Why Should We Trust The Bible?

Examining The Question, "Is The Bible The True Word Of God?".

Alan Shlemon
Oct 3, 2021    45m
This message teaches us ways to test the question, "Is the Bible the true word of God?". It gives us a physical cue using our hand to remember ways to test its truth. It teaches us to use the thumb to remind us that the Bible supernaturally and positively changes lives. Second, the pointing finger reminds us that the Bible points to history. Third, the big finger reminds us that the Bible answers the big questions of life. Fourth, the ring finger will help us to remember the Bible has supernatural unity. Next, the little finger reminds us of the pinky prophecy; the Bible predicts the future. Finally, our fist will remind us that the Bible is a fighter. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Alan Shlemon: [00:00:04] Yes, thank you. Well, good morning.

Alan Shlemon: [00:00:11] You know, my parents were born in the city of Baghdad, Iraq, which, by the way, is not a great vacation destination. In case you're thinking about going there for a little summer or winter trip, just hold off for the next two thousand years until things like settle down, man, it's crazy. But you know, my parents did not raise my brother and I as Muslims, they actually raised us as Christians, and their reason is, my people, my ethnic background is called Assyrian. Now, this is not to be confused with Syrians, which are from the country Syria, which is a country that exists today. My people are from the country called Assyria, which is a country that has not existed for two thousand seven hundred years.

Alan Shlemon: [00:00:56] So just out of curiosity, raise your hand if you've ever heard of the Assyrian people at some point in your life. It looks like a lot of you have. Chances are, if you've read any parts of the Old Testament, you'll recall my people are talked about in the Old Testament. Which sounds pretty cool until you realize we were the sworn enemies of Israel, so, consequently, that made us the sworn enemies of God. So that was kind of a bummer growing up and being handed that truth, you know, it's like a lot of therapy and counseling, though, I kind of got over the emotional turmoil.

Alan Shlemon: [00:01:29] Well, anyway, enough about my problems. Let's talk about this book. And I want to ask you, what kind of book is the Bible? Now, it seems to me there are only two possible options, number one is the Bible is a book written by man about God, or the other option is the Bible is a book by God given to man? Now, if the Bible is a book written by men, then it's going to be limited, it'll be flawed, it'll only have natural characteristics. You know, you can read, it might be interesting, might have some great history, but ultimately, it's not going to really change your life. However, if the Bible is a book by God given to men, then it's the most important book ever written in the history of books. Because the being, the same being, that spoke the universe into existence and wrote the language of DNA in your body is the same being that spoke the words in this book. And if it's that being who wrote this book, then it's going to have supernatural characteristics, there's going to be clues and pieces of evidence that are going to lead us to conclude that this is more than just an average ordinary book, and so it's going to have a supernatural origin.

Alan Shlemon: [00:02:57] And so I want to suggest to you that this morning we're going to try to answer the question, has God spoken? And if he has, how would we be able to figure that out based on looking at the characteristics of this book? And so what I want to do is provide for you six reasons why we can trust the Bible, why we can trust the Bible is the inspired word of God, and we're going to use those six reasons to build what I call a cumulative case. In other words, not one of those single six pieces of evidence will be enough to sort of make our point or show our view to be true, but I believe as you take all six of those points and add them together, it builds what I call a cumulative case and I think that'll be a lot more persuasive.

Alan Shlemon: [00:03:46] Now to help you memorize these six points, we're going to pair each of them with a part of your hand. Ok, I know you're thinking, wait a minute, there are only five fingers, and you have six points, which I'll get to that. But by doing this, this will allow you to help you remember what these points are, and that way, you always have the evidence kind of at your fingertips, if you will, provided you don't lose your fingers in the future, OK? So but assuming you don't, then you'll always have these, and if not, you can use someone else's hand to remember what they are.

Alan Shlemon: [00:04:16] All right. Ok, so let's begin, let's look at the first one. And the first point I want to offer is the thumb, ok, so if you'd all take out your thumbs and whip them out like this and hold them up as if you're giving a thumbs up to people, right? Now, when we do that, and you can put them down, now, when we do that, that typically is a sign that things are good, things are happening, things are positive, all right? And so the thumbs-up sign is going to be a way to help us remember that the Bible supernaturally changes lives. Ok? The Bible supernaturally changes lives, of course, for the positive. And what I mean by that, is that when people follow the Bible's teachings consistently, something happens, that is people become transformed by Scripture, and as a result of their transformation, they then transform the culture around them in positive ways.

