[Song: Wonderful Words of Life]
My devotional today actually has nothing to do with what we've been studying this session and actually it has everything to do with what we've been studying.
- We learned in Romans that we are justified by faith.
- That faith rests upon a trust and belief that everything in our Bible is the true, inerrant, inspired word of God.
Upon what do we base our belief that the Bible is indeed inspired, inerrant, and true?
Is it even O.K. to ask the question? Or, are we supposed to blindly have faith?
- When John the Baptist sent word from prison to Jesus to ask if He was the One promised to come in the scriptures; Jesus didn't say, "I'm not going to tell you, because you should have faith!" and He didn't say, "Yes!" What did He do?
- He gave evidence from the scriptures. He said, "Tell John that the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor."
He gave John EVIDENCE!
- God tells us that we are to love him with all of our hearts, our souls, our strength, and our minds.
I think God wants us to use our minds to ask questions and He's given us plenty of evidence about the validity of the scriptures.
So, what can we find out about the scriptures?
- The Bible is unique in its continuity of message, even though it was
- written over a 1600 year span
- over 60 generations
- by 40+ authors from every walk of life
- Let's look at some of those authors:
- Moses - a political leader probably educated in the best Egyptian universities
- Peter - a fisherman
- Amos - a herdsman
- Joshua - a military leader
- Nehemiah - a cupbearer
- Daniel - a prime minister
- Luke - a physician
- Matthew - a tax collector
- Paul - a Pharisee
- Solomon - a king
- Written in different places:
- Moses - in the wilderness
- Jeremiah - in a dungeon
- Daniel - in a palace
- Paul - in prison
- John - on the Isle of Patmos
- Others - in the rigor of military campaigns
- Written in times of War and Peace
- Written in different moods: some at the height of joy, and others from the depths of despair.
- The Bible was written on three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe.
- Written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
- Subject matter covers 100s of controversial subjects.
And yet, the message of Man's fall and God's plan of salvation remains constant without any disagreement.
I challenge anyone to find just 10 authors, all living today, all of the same generation, in the same line of work, from the same geographical background and ask them to discuss just 1 controversial topic! Would they all agree? Probably not.
- There are at least 60 major prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled all of them.
Some scientists used statistics and the laws of probability to figure out the probability of just 8 prophecies being fulfilled in one person. I'd like to read to you the results of that study. This is from a book called Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. This book is available in the church library. (p. 175)
The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies (1. - No. 10; 2. - No. 22; 3. - No. 27; 4. - No. 33; 5. - No. 34; 6 - No. 35 & 36; 7. - No. 39; 8. - No. 44 & 45 [crucified]), "we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017." That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it 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 wished, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their wisdom.
"Now these prophecies were either given by inspiration of God or the prophets just wrote them as they thought they should be. In such a case the prophets had just one chance in 1017 of having them come true in any man, but they all came true in Christ.
- Jeff Walling, a well-known preacher in our brotherhood made the point that there is more secular historical evidence to prove the existence of Jesus than there is for Plato and Socrates combined. But, no one ever doubts their existence.
- So you say, "Well, yes, it was the inspired word of God when these authors first wrote the words down; but what about all of the translations, and copies ." I'd like to share with you the process that those copies were made (p. xv)."The process of copying was done with unbelievable patience and incredible accuracy, even though it was done by hand for centuries. This is a summary of the process: To guard against any errors slipping into the text, the one who was doing the copying carefully counted the number of letters and words on a page to be sure that every letter got into the new copy. He also counted to the middle letter of each page and each book, and then did the same on the new copy to double-check the accuracy of the copy."
Also, the copies that we have today are in wonderful agreement with one another, even the early ones in comparison with the later ones. Aside from a few minor and insignificant disagreements, the copies dovetail perfectly. Not one major doctrine is affected.
The Dead Sea scrolls were found in the late 1940s and compared to our Old Testament found to be virtually identical. In fact, There is less disagreement about the translation of the Bible than there is for the translation of Shakespeare's plays, from just a few hundred years ago.
- Now, I would like to ask for some audience participation.
I would like to ask that anyone who has been a Christian for over 30 years, please raise your hand.
Now, ladies, look around at how many women have raised their hands. O.K., you can put your hands down.
Now, of the ladies that raised your hands, how many of you still find that studying the Bible brings you new thoughts and insights and is still as enjoyable as when you first became a Christian?
Look around at the hands. I think they've all gone back up. For those of us who have been Christians for a shorter length of time, this is an excellent instance of the older women teaching the younger women, as we have studied.
Now, I'd like to ask you, how many other books can you say that about?
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
I'd like to leave you with these words from Psalm 119, a wonderful chapter, mostly about the word of God. Verses 97, 98 and 105 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
I'd like for everyone to pick up your Bibles and hold them in your hands. What you are holding is more valuable than all of the purest gold in the world. You are indeed holding the wonderful words of eternal life.
My challenge to all of us is that we continue to hold onto these words in our hearts and to study these words even when WINGS breaks for the summer. Let's challenge one another to keep up with our personal study.
We have wonderful words of life. What a privilege and what a blessing, for they are indeed true, inerrant, and inspired!
Link to John Lankford's Evidences of God's Existence
Link to Jeannie Cole's Ladies' Bible Class lectures
Link to WINGS Home Page