Some believers will tell you that we only get faith when we’re given it. If faith came from within us, they say, then faith would be works and not faith…
I agree that the Spirit of God draws us, and helps us see the truth, but if we really are only converted and “saved” because God zaps some of us with faith, sometimes against our will, then pre-destination is a reality and there’s no choice or free will involved: Christ didn’t die for the whole world after all. I can’t go along with that.
Jesus urged his disciples frequently to “believe” and “have faith in God”. He was wasting his breath if he didn’t mean to encourage his followers to work at it. With that in mind, I would like to outline my second line of reasoning which I often fall back on in defense of my own faith in God. Last time, in “WHY I BELIEVE IN GOD” I discussed some reasons why I believe that there is a supreme, personal, almighty creator of all things: this time I’ll focus a little more on why I believe that the God of the Bible is that creator.
If (since) the Biblical God is God, there is no room for any other god, because there can only be one supreme being, and the Biblical God will not share his throne. Don’t agree? Try making Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton president at the same time and see what happens…
Don’t forget that the Bible is strewn with statements to the effect that there is only one true God:
“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6 NIV).
This claim found throughout scripture requires either accepting the Bible or rejecting it for being false and flawed. Consider also that the supreme being described in the Bible cannot be the same as that worshipped by Muslims or any other faith, any more than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump can be one and the same person. Different characteristics and teachings, and opposing instructions, objectives and commandments mean different personalities.
Any being capable of creating this incredibly complex and beautiful universe and life must transcend it, and must be greater than it and anything in it. There can be only one supreme God, and that supreme being cannot have conflicting characteristics as if he/she/it were some cosmic schizophrenic.
As I noted before, I recall the main points of the defense of my faith with the help of “initialisms”, or acronyms. Here’s the second one, updated and edited from the original publication. I’m sorry it’s rather long-but do you want evidence or don’t you?
Acronym 2: MASH DID PROCH!
It’s my conviction that a (the) supreme being is perfectly capable and willing to create and preserve a message to his ultimate creation, mankind. Besides the message written for everyone to see in all of creation as I outlined in part one, that message is more specifically recorded in the Bible.
Why does the manuscript evidence matter? There are many reasons, among which is the fact that numerous different authors over a very long period of human history recorded their experiences which, when put together, provide one narrative, one story, and one message-an amazing message of hope and love. If that narrative has been preserved it’s because the message-giver has something very important to say to us, and he’s able to preserve it through all the many attempts over the centuries to destroy it.
Many people are convinced that the gospel, the Old Testament accounts, and essential Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus Christ were all invented hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth. The truth is very different. If you find skeptical or hostile commentary on early Christian or Biblical writings and discoveries, you’re reading the untruthful bias and propaganda of someone who intends to rob you of joy and eternal life.
Ancient writings which we accept without question have an average gap between the original composition and the earliest surviving copy of hundreds or even over one thousand years, but the oldest surviving New Testament fragment dates to within one generation from its original composition: the “Rylands Fragment”:
Some accusations of misrepresentations of early Christian belief refer to the Gnostic gospels: these were written after the original gospels.
New Testament scholars have an enormous amount of ancient manuscript evidence. The documentary evidence for the New Testament far surpasses any other work of its time. We have over 5000 manuscripts, and many are dated within a few years of their authors’ lives.
An important manuscript is the Chester Beatty Papyri. It contains most of the N.T. writings, and is dated around A.D. 250. The Bodmer Papyri contains most of John, and dates to A.D. 200. Another is the Rylands Papyri, found in Egypt, which contains a fragment of John, and dates to A.D. 130. From this fragment we can conclude that John’s gospel was completed well before A.D. 130 because, not only did the gospel have to be written, it had to be hand copied and make its way down from Greece to Egypt. Since the vast majority of scholars agree that John is the last gospel written, we can affirm its first century date along with the other three with greater assurance.
More evidence comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls Cave 7. Jose Callahan discovered a fragment of the Gospel of Mark and dated it to have been written in A.D. 50. He also discovered fragments of Acts and other epistles and dated them to have been written slightly after A.D. 50.
For more information see:
There are numerous writings of the Church Fathers quoting sections of Scripture, and the entire New Testament could be constructed from those alone. Millions of man-hours have been spent cross-checking them. Here are a few examples:
Clement of Rome sent a letter to the Corinthian church in A.D. 95. in which he quoted from the Gospels and other portions of the N.T. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter before his martyrdom in Rome in A.D. 115, quoting all the Gospels and other N.T. letters. Polycarp wrote to the Philippians in A.D. 120 and quoted from the Gospels and N.T. letters. Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) quotes John’s gospel chapter 3. Church fathers of the early second century were familiar with the apostle’s writings and quoted them as inspired Scripture.
