South Sydney Anglican Church

Apologetics: Defending the Christian Faith (6th Sunday)

19 May 2024

Series: Apologetics

Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 3:10-4:5

God has Spoken in Scripture and through Jesus

Intro:              Well morning friends and visitors. My name is Matt Johnson and today we are continuing our study of APOLOGETICS – especially thinking about our response to those who say the Bible isn’t true or trustworthy. But the Bible is historically true; prophetically true; its principles have a proven track record and it is verified as true – by Jesus himself…

Prayer:        Well last week – we looked at RELIGIOUS PLURALISM and the often-quoted idea that “all religions are equal.” But as I pointed out – if there is evidence God has spoken in a particular-religion – then obviously not all religions are equal. What if Christians could provide good evidence God has spoken in the Bible? What if Christians could show that in the Bible – there are real prophecies – that point to Gods divine hand being in Scripture?

Let’s follow the logic. The Prophetic argument for the Bible being inspired by God – goes like this (Slide 2). Now again this is a powerful argument for the Bible originating with God. Sceptics of the Bible – would generally agree with premise 1 (TRUE). Sceptics would also generally agree with premise 2. (TRUE). Only a God-like being can know the future. But when we get to premise 3 – many atheists and agnostics try to say “FALSE”. Now these unbelieving secular academics would admit it looks like the Bible contains some very accurate prophecies. But in their opinion some of the prophecies are just too accurate to be real prophecies. People can’t know the future with the accuracy that is in the Bible. So they used to argue the prophecies in the Bible are just forgeries or tricks after the fact…

Let me explain. Until recently – most secular academics would point out that all the early copies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Daniel etc etc that exist in the world – still date to periods after Jesus’ life. So, they argued – the Bible doesn’t contain real prophecies. INSTEAD, they claimed, Christians simply changed the Old Testament after Jesus life – so that it looked prophetic?

For instance – the book of Isaiah was written in C7th BC and it looks like Isaiah is making real prophecies about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. But until 1947 – the oldest copies of Isaiah in existence in the entire world – dated to about 800-900AD. (This was true for much of the Old Testament). So sceptics used to say that after Jesus lived, died and rose again – Christians changed parts of the Old Testament to make it look like it was talking about Jesus. They claimed that all the prophecies in the Bible were actually Christian forgeries after the fact.  They used to say – that if they could find copies of the Old Testament that pre-dated Jesus – they’d prove once and for all that the prophecies in the Bible were not real.

(Slide 3) But in 1947 a young Bedouin shepherd boy climbed into a cave in Israel (near the Dead Sea) and made the greatest archaeological discovery of the C20th. There were lots and lots of ceramic jars filled with ancient scrolls. Now over the next 10 years – four caves were discovered in Qumran containing about 900 biblical and extra-biblical scrolls – most of them pre-dating Jesus.

Due to Jewish persecution – 1) first from the Greeks and then 2) from the Romans – a large group of devout Jews set-up a community in the desert (near the Dead Sea) called the Qumran Community. Scholars know these Jews were Essenes (which included some true Jewish priests from the Zadokite line). But the thing that was TRULY AMAZING for Christians – was that historians now had copies of the Old Testament scrolls of Isaiah, Daniel, Micah etc that predated Jesus. And they still had in them the same prophecies about Jesus – definitively proving the prophecies are NOT Christian forgeries.

Point 1:         Scripture is Prophetically True

Show:                        2Tim.3:16-17 (READ)

Explain:         Well, in this passage the apostle Paul is explaining to a young pastor named Timothy how to lead the Christian church. His focus is on teaching Gods Word. But as Paul speaks – he talks about the Bible being GOD BREATHED. Paul is saying that the ultimate author of the Bible is God. Although the Bible itself was written 1) over a period of 1500 years, 2) by about 40 different human authors – 3) God’s Spirit carefully directed every word that was written – so that it was all true.

Now we’ll address (in a moment) that there is good reason to believe that the Bible is without mistakes and errors. But perhaps the biggest evidence that God is the ultimate author of the Bible – is the reality of prophecy. As ordinary humans – Isaiah, Daniel, Micah etc could not know the future. But God revealed the future to these human authors and they wrote real prophecies – which the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (in the 1950’s) have now proven are real prophecies.

