The next reason that I believe, was probably the turning point for me, because I just need to confess, not growing up in a Christian home, never reading the Bible or opening it until I was eighteen, when things got challenged, I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t have any research and what I’m sharing with you, I didn’t know. And so it was like, boy, I don’t know if I can believe this or not.
Some of those are technical arguments and I wasn’t really that educated about who Jesus was even though I was a follower and I was learning all kind of stuff about all the authors and, you know, that’s good thinking…but, I needed something that would pop in my mind like, “oh wow! This is really black and white”.
I think some of the most powerful evidence is prophecy. The prophecy of things said in advance that lets you know that this is, in fact, God’s Word.
If you have your Bible, turn to Isaiah 46:9 and 10 or you can look at it in your notes. But, this is one example but throughout Isaiah, especially chapter 40 through 60, he makes these multiple claims - the children of Israel are not doing very well, and what he basically keeps saying is, I’m going to tell you, in advance, what’s going to happen so you know that, it’s I the Lord, who speak.
Then He’ll even challenge. Let your prophets tell you. Take your pieces of stone and your man-made idols and you have them predict the future and let’s see how it comes out.
What he basically does, he says, if you have the ability to know the future and to predict it with one hundred percent accuracy that is one of the strongest evidences of who really is, in fact, God.
So, in Isaiah 46:9 he says, 9 “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me;” Here’s the key, 10 “declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”.
Then He goes on and talks about specific events and prophecy. So what I wanted to do was take a little time, and maybe give you three or four prophecies that are really vivid. I thought they were really interesting and that are, for me, mind-boggling.
These are going to be specific about time, people, places, events, and they’ll be fulfilled to the letter. One of the most amazing is in Ezekiel chapter 26, 12 through 14, and it’s this prophecy about Tyre. You can read that for yourself but I’ll summarize.
The prophecy had five points. The prophecy was, we’re looking in, it’s in the 6th century B.C. and Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the Babylonians. It was prophesied that he will destroy the city of Tyre, that many nations would come against Tyre, that Tyre would become like a bare rock - a flat, bare rock - everything off of it. That fisherman would spread their nets over that site and that Tyre would be thrown into the water and never be rebuilt.
Now, we read that in the Bible and we think, yeah, that sounds pretty wild and don’t know if that ever happened. Let me give you a modern day example. That would be like someone saying, God has spoken to me. Chicago. See, Tyre was right on the coast of Palestine. It was a big city, metropolitan area, very powerful.
It’d be like someone today saying, Chicago is going to be completely destroyed. You will go to Chicago, every building will be gone, it will be scraped, all the buildings, everything will be right there in Lake Michigan. It’ll never be rebuilt. It’s gone.
I don’t know about what you would think, but maybe a bomb or something could do that? It could happen. But even if it happened, I think we’d rebuild Chicago, wouldn’t we? This is how outlandish this is. So, here’s what happens.
Nebuchadnezzar attacks and he takes thirteen years. This is a city right on the coast but about a half mile away, there was an island. And so, Nebuchadnezzar brings all his forces and he, literally, takes care of this city. Huge battles. Thirteen years is a long battle, tons of people die…there’s rubble.
A lot of the people get on boats and they flee and they built this fortress on this island. And so, part of it is fulfilled, but part of it’s not. You could look at that and say, well, that’s pretty good.
So we move the clock up two, three hundred years. Alexander the Great is now coming down. And he’s taking care of the Persians. And he’s on his way down to Egypt. And this is a formidable island city. And he starts to attack it and they throw all these things down from the wall and he has this little fleet and he can’t get it. He knows that if he goes down to Egypt, he leaves his back vulnerable because it’s a strong power and he decides he is not going to attack Egypt until he takes care of Tyre.
He comes up with a plan because he can’t get out there. He takes every piece of rubble, down to taking the dust, and he builds a causeway. Are you ready for this? A half-mile out into the sea, pushes all that rubble, and builds a bridge. It takes him, like, three years. Can you imagine being on his team? You know, Alexander, why don’t we just go take care of them. No, no guys.