Alan Shlemon: [00:05:12] Let me just give you four quick examples. Hospitals and medical clinics have been built by Christians all over the world. In fact, just one Christian denomination, just one, is responsible for building five thousand five hundred hospitals and eighteen thousand medical clinics around the world. Ok. And these, by the way, sixty-five percent of these clinics and hospitals are in developing countries. Now you might ask, well, why are Christians so concerned about people's health? Well, again, it's because they've been transformed by the Scriptures that tell them that all people are valuable and no matter what their disease, what their disability is, we are supposed to have compassion for them and care for them and do whatever we can to love the sick, just like Jesus did, so that's one reason.

Alan Shlemon: [00:06:03] Number two, there have been many universities that have been started across the world, but if we're talking about just the United States, many universities have been started by Christians. Now, do you know what the first university was that was started in the United States? It was Harvard University. Harvard University began in 1636, and do you know who started it? Christians. Actually, Harvard University was begun by Christians to equip and train clergy so they could be prepared for ministry work. In fact, it was started by a guy named John Harvard, who was a pastor. And if you could see here, this is one of the buildings at Harvard, and I have here printed in the PowerPoint there it says Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. This is what's chiseled in one of the buildings over there at Harvard, which is evidence of its Christian origins. Now, not only was Harvard University started by Christians, but even other prestigious universities like Yale and Princeton were all started by Christians. In fact, of the first one hundred and eight colleges that began in the United States, the first one hundred and six of them were all started by Christians.

Alan Shlemon: [00:07:17] Now again, we might ask the question, why are Christians so interested in education, in higher education colleges? Well, again, the answer is because they've been transformed by Scripture that teaches them that God is the one who made the world, and God is a God of order, and the world is organized and understandable. And we can learn about it, we can discover it, we can discover the truth, and there's wisdom and virtue to be learned through education. And, of course, because Christians have been transformed by Scripture, they want other people to also be transformed and impacted by education, and of course, that impacts culture in a positive way.

Alan Shlemon: [00:07:57] Let me give you a third example, William Wilberforce was a British politician who began his career in the British Parliament back in 1784. Just a year after he began working in parliament, he became a Christian, and then a few years later became painfully aware of England's participation in the slave trade and the trafficking of Africans to the United States. And then he spent the next 20 years of his life, and of his career, working to end slavery. And if you know the story, maybe you saw the movie Amazing Grace, which is a movie it was done in the last 20 or so years, that depicts the life of William Wilberforce, you know that he finally succeeded after a tremendous amount of opposition, a tremendous amount of personal cost, he succeeded by having the Slave Trade Act of 1807 passed. Now, by outlawing the trade of slaves, he in effect ended slavery. So he didn't end slavery per se, but he ended the trade of slaves, which then ended slavery altogether.

Alan Shlemon: [00:09:06] Ok, now, again, we might ask, well, why did William Wilberforce care so much about ending slavery, like what's the big deal? Well, he answers this in his own writings, he said, "The Scriptures teach us that we are all equal because Christ has eliminated all distinctions." And then he goes on to say, "That it's this principle of Scripture that forbids our keeping the Africans, any more than our own fellow subjects, in a state of slavery. So notice William Wilberforce was supernaturally transformed by Scripture, and he learned that God made human beings, that they are made in God's image, that human beings are free creatures that cannot be owned. And this truth, this realization, and that transformation, ultimately impacted also the lives of hundreds and thousands of people.

