2 Important Questions About The Bible

2 Important Questions About The Bible

September 17, 2017 | Dave Hoffman
Today’s message comes as a result of me talking to a college-aged girl. She came and she said, “Pastor Dave, how did we get the Bible? How did the Bible come to be?” And I thought, what a great question! I’ve studied it in seminary and all that. Off the top of my head, I came up with some things. And I really felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart as I was telling her… this is something we need to talk about, maybe even more often, in the church. How did we get this Bible? And how do we know it’s completely, 100% trustworthy. That’s easy to say but is there evidence for that?

For hundreds of years, people have attacked the Bible. And of course, the reason why is they don’t want to believe it. As soon as you say this is Holy Spirit inspired, the Word of God, all of a sudden, you have a responsibility, don’t you? You have a responsibility to make a decision: Am I going to obey God or not? And people don’t want to have to make that decision. They don’t even want to admit that there might be a God. They want to be the god of their life. So, the Bible is attacked, attacked, attacked. But, I want to tell you, I can’t find one attack through hundreds of years of history that has been successful in discrediting the Bible. Historically, prophetically… we’ll talk about how it affects human beings all over the world. They have failed.

So what evidence do we have that is so compelling that the Bible is trustworthy and no one ever has been able to discredit it, ever? How can we be so certain that it is the definitive truth for everything? Life, death, eternity, purpose, love. So, we’re going to answer the question this morning… what evidence do we have that the Bible is trustworthy? What compelling evidence do we have that leads any thinking person to believe that there is something special about this religious book? There are all kinds of religious books all over the world, but this is different. This one is not like the Qur’an. This one is not like Confucianism and the writings of Hindu. It’s different! This book is really different! And if I do my job, you’ll know the answer to that today. We’re going to answer that question… Why is the Bible trustworthy? What is the compelling evidence for that by answering 2 questions. The first question is really the question this young girl asked me and that is #1, how did the Bible come to us?

Two Important Questions about the Bible:

How did the Bible come to be?

Is the Bible totally trustworthy?

How did the Bible come to be?
I hope you can understand, I’m at my desk and I’ve studied a lot the last week and a half. I have a lot of information and I lean back in my chair and I thought “Lord, Jesus…there is so much here!” So, pray for me as I go through this because we’re going to do it quickly. We have no choice; the clock is ticking.

The first 5 books of the Old Testament were written by Moses. And we know that the Israelites accepted those books immediately as the Word of God. Remember, Moses is a guy who stretched out his staff and the Red Sea parted. Ten plagues in Egypt. This is the guy who went into the tabernacle, that tent, talked to God Almighty, face to face, came out and his face glowed. You know, the Israelites were kind of dense sometimes but they figured: this guy hears from God.
Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”

Exodus 24:4, 7

In other words, they were admitting that the Lord said this. We know that they put the 5 books of Moses in the ark of the covenant. Now, Joshua comes along and right before his death, he writes the book of Joshua. The Bible says that they took the words of Joshua, that he had written, and they put it with the 5 books. So, now we know that the Israelites had at least 5 books. Now, Daniel, fast forward many years, he referred to the book of Jeremiah. And he refers to the book of Jeremiah in Daniel chapter 9 as Scripture. He uses it as Scripture. Jeremiah’s words were the Word of God. So, we know that the book of Jeremiah was being considered Scripture. Now most scholars believe that the 39 books that we have today were compiled by Ezra, he is called the compiler. And I don’t have time to go into that, you can read about that yourself. Just google Ezra and start reading about him.
We also know that the Maccabees, the Maccabees were a family, Jewish family, religious family, that lead a revolt against the Greeks and defeated them and through that defeat, Israel became an independent nation for almost 200 years. And we know that the Maccabees, it was called the Hasmonean dynasty, those approximately 180 years, almost 200 years, we know they collected the 39 books, they had those collected. They considered the 39 books to be Scripture just as we do today. At almost the same time, 200 years before Jesus, in Alexandria, Egypt, 70 Jewish scholars translated these 39 books into Greek. It’s called the Septuagint. If you want to know more about it, just google Septuagint and you can read all afternoon, okay? But interestingly, the Septuagint was the Scripture that most people read during the time of Jesus. Jesus quotes from the Septuagint, this Greek translation of the Old Testament, 90% of the time. The fact that Jesus accepted the Old Testament, these 39 books, as Scripture is undeniable, irrefutable. Just read the gospels. He quoted from it all the time. He called the Word of God “it is written” when He was tempted by the devil. He used it to push the devil back. No thinking, objective person would argue that Jesus did not consider those 39 books Scripture.