He builds this causeway and then during that time, he enlists the fleets of about seven or eight different nations. So, many nations come against it and he builds this navy and then his army comes and he wipes Tyre out completely.
And now, you have Tyre, it’s bare, it’s never been rebuilt, and to this day, fisherman dry their nets on the flat rocks of what used to be Tyre. Now, there is another city by this name that was rebuilt elsewhere. So, don’t be confused.
Can you imagine telling something in advance that happens and this happens and then this happens and in hundreds of years, down to the letter?
This is one of hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament. When you get to the prophecies about the Messiah, it’s just mind-boggling.
A second one that really caught my attention was the succession of world empires. Daniel, as a teenager, is taken to Babylon and, you know the story. And by the time he’s old, by the way, when he’s in the lion’s den, he’s probably about eighty years old. Daniel lives through three different dynasties.
As he’s praying, he knows the prophecy, that God would re-gather His people and that there was going to be seventy years of captivity and he’s praying and he comes before God and he asks God, will you show me, when is this going to happen?
And, if you know Daniel chapter 2, God gives him this vision. Then it’s reflected and it all comes to pass and all these things. But basically, I wish I could explain it all, but what God shows Daniel is the four major empires that are going to happen in the next several hundred years.
He goes through the first one where the Babylonians, then the Medo-Persians, then the Greeks, and then the Romans. Down to, he doesn’t name them by name, but down to the last empire, it’s Alexander the Great, that it will be divided into four because he didn’t have an heir and he had four generals and they divided it into four parts. They describe it. In fact, a hundred years before one of the kings is born, we have him called by name (Cyrus) and are told that that one day, after he’s born, he will then cause the rebuilding to occur.
God’s naming people a hundred years in advance and talking about specific kingdoms and what they’re going to be like. When I began to read this as a young Christian, I just thought, you know something? This is not a book. This isn’t some religious book. God has given evidence that this is something we can trust. This is supernatural.
Finally, we have the most powerful, is the fulfillment of the Messiah. Three hundred specific predictions of Jesus coming His first time - Born of a virgin, born of a woman, a descendent of Abraham, tribe of Judah, house of David, born in Bethlehem, he would be a forerunner of John the Baptist, he would be anointed by the Holy Spirit, His preaching ministry, His parables, His healing ministry, that he’d be mocked, beaten, spat on, betrayed, abandoned by His disciples, would have a triumphal entry, that he’d be a prophet, that he’d be crucified with transgressors, that lots would be cast for His garments, that he would cry from the cross, that no bones would be broken, that His side would be pierced, that he’d be buried with the rich, that he’d be resurrected and exalted, that he would ascend into heaven, and that he would seat at the right hand of God.
Those are just thirty of them. Those are all specific things that were said about this Messiah that will come as a reigning king and a suffering servant. And then I put it in your notes, because I thought this was fascinating. Stoner says that by using modern science or probability in reference to eight prophecies, we find that the chance that any man, not speaking just of Christ, but if any man, the probability of him fulfilling eight prophecies is one to ten to the seventeenth. Now, this isn’t three hundred prophecies. This is just eight.
Then he gives us this picture. He says, that would be like taking silver dollars and taking the entire state of Texas and stacking silver dollars two feet high and then taking one silver dollar and marking it and mixing it all up somewhere in Texas and then blindfolding a man and saying, okay, you can walk anywhere in Texas and you need to reach down and pick up that one silver dollar.
He said, that’s the probability of one man fulfilling eight specific prophecies. And Jesus didn’t do eight. He didn’t do twenty-eight. He didn’t do forty-eight. He didn’t do a hundred and forty-eight. He did three hundred.
That’s strong. That was probably the tipping point in my life when I began to do the research to say, wow, when God can tell you what’s going to happen in advance, you can trust what He’s going to say about the present and about the future.
Today, we have a lot of evidence that’s more current. Who would have believed, in fact, most people didn’t. Just imagine being 1850. Imagine being alive in 1910. The roaring 20s. Imagine being alive in the 40s.
Who would have ever dreamed that after two thousand years, God’s prophecy about this tiny little piece of land that, really, was not very meaningful to anyone until the last forty years or fifty years, that God would take His people from all over the world and bring them back this little slice of land called Israel.