Alan Shlemon: [00:09:59] Let me give you one fourth and final example here. It's a story of Rachel Denhollander, who maybe you have heard of because her story and the story of many others like her have been in the national news for, I don't know, several years now. But she was a 15-year-old Christian home-schooled girl who wanted to pursue a career in gymnastics, but because of some injuries, she wasn't able to complete that particular hope and dream, and so she sought out the medical care of a doctor at Michigan State University. Now, unfortunately, instead of that doctor healing her, he began to abuse her. And when she finally reported the incident, another two hundred and fifty other girls came out and reported that they had been abused by this man as well, this guy was eventually sentenced to one hundred and seventy-five years of prison time, incredible. And one of the things was that the court said, if you've been a victim, you're allowed at his sentencing to show up and to say something to this man who had done this horrible, abusive thing. And so, Rachel Denhollander was, I think, the first to be able to speak, and I want to just highlight something that she said when she looked at this man who had wronged her in this way. She said, "The Bible carries a final judgment where all of God's wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. And that is what makes the Gospel of Christ so sweet because it extends grace, and hope, and mercy, where none should be found, and it will be there for you." She says, "I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so that you might someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me, though, I extend that to you as well." Did you catch that? After being abused for years, and scarred for life, she looks at this sexual predator in the eyes and says, I forgive you. How in the world does that happen? Well, the answer is it doesn't, it doesn't happen in this world, this is an otherworldly kind of thing, right? It's only because, what she learned through Scripture, and experiencing the grace of God herself, that she was able to be transformed and turn around and look at someone in the eye who has done what has done to her and say to him, I forgive you.

Alan Shlemon: [00:12:35] This is why I say the thumb reminds us that the Bible supernaturally and positively changes lives. So now we can turn to the next finger on your hand, and that's the finger that we typically point with, right, we call it a pointing finger, and the pointing finger is going to remind us that the Bible points to history. After all, a book by God sort of needs to get its history right, correct? And so the question we want to ask here is, were the writers of Scripture purporting to write fables or facts?

Alan Shlemon: [00:13:10] Now, the Bible certainly claims to be telling history, I mean, that's the way it comes off as, hey, look, we're trying to report history. In fact, I want to give you an amazing example of this, the beginning of The Gospel of Luke, we see Luke in his very first four first verses, I want you to see how he begins his gospel account. This is what he writes, "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 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; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught." I mean, think about Luke, who's a physician, and how he's beginning his gospel. He's saying, I want to compile an account, I've investigated everything carefully, I've talked to eyewitnesses, I want to put it in a consecutive order. Why? So that you might know the exact truth about what has happened. Right? Notice the way he writes, does not signal to anyone that what he's about to talk about is mythical creatures, and fantasy, and fiction. Not at all, right?

Alan Shlemon: [00:14:33] In fact, if you were to hear a story begin. How would it begin in such a way where it's going to signal to you that what's about to follow is a myth, or fantasy, or fiction? I submit to you it looks something like this. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Right? For those of you who are Star Wars fans, you know, this is the beginning of virtually every Star Wars movie. And as soon as you see this, you know that what's about to follow is pure fantasy fiction, right? Or, hey, once upon a time, there was a princess, and she was trapped in a castle. Right, these are the kinds of literature cues that signal to us that what's about to follow is fiction.

Alan Shlemon: [00:15:15] But of course, this is not how the gospel writers, or any of the biblical authors, write. And the amazing thing about the Bible's references to history is that you can go and actually test them. You can go to the Holy Land, for example, walk around and see these places for yourself. I've had the privilege, in fact, for the last several years to go to Israel and teach in the West Bank, and to teach to Palestinian Christians and Muslims, and it's just been a remarkable opportunity. But while I've been there, I've been able to go around and kind of do this like test and see, what are the things that the Bible is claiming about? Can we go and investigate them? Can we see them? You know, I went to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, it's a real city, right? I've walked along the Sea of Galilee, and I've been to Capernaum where Jesus walked, I've been outside the Temple Wall in Jerusalem. I even visited Jacob's well, which was a well that was built 4000 years ago, and it's a place that actually a lot of tourists don't typically go because it's kind of deep inside sort of the West Bank territory. But because I was spending so much time there, I had some friends who took me to this area where it's sort of like modern-day Shechem, you know, there are actually a few remnants of some Samaritans that still live there, believe it or not. But that well is still there, and it still has water running through it. In fact, I was like, man, this is the well that Jesus met the Samaritan woman at, I am dropping a pail down that thing. So we rolled down a pail all the way to the bottom, drilled some water brought it back up and I had to drink from it. I'm like, I don't care how dirty it is, OK, this is the same water that Jesus drank out of, this is amazing, right?

