by Daryl E. Witmer, with Sean Smith
This month’s feature includes excerpts by Sean Smith of Methuen MA – the first place winner (worth $250 cash) in AIIA’s 1999 Spring Symposium essay contest. Guidelines, award details, and topic information for Symposium 2000 are now available by contacting our AIIA office.
TO MAKE THE CASE FOR THE RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE, OLD & NEW TESTAMENTS –
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… historical verification.
Detailed data on names, dates, and places (e.g. Luke 3:1-2) have all been borne out by careful historical analysis, verifying that the writers of Scripture were actually there, unlike the case with some other holy writs. i.e. the Book of Mormon.
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… thematic unity.
Have you ever tried to get a committee of three to agree on something – on anything? In the Bible over 40 authors from three different continents/cultures writing over a period of 1500 years all address one common theme – in perfect sync.
WE CALL AS WITNESSES… historians / scholars.
Distinguished historians such as Eusebius, Bishop Papias (130 AD), Bishop Irenaeus (180 AD), and A.N. Sherwin-White join with scholars such as Sir William Ramsay and F.F. Bruce in testifying to the reliability of the Biblical manuscripts.
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… archaeology.
Sean Smith says: “The Bible clearly describes how Sodom and Gomorrah were to be ruined. Also, the destruction of Tyre and Sidon described in Ezekiel 26:4-14. In this passage it tells us that Tyre will be made flat like a rock, and that is where fisherman will lay their nets, and that the land will never be rebuilt on. That has been found to be true.” This is just one of many examples of how archaeology has demonstrated Biblical truth.
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The copies of Isaiah found at Qumran predated previous copies by 1000 years (900 AD to 100 BC), and yet were essentially unchanged – demonstrating God’s amazing, providential preservation in even the process of transmitting His Word.
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… fulfilled prophecy.
Sean Smith says: “Fulfilled prophecy is an awesome way that we can see that the Bible is reliable. Look at some of the fulfilled prophecy about the Messiah alone:
Old Testament prophecy – Messiah to be the Son of God: Psalm 2:7, Proverbs 30:4; New Testament fulfillment – Matthew 3:17, Luke 1:32;
Old Testament prophecy – Messiah to be raised from the dead: Psalm 16:10; New Testament fulfillment: Acts 13:35-37;
Old Testament prophecy – Messiah to be crucified: Psalm 22, 69:21; New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 27:34-50, John 19:28-30;
Old Testament prophecy – Messiah to be betrayed by friend: Psalm 41:9; New Testament fulfillment: John 13:18,21.”
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… the manuscripts.
Approximately 24,600 extant manuscripts of the New Testament include some that are within 100 years of the originals. Compare this with the writings of Caesar (10 manuscripts separated by 1000 years), Aristotle (5 manuscripts separated by 1400 years), & Plato (7 manuscripts separated by 1200 years).
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… early corroboration.
Many First Century eyewitnesses were still alive when the Bible books appeared. Dave Hunt (In Defense of the Faith, p64) says: “There would have been an enraged outcry had the epistles not told the truth-yet we have no such evidence.”
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… an enemy of the faith.
A Second Century antagonist of the Christian faith, Celsus, himself recognized the existence of the Gospels as “the sacred books of Christianity.”
WE CALL AS A WITNESS… the Bible itself!
Luke 1:4 “so that you might know the exact truth…”
II Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God…”
II Peter 1:21 “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”