Now, on to the New Testament. 2 Peter 3, verse 16, Peter talks about Paul’s writings. Plural. And that they were Scripture, which means holy inspired, written by God, God breathed. Peter said that Paul’s writings, in other words, they had gathered them together, were considered Scripture. And Peter wrote 2 Peter around 60 AD. So, we know that by at least 60 AD, the early church considered Paul’s writing to be Scripture.

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) were written somewhere between 25 (Matthew maybe even earlier than that) 25-35 years after Jesus was killed. The reason why I mention that is think of all the people who were alive that could have disputed what these 3 guys were saying. In 140 AD, we know that at least 20 of the 27 books of the New Testament were being circulated and were just about universally accepted as Scripture. The 7 books that weren’t were 2nd and 3rd John, 2nd Peter, Jude, James and Revelation.

I want to mention this because I know some of you saw the movie “The Da Vinci Code”. I don’t know why you wasted your money, I hope you didn’t. But if you did, in “The Da Vinci Code”, they talk about the Council of Nicaea (323) and that those guys added things to Scripture. It’s baloney! The Council of Nicaea was called… Christians from all over the world came because this guy named Arius was gaining a lot of popularity saying that Jesus was not fully human, he just appeared to be human. So, the Council of Nicaea met to dispel this heresy and denounce it. They had 20 edicts or decrees, nothing to do with adding books or taking them away. Nothing. It wasn’t until 393, at the Council of Hippo… now these councils, they would call them every once in a while when it became evident that they all needed to meet together and make a decision for the whole church, everywhere. Now Hippo, they must have had a lot of hippopotamuses, I don’t know, the city of Hippo is in northern Africa. Hundreds and hundreds of these representatives come from all over the known world to discuss Scripture. The reason is there was a lot of books floating around and some people thought they were Scripture, some people didn’t and they needed to make a decision. I have a book that I’ve had for many years, it’s called “The Lost Books of the Bible”. I’m going to read you some of the stuff that was floating around. There was a letter that was supposedly written by Mary. There were other books, “Infancy 1”, “Infancy 2”, “Nicodemus”, “Paul and Thecla”, “Clement 1”, “Clement 2”, “The epistle of Barnabas”, “The Lost Gospel According to Peter”, “The Gospel of Thomas”, the list just goes on and on. A ton of books, and so they knew they had to get together and say this is Scripture and this isn’t. That happened in 393. Now, I’m going to read you something that I found very interesting. It’s called “Paul and Thecla”, it’s supposed to be an epistle written to the Laodiceans. But it is the only record we have anywhere in antiquity that describes the Apostle Paul. It says:
“At length, they saw a man coming (namely Paul) of a low stature, (I like that. He was a short guy). He was bald on the head, crooked thighs, handsome legs, hollow eyed, had a crooked nose (got beat up so many times probably), full of grace, for sometimes he appeared as a man, sometimes he had the countenance of an angel.”

So that is the only description that we have. So, they came in 393 to discuss, “Is there anything we want to add? We have these 27 books, the church in Egypt likes these 2 books, the church wherever… we need to make a decision.” So, they all came together and they had 3 criteria used to determine what was Scripture and what wasn’t. They were willing to look at everything. The 27 books that people were using then and everything. These are the 3 criteria that they used…

1 – Authorship

The writings had to be written by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle and had to be finished within the first century. In other words, within 70 years of the death of Jesus. Only those who had witnessed the events of Jesus or had talked to Jesus personally or were associated with someone who did would be accepted. Now, this is important because Jesus told His disciples in John, chapter 14, He looked at them (and those are the ones that we call apostles), He looked at His disciples and He said this:
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26

In other words, Jesus was saying, “I’m going to send you the Holy Spirit.” He was looking at Peter, John, James, and He said, “I’m going to send the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is going to remind you everything that I said, exactly what I said, exactly what I did. You don’t have to worry about it.”

2 – Orthodoxy

What do I mean by Orthodoxy? The letter or book had to agree with the Old Testament. In other words, how God had already revealed Himself, it couldn’t contradict that. It had to go along with what God had already revealed as Scripture.

