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1 2 Peter 1:16-21 Why do you choose to believe the Bible? How can you live your life, how can you put your faith in a book written by men? Well, I ve recently read a couple of other books that tell me about a conspiracy that changed the Bible and we don t even have the real Bible any more. Have you heard any of those statements or questions in your lifetime? I have; and not just because I am a Pastor. Every day whether on the media, in personal conversation, or in the classroom the Bible is attacked. Sometimes the attacks are subtle (well, it s a good book, but so is the ) while others are forceful (as in the Da Vinci Code of recent years). Whatever the case, the question still remains: Why do we choose to believe the Bible? Can we really trust the Book that we hold in our hands and commit our whole life and purpose to what it says? Why do you choose to believe the Bible? Before we take on what I believe is the right answer, let s examine a couple of wrong answers. These are answers that are given a lot to answer the question, why do you believe the Bible. These are the kind of answers that fit with today s experiential attitudes and society s try to be comfortable views about religion as a whole. Here s the first one: I choose to believe the Bible because that s the ways I was raised! That s what my church or Pastor tells me to believe. I remember once as a kid hanging out at the church where my dad pastored while they were putting a new roof on the building. There was a ladder on the side of the building, six or seven guys were up there hammering away, but my dad was over by the ladder and this lady was standing on the ladder talking? It was funning because this was back in the 60 s when ladies usually wore dresses and here was this lady on the ladder, dress and all, talking to my dad. Eventually she came down and drove away and later my dad came down. When I asked him what she was doing up on the ladder talking to him, Dad told me that she wanted to know what she believed about a certain topic. My dad answered her, I don t know what you believe, but I can tell you what the Bible says. I thought that was a pretty good answer. But the truth is there are lots of people who simply believe the Bible because their church tells them to. Or they believe it because their parents told them to. That s not good enough! You see there are billions of people out there who have parents (as a matter of fact they all do or at least did), millions of people who attend all sorts of churches or religious institutions and many of those religious institutions teach something totally different than the Bible! Just believing because someone told you isn t enough! Another answer that is often given to the question, why do you believe the Bible: Because I tried it and it works for me! That s a pretty good answer isn t it? Maybe you ve used that one yourself. It sounds great! There s only one problem with that answer and it s huge. When you tell someone you tried the Bible and it works for you, you are giving them the option of trying anything they want and if it works for them, it s good enough. Let me explain: there are millions and millions of people out there who have tried lots of things and they seem to work. I remember watching an interview recently with the actress Kristie Ally. She shared that she was out of focus, but after spending some time at the Church of Scientology she was all better. Does that make Scientology true or right? How about the guy who s Higher Power is a doorknob? Seriously, he s working his way through a twelve-step recovery program and he gets to step number two where he needs a power outside of himself to rely upon. It doesn t matter what that power is he just needs one. So he chooses the doorknob as his

2 higher power. And guess what? He s been sober for ten years? Did the doorknob work for him? Does that make it true? Is putting your faith in the doorknob the right thing to do? He tried it and it worked. No, answers like that are not the answers at all. So what is the answer? Why do we choose to believe the Bible? When someone approaches you with that or a similar question, how do you respond? Well, you can choose to answer like we ve stated above and hope beyond hope that you are not challenged or you can give an answer like this one: I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report to use supernatural events which, by the way, took place as fulfillment of specific prophesies and their writings are Devine rather than human in origin. [i] I know; that s a mouthful, isn t it? I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report to use supernatural events which, by the way, took place as fulfillment of specific prophesies and their writings are Devine rather than human in origin. But before your eyes glaze over and you blip out, let me show you from the Bible the whole point of that statement. And after we are done, I guarantee you, you will walk out of here with a greater confidence in God s Word and also with a better answer when people ask you, why do you choose to believe the Bible? Look with me at Second Peter chapter one beginning in verse sixteen: 16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet s own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21 Why Do I Choose To Believe the Bible? First, because it is a reliable collection of historical documents. That s what Peter wrote here: We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, He s telling us that they didn t make this stuff up? No one just sat down and said, hey, let s write a Bible! We did not follow cleverly invented stories Here s the truth: the Bible is "validate-able. There are facts that validate the Bible. To date, there are over 23,000 archeological digs that validate what the Bible lays out. When the Bible says something is somewhere they find it there! Not even one piece of archeological evidence ever discovered discredits anything in the Bible. There is an historical basis for the Bible. The Bible gives names, places, dates and archeological evidence has proved the Bible true over and over again. It s not blind faith that we put in the Bible. We trust the Bible because it has been proven trustworthy. It s not filled with legends, myths and fairy tales it s filled with historically verifiable accounts. Look at Luke 1:1-4 with me: Many have tried to report on the things that happened among us. They have written the same things that we learned from others the people who saw those things from the beginning and served God by telling people his message. Since I myself have studied everything carefully from the beginning, most excellent Theophilus, it seemed good for me to write it out for you. I arranged it in order 4to help you know that what you have been taught is true. Luke 1:1-4 Do you get that? Luke was an historian. He went looking for the facts, for the evidence. The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents.

