The Bible --Part 10

The Bible
Part 10

James Gunn

Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart. Jeremiah 15:16

Christian Evidences

Tested by reference: There is little time during a class lecture to test this concept by making reference to the writings of others who have conducted considerable research. Lists of certain works may be made and submitted to any who are interested.

Tested by experimentation: This test has to be carried out in the laboratory of human behaviour where by careful observation several reactions are noted.

First: There is a universal belief in a Supreme Being. Real atheists are in the minority, and being what they are, they are exceptions. Man may be a monotheist, a polytheist, or even a pantheist; notwithstanding, he instinctively believes in a Supreme Being, the Being we call God.

Second: Man also instinctively believes that the Supreme Being is his Creator and that this Creator as a Governor controls the weather and orders the seasons, and that He is over all the acts of providence (Acts 17:22-27).

Third: No matter how ignorant and depraved man may be he believes that the Supreme Being is to be worshipped. The magnificent cathedral of Christendom and the crude shrine of paganism both alike testify to this universal reaction (Acts 17:24-29. Isaiah 2:8-20; 40:18-26).

Fourth: Furthermore, man believes that his conduct should conform to his belief in a god. In accord with this conviction, his conscience either accuses or excuses him.

Fifth: Among all men there is a sense of retribution. Man naturally fears that his conduct may incur punishment so he attempts through his devotions, gifts, prayers, good deeds, etc. to placate the anger of the Supreme Being, God, or in the case of heathenism, placate some emanation from a superior god.

Sixth: Another observation should be noted, man’s fear of the Supreme Being generally remains until a means is found by which the Deity is satisfied and willing to receive man. When man is convinced that he has been thus received, he too is satisfied and at peace with his Creator.

These evidences that man has an intuitive knowledge of God, a fear of punishment by God, and that he is unsatisfied until this fear has been removed and he has been accepted by God, prove that man has a God consciousness. This God consciousness emanates from that part of man’s being called the spirit.

Through his soul, his life, man has a consciousness of himself. He may not understand how and why he is alive, but he knows that he is alive; he is conscious of his own existence. Through his body man reaches out to others, out to the environment in which he lives; his body makes it possible for man to be conscious of the world and its inhabitants. Through his spirit man possesses a consciousness of his Creator God.

The inspiration of the Bible: The real evangelical Christian believes in the inspiration of the Bible and interprets inspiration in terms of inerrancy and infallibility. The religious liberal rejects this concept and claims that if the Bible is inspired at all, it contains many mistakes in history, science, and moral truths. Let us therefore test the Bible by revelation, reason; reference and experimentation.

By revelation: Divine revelation dogmatically asserts, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable” (1 Timothy 3:16). This might be called the apex of the mighty pyramid of truth; the words of Paul to Titus, “God… cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), as the base upon which the pyramid of truth rests. If, therefore we prove the truth of the Bible, we prove its inspiration because the proof of inerrancy is the proof of divine origin.

By reason: Is it reasonable to think that God in revealing Himself and His purposes to man would do so in words purely human, therefore subject to errors, or in words which reflect His own wisdom, precision and truth? This is just what we would expect, that He would manifest Himself and communicate with man in a manner characterized by veracity and accuracy.

By reference: There are many excellent volumes by which one may ascertain the convictions of others in regard to the inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible.

By experimentation: If inerrancy is an indication of inspiration, then we must prove the accuracy of the Bible. There are two ways in which this may be done; first, by an examination of its historical data; second, by an examination of its prophecies.

Its historical data: The science of Archaeology is constantly discovering evidences which substantiate the veracity of biblical history. By careful examination of objects left behind by peoples of the ancient world, the archaeologist is able to confirm certain historical data. These objects he digs up out of ruined houses, temples, and cities. Some are found in ancient tombs and graves. They may be clay bricks or tablets upon which records and accounts have been written; they may be pictures, pieces of pottery, metal vessels, etc. etc.

It is estimated that over 5000 of the places mentioned in Scripture have been located and identified by archaeologists. Their common spades have verified the records of the Holy Writings.

W.F. Albright, a very meticulous archaeologist asserts, “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition.”

Perhaps one specific illustration will suffice to shew how the historical data of Scripture are confirmed by archaeology.

Let us take the historical description of the land God promised to Israel. From Deuteronomy 8:7-9, it is obvious that the Land of Promise was one of agricultural value and mineral wealth. Yet, when the 12 spies went to survey, they returned with a discouraging report (Numbers 13:27-29). They agreed as to the fruitfulness of the land, but described the cities as walled cities and the population as one of mixed races and nations. Putting these two accounts together we ascertain the historical description of the Land of Promise: a land of walled cities, agricultural values, mineral wealth, and mixed peoples.