The Dead Sea Scrolls prove the accuracy of the transmission of the Bible. In these scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947, we have Old Testament manuscripts which date to 150 BC, about a thousand years earlier than Old Testament manuscripts previously known. They include a complete scroll of Isaiah. The significance is that when the two sets of manuscripts are compared, it’s clear that they are essentially the same, with very few changes. The 5 percent of variation consists chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. This indicates the incredible accuracy of the Old Testament manuscripts’ transmission to us. God is able to preserve His message (1).
Lee Stroebel, with an MA in Law from Yale University, and a former award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, in his book “The Case for Christ” interviewed a number of believing scholars such as Cambridge educated Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson was a Professor at Harvard, and lectured at Princeton. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of London. Anderson said that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, which contains a definition of the Christian gospel as it was already being preached in his time, can be confidently dated to around 55 AD (2).
Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in 1st Corinthians, and writes:
“That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum” (3).
This is the gospel that Paul preached in the first century:
“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).
Below are just a few of the many finds made in recent decades, followed by a link to information on some of the latest finds.
THE POOL OF SILOAM, where Jesus healed the blind man (John 9:1–11) and which critics had said never existed, was found in 2004 (4).
THE TEL DAN INSCRIPTION. The existence of King David, from Samuel in the OT, was mocked by secular scholars until The Tel Dan inscription, or “House of David” inscription, was discovered in 1993 at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel. Few modern Biblical archaeology discoveries have caused as much excitement as the Tel Dan inscription—writing on a ninth-century B.C. stone slab (or stela) that furnished the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible. The inscription makes reference to a military victory and corresponds to the biblical account in 2 Chronicles 22 (5).
THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
See notes on the Dead Sea Scrolls under “Manuscript Evidence”
THE CAIAPHAS OSSUARY. An ossuary is a stone or pottery box in which the remains of a deceased person are buried (an ancient casket). The Caiaphas Ossuary bears the inscription “Yeosef bar Qafa” and is dated to the second temple period. Yeosef (Joseph) was the son of Caiaphas. This verifies that there was a high priest at the time of Jesus and his name was Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the priest that presided over the false trial of Jesus (Matthew 26:57-67).
THE CRUCIFIED MAN. This is the remains of a full skeleton of a man crucified in the first century. The foot bone contains a bent crucifixion nail. There have been those that argued that the crucifixion of Christ was a hoax because that was not a form of capital punishment in Christ’s time. These remains verify that crucifixion was being done and that the crucifixion of Jesus was done exactly as outlined in the biblical narrative.
THE KETEF HINNOM AMULETS
In 1979, two silver scrolls that were worn as amulets were found in a tomb overlooking the Hinnom Valley, where they had been placed around the 7th century B.C. It took three years to develop the delicate process of unrolling the scrolls while preventing them from disintegrating.
Brief as they are, the amulets rank as the oldest surviving texts from the Hebrew Bible. Upon unrolling the amulets, biblical archeologists found two inscriptions of significance. One is a temple priest blessing from the book of Numbers:
“The Lord bless you and protect you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance to you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
The other inscription is the tetragrammaton “YHWH”, the name of the Lord, from which we get the English “Jehovah”. The amulets predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by 500 years and are the oldest known example of the Lord’s name in writing.
THE HOUSE OF GOD OSTRACON
Ostraca—writings on pottery—are common finds in archeological digs. The House of God Ostracon was found in Arad, a Canaanite city in the Negev. Over 100 pieces of ostraca were found and have been dated to the early part of the 6th Century BC. Of significance are the references to the temple in Jerusalem and to names of people that are recorded in Scripture. This not only helps to date the temple, but it verifies the existence of people listed in the biblical text.
THE PILATE INSCRIPTION
A stone tablet was found in the theater of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast and bears an inscription mentioning the name of Pontius Pilate the procurator of Judea, and also the Tiberium, which was an edifice built in honor of the Emperor Tiberius by Pilate. There has been much written to discredit the biblical narrative in regard to the existence of Pilate; this tablet clearly says that it was from “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” and verifies that he was a person that lived during the time of Jesus, exactly as written in the biblical narrative.