3 Now look at the next phrase in Second Peter but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. We don t just have physical evidence we have actually eyewitnesses. Think about this how many of you like to watch crime drama on TV? Yeah, me to. It used to be that Perry Mason was it he was the best. But today, we have Perry Mason on steroids: CSI Law & Order and 100 different versions of each. But no matter what the show they all start the same, there s a puzzling crime that needs to be solved. You know what would just ruin every one of those shows? If, let s say, four or five reliable eyewitnesses saw the crime and each reported the same thing from different angles. There would be absolutely no reason to watch the rest of the show they wouldn t need CSI because they had eyewitnesses. Well, we have lots of reliable eyewitnesses to what took place in the Bible. Look with me at the small letter of First John near the end of the New Testament: 1 John 1:1-3 We write you now about what has always existed, which we have heard, we have seen with our own eyes, we have looked at, and we have touched with our hands. We write to you about the Word that gives life. We write we have heard, we have seen with our own eyes, looked at touched with our own hands! Do you think John is trying to make a point here? Look at the next verse. He who gives life was shown to us. We saw him and can give proof about it. And now we announce to you that he has life that continues forever. He was with God the Father and was shown to us. OK, now look at verse three: We announce to you what we have seen and heard, because we want you also to have fellowship with us. Our fellowship is with God the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. Do you think John is trying to make a point here? They were eyewitnesses. They saw it and recorded what they saw! The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 that over five hundred different people were witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. Most at different times and places from each other! And one time by five hundred people at once! That s what I call eyewitness testimony! Oh, but Paul, that s just what the Bible says? Isn t it true that the Bible could have been tampered with? I ve read somewhere that it s believed that the Bible was changed! Some monks way back there in history changed the Bible simply to suit the way they wanted it to be? How can we be sure what we have today is the same thing that was actually written down? Well, that s where it gets really interesting. You see, there are actually three different levels of what we call textual evidence. There is manuscript evident from which we have over 6000 different manuscripts of the New Testament alone that date back to within 100 years (AD 120) of the original writings. That s pretty good manuscripts: we only have five manuscripts of Aristotle s Poetics and the earliest is a copy made over 900 years after the original. Remember Homer s Iliad? Less than ten manuscripts and all are over 2100 years after the original was written. We have manuscripts of the New Testament that are less than 100 years from the originals. But, let s suppose that there were some monks, way back then, who actually did set out to change the Bible? Here s what they would have had to have done: First, they would have had to go around, find and steal 6,000 different manuscripts from wherever they were buried or stored. Then they would have had to tamper with the documents in such a way that no one could detect their tampering. After that, they would have to sneak all 6000 different manuscripts back to wherever they had been buried and stored. All without ever getting caught! So let s say that could actually happen there is still a second level of textual evidence called translations. You see the Bible was translated into the language of the people very early on. The early believers didn t all speak Greek they needed the Bible in their language. Early on there were Syriac (Arabs), Coptic (Egyptian) and Latin (Romans) translations of the Bible. So those sneaky Monks would not only have had to have stolen those 6000

