First we begin with the truth, that God loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us, which we will refer to G.R.A.C.E (God's Riches At Christ's Expense). Jesus came and died for our sins suffering the weight of all of our sins on the cross. To find out who Jesus Christ should be in your life read the entire Book of John when you have time to read, pray and reflect.
Christianity is grounded in facts and evidence, both historical and scientific. Its claims about God, God’s creation, God’s plan of redemption, the Bible, the ministry, miracles and above all – the resurrection of Jesus can be objectively verified through evidences by studying astronomy, physics, molecular biology and genetics, archaeology, history, the Bible and ancient non-Biblical documents. These claims are not merely imposed as “truth” by one person through some revelation. Therefore Christianity (and Judaism) stands on a foundation of evidence completely different from other religions.
In June 1986 archaeologists of Tel Aviv University announced discovery of two small silver scolls or amulets. These two silver scrolls were found in 1979 deep inside a burial cave at a site known as Ketef Hinnom, west of the old city of Jerusalem. They were hidden at the back of the tomb embedded in pottery fashioned as early as the seventh century BC. Seven years later the fragile silver scrolls were opened and their texts deciphered. The silver scrolls contain an excerpt from Numbers 6:24-26, also known as the Priestly Benediction. In English the verses read: “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”. The importance of this find can hardly be overstated. It proves this section of Numbers was written at least 2,600 years ago. This Old Testament passage is 400 years older than the oldest Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts, and perhaps even older yet. This makes the silver scrolls the oldest Biblical text confirmed through archaeology.
There are twelve compelling evidences for the Word of Truth:
The word canon is derived from the Greek word kanon (“kanon”), a rod, ruler, staff, or measuring rod. The Biblical canon is the list of books recognized by the leaders of the church, based on objective criteria, to be inspired by God and to authoritatively and accurately express the historical relationship between God and His people.
- The Dead Sea Scrolls: These contain Old Testament manuscripts from 100 years before the birth of Christ, proving that over the centuries the scriptures were very carefully copied and our current texts are close to identical to the original texts.
- The Septuagint: The first translation from the Hebrew Old Testament to the Greek language, dated from the 285-270 BC timeframe. The Septuagint proves the existence of all the Old books before 300 BC.
- The canon of the Old Testament: The list of books that now makes up our Old Testament was never under serious dispute, showing these books were accepted, and treated as God’s word almost immediately after they were written.
- Authorship and dating of the Old Testament: Although most of the Old Testament books are technically anonymous, we have strong internal and external evidences to support the traditional authorship and date of writing for these books.
- The manuscripts of the New Testament: The abundance (over 25,000 partial and complete texts) and early dating (the earliest papyrus is from 125 AD) of preserved manuscripts of the New Testament shows the reliable preservation of the original texts.
- Testimony of the
Early Church Leaders:
Additionally there exist over 86,000 quotations from the New Testament texts in the preserved writings of the leaders of the Early Christian church, testifying to the original texts.
- The canon of the New Testament: The official canon of the New Testament was agreed upon by 397 AD, however, before the year 150 AD, all gospels, Acts and Paul’s epistles were universally accepted as part of the list of Inspired writings. The disagreements in the 3rd and 4th century only centered around a few of the smaller New Testament books: James, 2 Peter, 2&3 John, Jude and Revelation.
- Authorship and dating of the Gospels: Although technically anonymous, there are strong internal and external evidences that support the authorship of the gospels by the names we identify them by today. Mark is generally considered to be the oldest gospel; even liberal scholars will agree on a dating before 70 AD, although more realistic is in the 55-65 timeframe. Luke, Mark and Acts are generally dated in the 60-80 timeframe. The gospel of John is now universally accepted to be written in the 80-90 period.
- Authorship and dating of Paul’s letters: All substantial letters are universally accepted to be written by the apostle Paul in the 49-65 AD timeframe. That makes these letters likely the earliest written documents in the New Testament.