THE RUINS OF SODOM — actually located in a huge mound north of the Dead Sea — show the evidence of a powerful blast that incinerated the city at well over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Nobody built on top of the ruins for some 700 years.
The book of the prophet Daniel mentions King Belshazzer seeing the writing on the wall foretelling of both his and the Babylonian Kingdom’s demise [Daniel 5]. Critics would point out that the Bible was in error, because no known extra-biblical list of Babylonian Kings included Belshazzar. But an archaeological find, the “Cylinder of Nabonidus”, revealed that Belshazzar was co-regent of the kingdom, i.e. he would be placed in charge whenever his father, King Nabonidus, was away for extended periods of time. This also explains why Belshazzar could offer only the THIRD-highest position [Daniel 5:7] in the kingdom to the interpreter of the wall writings (6).
New and recent archeological finds confirming the Bible are so numerous it’s hard to keep up with them all. To read about some, see:
Militant atheists and anti-Christian groups are on a mission to convince you and your children that science and faith do not mix. They omit to tell you that many of the great scientists of the past, such as Isaac Newton, were believers and attributed the wonders of creation and the orderliness of the universe to a Designer. Some scientists and scientifically trained people today are believers. Faith and true science do mix: faith and unbelief obviously do not.
The Bible isn’t intended to be a science manual, but it does have many things to say which reflect findings in true science (7).
One example is in the first verse of the Bible, which tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The view of secular scientists and thinkers until the 20th century was that the universe was infinite: Relativity and the Hubble telescope helped them to conclude that it did indeed have a “beginning”, as the Bible had said all along. The universe, they said, began with a rapid expansion of space and time from a tiny singularity, or even from nothing. Some secular scientists are now changing their minds once again and constructing theories involving eternity (how do facts change?).
The Bible, written many centuries before the findings of 20th Century scientists, describes an expansion or a stretching of space. For example, Isaiah 40:22 teaches that God “stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” Job, an Old Testament prophet, said that God “hangs the earth on nothing” or “suspends the earth on nothing” (NIV-Job 26:7), an idea long before its time, and an idea which requires earth to be floating in space…
The history of the earth and life on it can be explained not only by what the Bible says about it, but by the evidence in the rocks, in genetics and others sciences which reflect or confirm passages of the Bible (8).
Secular history sources tell us that the first notable civilization was in Mesopotamia, and then came Egypt, Greece and Rome. Biblical accounts agree. Mesopotamians, say historians, were among the first to learn how to write. But these first writers, dreamers and philosophers weren’t exactly first-grade minds struggling to scrape a few symbols on a piece of rock-as some cultures have done even in the last century or two. You can read reports of the earliest libraries being found there with many thousands of finely made clay tablets on all kinds of topics: Moses also, and his contemporaries, had no problem writing down what he experienced, as some have claimed.
Of course, they’ll also tell you that humans were around long before recorded civilization, but the first real history-not speculation-was in Mesopotamia around five thousand years ago, as even secular historians will tell you:
“Our knowledge of prehistory derives from surviving objects…” (which don’t have dates on). “History, by contrast, is based on documents” (a telling admission). “These various interconnections mean that history, civilization and writing all begin at the same time. That time is about 3100 BC.”
“In about 3200 BC the two earliest civilizations develop….” (9).
That’s interesting, because the Bible agrees, and in fact said it first. The timing perfectly fits Biblical accounts and genealogies.
The Bible has become a significant source book for secular archaeology, helping to identify such ancient figures as Sargon (Isaiah 20:1); Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:37); Horam of Gazer (Joshua 10:33); Hazar (Joshua 15:27); and the nation of the Hittites (Genesis 15:20). The biblical record, unlike other “scriptures,” is historically set, opening itself up for testing and verification.
Two of the greatest 20th-century archaeologists, William F. Albright and Nelson Glueck, both lauded the Bible (even though they were non-Christian and secular in their training and personal beliefs) as being the single most accurate source document from history. Over and over again, the Bible has been found to be accurate in its places, dates, and records of events. No other “religious” document comes even close.
The 19th-century critics used to deny the historicity of the Hittites, the Horites, the Edomites, and various other peoples, nations, and cities mentioned in the Bible. Those critics have long been silenced by the archaeologist’s spade, and few critics dare to question the geographical and ethnological reliability of the Bible.
The names of over 40 different kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are always consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible. Nothing exists in ancient literature that has been even remotely as well-confirmed in accuracy as has the Bible (10).