4 manuscripts and tampered with them, they would have had to steal all of the translations, learn those languages, then tamper with the translations and get them back to where they belonged without getting caught. So let s say THAT could actually happen but there is still one further level of textual evidence. You see there were a lot of early preachers and church leaders (we call them the church fathers). And just like preachers today they liked to write out their sermons and commentary on the Bible. And within those sermons and commentaries the writings of the church fathers we can find almost 90% of the entire New Testament quoted word for word! Even if we did not have the manuscripts and the translations we would have 90% of our New Testament just contained within the writings of those early pastors. So, those conspiratorial monks? Well, they would have to steal 6000 manuscripts, all of the translations and find all of those commentaries and sermons in all of those preachers desk drawers tamper with ALL of them, and then get them back to where they all belonged all without getting caught. And do it all before they died! Do you get it? It s just not possible that the Bible was tampered with there is too much corroborating evidence. It would have been impossible without it being found out. And actually some were found out. That s why we have the Bible the way it is today. Even the early church could tell fakes when they surfaced. What is known today as the Gnostic Gospels, all that stuff quoted in the De Vinci Code those so called gospels were always considered fake because they didn t match the rest of the evidence. They were thrown out by everyone by those stretching for something else. We have a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses who could validate their reliability! But to this point all we have is a really good history book. Let s go a little further. We have a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses We have a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses They report to us supernatural events 2 Peter tells us, For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. Peter s telling us here that they saw miracles. Peter was describing what we now call the Mount of Transfiguration. They saw Jesus standing in eternity with two Old Testament prophets: Moses and Elijah. Then they heard the voice of God himself speak from heaven. That s a miracle. They were eyewitnesses not just to a good teacher but to God Jesus - performing miracles! If you read the rest of the New Testament you can read all about the miracles: healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, and the greatest of all miracles after dying on the cross and laying in a cold stone tomb for three days Jesus walked out alive; He arose from the dead. We have a collection of historical documents written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses who report to us that Jesus performed miracles that only God could perform! Which, by the way, took place as fulfillment to specific prophesies! 2 Peter 1:19: And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Many of us will take time to watch the movie The Passion during the coming weeks as it is re-released in theaters and on DVD. I want you to think back to the scene when Jesus is on the cross crying out to God. Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani. Now, if you turn back to the Psalms Psalm 22 to be exact you will see something very interesting. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (vs.1) That s not just the first verse of the Psalm, that s the TITLE of the Psalm. Why do you suppose Jesus

5 picked that exact phrase, that exact title, to cry out from the cross? Notice some more of the passage Verse six: But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him. Verse fourteen: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Verse sixteen: Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. You know what all of that is describing: a crucifixion. There s only one thing puzzling this passage was written one thousand years before crucifixion was even invented! One thousand years before Jesus hung on that cross it was prophesied. In fact scholars tell us that over 322 separate prophesies were fulfilled during the lifetime of Jesus Christ sixteen just in the 24 hour period surrounding the Jesus resurrection! (1 in 84x10 to the123rd power) We have reliable documents. We have eyewitnesses. We have miracles. We have fulfilled prophesies. Oh yes And their writings are Divine rather than human in origin. We can believe the Bible because is it an accurate recording not only of miraculous events and fulfilled prophesy but it is the very WORD of God. It is His message to us today. Peter closes his passage by saying this: "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21 It s not about the men who wrote it it s all about God! They could be accurate in their history and in their prophesies because they wrote what God told them to write! One final point: Even after all of that you will still have some who will step up and say but I still won t believe it until you prove it to be scientifically! Prove the Bible scientifically and I will believe it. Well, here s the proof. For anyone to say that they have to admit that they really don t understand the scientific method in the first place. Remember the scientific method? It must be observable, measurable, and repeatable. You can t prove what you had for dinner a week ago scientifically because it s history. It s past. You can t use the scientific method to prove historical events. You can t prove that George Washington even existed scientifically. Or Shakespeare for that matter. If you want to prove something historically you have to use the evidentiary method what s the evidence? Well we have both corroborating evidence: three languages, three continents, over forty different authors over a period of 1500 years most of whom did not know the others: and it all fits together perfectly. There is also consistency with the evidence: it doesn t contradict itself. All of the witnesses agree. You see, when I say I believe the Bible, I don t have to leave my brain at the door. Believing what the Bible says, accept God s plan for my life, coming to Jesus Christ and accepting His forgiveness and eternal life that s the smartest thing I could do. Why do I choose to believe the Bible? I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report to us supernatural events which, by the way, took place as fulfillment of specific prophesies and their writings are Devine rather than human in origin.

6 And with that I not only choose to believe the Bible, I choose to act on what it says. [i] From: Proclaiming the Absolute Truth, Dr Voddie Baucham, On Target Evangelism Conference, 2005 Recommended Further Reading: The Ever Loving Truth, Dr Voddie Baucham The Case For Christ, Lee Strobel Special recognition is given to Dr. Voddie Baucham and Lee Strobel for the research and messages they have presented on this subject. This message is adapted from Dr. Baucham's Proclaiming the Absolute Truth" Presented at the On Target Evangelism Conference February, 2005, Costa Mesa, CA sermons about churchforfamily.com

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