Overwhelming Evidence for the Validity of Scriptures Part 2
Many people go through life never looking at the evidence, or deciding anything about whether God is real, their real reason for existence, their purpose for this life or how they might spend eternity, what their worth in this world is; they simply accept on blind faith what the world tells them. Some people have lived a life following Christ, with hope, worth and love, but then something happened that challenged what they believed, made their faith falter and left in a dark place of doubt and worry.
God doesn’t want you to follow Him in ‘blind faith’; He gives clear and abundant evidence of His existence and for His Word. Many choose to ignore or hide the truth because they don’t want to accept the fact of His existence. Romans 1:18.
Once again, our intention is to prove: “that the Scriptures contained in the Bible are: Accurately preserved Documents; written in unparalleled unity; by eyewitnesses with nothing to gain, and everything to lose; which were verified by contemporary eyewitnesses of friendly, neutral, and hostile persuasion alike; and that these Documents, written like none other in their uniqueness, have been proven trustworthy beyond any reasonable doubt historically, archeologically, and especially prophetically; effecting the entire world for all succeeding generations unlike any Documents before or after; testifying in proof and self-proclamation, they are by absolute necessity, Divine and not human, in origin.” In our case evidence thus far, we have powerfully shown these facts: 1) The NT is proven beyond any ancient manuscript to have been preserved in its original content; we have what was written by the authors of the New Testament in our hands today. 2) The NT, and the entire Bible, was constructed in an unexplainable manner by many authors, which has never been duplicated before or after, and has a unity that defies the ability of men- spanning generations of time, culture, and education; telling one awesome story, without contradiction. 3) It takes much more faith to believe tens of thousands of people gave up everything they had to die horrible deaths, in support of something they saw, themselves, knowing it to be a complete lie; then to realize these people saw something so life-changing, they would go to their graves in persecution rather than deny the Words written about those events. So thus far, we see that these Scriptures are clearly accurate copies of what eye-witnesses say they saw and heard. Our next step is to ask the obvious question concerning this evidence: Are the testimonies included in these writings trustworthy in what they tell us actually happened? Just because they are accurately kept, doesn't mean they are not fabricated; couldn't they be the heart-felt stories of a bunch of religious fanatics, caught up in the moment? Are the witnesses reliable?
Which were verified by contemporary eyewitnesses of friendly, neutral, and hostile persuasion alike: 1) friendly, but non-Biblical source: Justin Martyr (well-educated philosopher, 150AD) “But the words, ‘They pierced my hands and my feet’ are a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided them among themselves; and that these things were so, you may learn from the ‘Acts’ which were recorded under Pontius Pilate.” & “That He performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied from the ‘Acts’ of Pontius Pilate” -Apology 1.48. He was eventually beheaded for his faith. When asked to recant and sacrifice to Roman gods to save himself he replied: “No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false." He was someone close to the actual time of Christ’s crucifixion, knew the events were true, yet challenged the Emperor of the time to look into the legal records and find truth himself about Jesus. Solid, unarguable, historical proof within a generation that legal Roman (Pagan) records contained the events of Jesus, just as the Gospels had written. 2) neutral source: Flavius Josephus (Pharisee, Jewish commander in Galilee) “At this time (the time of Pilate) there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive, accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” -Antiquities xvii.33 (Arabic text). "Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he (Ananus the high priest) assembled the Sanhedrin of the judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, (or some of his companions) and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned." - Antiquities , 20:9.1. He was born several years after Jesus’ death, but could’ve personally spoken to many who witnessed everything firsthand; he was a historian for the Emperor with access to any documents he wanted. Cornelius Tacitus (Roman Historian & Governor of Asia) "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed." - Annals 15.44. He was proclaimed to be the greatest historian of that era in the Latin language, had Roman allegiance; he confirmed the NT in areas. 3) hostile source: Sanhedrin (the High Court of the Jews) “On the Eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu (of Nazareth)… But they found in Him naught in His defense and hanged Him on the eve of Passover.” (Babylonian Sanhedrin 43a). Altogether, there only 10 non-Christian writers who tell of Jesus within 150 years of his life. In comparison, only 9 writers mention Tiberius Caesar—Emperor at that time. Many non-Christian writers are considered anti-Christian sources in history. None of them joined together to discuss or harmonize their stories, yet we can put together a collective, fluent storyline in history that all but parallels the Gospels telling us: a) Jesus lived during the reign of Tiberius Caesar b) He lived a virtuous life c) He did miracles (wonder-worker) d) He had a brother named James e) He was called Messiah by those around Him f) He died by crucifixion, under Pontius Pilate g) He died on the Eve of the Jewish Passover h) Darkness and an earthquake occurred at the moment of His death i) His disciples believed He rose from the dead j) His disciples denied Roman gods and worshipped Jesus as God k) His disciples died for that belief l) Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
Written like none other in their uniqueness; have been proven trustworthy: uniqueness: 1) they wrote about a new way of worship (religion) that attacks and embarrasses their own people for rejecting Jesus (proclaiming judgment); 2) they wrote on multiple occasions in ways that embarrass and belittle themselves (principle of embarrassment). a) Often shown as failing to understand or believe Jesus (Mark 9:32, Luke 18:34, John 12:16) b) Shown as uncaring or immature, Falling asleep in garden (Mark 14:32-41), Fighting over who would be greatest (Luke 9:46) c) Often shown as being rebuked and corrected by Jesus, "Get behind me Satan" (Mark 8:33) d)Shown as cowards, Who will not stand by Him at His trial or death, while women (of low esteem) are shown standing bravely (Matt 26:56-27:56), Will not give Him a proper burial, while again women present at burial (Matt 27:57-61), Let the women be the first on the resurrection, while they cower in fear (Matt 28:1-9) If you were writing a new religion, that you were to be a major leader and missionary over, would you allow yourself to be a bumbling idiot in the stories of the writing, or a brave, solid follower to be trusted? 3) they wrote about the new Messiah whom they want the world to follow, in ways that would often cause just the opposite response: a) Showing Him being loving and merciful to their enemies (Samaritans and other gentiles) b) Showing Him loving and siding with terrible sinners over righteous, respected leaders of the day c) Showing Him behave in ways that bordered sexual misconduct with prostitutes d) Showing Him as rejected by His own family e) Showing Him give equal care and worth to women, sinners, other nations f) Showing a weak, helpless, dying Jesus who seemed to accomplish NOTHING in His ministry (when the world was looking for a powerful, conquering King). The NT writers included over 30 historically confirmed people in their writings (many with great notoriety and power: Pilate (Prefect of Roman Province of Judaea), Caiphas (High Priest), Felix (Roman Procurator), Festus (Roman Procurator), King Herod's whole family, etc.)—these lies would’ve been recognized and revealed instantly. 4) they wrote as at least 8 separate authors, describing events with minor details differing, yet not contradicting; showing similarities in a common experience, adding information—(similar to reading three news stories on a single event and seeing the different details shared)—the differences show they weren’t collaborating together to pass off a lie. 5) they wrote with excitement and eagerness for others to verify their words: Acts 26:25-26, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: How and why would writers speak of massive, life-changing events that were lies and challenge people to acknowledge their truth?
"Six sane, sober eyewitnesses, who refuse to recant their testimony even under the threat of death, would convict anyone of anything in a court of law (even without the additional lines of corroborating evidence that support the New Testament story). Such eyewitness testimony yields a verdict that is certainly beyond reasonable doubt. Unless you saw the event yourself, you can't be any more certain that those historical events actually occurred." (Dr. Norman Geisler, ‘I Don't Have The Faith To Be An Atheist’)