The Biblical Flood story is corroborated by dozens of ancient flood legends from around the world, as is the record of unbiased geology (11).
I came upon one such account while reading a secular book called “The Chinese Heritage”, which notes that the Chinese recorded a huge flood which covered the land and the mountains. It also states that originally people in that land believed in one supreme God.
The New Testament is supportable with many ancient secular documents. For info see:
“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel;
“The Historical Jesus” by Gary R. Habermas
Tacitus, the most important Roman historian of the first century, mentioned Christ as the reingleader of a sect, and “who suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberias”;
Pliny the Younger tortured and killed Christians. He wrote in AD 111 that he killed them for “belonging to that degenerate sect”. He wrote that they chanted to Christ “as if to a god”.
The scriptures contain an inexhaustible supply of encoded evidence to authenticate and confirm its divine design, in other words, evidence that Biblical Scripture is indeed “inspired by God” as it claims, and not by the rantings of ancient man attempting to control someone. The deeper you look, the more encoded evidence you can find. For a fascinating glimpse into the many amazing codes found within the Bible, see Chuck Missler’s articles on the subject, based on his books (12).
Here is one example of those many codes:
The heptadic structure found throughout the Bible goes far beyond the well-known examples which include the Sabbath on the seventh day; the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine in Egypt; the seven priests and seven trumpets marching around Jericho; the Sabbath Year of the land. For a look into one amazing example of the complexity of the use of numbers in Scripture, read: http://www.khouse.org/articles/1995/102/
Also read “Number in Scripture” by E W Bullinger.
Typology is a method of biblical interpretation whereby an element found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament. The initial one is called the type and the fulfillment is designated the antitype.
The “Typology” of the Old Testament is the “PICTURE LANGUAGE” in which the Doctrines of the New Testament, such as the Atonement, are prefigured, for example, the “Brazen Serpent” and the “Cross.” John 3:14-15.
The New Testament is in the Old concealed, and the Old Testament is in the New revealed.
Scripture itself identifies several Old Testament events as types of Christ’s redemption, including the tabernacle, the sacrificial system, and the Passover. The Old Testament tabernacle is identified as a type in Hebrews 9:8-9: “the first tabernacle . . . which was a figure for the time then present.” The high priest’s entrance into the holiest place once a year prefigured the mediation of Christ, our High Priest. Later, the veil of the tabernacle is said to be a type of Christ (Hebrews 10:19-20) in that His flesh was torn, (as the veil was when He was crucified) in order to provide entrance into God’s presence for those who are covered by His sacrifice.
There are numerous other amazing examples, demonstrating the Bible is a unit. For more, read this article:
The Bible foretells future events, many of which have been fulfilled, and others which have yet to be fulfilled. For example, the Old Testament contains hundreds of predictions of the Messiah, some concerning his first coming as recorded in the New Testament, and some concerning his return. Luke’s gospel records an incident in which Jesus read part of the scroll of Isaiah, known to have been written long before the life of Jesus, for all to hear in the synagogue at Nazareth, then he said:
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).
Christ’s birth was foretold, in Isaiah 9:6-7, and his death in Isaiah chapter 53.
In our time a fulfillment of New Testament and Old Testament prophesies about Israel and particularly Jerusalem appear to be in the process of fulfillment. Prophesies relating to contention over Jerusalem in days preceding the return of Christ are particularly amazing. The world is intent on dividing Jerusalem-something it would never want for any other nation’s capital: consider Berlin, for example. The division of Jerusalem is the spark of Armaggeddon. For me, this alone is enough to convince me that my faith is in the living God. For details please see my post:
Millions of lives have been radically changed for the better by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Notable examples from history include the apostle Paul, a persecutor of Christians until his own conversion, at which point he devoted the rest of his life to spreading the gospel, and John Newton, a slave trader until his conversion. He subsequently wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” (13).
Closer to home, my own life was radically changed for the better when I became “born again”. No-one can take away from me the knowledge of my own changed life. I’m not saying that I suddenly became a wonderful person: I’m saying that the things which had me in bondage no longer have a hold on me.
1: For more info read Josh McDowell’s books “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” (one of the top 40 biggest-sellers of the 20th Century) and his new “God Breathed”.
2: Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” (Pub. By Zondervan, © 1998) p. 230.
3: Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.
6: For more info read “The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible” by Geisler & Holden, and Logos Bible Software.
“The Stones Cry Out” by Dr. Randall Price