In Qumran (cave 1) they discovered a complete Isaiah scroll that radiocarbon dating – dates to 356-100BC. So a long time before Jesus was born. But it still contains the prophecy of Jesus being born of a virgin. (Slide 5; Isa.7:14). Matthew’s gospel quotes this prophecy at Jesus’ birth. But how could Isaiah have known (700 years in advance) that the Messiah would be born of a virgin? Similarly, the famous Isaiah 53 (also in the Qumran scroll) says (Slide 6; Isa.53:5,11). As you can see Isaiah speaks of the Jewish Messiahs death and resurrection AND Jesus quotes this passage at the Last Supper as he gets ready to die. But how did Isaiah know in advance that Jesus would die for the sins of the world and then be raised to life?

In cave 4 of Qumran they also found parts of the prophetic book of Micah. Amongst the pieces they found a copy of Micah 5 (dated to 100BC). That’s 100 years before Jesus. But that copy says (Slide 7-Mic.5). How did Micah know that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem?

Now there are lots of examples of prophecies in the Old Testament (and discovered at Qumran) that are fulfilled in Jesus. But there is one scroll discovered at QUMRAN that sceptics really don’t like. The book of Daniel was originally written around 539BC. AND Daniel contains two prophecies that say – the Jewish Messiah will be born in the fourth major Kingdom after the Babylonians. Its easy to do the math – Babylon was conquered by Persia, Persia conquered by Greece; Greece conquered by Rome (and sure enough Jesus was born). But how could Daniel know this so far in advance?

Well it gets even worse for the sceptic – because in Daniel 11 – the prophet prophesies a couple of hundred years in advance – everything that is going to happen to the Jews during the Greek Empire. Daniel prophesies lots and lots events (with incredible detail). Now if you read Daniel 11 (and you don’t know Greek history) you’ll just go yawn yawn. But all the details in Daniel 11 line up perfectly with what happened in Greek history. So, the sceptics cried foul and said no one could predict history this accurately. Daniel 11 has to be written after the facts it claims to prophesy.  NOW THIS IS THE CLIMAX in Daniel 11 (Slide 8; Dan.11:31-32). Now historians know this happened in 167BC. A Greek King named Antiochus Epiphanes IV – 1) spread pigs blood right through the Jewish temple (because Jews hate pigs); 2) he set up Greek idols in the Temple and 3) he forbid the Jews from worshiping God. Many believe this was probably the trigger event – that caused a whole lot of devout Jews to hide in the desert and set up the Qumran community.

But this is where it gets interesting. The Qumran community loved the prophet Daniel. They were looking for and eagerly waiting for the Jewish Messiah – that Daniel prophesied would come in the fourth Kingdom after Babylon. So as Rome conquered Greece – they kind of knew the Messiah was about to come. Some historians even believe that when John the Baptist was in the desert (eating locusts and honey) he may well have been a part of the Qumran community.

The Qumran Community identified themselves with Isaiah 40:3. They believed they were the voice crying in the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord. And of course, in the gospels, John the Baptist is identified as the voice calling in the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord (Matt.3:3). Same key text. So perhaps John spent time in Qumran – with their eschatological, Messianic hopes…

Now amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls – a copy of Daniel was found (that radiocarbon dating – dates to about 150BC). That’s only 16-17 years after some of the really detailed prophecies in Daniel 11. But academics also know that the copy of Daniel they found at Qumran is not the original. It is obviously a copy of the original Daniel – made at Qumran. But if it is a copy of the original – then the original definitely predates the events that took place in 167BC with Antiochus Epiphanes IV. Now you may argue that maybe the Qumran community fabricated the whole book of Daniel? But other scholars then respond – but why would the Qumran Community venerate Daniel and study so seriously a book that they just fabricated? That doesn’t make sense.

Apply:            So more and more historians and archaeologists are admitting that the only reasonable conclusion – given all the evidence discovered at Qumran is that DANIEL REALLY WAS PROPHET who foresaw what would happen between A) the Greeks and B) the Jews because it was revealed to him by God. Of course, Christians have been saying this forever. But it is now almost impossible for any reasonable academic to deny that Daniel contains real, undeniable prophecy. Archaeology has proven the Bible contains real prophesy that points to divine authorship.

