Thursday, October 2, 2008


Part One is below.In the last post, we looked at the first test to see if the Bible is a reliable and true document by looking at the similarity of the oldest manuscripts which date very close to the time when they were first written, as compared to the Bible scriptures that exist today. The evidence is overwhelming in showing that the Bible is reliable and true.Let's look at the second Historicity test: Internal Evidence.Now, even though the bibliographical test showed that what was written originally is basically the same as what we have now, it is important to know if the written record itself is credible, and whether the witnesses were truthful. This means that someone studying a document has to look at the claims of the document- not to assume the authors were deceitful or fraudulent, unless proof is without a doubt.The ability of the author, or witness to tell the truth is a help to the historian to figure credibility and reliability. It is also imperative to understand or know about the witnesses close ties both geographical and to time of the events that are written about. Since the Bible- we'll go with the New Testament for now, is written about the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, we need to know how reliable the men who wrote all of this down were- either men who themselves knew Jesus, or others who were witnesses or disciples. Let's start with Luke- who did not know Jesus personally. He was a companion and loyal friend of Paul, most likely gentile (not a Jew) and well educated in Greek culture, and was a physician. He shows that he knows of other authors of the life and times of Jesus, but instead of relying on these authors, he personally investigated and arranged testimonies of eyewitnesses and the earliest Christian disciples, including the oral accounts of the Apostles. What I have always found so interesting is Luke's precise detailing of people and places of the times. He includes names and places that none of the other Gospel writers included, but careful archaeological and historical studies have shown evidence of the names and places in which Luke included.Some of Luke's writings includes these passages, "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus." Also, "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrach of Galillee, and his brother Phillip was tetrach of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrach of Abaline..."The careful detail to names and regions show not only Luke's knowledge of the time, but have been shown through historical and archaeological evidence to have been true.Now let's look at Peter, who was one of Jesus' closest companions and disciples. Peter says, "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,but we were eye witnesses of His Majesty."Note that Peter tells of their own personal witness- Peter was one of the three who were on the mountain with Jesus as He was transfigured and Moses and Elijah appeared, and he was one of the first to witness the resurrected Christ after His crucifixion.John, Jesus' closest disciple, the one Jesus said He loves, say. "What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ." Also, "And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe."Now, it's easy to say that these men wanted to start this new religion so they could still be claiming things that weren't true, but the New Testament accounts of Jesus began circulating within the lifetimes of these witnesses- they knew that any truths that they proclaimed would be either denied or affirmed . Even when confronted by enemies and most severe critics- these men "stuck" with their accounts. Everything they claimed, they stated things like "We saw", We heard"- but they could also say to their critics "You saw too!" or "You heard too!" Now, if I made a claim like that to my enemy, knowing it wasn't true- I'd have it thrown right back at me, but if it's true, my enemies can't refute it.It wasn't only friendly eyewitnesses that these men had to talk to- there were many others who hated Jesus, and His disciples- yet knew of the truth of Jesus' teachings, claims of His deity, His death and also His resurrection. One of the strongest arguments showing the authenticity of the New Testament Scriptures is not only based on the apostles eyewitness accounts, but also on the evidence from people who were their biggest critics.Consider the fact that all of the disciples except for John were executed for their testimonies. And by executing, we're talking very painful and extremely gory deaths- yet these men never deviated from their eyewitness accounts. John was the only one who died of old age, but he was also in exile- yet he went on to preach the Word of the Gospel, and also to write the last book of the Bible- the Book of Revelation.There is just no way that men would make up wild stories such as is written in the whole of the New Testament, suffer, and die for these false tales- unless they were truth. Next time, we'll look at the last test for determining the reliability and truth of the Bible- External Evidence.

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