Alan Shlemon: [00:16:54] So it's amazing that the things the Bible references aren't just, you know, fantasy, they're real places, real events, real people. But not everyone is a believer in the Bible's accuracy, right? In fact, there have been many archaeologists who have questioned the trustworthiness of the Bible's references to people, places, and events. So for example, at a time there's many archaeologists, Israeli archaeologists, who doubted that Bethlehem even existed at the time when Jesus was alleged to have been born. Of course, that would be a big problem if it's true. And so people say, well, it probably didn't exist, after all, the Bible's full of fables and myths, until they discovered a small, 1.5-centimeter clay piece called a bulla which is used to kind of seal documents, and it names the city of Bethlehem six hundred years before Jesus was born. And they were like, oh, wow, I guess the Bible was correct about that, Ok, we take it back. All right, it's accurate when it comes to the Bible's reference to Bethlehem.

Alan Shlemon: [00:18:01] Many people also said, oh, yes, we see the Bible reference crucifixion and that Jesus had nails driven through his feet, but that's not really historically accurate, that typically didn't happen, we don't have evidence of crucifixion using nails in people's feet. Except they discovered an ossuary that held the bones of a person who was crucified in the first century, and guess what they discovered through his heel bone, a seven-inch nail? And they're like, oh, ok, we take it back. All right, I guess it is accurate when it comes to the crucifixion.

Alan Shlemon: [00:18:34] People said, oh, the story of Pontius Pilate in Luke 3:1, right? This is an interesting story, you know, the Bible names Pontius Pilate as being a person who presided over the trial of Jesus, but you know, again, it's probably some made up person that didn't really exist. Until guess what, archaeologists discovered a limestone tablet that had Pontius Pilate prefect of Judea chiseled in it. Notice the Bible gets the correct name, the correct title, and the correct jurisdiction, the Bible gets incidental little details exactly correct.

Alan Shlemon: [00:19:14] The story of the pool of Bethesda, which is a story that we see in the Gospel of John, where Jesus heals some people at this pool. And in the story, it says the pool had five porticos, porticos are sort of like benches that you would have in a pool that people can sit in so they could kind of be resting there and put their legs or other body parts in the pool. Many people said, oh, you know, great story, but probably didn't actually exist for real. Until they were installing new sewer lines in Jerusalem, and guess what they discovered? The pool of Bethesda, I had to get a selfie when I was there. And guess what, the pool Bethesda has, guess what, five porticos, just like the Scriptures say. Again, incidental little details, the Bible gets exactly correct.

Alan Shlemon: [00:20:04] You probably also are familiar with the story about Hezekiah's tunnel. This is a tunnel created by King Hezekiah, at least allegedly according to Scriptures, and the reason why King Hezekiah did this is because he anticipated this wicked group of people called the Assyrians who are going to come and attack Israel, Ok? I know, I have a bad history, Ok. But the thing about this is is that we Assyrians had a particular form of attack, we would lay siege to various cities. Now here's how a siege would work, we perfected this, we would come to a city and instead of just attacking it directly, we would just surround the city, set up camp, whip out our video game consoles and just play, you know, Call of Duty for, like, you know, a couple of weeks. And the reason we would do that is because it prevents people who are in the city to get out and get food or water, and sometimes people eventually run out of resources, they get sick, they get weak, they get tired. And then when they're just sort of all depleted and deflated and just don't have any energy, then we go and attack them, and it's a lot easier to conquer people. We are very smart, you know. Now, King Hezekiah, however, anticipated that he thought, ok, well, here's what we're going to do, there are natural springs over here, why don't we create a tunnel to channel that water underneath Jerusalem over to this pool? That way, we have access to fresh water while, you know, a siege is being laid on us. Great idea, right? Dig a tunnel, like a thousand or so feet long, through solid rock under Jerusalem. Ok, now it worked, and the Assyrians were defeated. I'm a little bit bitter about that, I should be getting over it because it's been a few thousand years, but, you know, we hold on to things too long, for sure. So it worked, now again, great story, amazing thing. But come on, this can't possibly be real, right, it is just a fictitious story. Until guess what, they discovered Hezekiah's tunnel. And I walked through it recently, it is one thousand seven hundred and fifty feet long through solid rock. Ok? And guess what, there's still water going through it to this day, thousands of years later. I mean, this is amazing, how would Hezekiah's engineers do this without GPS, right? I went in there, I didn't have any cell phone access, so how do they do it? It's amazing. And what's even more incredible, the springs is over here right, and the pool's over here, the vertical drop from the springs to the pool is only 30 centimeters, that's like one foot. So Hezekiah's engineers managed to convey water across a .06 gradient for one thousand seven hundred and fifty feet. That is incredible to be able to do that in that time, but again, this is what tells us, man, the Bible, when it makes references to certain events in history, and people, and places, it gets it all correct. Why? Because the Bible points to history, and that's what our pointing finger helps us to remember.

