Can I Trust the Bible?
We are living in an age of skepticism. I mean you can literally photoshop anything these days and make it look real. Ever seen those videos of NBA star Steph Curry hitting ridiculous behind the back shots over and over again? Spoiler alert, that’s all camera tricks and CGI. Sorry Steph fans. People can put anything on the internet. And most of the world has gotten wise to that. There’s so much information that it’s hard to know what is true. If something can’t be fully explained by “science” it is tossed aside as mystical hocus pocus. So, it’s no wonder that many in our world view “religion” in general as nothing more than ancient myths with no real, tangible evidence to back them up. For many, even if they do believe there is some sort of higher power governing the universe, how do we know which gods are for real and which ones aren’t?
The largest religion in the world is Christianity. You know, that one with the big leather bound book called the Bible often found collecting dust on the family room coffee table? Inside its pages lay some pretty amazing and for some, outrageous claims. It says there is only ONE God who sent his son Jesus (who happens to be God too) into the world to sacrifice himself for sinful humanity. It was penned over the course of 1500 years by approximately 40 different writers and claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, making it inerrant. And the question most people find themselves asking at some point is, can I believe what it says? Of all the religions in the world, why is THIS one, THE one. And that’s the question I want to address today.
My reason for writing this is two-fold. First, it is for those who are questioning and doubting. For those who are searching and wondering, could all this Christianity stuff actually be true? I want more than anything for you to see what I see. Because it WILL transform your life and set you free in ways you can’t imagine. And second, it is for those who already believe. So that you might be equipped to defend your faith in an age of skepticism and lovingly point others to the amazing truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, are you ready? Do you want to know how you can believe what the Bible says is true? It starts and ends with this; do you believe that Jesus died and rose again? Now I know you’re probably thinking, “it can’t be that simple can it?” But the truth is, yes, it absolutely can.
Everything hangs on the resurrection of Jesus.
The entire Christian faith and yes, the Bible itself, comes down to ONE monumental, miraculous, historical event. I love how Tim Keller puts it. He says,
“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
You see the Bible makes the claim that it is the very word of God. Jesus himself makes the claim that HE is “the WORD become flesh.” In other words, every word from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 was authored by Him and speaks to his nature and his redemptive story. If he did not live the life he lived, die the death he died, and raise himself back to life, he is not to be trusted. There isn’t a scholar on the planet who denies that Jesus was an actual person who walked the earth in the first century. Our entire calendar system is marked by his birth for crying out loud. Some say he was just another in a long line of good teachers. Others say that he was just another prophet. But the fact is he was either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. Either he pulled off the greatest con in history by convincing hundreds of MILLIONS of people to believe he raised himself from the dead, OR, he really was the son of God and the savior of the world.
So when it comes to the question, “can I believe the Bible is true?” The question we should be asking is, is there any evidence that Jesus really did rise from the dead? And the answer to that question is a resounding YES. I want to point you to just a few of those “evidences.”
First, The Old Testament Prophecies
Jesus fulfilled no less than 300 prophecies from the old testament that were written hundreds and in some cases thousands of years before he ever set foot on the earth as a human being. I don’t have enough time in this blog to write them and you probably don’t have enough time to read them all, but I strongly encourage you to do a deep dive into those prophecies on your own time. But I do want to give you a few of the most important and powerful prophecies found in the OT.
Prophecies about his birth.
Jesus would be from the line of David - Jeremiah 23:5-6
Jesus would be born in Bethlehem - Micah 5:2
Jesus would be born from a virgin - Isaiah 7:14
Prophecies about his life.
Jesus’ ministry would begin in Galilee - Isaiah 9:1-2
Jesus would be despised and rejected - Isaiah 53:3
Jesus would come riding on a donkey - Zechariah 9:9
Jesus would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver - Zechariah 11:13
Prophecies about his death and resurrection.
None of Jesus’ bones would be broken (it was customary to break the legs of those being crucified to speed the process of death, but Jesus died before it was necessary) - Numbers 9:12
Jesus’ hands and feet would be pierced - Psalm 22:16
Lots would be cast for Jesus’ clothes - Psalm 22:18
That’s ten. The chances of even ten being fulfilled are astronomically small. There are hundreds more. And Jesus fulfilled them ALL.
Second, His Martyred Disciples
I want you to imagine that someone came along and told you they were God and the savior of the world. That one day he would die for the sin of the world and be raised again. What would it take for you to believe them? I’d imagine some pretty incredible things like say; making blind people see, lame people walk, turning water into wine, making a few loaves of bread and fish turn into a buffet for thousands and raising people from the dead? I think that would probably do it for me. Now let’s say that this same person was suddenly killed and put six feet under, never to rise again. Let’s take it one step further. Let’s also say that the people who killed him started rounding up anyone who said they believed he was God and put them to death just for speaking his name and proclaiming his teachings. Can I ask you, would you continue to proclaim this teacher was really God if you believed he had lied? I don’t believe you would. And I don’t believe the disciples did either. There is only one reason those early disciples were willing to lay down their lives for Jesus, because they saw him dead, and then they saw him alive.