And in 1947, 1948, it becomes a nation. I don’t know about you, but I watch CNN and follow Fox. And have you ever pondered why in the world, one little cultural group of people would be on the news so much? Think about it. How many Jews are there, proportionally?
Many people have tried to eliminate the Jewish population multiple times. Esther saved them once. Hitler tried to get rid of all of them.
So here we are, now think of this, this tiny little nation and here we are, 21st century Christians. But God knew there was oil under there, God knew the promises Jesus made about where He’s going to return and what He’s going to do and about a temple being rebuilt and about a second coming.
You are living in absolutely prophetic times. What happens is we get busy and we get self-absorbed and we get looking everywhere and here’s my experience, and take this lovingly from a pastor.
Most Christians I meet don’t know much about this book. Most Christians I meet aren’t in this book. We did a study and found out that, and this breaks my heart, is that only about twenty-one to twenty-four percent of pastors ever open this book, except for sermon preparation.
These are words of life. This is truth. This is where power comes from. Man won’t live by bread alone but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
This is what gives people strength for convictions. This is what gives courage. This is what allows you to stay in a marriage that’s hard. This is what allows you to go through and endure cancer. This is what gives you the power to forgive people that have betrayed you and in His grace, by His Word, you give good instead of the evil you’ve received.
You can say, Father, forgive them. They didn’t know what they were doing. You can be a born-again believer in Christ and be a powerless, anemic Christian apart from the raw, supernatural material of God’s Word.
When you see something like this prophecy, you begin to realize, we’re living in these days where God has done amazing things and He wants His Church awake, and empowered and strong.
The sixth reason that I believe that the Bible is the very Word of God is transmission. The Bible’s purity and perseverance throughout the centuries is nothing short of miraculous. And this is where I went back to, this was huge for me. This was really, really huge for me.
When I was a young Christian, someone said, you can’t really believe it because of all the time, right? And honestly, I didn’t have a good answer for that. I just felt like, well, by faith I’ll just accept somehow, I guess if God can raise Jesus from the dead, He can figure out how to keep His Word pretty pure. But I couldn’t base that on anything.
Well, I can now. It’s very, very interesting. The meticulous nature of the copyist in transcription. You know what scribes did? They scribed. If you wanted a copy of an Old Testament text, you didn’t say, I’m going to Kinko’s to make a copy of that. Here’s how they made copies - one letter at a time. And the way they would write them, they wrote them in columns with the specific letters. And they would copy them.
When they get to God’s name, they wouldn’t even pronounce it. But it was so holy, they would go and ceremonially wash after they would write the name and then come back and start again.
Then every so often, they would stop and they would count down like, seven letters and over eleven on this text and on that text. If it’s the same letter, great, you keep going. If it’s a different letter, you destroy it and start again.
And so you could count down, forty letters, thirty across. So, as they copied, it was letter for letter for letter. They understood it was a holy occupation to be a scribe. And so the accuracy is quite high.
Then the proximity of the manuscripts. How do you know if something is accurate or not? Basically, you ask yourself, well, when was it written? What’s our earliest copy? And how many copies are there?
When you look at what we have with the New Testament, it is absolutely staggering. Let me just give you examples to compare to - Plato or Aristotle, or Homer, the Iliad, and the Odyssey.
Plato, the earliest copy is about 900 A.D., the time span between when he wrote it back between 427 and 347 B.C. is about twelve hundred years and look at the whopping number of copies we have of Plato’s works - seven.
You skip down. Aristotle. He’s a little bit before Plato there and we have him writing. Earliest copy is 1100 A.D. so the very first copy we have, between the time that he lived, is fourteen hundred years later but we have more copies.
Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. It was written in 900 B.C., the earliest copy is 400 B.C. so it’s only five hundred years - think of that one - it’s only five hundred years between the time he lived and the earliest copies but there are a number of copies.
No one doubts the authenticity of Plato, of Homer, of Aristotle. The New Testament, written between 40 and 100 A.D., the earliest copies, A.D. 125. Twenty-five years. People still living that can authenticate what was going on. We have twenty four thousand copies. Actually, twenty four thousand six hundred and forty-three, to be exact.