Alan Shlemon: [00:23:19] So now we could turn to the big fingers, so the big finger, this finger will remind us that the Bible answers the big questions of life. It has, if you will, supernatural insight. So for example, there are questions like, well, what is the meaning of life? Is there a God? What is he like? Are human beings merely animals, or are we special? What is the problem with humanity? What is the problem of evil? Why is there evil? What's the solution to evil? There are all kinds of questions, and I'm sure you're probably thinking, well, Alan, lots of religions have answers to these questions, lots of worldviews have answers to these questions, and I'll grant you they do. But I would submit to you that their answers do not seem consistent with the way we perceive the world.

Alan Shlemon: [00:24:11] Take Hinduism, for example, Hinduism is a pantheistic religion, that's the worldview that God and the Universe are just one of the same, OK? And pantheism says that the Universe is eternal, which if you consider what scientific research has shown, that's not the case, scientific research suggests that the universe must have begun at a finite distance in the past. Hinduism also says that all distinctions are an illusion, it's called Maya in Hinduism, it's illusory. So the distinction between good and evil is not a real distinction, it's an illusion. The distinction between you and God is not a real distinction, it's an illusion. And so do you see why I say some of these statements, these answers, don't seem to make sense or be consistent with the way we perceive reality, right? Good and evil seem to be actually different things. I am not God, you are not God, these seem to be really obvious. And I think actually most Hindus don't believe it themselves, and I don't mean to say that they don't believe it, I mean, they don't live it in a way that shows they believe it. For example, I see Hindus make distinctions all the time, right? When they come to cross a street, do you know what Hindus always do? They look both ways, right? Because they want to know whether the distinction is real, whether there is a truck barreling down the road or there isn't, those two things are not one of the same. Or if they have to take a white pill, they want to know, is it aspirin or is it arsenic? Right? These distinctions are real, and they want to be aware of them. So even though they say distinctions aren't real, they seem to live in a way that presumes that they are real.

Alan Shlemon: [00:25:59] Let me consider another world view, the world view of naturalism. Naturalism is the idea that nature is all there is, so naturalism says there is no God, there is no soul, there is no heaven, there is no spiritual things, only physical matter sort of exists in the universe. Well, on this view, human beings turn out to be the kind of creatures that are created by a blind and undirected force like evolution, and so the same forces that led to the emergence of humans also led to the emergence of cows and cockroaches and crickets and all those other things. And so it turns out on the view of naturalism, that human beings are no more significant than a swarm of mosquitoes. We also, if naturalism is true, do not have a soul because souls don't exist, spiritual things don't exist, we are merely a physical object. And if we're a physical object, this, of course, raises the question, how can we possibly have free will because physical objects like chairs and staplers and cars don't have free will? So how can we possibly have free will if we're just a physical object, right? Also, how does naturalism account for human equality, right? We have a raging discussion or a culture today about racism, about equality, about human equality, what makes every person equal to other people? Well, according to naturalism, we're only a physical object, and if that's the case, what physical characteristic does every person on Earth share equally? Nothing, right, every single person on Earth is different, some people are taller than other people, some people could run faster, some people have more melanin in their skin, some people are better at piano, some people are better at math. There is not a single quality that we all share equally, in the same degree, that can ground human equality. Also, naturalism says that there are no objective moral rules, and by the word objective I mean, there is no moral standard out there that says this is right and this is wrong that every human is obligated to follow. And if that's the case, then what makes torturing little babies for fun wrong? On naturalism's view, nothing, there's nothing that says that's wrong. I might say I would never torture a little baby for fun, and you might never torture a little baby for fun, but it's not wrong in the sense that there's some standard out there that says it's wrong, it's just wrong because I don't like it. So do you see how when we look at naturalism and its implications, it doesn't have ideas and consequences that seem intuitive or consistent with the way we perceive reality?

Alan Shlemon: [00:28:48] And so, by contrast, I would submit to you that the Bible has supernatural insight into these questions and answers them in a way that makes sense of common sense notions that we believe today. For example, is the universe eternal? The Bible says no, the universe began to exist at a finite time in the past. Which, again, is consistent with what we know scientists to say. Right? And if the universe began to exist, there must have been a beginner, something that caused the universe to begin, and whatever that was, it must be incredibly powerful, it must be very intelligent, right, because it's got to be able to create all of space, time, and matter out of nothing and make it appear. Well, that's incredible, whatever that thing is, it's incredibly powerful, like the way we believe God is.