At the end of the nineteenth century a peasant woman rumaging through some ruins in Egypt found some ancient letters. These and others which resulted from the search that followed, are known today as the Amarna Letters. These letters were written about one hundred years before Israel entered the land, and they confirm the description of walled towns; they verify the report of the spies in this regard.

Another ancient document has been found among the ruins of the past. It is the account of a military campaign by Pharaoh Pepi I sometime around 2350 B.C. This account contains vivid pictures of Palestine and confirms the Scriptural description of the land as one of fertility and beauty.

Other historical evidences prove that at the time of the Hebrew invasion of Palestine the population was of mixed peoples. Ancient secular history agrees with sacred history in these details.

As to the mineral wealth, a paragraph from the works of J.A. Thompson will confirm and clarify the statements of the Word of God. “Some reference should be made to the contact of the Israelites with the Kenites. Moses had fled to their land in an earlier day and had married a Kenitish woman, daughter of the priest of Midian (Exodus 2:16). The name Kenite suggests the Hebrew word “qain” which means “smith”. That there may be significance in this name is shown by the fact that the area below the Dead Sea was, and still is, an area rich in minerals, an area “whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass” (Deuteronomy 8:9). The researches of archaeologists like Nelson Glueck have shown that copper was mined in this area at a very early date. The great Solomon had wonderful smelting works here at Ezion Geber… It was precisely in this region that Moses had the serpent of brass prepared (Numbers 21:9).

In the study of the Tabernacle, one often wondered where Israel obtained the large quantities of copper. The gold and silver they took from the Egyptians (Exodus 11:2; 12:35.) It could be that Israel exchanged goods for copper mined on the wilderness side of Jordan. This is seen as very probable when one considers that Moses’ wife came from the region in which the copper mines are situated.

Archaeology has found and identified persons and places once considered by Higher Critics as merely legendary. The spade has substantiated the biblical description of customs and practices of ancient peoples, and has produced many proofs of the inerrancy of the Word of God.

An Archaeologist’s Testimony

There may be some who question the accuracy of New Testament writings. Can archaeology prove that they are inerrant? There is one author in the New Testament who exposes himself to possible error more than others, Luke the beloved physician. If we can prove him to be in error as to names, titles, customs or dates, we may then assume that other New Testament authors are likewise in error.

Sir William Ramsay ranks among the world’s foremost archaeologists. After years of investigation and a complete reversal of mind, here is the testimony that he gives:

“I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without prejudice in favour of the conclusion which I shall now attempt to justify to the reader. On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavourable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen theory had at one time quite convinced me. (The Tubingen school of liberal critics claimed that statements in the Books of the Acts can only be looked upon as intentional deviation from historic truth in the interest of the special tendency which they possess.) It did not then lie in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely; but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of the Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvellous truth. In fact beginning with the fixed idea that the work was essentially a second century composition, and never relying on its evidence as trustworthy for first century conditions, I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigation.”

“Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense; he fixes his mind on the idea and plan that rule in the evolution of history, and proportions the scale of his treatment to the importance of each incident. He seizes the important and critical events and shows their true nature at greater length, while he touches lightly or omits entirely, much that was valueless for his purpose. In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.” From St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen and The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament.

Fulfilled Prophecy: For the purpose of Christian evidence, the predictive rather than the declarative element in prophecy is important. That this element is frequently used in different connections throughout both the Old and New Testaments is obvious to any who read the Bible.

Should perchance one prediction eventually be fulfilled, the relationship between the prediction and the event might be considered as coincidental, but when a series of correlated predictions come true there is a proof of supernatural intention. Man is confronted by the fact that fulfilled biblical prediction is the evidence of omniscience. Let us search out such evidences in real historical connections as these are presented in the Bible.

The Jew: It has been occasionally asserted that the authenticity of biblical prediction is sustained by the history of the Jewish people. While this may be true so general a statement is insufficient for this study. Let us review Israel’s history and seek for the details: her exile from the Land of Promise, her restoration under Nehemiah, and her future position among other nations.

First, her exile: The pre-exilic Prophet Isaiah, in the year that King Uzziah died, the year 742 B.C. was called to predict the expulsion of Judah from the land. This prediction is recorded in Isaiah 6:8-13. From this passage is learned that the expulsion was to take place in stages. What was left after the holy seed had been expelled in the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar was devoured by another invasion.

The fulfillment of this expulsion is recorded in 2 Kings 25, and very concisely in Jeremiah 52:28-30. The fulfillment did not take place until 586 B.C. Consequently, there are 155 years between the prediction and its fulfillment, between the day of Isaiah and the captivity of Judah.

Second, her restoration: The restoration of Judah is also predicted by Isaiah (chapter 44:24-45:3), and involves a pagan monarch who is specifically named. This prediction was made when Hezekiah king of Judah was about 43 years of age, in the midst of his days, as he said, that is in 672 B.C.