Is there anything about true Christianity which is immoral or unethical?
3. Does true Christianity produce good or evil?
4. What other religion or philosophy has given the world a better outlook on morals and ethics?
A. It is supernatural
1. It does not have its origin in man. The establishment of Christianity is directly associated with the supernatural. Acts 2:1-4B. It is historical
2. The early church was imbued with miraculous power. Acts 3:1-9
1. It is a historical movement.C. It is authoritative
2. Its history is interwoven with secular history. Acts 12:20-23
1. In the first century its preaching was not weak or indecisive.D. It is exclusive
2. Its preaching bespeaks authority and rule. Tit. 2:15
1. It stands alone. It does not blend with other religions.E. It is personal
2. It claims to have man's only hope. (Jn. 8:24; Eph. 4:4-6; I Pet. 4:17)
1. World religions tend to minimize the individual.F. It is redemptive
2. Christianity stresses the individual. (I Tim. 2:4; II Pet. 3:9)
1. The basic message of Christianity is that there is a way back to God - a way for lost man to be saved.
2. Its redemptive plan is provided through the sacrifice of a part of the Deity. (Php. 2:5-8)
The Non-Christian, Non-Jewish Religions
What are these religions?
1. Hinduism - India, PakistanNone of these religions can be compared with Christianity - there are no similarities. However, there are several contrasts.
2. Buddhism - China, far east
3. Mohammedism (Islam) - Arabia, Africa
4. Taoism - China, far east
5. Shintoism - Japan
6. Confucianism - China, far east
1. They are only philosophies and do not have redemptive plans.Concerning their writings...
2. The relation between their gods and mankind is often crude.
3. Most are polytheistic.
4. Most contain elements of animal worship and reincarnation.
5. They have no historical basis for claiming inspiration and no verifiable evidence to support any supernatural claims.
6. Their religious writings are of human origin and do not compare with the Bible.
1. Almost without exception, they do not claim inspiration.
2. For the most part they contain unreasonable stories. (Brahma, the "universal spirit" of Hinduism, hatched from a golden egg and created the world. Mahabharta, another god, has 16,000 wives and 180,000 children.)
3. They are, in many ways, unbeneficial to man. (Buddha's first sermon contains the following: "Birth is suffering, decay is suffering, illness is suffering, separation from objects we love is suffering, the presence of objects we hate is suffering, not to obtain what we want is suffering, clinging to existence is suffering.")
4. They do not contain any marks of inspiration.