Alan Shlemon: [00:29:36] Is man special, is mankind special? Are we more than just simply animals? Well, again, Scripture says we are, and the reason we are is because we're made in the image of God, something that animals do not have. And so, yes, it is maybe not wrong to squash a mosquito, but it is wrong to squash a human being because we are made in God's image. And so we intuitively recognize that, and the Bible makes sense of that.

Alan Shlemon: [00:30:01] And what about human equality? The Bible says that every human being is made in the image of God. And I want you to think about this, being made in the image of God is the one quality that every human being shares equally. Notice it is not a degreed property, you can't have more of the image of God or less of the image of God, right? You either have the image of God or you don't, and this is why we can ground human equality based on this idea. The reason why Martin Luther King Jr. was able to make his case for the civil rights of African Americans, was because he was a Baptist pastor and he believed in the image of God, and that's what grounds human equality. Notice then that the Bible makes sense of this very notion that our entire culture and world is debating right now. I can go on and on, this is just a few examples of how the Bible again answers the big questions of life.

Alan Shlemon: [00:31:01] All right, so let's turn to the next finger, and that's what we often call the ring finger, because typically if you're married, you might have a wedding band on there and a wedding band is kind of a symbol of unity. And this finger will help us to remember the Bible has supernatural unity. In other words, despite its diverse origins, the Bible is incredibly unified, very unified, in a couple of ways.

Alan Shlemon: [00:31:30] First, let me just remind you of its diversity, the Bible is composed of about 66 books, so it's not even just one book, it's really 66 books written by 40 different authors, over one thousand five hundred years of time, which means these authors did not know each other, I mean, some did, but the vast majority of them did not. The Bible was written on three different continents, Africa, Asia, and Europe. It was written in three different languages Hebrew, Greek and a little bit of it's in Aramaic. The Bible is written in different genres, which is different literary styles, so you have like poetry, you have narrative, you have law, you have proverbs, you have apocalyptic literature, you can go on and on a whole bunch of different styles of literature. It's written in different environments, like some of it's written in dungeons, some of it's written in battlefields, some of it's written in the wilderness, some of it's written in jails, some of it's written in palaces.

Alan Shlemon: [00:32:24] Yet, despite all of this incredible diversity, the Bible has incredible unity in two particular ways. The first is this, the God that is described in Scripture, this being that the authors of Scripture have interacted with all report this God to be exactly the same way as each of the others report him to be like. In other words, he is a God who is of love, of justice, of forgiveness, of grace, and of mercy. And everybody who interacts with his personal being describes as God in exactly the same way. Second, there is a single unifying message from Genesis to Revelation in the Bible, right? What is that message? Well, it's very simple, right, we know that God creates humanity, humanity rebels, God's seeking to punish humanity, but he also loves humanity, so he intervenes in humanity to restore, and reconcile, and redeem humanity. And this plan, this story, this single unifying message was not evident to any single author, but every author who contributed to Scripture contributed to that unifying message, and sort of like adding pieces of the puzzle, they all added a piece of the puzzle that made the grand picture of what we see is that single unifying message.

Alan Shlemon: [00:33:51] I mean, just imagine for a moment if we were to all go home today and get some cardboard, some cardboard paper, you know, and cut out some pieces and paint them any color we wanted to paint them. And we come back next week and we bring all these cardboard pieces that we've all cut and painted and we put them together here and they all happen to fit together and create a painting or a picture like the Mona Lisa. What would we say about that, man, there must be something going on other than just merely natural causes, there must be something supernatural going on. And that would be an appropriate conclusion, right, because that doesn't happen by a chance. In the same way, you can't have all the pieces of the puzzle, and all these different authors and all different diversity, coming together to form a single unifying message. And this is why I say the Bible has supernatural unity, which is evidence that it comes from a single author.

Alan Shlemon: [00:34:49] So let's do a quick review here, ok, so we got the thumb, the thumb reminds us that Bible supernaturally does what? Changes lives, right, ok. The pointy finger points to what? History. The big finger answers the big what? Questions. The ring finger, the ring of what? Unity, right, it's unified. Now we turn to the little finger, the pinky finger, and we'll do a little bit of alliteration here, and I'll say the pinky prophecy. So that's kind of how we're going to remember it, the pinky prophecy, the Bible predicts the future.