3 – Universal Acceptance

This is a big one. Nothing would be allowed in the New Testament unless everyone, everywhere agreed it was Holy Scripture. All the church, universally, around the world agreed that these books (should be included). And that is why all these other books never made it in, because they were arguing about it. Now, I think this is a miracle. Have you ever got 40 people in a room and tried to get them to… I mean, we have trouble getting 12 people on a jury to agree on something, and sometimes it’s obvious. People see things differently. There was a 100% agreement around the Christian world that the 27 books that we have in the Bible (New Testament) were from God. Persecution does a good job of weeding out non-inspired writings. During persecution of Diocletian, there was a great persecution against the church, and he tried to burn and do away with Scripture. He wanted to get rid of all writings, all biblical writings, he wanted to wipe out the church. And so, literally people had to make a decision, what writings were worth dying for. For 16 centuries, there has been no significant controversy within Christianity regarding the New Testament canon. Because it’s Holy, inspired and when you read it, do what it says, God blesses you. You can read it and the Holy Spirit speaks to you through it. It’s Holy Spirit inspired.
So, that’s kind of answering the first question. I realize I went very quickly and those of you who want a more deep explanation… go to Bible school, go to seminary. We are going to answer another question. Remember, we’re asking 2 questions to answer the question Why is the Bible trustworthy, what are the compelling things?

Is the Bible totally trustworthy?

I’m going to answer this question by looking at 5 evidences that prove the Bible is trustworthy, God inspired. There’s really 6. The 6th one, I’m just going to tell you right now, is science. The Bible has some incredible things. Like, Job talked about the earth being round and just sitting, without any support, in the universe. Job! There are some things like that but because of time, I had to cut some things out, I cut science. But you can look at that on your own. But, I just told you one thing of science. I’m doing that because one lady got pretty… she said, “Science is my favorite!” and I said “I’m sorry”. There’s 5 evidences for me. I looked at a bunch of stuff and I came up with 5. Probably somebody has come up with the same 5, I don’t know.

Five evidences that prove the Bible is trustworthy:

1 – Its unity

The Bible was written over 1500 years, 40 different authors, 3 continents, yet it is united throughout. It doesn’t disagree on anything. Especially, what I’m talking about is God’s working throughout history to reestablish a relationship with Him. From Genesis to Revelation, that is what it’s about. And I think it’s pretty miraculous. It does not contradict itself. It’s amazing! Fifteen hundred years people were writing all kinds of things and it doesn’t contradict itself.

2 – Lack of copyist errors

Now, what I found, that word “copyist”, to brag on myself a little bit, I wrote that down and 3 or 4 secretaries disagreed that that was a word. It is! They made me doubt myself until we looked. We have about 14,000 documents of the Old Testament to refer to. And, the problem with them was that we didn’t have any really old ones. We had kind of newer ones, so there were kind of questions if we could really rely or if this was really written or not and you can imagine where we went with that. Then, in 1946, a shepherd in the Judean desert was hiking around, he was trying to find one of his lost sheep and he saw this cave, he was a kid, he took a stone and threw it in there and he heard a crack. He hit a clay jar, so he ran up there and they discovered what we now call The Dead Sea Scrolls. They had scrolls in there dating 500 – 700 years before Jesus. There was one complete, 24-foot scroll of the book of Isaiah. Now, this is the incredible thing, and if you go with me to Israel, those of you who are going with me in November, we are going to Qumran, you’re going to see all of this. You’re going to see copies of the scroll, 24-foot long scroll of Isaiah, written 700 years before the time of Jesus. So, they looked at it, translated it and compared it with the Book of Isaiah that we have today. There were 6 words missing, that’s all! Six words, that’s all. And none of the words were of any importance for doctrine. Think about that. If I wrote 20 pages of stuff about how I like motorcycles, 20 pages, how it’s influenced my life, how it’s good for me, all of those things, and I gave it to someone and said, “Copy this” and he gave it to someone else and so forth, 40 people. How many of you know, there would be more than 6 mistakes? I guarantee it. You’re talking about thousands of years. Now, when you go to Qumran, they explain this, how they tried so hard, they had all these rules… each page they counted and recounted how many letters there were before they started to copy and if they finished the copy and they were one letter off, they would burn the whole thing. Then, 10 years later, 1956 in Qumran, they find 11 more caves, 981 more scrolls or parts of scrolls written 500 – 700 years before Jesus and now we’ve got copies, or parts of copies of the whole Old Testament except of Esther. And I thought, isn’t that just like God, waiting all this time. These 981 scrolls or partial scrolls, just tons of them, had the same accuracy when compared to the Bibles that we have in front of us.

The New Testament is a little bit different. It was written on manuscripts and we have over 20,000 of them. Partials and wholes. There are 3 or 4 or 5 that are almost complete, the whole New Testament. We have whole manuscripts of John, some of Paul’s writings. What they do with these 20,000 manuscripts is they compare them with one another. And when you compare them with one another, you can get a pretty good idea of what the original said. They’ve done that, and that is what you have in your Bible. Again, I want to remind you that these original writings were written, most of them, 25 – 50 years after the death of Jesus. There were all kinds of people who were alive who were going to refute anything that was exaggerated or a lie.

