It takes faith to believe the Bible is not a work of God.
Lesson 4 from The HOPE Study Guide
Observe & Consider
In Lesson 3, we considered the Bible’s diversity and harmony and its textual reliability – two attributes that make it unique among all the books in the world. Today we will consider two more things that truly separate the Bible from any other book and give it credibility as the most reliable reference point that one could have in the journey of life.
The Bible is unique in its historical accuracy.
Historical accuracy is yet another factor to consider in determining the reliability of an ancient text. In other words, “Do archeological findings substantiate what is recorded in the text?” In the case of the Bible, the answer is clear
- “…it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological 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.”
– Dr. Nelson Glueck (Rivers in the Desert, p. 31)
- “…archaeology has confirmed countless passages which have been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contradictory to known facts…Yet archaeological discoveries have shown that these critical charges…are wrong and that the Bible is trustworthy in the very statements which have been set aside as untrustworthy…We do not know of any cases where the Bible has been proved wrong.”
– Dr. Joseph P. Free (Archaeology and Bible History, pp. 1, 2, 134)
The Bible is unique in its prophetic record.
Before considering the Bible’s prophetic record, it is important to understand what distinguishes the prophets of the Bible from other so–called prophets. According to the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible, the test of a true prophet of God was 100% accuracy. If one who called himself a prophet did not pass this test, the penalty was death.1 Now that is motivation to represent God accurately!
It is amazing to discover that there are more than 1,800 prophecies in the Bible.2 Many of these prophecies were fulfilled in the lifetime of the prophet who gave them. Still more have been fulfilled since the writing of the Bible. Many prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. To this day, no Biblical prophecy has ever been proven false!
In the Old Testament of the Bible more than 300 prophecies exist which were specifically fulfilled by Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament.3 In his book Science Speaks, mathematician Peter Stoner calculated the mathematical probability of one person fulfilling only 8 these 300-plus prophesies. The result was 1 in 10 to the 17th power, or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.4
Stoner illustrates this number by supposing that “we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say “This is it.” What chance would he have of getting the right one? The same chance the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.”5
When Stoner calculated the probability that any one man might fulfill 48 prophesies, the result was 1 in 10157. That’s 10 with 156 zeros after it!6 Just imagine the improbability of one man fulfilling the 300–plus prophesies that were fulfilled in Jesus. There wouldn’t be enough pages in this study guide to contain all the zeros in the probability factor. In reality, without divine involvement, it would be an impossibility for one man to fulfill all of these prophecies on the basis of chance.
Ask & Reflect
- The statement was made previously that when one truly considers the nature of the Bible, it takes more faith to believe that it was simply written and compiled by humans than it does to believe that it is the work of God. Do you agree with this statement? If not, why? If not, how do you explain the fulfilled prophecies of the Bible?
- In Lesson 1 we dealt with the question of life’s purpose. In Lesson 2 we dealt with our need for a reference point to find our way in the journey of life. In Lessons 3 and 4, we’ve considered several reasons why the Bible is a trustworthy reference point for life unlike any other.
If your reference point for life is something other than the Bible, how does it compare with the Bible?
Decide & Do
Recall from Lesson 2 the statement that your perception determines your path, and your path determines your destiny. What you choose to trust in as your reference point in life is critical.
Psalm 119:105 says that God’s Word is “a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” If you still have unanswered questions about whether or not you can trust the Bible as your reference point in life (the lamp to light your path and guide your way), then decide today to do whatever is necessary to resolve the questions you are dealing with. Make a list of your questions, and then seek the counsel of a pastor or Bible teacher to explore them further.
For Further Study
- Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, Revised Edition. (© Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. HERE’S LIFE PUBLISHERS, INC, San Bernardino, Ca, 1972).
- Ron Ritchie, The Messianic Prophecies (Discovery Publishing Company, Palo Alto, CA, 1993). (http://www.pbc.org/series/the-messianic-prophecies). Retrieved October 5, 2006.
2J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (© New York: Harper & Row, 1973) lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses.
3Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, Revised Edition. (© Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. HERE’S LIFE PUBLISHERS, INC, San Bernardino, Ca, 1972, p. 144.
4Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963). [This title is currently out of print. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0802476309/abundanlifeher0c)]. Referenced in Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell, 1979 edition, pages 166,167.