Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Authenticity of the Bible-The Internal Evidence

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to lead the Apologetics class that some Christians friends have started locally. Here is the outline of the presentation that I gave. The topic was the internal evidence for the truth of Scripture, which is the first installation in the month-long series on the authenticity of the Bible.

Outline:

-The objective is to study the claims the Bible makes for itself.


  • This doesn't prove anything, but if the Bible doesn't call itself the word of God, then why are we believing it?
  • Muslims make similar claims for the Holy Qur'an (15:9). Do we have something to match this in our own books?

-What is the meaning of Inspiration?


  • 2 Timothy 3:16 uses the word Theopneustos which means "God-breathed"
  • 2 Peter 1:21 says men were "carried along by the Holy Spirit", which in the New Testament means a storm leading a ship or a shepherd leading his flock.
  • Hence, the message comes from God through human authors. Not by dictation, but inspiration. The Bible has a dual-authorship.

-The Claims


  • "The word of the Lord came to.." and "thus says the Lord" are found throughout the prophetic writings of the OT (See Isa 1:1-2, Jer 1:1 &4, Ez 1:1-3, Mal 1:1-2). Same goes for the NT (1 Thes 2:13)

  • The Bible also shows how writer recognized each other's authority (See Dan 9:2, and Jude 4-18 quoted in 2 Peter 2:4-18 (or vice-versa?))

-The Claims of Jesus 

  • See Matthew 13:14, Matthew 22:43, and Matthew 24:15 where he recognizes OT prophets
  • Matthew 5:17-18 and 24:35 (bringing the OT and NT on equal footing)
  • The purpose of the Comforter was to remind the disciples what Jesus told them (Jn 14:26). Thus, Jesus made provision for the writing of the NT.

-Answering Some Objections

  • Who wrote the Torah? Moses didn't because his obituary is given in Deut 34:5.
Joshua did (see Joshua 23:6 and 24:26). In Josh 24:29 we find the obituary of Joshua himself, but we can confidently know that someone else wrote than under Joshua's name as he himself did for Moses. 
  • There was more than one Isaiah.
But NT writers use different sections of the book under one name "Isaiah" (see Matthew 13:14 and Luke 4:18-19).  

  • Peter couldn't have written 2 Peter since there are marked differences in writing with 1 Peter. 
1 Peter 5:12 hints at Peter's use of a secretary.

-Internal Consistency


-Prophetic Evidence


  • On these prophecies, Peter Stoner in his book "Science Speaks", states about the probability of one man fulfilling just 8 of these prophecies:


,‘we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10^17. we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man. 

-The Canon Issue

  • Did the Church give the Bible or did the Bible form the Church?

This is an ever-spinning wheel that can't be solved. It is true that the NT came to use from Church councils. But in no case did the Church gave authority to the books of the Bible. This authority was inherent in them (See 1 Tim 5:18 and 2 Peter 3:15-16)
  • Jesus says that His sheep hear and recognize His voice (John 10:14-19). The Church recognized the voice of Jesus and the Canon was finalized.

More material will be updated soon.

(Next in these series: The Bible as History)

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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Taking the First Step


When I started this blog last year, one of the areas where I tried toffocus was apologetics. Although my previous series that been devoted to this topic, me and some friends a chance to do some practical work outside the realm of the Church and the internet. 

We have started an apologetics class locally in one of our friend's house. Our focus is taking the participants of the class on a systematic course that deals with learning the roots of and answering the objections to the core teachings of Christianity. 

Till now we have covered topics like "What is Apologetics?" and "What is Christianity?" Come tomorrow, I will be speaking on the internal evidence to the truth of the Bible, followed by other speakers who will deal with the historical and archaeological evidence. 

Currently, this project is taking its baby steps. Hopefully in the near future, I will be able to reproduce the material here so that the body of Christ benefits. Most of my material revolves around what we have been discussing in the Bible series

(Next in this series: Internal Evidence of the Bible)

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Thursday, 11 July 2013

My Christian Faith #4 The Evidence of Prophecy


The evidence of prophecy is a classic argument in Christian apologetics. Jesus and His Apostles frequently alluded to the fact of fulfilled prophecy to prove the genuineness of their ministry. In fact, God puts His Deity on the line when He claims to foretell both the past and the future (Isaiah 41:21-24)



Here I will present 2 examples to back up these claims. One is of the prophecies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Jesus, and the other is of events in world history. 

Note that while I am a strong advocate of the miraculous nature of the Bible in its ability to predict the future, I have strong reservations about a lot of prophetic stuff circulating around the internet today, specially concerning how the Bible foretells modern world events. Most prophecies mentioned in Bible, I believe, were fulfilled during the course of its writing. The sole exception can be second coming of Jesus and what we call "Judgement Day".

So without further ado, here are some examples of fulfilled prophecy in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures:

The Messianic Footprint

The Bible starts with the story of creation, and how God revealed Himself to a human couple. All was good till they disobeyed God to their own peril, and lost access to their eternal abode forever. But while God was pronouncing His judgement, He said to the serpent (Genesis 3:15):



"And I will put enmity

    between you and the woman,

    and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head,

    and you will strike his heel.”

Of course, this refers to the ongoing tussle of God and evil, the battle between the forces of darkness and light as long as the world continues. But we also find a reference to someone who is about to come, someone who will crush the head of the serpent for good. 

Another reference along these lines can be found in Genesis 12:3, where God says that all nations in the world will be blessed through Abraham. As time goes on, these prophecies become more specific, and we know that the Promised One will come from:

  • Isaac (Gen 17:18-19)
  • Tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10)
  • Line of David (2 Samuel 7:14)
  • Town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

When we open the New Testament, the very first words are:

"This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham"



And when we open Matthew 2: the first verse is:



"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea,....", 

thus fulfilling the identity of the Promised One. I can quote dozens of other prophecies that even related to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but these are enough to substantiate the claim that when we are talking about Bible prophecies, we are not talking about obscure passages, but rather detailed references that do not have vague fulfillment.


The Succession of Kingdoms

When talking about prophecy and apocalyptic imagery, we cannot gloss over the Book of Daniel. In chapter 2, the king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar sees a vision of great statue made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay (verses 32-33). In chapter 7, his successor Belshazzar also has a dream, but he sees 4 beasts; a lion, a bear, a winged leopard, and one with 10 horns (verses 4-7).


Daniel, the man of the Lord, was given the ability to interpret dreams. He took both these dreams to mean the rise and fall of 4 kingdoms in succession, starting with the existing rule of Babylon. In chapter 8:20-21, we come to know the name of 2 kingdoms that came after Babylon, and we know from history that the 4th superpower was none other than Rome. 

But that is not all, for the visions of the 4 beasts ends with a mystery figure, "one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven" (verse 14).  

This title "son of man", was Jesus' favorite title. NT writers ascribe this title to him more than 80 times. And when Jesus is standing in front of the Sanhedrin, He shocks everyone by saying:



"From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64)



So not only do we find a secular events being successfully in the Book of Daniel, we see how the entire spectrum Old Testament prophecy comes to fruition in the person of Jesus Christ. 



What's the Point?


The point of this ongoing blog series is to show that there are solid reasons for believing in the claims of the Bible. But here specifically, the evidence of fulfilled prophecy serves another, perhaps much more important, purpose.

Christians are basing our eternity (and therefore our present) on the claims of Jesus that He will come back to destroy evil, establish the rule of peace, and take us to our eternal dwelling in heaven. But what's the proof? Well, since God was faithful throughout history in fulfilling His promises, why would He back out now?

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