What we have is the most historically reliable, accurate document on the face of the earth. What you hold in your hands is the Word of God.
Now, if that wasn’t enough, God, I think, gave us a gift. Someone has said that the Dead Sea Scrolls was the greatest archeological discovery in two hundred years. They found forty thousand fragments, five hundred different books.
And if you don’t know the story, it’s about 1947, and there was a Bedouin shepherd boy. He’s walking around and you know how kids are, he’s keeping the sheep and he picks up a rock and throws it up there, it hits the wall, and gets another rock and picks it up and throws and it goes in and, crack!
Huh, what’s that? He climbs up and he finds these clay pots. And inside these clay pots, there are not just a few of them. There are tons of them. And inside of them are all these fragments of Old Testament writings.
What we find now is that we now have a text of the Old Testament, of every book, except one, that’s a thousand years earlier than anything we have.
So now, we have a little test, right? So, over time, did it get degraded, degraded, degraded? So, let’s compare the text now that we have with ones that are a thousand years earlier than anything we’ve ever had.
What they found out, a good example is that there was well over ninety-five percent accuracy and the errors were, example Isaiah 53, out of a hundred and sixty-six words there was only seventeen letters in question. Ten were about spelling, four were stylistic, and 3 letters were an added word for “light”
Now, I don’t know if you can grasp this. God spoke it, it’s copied, thousands of years and you take what you have today and you take what’s there. There’s a ninety-five percent correlation, has no theology, no major event. The distance is five percent and about ninety percent of the five percent is about letters and spelling.
You hold within your hands the very words of God. Boy, the question begins, what in the world are we doing with it? God has transmitted His Word to you and to me in a supernatural way.
Final reason, for me, is the impact. The Bible’s power to transform lives and nations is overwhelmingly documented. You can talk about when the Word of God has gone to nations, you can talk about how slavery is broken, you can talk about how women begin to get treated as actual, real human beings when the Word of God comes.
You can talk about how commerce changes, you can talk about wherever the Word of God goes, it brings life, it brings health, it brings vitality.
And, I’ll share a little picture that is the most dramatic, dramatic picture of God’s Word that I’ve ever seen in my personal experience.
When I went away to college, I had just become a Christian, I went to a camp with a bunch of sports guys and that’s where the Bible was introduced to me for the first time. I trusted Christ, I went away to college and a brick layer who was trained by the Navigators would come down to my room every Tuesday morning and he began to teach me how to open the Bible and not be religious but just hear God’s voice, and talk with Him, and learn what His will was with girls, and basketball, and money, and just all the normal things.
He said God would speak to me. He taught me how to do that. In around my second year of school, I was a growing Christian by this time and the ministry that started with four or five people in his living room is now a couple hundred people in Bible study. God’s doing something very supernatural in my experience, on this secular college campus.
This fellow comes from New York, he was in New York City, and it was part of the Bronx, it was real ethnic and he’s a first generation, his parents were immigrants. And he has a slur, an ethnic slur and please take this, you know, bald is beautiful now but back when I was in college, when you were twenty, twenty-one years old, bald was not beautiful. He had, like, two strands of hair, you know?
And he got beat up a bunch as a kid because of his Slavic background and people made fun of him. His appearance, his body language, his Slavic lisp… he was just a social reject. He was the butt of jokes. And of all things, somehow, he ended up on the end of a fraternity floor.
He just got crucified in terms of the jokes and to my, now, chagrin, when George would come near me, he was so uncool, I know I was supposed to love him as a Christian and I didn’t mind loving him at Bible study with other Christians, but when I was with the basketball team, or anybody that was semi-cool, I just wanted to act like I didn’t know George. And I felt guilty about it later, of course. But that’s how socially unacceptable this guy was.
Well, we describe some of these people, we all have these people in our lives as extra grace required, right? Some of us have been those extra grace required people and we’re glad that we got extra grace.
