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Air is invisible, but we can feel and see its action – the wind. In the same way, although God is invisible, each person can easily be convinced of His existence by indirect signs.
The purposeful intricacy of creation.
- “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalm 19:1).
- When we go to the beach and find a watch, we don’t assume that time and a mere combination of random occurrences made this watch out of the surrounding sand. Why? Because there are obvious signs of the intention – the watch has a purpose, it conveys information, it has a complex mechanism, etc.
Thirst is the best proof of the existence of water.
Man was created by God in His image and likeness, and by His Spirit God gave the breath of life. Therefore, the understanding that there is something outside the limits of our life and this world is deeply embedded in our being.
- Things that testify about God
- Longing for God
- Thirst for God
- Dissatisfaction with what is only in this world
- Search for the meaning of life
- “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17: 26-28).
- Things that testify about God
God is speaking
Throughout history, God communicated with individuals; the Bible describes how God spoke to Noah, Abraham, Moses, the prophets; through the Holy Spirit, He spoke to the apostles and disciples – Peter, Philip, apostle Paul. To many other people in past times and at present, God speaks, and it is written: “It will be in the last days, says God, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy; and your young men will see visions, and your old men will be enlightened by dreams” (Acts 2:17).
God works miracles and answers prayers
Both in biblical times and in our day and age, we see that God reveals Himself to many people through His work in their lives: miraculous healing, help from troubles, etc.
“How can you trust the Bible?”
There are three tests used by historians to gauge to validity of a document
The Bibliographic Test
Looks at the ancient manuscripts of the Bible and asks whether the text of the Bible we have today is the same as the original?
– Simple answer is “yes”.
– There are thousands upon thousands of ancient manuscripts of the Bible, dating from the early second century down to the middle ages.
- 5,000 Greek manuscripts
- hundreds of papyri
- almost 350 Syriac copies
– These manuscripts enable us to be confident that the text of the Bible we have today is extremely accurate and close to the original.
The Internal Test
This test asks whether we can determine whether the document we have before us was written by eyewitnesses.
1. First, we have multiple witnesses.
- when we come to the New Testament, for example, we have multiple authors writing about the life of Jesus.
- Furthermore, these sources are all very early. Most scholars date the Gospels to the 60s, 70s and 80s AD, although some argue that Mark, especially, is much earlier.
Why is this important?
- Because one thing historians get very excited about is multiple attestation and early dating.
- To return to the Gospels, though, for a moment.
2. Now fairly universally accepted in critical scholarship that the Gospel writers were trying to write history; in terms of genre, the Gospels are biographies.
3. If one wants to reject the Gospels as history, then one is still left with the problem of explaining the early church.
- It had to come from somewhere
- If Jesus’ life and career didn’t play out as the Gospels claim, one has to explain where.
The External Test
Archaeology – Several fascinating examples.
First, two examples from Luke.
- In Acts 17:6-8, Luke uses the Greek word politarchs to describe the city officials in Thessalonica. That word doesn’t appear in classical Greek literature so for many years, critics accused Luke of making a mistake. Then archaeologists discovered a first-century arch in the town that used this very term — showing that the term was in use for government officials at the very time Luke was writing.
- It was a similar phenomena with Acts 18:12, where Luke uses the term “proconsul” to describe a gentleman called Gallio. That word didn’t appear either in classical literature so, again, scholars questioned Luke’s accuracy. Then an inscription was found at Delphi, dating to AD51, using the same term — and amazingly, to describe the very same official, Gallio. Once again Luke was proven to be a very accurate historian.
John 5:1-2, the fourth Gospel writer speaks of “a pool in Jerusalem, by the Sheep Gate, called in Hebrew ‘Bethesda’, which has five porticoes”.
In the 1930s, the pool was uncovered by archaeologists — complete with four colonnades around the edges and one across the middle.
“James Ossuary”. According to the Gospels — and to the Jewish historian, Josephus, James was the brother of Jesus and was killed in AD62.
In 2002, a mid-first century bone box or ossuary was discovered in Jerusalem, bearing the Aramaic inscription “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”. There is very strong evidence that the box and its inscription are authentic.
The key point: archaeology doesn’t prove the New Testament is true, but it does
- endorse the narratives
- show that the biblical writings are historical and geographical in character — and thus deserve to be weighed and treated as seriously as other texts from antiquity.
So why read the Bible?
- From a historian’s perspective, we have good reason to trust it.
- Only by reading it can you draw your own conclusions, rather than uncritically swallow somebody else’s second-hand-scepticism.
- Through the pages of the four biographies in the New Testament, the gospels, one encounters a historical figure — Jesus of Nazareth — whose powerful personality continues to resonate and impact lives two thousand years on.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”