Point 2:         Scripture is also Historically True

Show:                        2Tim.2:2-4 (READ)

Explain:         Well Paul tells Timothy that a time will come when church-goers will want pastors who stop teaching the Bible and instead tell them what their itching ears want to hear. Now part of the reason – people turn away from the Bible is that it challenges our sinful lifestyles and calls us to repent. But people don’t want to repent and trust God so they start going to churches where the pastors say – “the Bible is full of mistakes and errorsjust pick the bits you like and ignore the bits you don’t like.” And sadly – (believing this myth) – many people think they are Christians while proceeding directly to hell.

Now this belief that the Bible has errors – usually starts with more academic, intellectual type pastors (who puffed up by their own knowledge) start claiming the Bible has scientific errors and/or historical and cultural errors. But if you concede – the Bible has real scientific and historical errors – then maybe it also has moral and godliness errors too – and we shouldn’t obey it all. At this point – you now have liberal Uniting and Anglican Christianity, and the church looks exactly like the world. So when people say the Bible can’t be trusted – I tend to respond can you please show me one mistake or error in the Bible.

One of the MOST FAMOUS ARCHAEOLOGISTS of the C20th was a Jewish man – named RABBI DR NELSON GLUECK. (He wasn’t a Christian and he wasn’t really a practicing Jew. But he was probably the most highly regarded archaeologist of the C20th. (SLIDE 11). This is a picture of Glueck on the cover of Time Magazine and this is what he says about archaeology and the Bible. Now this is a phenomenal AND categorical statement from perhaps the most respected archaeologist of all time. NOTHING discovered by archaeology has disproved any part of the Bible. In fact – archaeological discoveries are now taking place nearly every month proving the Bible is true and accurate in all its details. So let me show you a few examples…

Well in the early 1800’s – many academics ridiculed the Bibles accuracy – because it spoke of a great nation called the HITTITES (Slide 12-Gen.10:15). Now the Hittites are referenced 46 times in the Bible. But outside the Bible – there was no evidence whatsoever of a great Hittite nation. So the word Hittite became exhibit A – that the Bible had errors. But in 1812 – an early explorer named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt discovered a kind of hieroglyph in HAMATH SYRIA that had never been seen before. What was this hieroglyph? (ENTER)

Then a few years later in 1834 a French explorer named Charles Texier – discovered a huge ancient city in Northern Turkey that predated the Romans, the Greeks, the Babylonians and Assyrians. It dated as early as 2000BC and the people were known as the Hattusa. (ENTER). This was a long way from Israel. But after a heap more discoveries AND a lot of translation work it was agreed around 1950 – that the Hatussa were the Hittites AND it all correlated quite accurately with the Bible. So exhibit A (the Hittities) prove the Bible has errors – went out the window about the same time the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

Let me quickly give you some more examples. But remember there are literally hundreds. In Acts 18:12 it says (Slide 13; Acts18:12). Scholars said definitely not. Wrong! We know all the proconsuls of Archaia. There was no Gallio. But then an apprentice archaeologist was sorting through ancient manuscripts found in the TEMPLE OF APOLLO IN DELPHI – and one was addressed to Gallio the Proconsul in Archaia. In 2 Chronicles 26:9 it says (Slide 14; 2Chr.26:9). Again scholars used to say no. Wrong! All of Jerusalem is carbon dated to the rule of King Hezekiah, not King Uzziah – so 2 Chronicles 26:9 must be wrong. Except two weeks ago (ENTER) archaeologists made a discovery that 2 Chronicles 26 is in fact right. Also, if you don’t know (and haven’t seen the news reports) a group of 22 archaeologists claim they have found the Sodom and Gomorrah reported in the Bible. They have found an ancient city, near the Dead Sea, dated to about the right time that shows evidence of burning at extreme temperatures.

The silica among the rocks has been turned into glass AND those sort of temperatures could only be produced by a meteor strike. So we have archaeological evidence of a meteor strike on a city in about the right location and right time as Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible. You can GOOGLE this one for yourself. But I am truly unaware of anything in the Bible that has been definitively proven false by archaeology. That is incredible given how much history the Bible covers and the depth of detail if offers. So if there are no historical mistakes – there is good reason to believe there are no mistakes of any kind…

 Point 3:         Scripture is Verified by Jesus and Western Society

Show:                        2Tim.4:1-2 (READ)

Explain:         Well Paul reminds Timothy (and us) that in the end Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead – based on what God has revealed in the Bible. So if Jesus is going to judge us all based on God’s Word we need to ask ourselves what was Jesus’ attitude to Gods Word?