But, so, he’s involved in this ministry and he always wants to ask me questions and I’m thinking, oh George, there are some pretty girls at this Bible study…we really need to get on with things that are more important. I’m just telling you the truth of how it was as a young, carnal believer trying to learn to love Jesus - just a year or two old in the Lord.
George goes away that summer and I meet him about the middle of the fall. To my blessing, I didn’t see him the first couple months. And there’s something different about him. His countenance was different, his body language was different, he had this confidence that I’d never seen.
I started hearing stories from fraternity guys about George. And it was like, it can’t be the same George…they were acting like he was either cool or in or they wanted to talk with him and pretty soon, I heard rumors that some guy broke up with his girlfriend and he went down and talked and cried and George really helped him. And another guy, his mom died of cancer and they went down and talked to George. I’m thinking, this can’t be the same George.
I began to see George at Bible study and it was literally like in the movies when someone goes into a booth and they are messed up and then they come out like… it was that dramatic! It was like, is this the same George?
Even his two strands of hair were starting to look really cool right now. You know? I said, George, what’s with you? And he said, oh man, I had a great summer. I said, well why? He said, I went to this conference and I didn’t even know where it was. And he said, this man talked about the power of God’s Word and that God’s Word is creative and God’s Word brings change, and God’s Word brings life, and it’s sharper than a two-edged sword, and he said the greatest thing you could do was to memorize God’s Word and it would go into your head and then it would go into your heart and it would transform your whole life.
It would change how you view God, it would change how you view you, and it would change everything because it’s God’s living Word! And so, I decided that’s what I’d do.
I said, well, what do you mean, that’s what you do? And I noticed his shirt pocket was thick and he had all these three by five cards with print like this. And I said, George, whatcha got in your pocket?
He goes, oh, that’s what I do in the morning for about a half hour or so before I have my quiet time. I said, well, what do you mean what you do? And he pulls them out and he goes, yeah, this summer I memorized the book of James and then I memorized Philippians and then I memorized the book of Matthew and then I memorized 1st and 2nd Peter and then I memorized…
And he had six or seven New Testament books memorized. And I’m going, are you kidding? And he says, and this is what I’m working on. And he goes, you know what? I see things differently.
I used this illustration and somehow it made it to the radio and I got an email from someone that said, are you talking about my husband George? He went to West Liberty State College and, and anyway, I got to meet her, got to meet him after twenty years and George is a pastor and is reaching into the inner city and helping people that no one cares about.
God’s Word is powerful. It’s the very words of God. David would pray, “If Your Word had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”
My fear is, as I speak to us as believers, is that we go to people, we go to psychiatrists, we go to movies, and we go to the refrigerator and we go to self-help books. Why is our Bible on the shelf?
I put a few verses there that have become near and dear to me that talks about the power of God’s Word. I would just like to close by letting them wash over you.
And just imagine, these might be a good starter for those that say, I think if that can work for George, I think I’ll give that a whirl and start memorizing a few! You know?
This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth. But you shall meditate on it night and day. That you might observe, in other words, obey all that’s in it. For then God will make your way prosperous. And then God will grant you success.
Jeremiah would say, “Your words were found and I ate them and Your Word became for me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart. For I am called, by Your name, O Lord, my God. How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. Your Word I’ve hidden in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.
Jesus, answered them and said, “It’s written. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Peter would write, “Like newborn babes desire the pure milk of God’s Word that by it you may grow.”
And Hebrews 4:12, “… for the Word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of joint and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
If you’re a skeptic and you just happen to be here, I challenge you to get a New Testament in a fairly easy to read translation. And just read it with an open mind and say, if there’s a God, speak to me.
If you’re a Christ follower but when I talked about those Christians that don’t do much in God’s Word, I would encourage you to say, I’m willing to read the New Testament and I’m willing to get in it on a regular basis to feed my soul.
If you’re a committed follower of Christ, I will tell you, I’ve never met a great wife, a great husband, a great boss, a great Christian, a great pastor that doesn’t love God’s Word and that isn’t in God’s Word.
Character, love, impact, perseverance, strength come when this Word gets off the shelf, from your mind, in your heart and then out of your life. The very words of life. God wants you to have it.