3 – Historically accurate

The third evidence is it’s historically accurate. This is my favorite. I admit to you, I spent more time than I should have on this one because it’s interests me. History has always interested me. It would take us weeks to go through the hundreds and hundreds of archeological discoveries that substantiate the biblical record but I want to talk about some things that secular archeologists and historians scoffed about. The first was the city of Nineveh. “There is no record of Nineveh anywhere in ancient writings, nowhere, it doesn’t exist. The story of Jonah is just a fable, it’s just a fable.” Then, guess what? They found the city of Nineveh. Scoffers laughed about Sodom and Gomorrah. “It never existed.” Guess what? They found 5 cities, they know where Sodom and Gomorrah is, look it up yourself. And on the top layer, guess what’s there? Ash. Now, in that general area, some other civilizations came along but in Sodom and Gomorrah, the upper layers are ash. What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? You can answer that yourself. Now, the Old Testament mentions the people the Hittites. Sixty-one times the Old Testament mentions the Hittites and scholars laughed for years because there was no mention of the Hittites.

Bathsheba…remember she committed adultery with King David, her first husband was a Hittite. And then of course, surprise, surprise, surprise, they found Hittite cities in Turkey. For years, archaeologists scoffed at the book of Daniel where Daniel talks about the destruction of the city of Babylon and that King Belshazzar was the king. They said there was no record of him being king. They had a record of this King Nabonidus, the record show was king during the fall of Babylon. And you remember the story hopefully, King Belshazzar saw God’s hand writing on the wall, Daniel came and interpreted the writing for him and that night Babylon was overrun by the Medes. Well, that stuff didn’t happen because there was no Belshazzar. And then, surprise, surprise, surprise, they found an obelisk in the desert talking about King Nabonidus, he took a sabbatical, a 10-year sabbatical to go build a temple and worship the sun-god out in the desert somewhere. And he left his son, Belshazzar, to reign in his place. Then, there is Pontius Pilate, I love this one. Historians could find no records, no writings anywhere about Pontius Pilate, nowhere. In 1961, surprise, surprise, surprise, they were digging in a place called Caesarea. If you’re going with me to Israel, we’re going to go to this place. It’s unbelievable. It’s one of my favorite places to go. We can get a pretty good idea of where the prison was where they had the Apostle Paul. Anyway, they found a monument dedicated to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea. And if you go with me, we’ll walk up and look at it, you can put your hands on it. Actually, it’s copies of it, the real one they took out of there and put into a museum. But, you can touch it. Here’s a quote from Nelson Gluck. I like it. He’s a famous archeologist and you wouldn’t even know the name (I never heard of it before) but this guy is famous if you’re into that kind of thing, if you’re into archeology:
“It may be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.”

Now, I don’t know why he used the word ‘controverted’. I didn’t know what that meant. I had to go look it up and it means “serious argument”. There has never been a serious argument. Jonah really did get swallowed by a whale. Moses really did get the ten commandments. The Israelites were led by a cloud of fire and a cloud. Those Egyptians really did die in the Red Sea.