- The ‘lost’ books of the Bible were never ‘lost’: Modern liberal scholars claim recently discovered ‘lost’ or ‘deliberately misplaced’ gospels that claim alternative views on Jesus and His teachings. Famous examples are the ‘gospel of Thomas’, the ‘gospel of Judas’ and the ‘gospel of Mary Magdalene’ (one of the ‘sources’ for the claims of the Da Vinci code). However evidence shows that these gospels were not only written generations after the apostles, but also that the preserved texts were subject to ‘creative editing’ (rewriting) by Gnostic heretic sources.
- The historical reliability of the Bible: Archeology and historical analysis again and again show the accuracy of the events, locations and customs mentioned in the Bible accounts. Never has anybody been able to disprove any of the accounts.
- The credibility of the eye-witnesses: The eye-witness accounts to Jesus prove to be honest and factual testimonies. The abundance of (irrelevant) detail, consistency of the accounts, as well as between the different gospels, lack of exaggeration and confirmations from extra-Biblical sources prove their credibility.
For the Old Testament, the canon of the first Bible was initially implicit and undisputed. When the Torah was written, it was immediately recognized as inspired by God, handled with great reverence, maintained by the priests and stored in the Ark of the Covenant. Most other books of the Old Testament were handled in the same manner. The first known effort to have the canon of the Bible determined occurred in 140 AD (known now as Marcion’s canon). This included 10 of Paul’s letters and the Gospel of Luke. Marcion was a gnostic heretic (he believed the God of the OT was not the God of the NT, and he rejected the humanity of Christ). He strongly disliked the Jewish aspect of the gospels. His list was soon viewed heretical by Early Church Leaders, but sparked the need for a formal canon. That second century conflict, scholars say, shaped the church’s emphasis on authentic apostolic connection as the main determinant of canonical status. Either a book would be written by an apostle/disciple of Jesus (Matthew, John, Peter, Paul) or by somebody closely associated with an apostle/disciple (Luke via his links to Paul, Peter and others, Mark as the “voice” of Peter, James and Jude as the brothers of Jesus). Consequently some highly regarded writings from second and third generation Christians were excluded (this includes many of the Early Church Leaders discussed earlier). In 397 AD at the first council dedicated to the Bible canon, (at the Council of Carthage) a list was finally compiled and found wide acceptance. There was little disagreement, except for the books of James, Jude (both brothers of Jesus, but not known to be disciples during his lifetime), 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation. These books were later accepted and included in the completed New Testament.
Exegetical Theology focuses on the exegesis, the "explanation" or interpretation, of Holy Scripture on the basis of the languages in which it was originally recorded: Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). The study of these languages is difficult for some, yet it always rewards those who persevere. In addition to studying Holy Scripture in its original languages, a second accent of exegetical theology is the broadening of biblical knowledge while maintaining a respect for the Bible as God's inerrant Word. A third, and by far the most important, accent of exegetical theology at the seminary is faithful interpretation of Scripture that is centered on Christ. A person can have a vast knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible and still not interpret it properly and profitably if his exegesis does not speak forth Christ and the salvation that Jesus has won for the world.
The Bottom line is this: I am not going to convince you or anyone else that the Bible is the true Word of God unless you allow God in your life and your are called by Him. Jesus, himself, said this, 21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Read Mathew 7 on the Jesus's guidelines for a Christ-ian walk). Hebrews 4:12 puts it this way, "12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Romans 10:17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." James 4:8,"Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Some Christian writers put it this way:
He that reads his Bible to find fault with it will soon discover that the Bible finds fault with him.
Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion!
Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.
Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.
Be very sure of this – people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment. They try to believe it is false and useless, because they don't like to believe it is true.
Thoughts for Young Men
So here is the challenge to you, draw nearer to God and He will come closer to you. This week or this month, in fact, for the remainder of the year-I would like to challenge all of you to read the Word of God daily (The Bible), journal your thoughts on Scripture that touches you. Pray daily (throughout the day). Confess your sins to other believers who you can walk with. Meditate daily with Scripture and prayer. Carry each other's burdens and see what happens in your life this next year.