I want to show you just a few quotes (Slide 17 – Mk.12:36). Jesus believed the words of David written in the Psalms were inspired by the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 22:31 Jesus says (ENTER; Matt.22:31). Jesus taught that as we read Gods word in the Bible – it is the same as God speaking to us directly. In Johns gospel – Jesus says (ENTER – Jn.10:35). The idea is Scripture cannot be annulled or ignored. It is always valid. Finally Jesus also says in Matthew 5 (ENTER – Matt.5:17-18). Again, Jesus is saying – every single dot on the i, and every cross on the t in Scripture – needs to be taken seriously until Jesus returns. When it comes to Scripture – Jesus is saying don’t be lazy; dot your spiritual i’s and cross your spiritual t’s.

Now incredibly – even Mohammad tells Muslims to believe and obey the Bible. In Sura 5:46 of the Quran – Mohammad says; (Slide 18 – Sura 5:46). So Mohammad tells Muslims to trust and obey the gospel of Jesus and the Torah of Moses…

But Jesus tells Christians not to trust and obey Mohammad. Jesus says in Revelation 22 (Slide 19 – Rev.22:18). Well, 600 years after Jesus that’s exactly what Mohammad was doing. Mohammad was adding additional words to the Bible and Jesus says such a person is anathema to God. SO JESUS (the spiritual leader of the biggest religion in the world) tells us NOT to believe in people like Mohammad. BUT MOHAMMAD (the spiritual leader of the second biggest religion in the world) does tell people to believe and obey Jesus. INTERESTING! The point is – THE MAIN REASON I believe the Bible really is trustworthy in everything it says is because it is backed and endorsed by the greatest man that ever lived. THAT MAN – Jesus Christ – showed us that he loved us by laying down his life for our sins. THAT MAN told us that if we repented of our sins, trusted in his death and resurrection AND obeyed the Bible as best we can – we would be forgiven. AND THAT MAN showed us – he really was Gods Son – by rising from the dead. AND THAT MAN Jesus tells us – to treat every word in the Bible – as the very words of God…

So perhapsthe biggest reason to believe the Bible is true is because Jesus tells us it is true. But as we’ve seen history and archaeology also give us good reason to believe the Bible is true. And genuine, undeniable prophecy and fulfillment in Scripture – also points to the fact that God must have been involved in the making of the Bible, because only an omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful) God could know and determine the future before it happened.

But there is still one more bit of evidence that the Bible is true and that is the fact that the Bible actually works in real life. As individuals, couples and families have put the Bibles instruction into practice in their workplaces, marriages, raising children and dealing with difficulties there have been obvious and measurable benefits. This has even been observable and measurable 1) at both a personal level and 2) a societal level – in western countries.

Recently, Tom Holland (an academic author and historian) wrote the book DOMINION. In an interview with Patheos he said; (Slide 20). Please remember when Tom Holland wrote this book in 2019 – he was an atheist. Since writing the book he has become a Christian in 2022. But after studying all the good things in the western world – an atheist came to the conclusion – they all come from the Bible. But he is not the only academic to reach this conclusion.

In 2011 Dr Vishal Mangalwadi (SLIDE 21) – an Indian philosopher released this book. “The Book that Made your World. How the Bible created the Soul of Western Civilization.As an Indian philosopher – Vishal was intrigued by why the western world was so more affluent, healthy, democratic and life affirming than all other cultures on earth? As he studied that question – he also became convinced that everything good in the western world came directly from the Bible.

Apply:            We don’t simply believe – the Bible is true – because it is 1) prophetic, 2) historically accurate and 3) endorsed in Jesus. We also believe the Bible is true because it experientially works in peoples lives and has a proven track record of bringing great blessing to the western world. We have lots of personal testimony of God being good to us – as we have trusted His Word in the Bible. Of course, the western world is now throwing out the Bible at a rapid rate of knots and dark, ominous storm clouds are beginning to brew on the horizon. If you don’t believe me – just open YouTube – they are all doom and gloom and perhaps rightly so… But if you want to see 1) people saved AND 2) you’d like your kids to enjoy the blessings of our western, democratic, free, life affirming society a little longer – then we need to get serious in apologetics. The only hope for post-modern man – is if we can convince them to repent and turn back to the God of the Bible (and fast).  Let me pray.              


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *