The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

The Credibility of the Bible

  • ladies and gentleman, my name is Darryl Dash, and I'm the defense attorney for Jesus Christ
  • now, I don't mean to imply that Jesus has got himself into some sort of trouble and needs some defense
  • but sometimes a trial can be a wonderful way of ferreting out the facts
  • we're going to stage a mock trial as we approach Easter so that we can determine the answer to the following questions:
  • Why should I believe the Bible?
  • Can we believe Christ's claims?
  • Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
  • What does Jesus' resurrection mean for me today?

  • the answer to these questions is important, because the Bible claims that your eternity rests on it
  • in John 8:24, Jesus told the religious rulers of his day:
  • (John 8:24) I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins."
  • in other words, according to Jesus, your eternity is hinging on the verdict you render on the question of the identity of Jesus Christ
  • you can dismiss Jesus, but if you do, Jesus says, you're throwing your eternity away
  • so it only makes sense to examine his claims, to see if they're really true or not

  • so we'll begin by examining the evidence for the Bible
  • the next time I preach we'll look at the credibility of Christ's claims - can we really believe that he is the Son of God?
  • and then, on Palm Sunday, we will look at the clincher question - whether or not Jesus Christ rose from the dead
  • finally, on Easter Sunday, we'll ask ourselves what this means for us today
  • but before we look at the evidence for the Bible, let's pray

  • Father:
  • the Bible says:
  • (2 Peter 1:16) We 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.
  • I pray that you would give us open minds to examine the evidence for the Bible and for Christ's claims these coming weeks
  • and that you would use this to buttress our faith
  • we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

  • let's begin by looking this morning at what you might call the documentary evidence for Jesus Christ
  • we're dealing here with a historical figure
  • just as you would have to do if you were looking at any historical figure, George Washington or Plato or Aristotle, whoever it is, you need to rely on historical documents to find out who they were, what they said, and what they did

  • in this case, the main historical documents we're going to look at are collectively known as the New Testament of the Bible
  • so the first big question becomes this: is the New Testament accurate in recording the life of Jesus?
  • can we trust the Bible when it talks about God and Jesus Christ, or is the Bible full of mistakes and errors?
  • this is a crucial question, because if we can't trust the Bible when it speaks about Jesus, who can we trust?
  • if the Bible is just a collection of fables, what right do we have to believe anything about Jesus Christ?

  • in 1985, a group of scholars began meeting in Berkeley, California to begin a search for the "real Jesus"
  • their premise is that the Jesus of the church isn't the historical Jesus, and that the Biblical record regarding Jesus is not trustworthy
  • they began to review 1,500 items ascribed to Jesus and 176 events attributed to Jesus
  • and these scholars concluded that between 16-18% of the sayings and events attributed to Jesus were probable or certain
  • so what about the Bible?
  • is it true?
  • does it contain the words of Jesus Christ, or is it a creation of men and women?

  • it's my privilege to present to you the argument that the Bible is true and trustworthy, and that it presents an accurate record of the life of Jesus Christ
  • and let me give you five reasons why the Bible is credible and can be trusted:
  • the first reason that we can trust the documents that describe Jesus Christ is that they are historically accurate
  • suspend, for a moment, the question of whether or not the Bible is the Word of God
  • and simply ask yourself, is the Bible historically accurate?
  • and you'll be amazed what you discover

  • as you're aware, the Bible is full of historical references
  • it names people, places, events, and is very specific
  • while archeology can't prove that the Bible is the Word of God, it can certainly tell us whether or not the Bible is accurate when it refers to historical events and geographical places

  • for years, critics of the Bible have attacked some of the historical references, believing that there are inaccuracies in the Biblical account
  • for instance, Luke 3:1 lists Lysanias as being the tetrarch of Abiline in about 27 AD
  • for years, scholars pointed to this as evidence that Luke didn't know what he was talking about, because everyone knew that Lysanias was not a tetrarch, but the ruler of Chalcis half a century earlier
  • if Luke couldn't be trusted to get that fact right, nothing he wrote could be trusted
  • but then, an inscription was found that listed Lysanias as the tetrarch in Abila near Damascus at this time - just as Luke had written!
  • in fact, one prominent archeologist has carefully examined Luke's references to thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands, finding not a single mistake
  • the same is true of the other Gospels, and indeed the entire Bible
  • things that were once viewed as biblical errors - names, dates, and so on - have one after another been dealt with

  • prominent Australian archeologist Clifford Wilson has written: "Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book"
  • and Nelson Glueck, a Jewish archeologist, and probably the greatest authority on Israeli archeology, has said:

    No archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries."

  • friends, the Bible is accurate in its history
  • it is a credible historical source

  • you might have heard that the Bible is full of scientific errors
  • in fact, I talked to somebody this week who said that the reason he didn't become a Christian sooner was because of all the scientific errors in the Bible
  • but contrary to what you have heard, no real mistake has ever been demonstrated in the Bible, in science, in history, or in any other subject
  • while the Bible is not a scientific textbook, it can be stated clearly that when the Bible does speak directly about matters of science, it speaks correctly

  • even more than this, many principles of modern science were talked about in the Bible before they were discovered experimentally
  • think about this: before we discovered certain things to be true, the Bible already recorded them as true
  • for instance:
  • Roundness of the earth - (Isaiah 40:22) He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
  • Hydrologic cycle - (Ecclesiastes 1:7) All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
  • Vast number of stars - (Jeremiah 33:22) I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.'"
  • Law of increasing entropy (Psalm 102:25-27)
  • Paramount importance of blood in life processes (Leviticus 17:11)
  • Atmospheric circulation (Ecclesiastes 1:6)
  • Gravitational field (Job 26:7)
  • and many others.
  • it is significant that no real mistake has ever been demonstrated in the Bible in science - or in any other subject, for that matter
  • volumes of books exist that testify that the Bible is accurate scientifically

  • most Bible critics have no idea how much manuscript evidence there is backing up the Bible's credibility
  • here's what I mean
  • in university, it's not uncommon to be asked to read Homer's Iliad or Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars
  • Homer's Iliad is the most famous book of ancient Greece, and today there are only 643 copies around
  • not bad; nobody doubts its accuracy
  • similarly, there are only 10 copies of Caesar's Gallic Wars, and the earliest of these manuscripts was made 1,000 years after it was written
  • 643 copies of Iliad, and 10 copies of Gallic Wars

  • what about the New Testament?
  • wouldn't it be great if there were 1,000? or 2,000?
  • that way we could say it's 3 to 1 more manuscript evidence than Homer's Iliad

  • friends, there are about 5,366 existing manuscripts that help us study and make sure that the information in the New Testament has come to us accurately over the years
  • manuscripts that were hand-copied have been found in Palestine, Syria and Egypt, and there is strong agreement among them no matter where they're found
  • this is nothing short of amazing!

  • you might have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found in a cave near the Dead Sea in 1947
  • they contained two copies of the book of Isaiah from the Old Testament that date back 1,000 years before the second oldest manuscripts
  • do you know what they found?
  • the copies "proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling"
  • we can confidently say of the Old Testament that there has been no substantial change in the text of the Old Testament in the last 2,000 years, and very little change before that
  • it is said that the Bible is the single most documented piece of literature there is
  • simply put, there is no equal with respect to manuscript documentation

  • for you trivia buffs, of the 184,590 words in the New Testament, how many words have been put on the questionable list?
  • words that are on the disputed list, which means there is some question about the grammatical sense or their meaning or interpretation
  • of 184,590 words, guess how many are on the disputed list, that scholars are still working on? 400
  • and none of the 400 make any difference on any major teaching or doctrine
  • but that is a fraction of one percent
  • that is incredible accuracy in manuscript evidence!

  • Norman Geisler writes:

    We have 100 percent of the New Testament and we are sure about 99.5 percent of it. But if we did not have such good manuscript evidence, we could actually reconstruct almost the entire New Testament from quotations in the church fathers of the second and third centuries. Only eleven verses are missing, mostly from 2 and 3 John. Even if all the copies of the New Testament had been burned at the end of the third century, we could have known virtually all of it by studying these writings.