Third, The Women Who Were Witnesses
Sadly, in the time of Christ during the first century women were not considered “credible witnesses.” They could not testify in the court of law and their testimony would never be used in any arena. Fun fact, do you know who the first person to advocate for the equality of women and proper treatment of children was? That’s right, the guy with the beard and sandals who walked on water that one time (that’s Jesus if you were wondering). And yet here’s what’s stunning; the gospel writers record that the first people to find the tomb of Jesus empty were, you guessed it, women. Mary Magdalene and her crew of Jesus followers got to the tomb first. Why is this such an important fact? Because if the gospel writers were making this whole story up they NEVER would have chosen women to be the first at the empty tomb. But the fact is, they weren’t making it up. The tomb was empty, and these women were the first to see it.
Fourth, The Roman Guards
To say the Romans took being soldiers seriously is the understatement of the Millenium. The night Jesus rose from the dead and rolled away the massive stone covering his tomb there were several soldiers placed there to guard it. You know, just in case any of those do-gooder disciples showed up and tried to steal the body. The bottom line, they took great care to make sure no one walked out of that tomb with Jesus’ body. But, the Bible tells us that on the third day after his death a massive earthquake struck, an angel of the Lord rolled the stone away and Jesus walked out all dressed in white. The guards? They were pretty much floored by fear to the point of fainting. When they went to tell their bosses what happened they were immediately bribed by the Jewish religious leaders to say that they had fallen asleep and that the disciples had come and stolen the body. Why is this significant? Because as a Roman soldier, falling asleep on the job was punishable by DEATH. No Roman soldier would ever admit to this. Unless of course, they got paid off and assured they would not be punished. If the body was really stolen they would have tracked down the disciples and put the whole thing to bed. But alas, they couldn’t do that because Jesus walked out alive and well and they knew it.
Fifth, The 500 Eyewitnesses
I’m not a lawyer and I’ve never been put on trial before but I have watched enough episodes of “Suits” to know that if you have multiple eyewitnesses in a case it’s usually pretty open and shut. One of the simplest and most powerful pieces of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is the sheer number of people who saw him alive after he was dead. Over FIVE HUNDRED to be exact. That’s a slam dunk for any judge. Case closed. Moving on.
Sixth, The Roman Empire’s 180
At the time of Jesus’ death Rome was THE superpower of the world. Not only were they the greatest military power but they were also the biggest cultural influencers. Their way of life, their religion and their culture ruled the day. And they lived in constant fear of anyone who might threaten their power. As Christianity began to spread like wildfire the Roman Empire did everything they could to snuff out the movement. They would round up Christians, tar them, light them on fire and sick wild animals on them just for fun. When the city of Rome burned in 64 A.D. the insane Emperor Nero blamed the Christians, and pretty much set out to single-handedly rid the earth of anyone who called themselves a follower of Jesus. And yet, in spite of every effort made to extinguish the movement of Christ, by the year A.D. 313 Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, officially accepting Christianity, and within 10 years the movement they once tried so aggressively to crush, became the official religion of the Roman Empire. How is this possible? Because something like the resurrection changes you. It changed those early followers to the point where they were willing to give up their lives for the cause of Christ. And eventually it won over the world.
Seventh, The Same But Different Gospel Accounts
Finally, there are the gospel accounts. Four accounts written by four different men who were all connected to Jesus in some way. Each gospel is written in a unique style with a unique focus. Mark gets straight to the point and has the shortest of the four. Luke, the educated physician, takes an academic and calculated approach. Matthew wrote his gospel for a Jewish audience. And John wrote in a poetic and abstract way that was totally different from the other three. All four chronicle the death and resurrection in their own way corroborating the same story from their point of view. Some would argue that because the four gospels are so different and have different information that makes them untrustworthy. But the fact that they are the same but different actually makes them MORE believable. Think about it this way. Imagine you and a few friends witness a robbery. Some might remember the way the robbers waved their weapons and shouted. Others might point to the weather that day and how people on the street responded. While others still might remember the emotions they felt as they watched the police arrive on the scene. If they were each to be called into the police station and interviewed one by one and they all had the EXACT same story word for word what do you think the police would think? My guess is they would wonder if they had colluded to come up with the story. They might even think they were in on the robbery. The fact that the gospel accounts share a lot of similarities but are different at the same time actually makes their accounts MORE believable. The one thing they all agree on though? Jesus died and rose again.
As I close, I must say two final things:
Jesus calls his followers to put their FAITH in him. And no matter how much evidence we discover, there will always be an element of faith needed to follow Jesus.
First, my hope and prayer is that if you have never believed you will see that faith in Jesus is not a blind faith, but it is faith combined with reason. Seek the truth, and I promise you will find it. What is that truth? In the simplest and most direct terms; we are all sinners in need of a savior. Jesus is that savior. The question every person must ask themselves is, “do I believe?” If we do, the amazing “good news” of the gospel is this; if we repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior we will be saved.
And second, if you are a believer I pray that this might give you the confidence to have some gospel conversations with people who are searching. You never know how one conversation might change a person's life for eternity!
NEXT STEPS: THE BIBLE
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