4 – Prophecy

The fourth evidence is Prophecy. This is another interesting one. Fulfilled prophecy distinguishes the Bible from any other religious book. There isn’t any other religious book that has hundreds and hundreds of prophesies that have already been fulfilled like the Bible. And a lot of these prophecies in the Old Testament were given 1500 – 1900 years before anything ever happened. Isaiah chapter 11, verses 11 and 12, this is 700 years before Jesus, Isaiah prophesied that there would come a time when the Jews would be scattered all over the 4 corners of the world and that God, at a certain time in history, would bring them all back to Israel, to Palestine, to Canaan. We’ve seen that in our lifetime. Starting in the 1930s, the Jews, as they tried to escape the Nazis, there were some very interesting stories. I just finished reading a book called Rediscovering the History of Israel. I highly recommend it if you are into that stuff. Rediscovering the History of Israel by David Brog. Mark, my brother, suggested that I read it and whenever he suggests a book, I always read it and it’s good. It’s very interesting how the state of Israel came to be. And, what I like about it, is the author really tries to be objective and he really shows both sides of the equation and it’s really good. But anyway, from the 1930s miraculously, Jews started coming back to Israel. Ezekiel 26, it would take me too long to go through it because Ezekiel 26, the prophet Ezekiel prophesied about the destruction of the city of Tyre 1900 years before it happened. Seven distinct things, every single one of them happened. I mean, there he was, he makes this pronouncement against Tyre and talks about building this thing out to an island and all of them escaping and there is no bridge, nothing. It’s just amazing what he predicted 1900 years concerning this city of Tyre. Daniel chapter 9, now this is really interesting, and I thought about getting into it with more detail but it would take me a while, so look at it yourself, google it, print it out, read it. In Daniel chapter 9, Daniel says that from the time that there is a decree, a Babylonian decree to rebuild Jerusalem, (remember that? the remnant came back to rebuild Jerusalem) 483 years after that, Jesus the Messiah would come to Jerusalem. Four hundred-eighty-three years later, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, amazing! So, you know, I’m kind of skeptical. I asked Jim Deyling, I told him, this is what I am studying, this is what I find and I told him I want him to as well and he said “Dave, I was kind of skeptical myself but it’s absolutely true!” Amazing! I know I studied that before years and years ago but just to be reminded of it was mind-boggling. There are over 100 specific prophesies about Jesus in the Old Testament. People have counted up to 320 something, but there are 100 of them that everyone agrees, if you read it, you would say that is a prophesy about Jesus. A mathematician by the name of Peter Stoner said that Jesus fulfilling 8 of these prophecies…prophecies that he had no control over, the probability of that is 1 in ten to the 17th power. The number is 100,000,000,000,000,000. Believe me, I am not good at math. When my kids passed the 7th grade, I was in trouble. You know what is the first thing I thought about when I saw that number? Our national debt. It’s only a matter of time before we find out what that number is.

5 – Unique effect

The fifth evidence is unique effect. The Bible has to be true because of the effect it has on people. How many of you have heard God speak to you specifically through the Word of God? Encourage you, give you direction, counsel. And how many of you, when you gave your life to Jesus and you started following what is said in the Word, your life changed dramatically. I mean radically changed. The way you thought, the way you think. And it wasn’t that hard. I remember going to bed one day thinking that abortion was okay and getting up the next morning knowing for certain it was wrong. What is the difference? I was born again, that is all that happened.

There are hundreds of millions of testimonies around the world today of how living this Bible, trying to live it in your life, trying to do what it prescribes has worked amazingly in their life. There is everything you know about marriages, raising children, everything. Jesus said you can have an abundant life. I’m 64 years old, at 22 I came to the Lord, I was a complete psychological, emotional mess. I was seeing a psychiatrist. No one would have ever thought that I would be standing in front of people telling them anything. I was afraid to go out of the house. I had such irrational fears. I was on stuff, whatever the doctors gave me, I can’t even remember anymore. When I think back then and what God has done with me, it’s been an abundant life. I have 3 kids who love Jesus and I can say it right now, you can take all my money, you can take everything, I don’t have to worry about it. Listen, if all your children love Jesus, there is no greater blessing. And if you have a prodigal, let’s pray, “Lord, I pray for them right now, we lift up these prodigals right now. Lord, it is my sincere desire that every Christian parent sitting in this auditorium today could feel like I do, to know that their children love you and will live for you.”

Here’s another thing, the Bible is uniquely different than any other religious book in that it is relevant for any society anytime in history. You can take the Bible and go talk to a mathematician, an accountant in Chicago and tell them about Jesus and share the gospel and give them the Bible or you can go to the Amazon Valley and find a tribesman who has never heard about Jesus, anything. Now, they can’t read the Bible but you can tell them about it and they can understand it and it is relevant to them. Do you understand that? That is unbelievable! That has to be supernatural. The Qur’an, what a mixed-up book. The reason why there is so much chaos in Islam is because what Mohammad was talking about in the early part of his life is different from how he talks later in his life. He was talking more peace and loving in the first part and more jihadist and killing in the second. So, it contradicts itself. So, as a Muslim, really what part of the Qur’an are you emphasizing? The Bible is not like that. And how the Qur’an wants you to live, it doesn’t work in modern society. It worked in the 12th or 13th century. How many ladies in here want to wear a burka? How many women would like to be slaves? Let your husband beat on you. The Bible claims to be Holy Spirit guided, written by God through men and therefore is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:20-21

Now, I know I am reading something into this but I think Peter was writing this out of experience. When he was writing things, he had felt the Holy Spirit guide him in his writing.
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

1 Corinthians 2:12-13

I don’t know exactly what he is talking about but I know that he has got to be talking about him writing things and speaking things that God told him to say.
The evidence that this Book is the Word of God is overwhelming, and I’ve only touched on it. I hope you understand that. Whole books have been written, seminary courses have been taught. A gentleman over here teaches at our high school and he teaches a whole class on this and tries to fill those little mush brains with as much truth as possible, hallelujah! This is the Word of God.