  • let me repeat: the Bible is the single most documented piece of literature there is

  • the Bible was written over a period of 1,600 years
  • since the very beginning of the Bible, hundreds of prophecies were made with great specificity
  • and time after time, these prophesies were fulfilled in meticulous detail in a way that is impossible to explain, unless you trust the Bible as the Word of God
  • for instance, over 300 prophecies talked about the first coming of Christ - things like what lineage he would descend from, what city he would be born in, his manner of birth, what his ministry would be
  • passages like Isaiah 52 and 53, and Psalm 22, record specific details about Jesus' death by crucifixion, hundreds of years before this terrible form of execution was ever practiced
  • it was predicted the succession of four great world powers, that certain cities would be destroyed, and so on
  • and in each of the hundreds of prophecies, they were fulfilled perfectly
  • somebody has written, "Only the Bible manifests this remarkable prophetic evidence, and it does so on such a tremendous scale as to render completely absurd any explanation other than divine revelation.
  • whenever the Bible has spoken prophetically, it has been accurate
  • hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled
  • the Bible has proven itself over and over

  • we can trust the Bible not only because of all the evidences we see within the manuscript, we can trust it because of the effect it's had on millions of lives throughout history
  • the Bible is unique in the effect it has had on individual men and women, as well as nations
  • it's the all-time best seller in the history of the world, and it appeals to both mind and heart
  • it has been received and loved by at least some in every nation, race, and people group to which it has gone - rich or poor, scholar or simple, king or commoner - people from every walk in life
  • no other book in the history of the world has ever had such universal appeal, or has produced such lasting effects

  • a final evidence is the millions of people who have believed it
  • multitudes of people, past and present, have found that it's promises are true, its counsel sound, its commands and restrictions wise, and its message of salvation appropriate for their souls, now and in eternity

  • a woman named Joan Olsen was an agnostic, although her parents were Christians
  • they had many discussions about the Bible, until Joan and her husband agreed to study Christianity
  • listen to what they found:
  • Dr. Olsen writes:

    I implied that our study would be honest and objective, a sincere search for truth. But our agnostic bias made us begin the search in a diabolically clever way. We would prove that the Bible is not the Word of God...

    "First," I said [to Joan], "we will review all the agnostic arguments we heard during university and medical college years. Second, we will pick out and list the scientific mistakes in the Bible. These mistakes will prove it to be the word of men, not the Word of some infallible Creator"

  • after an intense study, listen to the conclusions of these agnostics:

    The Bible...represents God, motivated by an eternal love, reaching down to tell us about Himself and His plan for us...We also noted the remarkable unity and consistency evident in the Christian Scriptures...

    Contrary to our previous understanding, we found the Bible to be historically accurate. To the science of archeology the Bible owes its vindication in the matter of historical accuracy...

    Then there is the remarkable scientific accuracy of the Bible. Here was the exact target of the attack Joan and I had launched to disprove Christianity and Christ...We encountered great difficulty, however, in finding scientific mistakes in the Bible. Again and again we were forced to cancel out seeming mistakes because of more up-to-date evidence or information.

  • after months of serious questioning, Dr. and Mrs. Olsen concluded that the Bible is indeed God's message to mankind
  • based on this belief, they both accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior
  • later, the journeyed to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) where they have served as missionaries since 1962
  • (Isaiah 40:8) The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."

  • friends, the Bible is one book you can trust
  • it is an accurate historical document - one that reveals an important message, and one that is credible and life-changing
  • next time I preach, we're going to look at the credibility of Christ's claims
  • and the week after that, we'll look at the evidence that clinches it all - the remarkable evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead

  • but for this morning, let me ask you: do you believe the Bible?
  • you can't be neutral about its claims
  • you must either accept it, or reject it, and what it says about you
  • throughout history, the Bible has changed the lives of people - people like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Newton, and C.S. Lewis
  • it has transformed societies - from the Celts of Ireland to the Acua Indians of Ecaudor
  • and the Bible can change you

  • let me repeat again the words of Dr. Olsen:
  • The Bible...represents God, motivated by an eternal love, reaching down to tell us about Himself and His plan for us.
  • I invite you to return next week to examine more evidence about why Jesus' claims are credible
  • but I also invite you to respond right now to what we've seen this morning in prayer