By now someone is scratching their head and asking if this pastor Dan is not a little loopy. What is all of this “Becky” stuff? Please be patient with me as I present these thought in a personal manner. Becky is a real person. I don’t know Becky, but I know that God is reaching out to her through these words and through the love of a friend. Becky represents for me the untold thousands of young adults that I have had the opportunity to encourage to seek the truth about God. Today my topic is the bible.
To be sure, when we open the bible we are in a very unusual book. In fact the bible is a library of sixty six books written over a period of more than one thousand years by as many as forty different authors. Try to imagine such a collection so brought together that could be seen to speak with one voice about the things of eternal significance. There has never been a book like the bible. Even one book of the bible can be and has been transformational in people’s lives. The collection of sixty six has changed cultures.
Since I am a Christian, I want to start with the last 27 books which make up the New Testament. There is a lot of foolish talk these days about the New Testament which suggests that the material within was written long after the time of Jesus. That is utter nonsense. The entire New Testament in its present form was written within fifty or sixty years of the matters addressed. Most of the New Testament was written within thirty years or less of the events described. Some of the epistles were written within the first decade after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. My point is this. You cannot develop legendary material in that length of time. The material comes from eyewitnesses of the events. In cases such as Paul, though he was not an eyewitness, he spent a good deal of time with those who were. Most historians would never question the details of much of ancient history, and yet it is not nearly so well attested as are the Scriptures. Those who claim that the Scripture is unreliable have made a choice not to take it seriously. How would you explain that Jesus could have lived His whole life in the obscure land of Palestine which was a vassal state of Rome, and yet now be worshipped by more than a billion people? The impact of His story is so deep within the history of the world that even nations who are not Christian in culture have been affected by Him. One of the first books of the New Testament to be written was the first epistle to the Corinthians. In the fifteenth chapter of that epistle, Paul states that over five hundred people were eyewitnesses to Jesus having risen from the dead. In fact he says that over five hundred were gathered with Jesus at the same time for one of those post resurrection appearances. Some say it was a dream or vision, but that simply is not credible. Of those hundreds of early followers, many would become martyrs because of their testimony. In fact all of the twelve disciples died as maryrs except for John according to most historians.
Now what of the Old Testament? It is difficult to understand the Old Testament without a thorough knowledge of the history of the time from which it arises. It contains books of religious law, history, poetry, and prophecy. It is important to know which kind of literature a given book in the Old Testament belongs to. The books of prophecy sometimes speak to current events from the time of a given prophet, but sometimes they reach across the centuries and point to something from the time of Christ. There are hundreds of Scriptures in the Old Testament that point to the time and life of Jesus. There are also passages that speak about the end of human history.
I have read the Koran. I have read the Book of Mormon. I have read many of the Asian writings that underpin Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and so forth. There is no comparison between any of these and the bible. In fact, all of these put together do not compare to the bible. No holy book comes close to the historical and geographical detail of the bible. The science of archaelogy has verified the bible as to accuracy on hundreds of occasions. Archaeology is a relatively new science, and yet it has already exposed some of the careless talk of skeptics as misinformed or uninformed. A good example would be that skeptics used to say that Moses could not write and therefore could not have written the first five books. We now know that is absurd. The level of learning at the time of Moses greatly exceeds what “the experts” used to say. For further reading find a copy of Lee Strobel’s The Case for the Real Jesus or for that matter his The Case for Christ. Become familiar with the work of Josh McDowell. Look for a book written by a man who grew up as a Hindu in India. He is Ravi Zacharias. His book is Jesus Among Other Gods. There are literally thousands of highly intellectual scholars who have written on these subjects. Happy reading!
Next time I will talk of the patriarchs who are reported to have lived hundreds of years.