Alan Shlemon: [00:35:24] All right, now, if the Bible is written by God, we would expect that God knows the future, we might see some ways in which God is predicting certain events. Now I understand, and hopefully, you do too, that when we talk about prophecy in the Bible, not all prophecy is about telling the future. Most prophecy is prophets of God calling out people for their wrong behavior, especially Israel and others, right? Or just simply, you know, speaking truth that God has commanded. So a lot of prophecy is more like forth-telling rather than foretelling.

Alan Shlemon: [00:36:01] But still, what I want to do is look just at this foretelling component, the ability to know the future, right? And the reason why is because fulfilled prophecy in the Bible is so accurate it looks like it is history written after the events took place in order to make sure it gets exactly right, that's how incredibly accurate it is. Now there are many categories of biblical prophecy that you could talk about, I'm just going to mention one of them, and that is messianic prophecies, right? So messianic prophecies are simply predictions about the upcoming Messiah, who would be Jesus, right? And we see the Bible get incredibly small details precisely correct when it prophesies about what the Messiah will be like. For example, the Messiahs' family tree, the Bible predicts he will come from the human race, he'll be from the seat of Abraham, he'll be from the tribe of Judah, and from the House of David, right? The Bible also predicts in Micah, his birthplace, that he'll be born in Bethlehem. And then the Bible even predicts the nature of the Messiah's death, and this is something that we see in Psalm 22, there's also a number of these statements in Isaiah 53, as well, which are incredible, right? We see that they pierced his hands and his feet, which is, you know, clearly a reference to crucifixion, right? You know, you're driving nails through your hands as your feet. What's interesting, though, it says, "I can count all my bones." Meaning none of his bones will be broken, which again, is what we see happen to Jesus. "They divide my garments among them, they cast lots for my clothing." Which are all things that happened to Jesus. And keep in mind, this was written one thousand years before Jesus ever showed up, and six hundred years before crucifixion even was a thing in the Roman Empire. And yet it seems like details about what crucifixion would be like are shown here in Psalm 22. So how can such precise details be known a thousand, or sometimes thousands of years, before they occur? Well, if the ultimate author of the Bible is God himself, that's what we would expect, that the Bible predicts the future, pinky prophecy.

Alan Shlemon: [00:38:25] Ok, so we have one final point, which is the sixth point, and this is where we take our five fingers and we kind of make a fist out of them, and the fist is usually the thing that if you happen to be in a fistfight, is about fighting, and so the fist will remind us that the Bible is a fighter, it has demonstrated supernatural survival through time and persecution. And again, this shouldn't surprise us because the Bible talks about this, the prophet Isaiah says, "The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever." Jesus even said in Matthew, he says, "Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words will not pass away." And this is precisely what has transpired because there have been many, many powerful attempts to destroy the Bible. Right, it's been criticized and ridiculed by skeptics for years, banned by rulers and tyrants, it's been burned by its enemies, but the Bible still remains.

Alan Shlemon: [00:39:27] In fact, it's interesting at the beginning of the fourth century, the church faced some of the most intense persecution the church has ever faced. Diocletian became the Roman emperor, and he issued a number of edicts against Christianity, one of them was to level every single church, and the other one was to burn every Bible. And in fact, after that edict had been issued, it was Diocletian that actually boasted about his success. Listen to what he said, "I have completely exterminated the Christian writings from the face of the Earth." Wow, we all know how that went, right? I mean, not only did not happen, but the next Roman emperor, Constantine became a Christian and ended up using Rome's government services and resources to actually create copies of the Bible, so it completely backfired.

Alan Shlemon: [00:40:27] Voltaire, who is a well-known French deist. So a deist is not like a theist a deist is a person who believes in God but just thinks that God sort of winds up the universe like a clock and just lets it go, but doesn't actually get involved, so he was a deist and wasn't Christian in the proper sense. But he was a critic of Christianity as well, and he famously declared, he said, "One hundred years from my day, they will not be a Bible in the Earth, except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity-seeker. Of course, we all know how that turned out, because just two years before he died, there was a country that was formed, and that country was based on a lot of Christian principles. Fifty-two out of the fifty-five signers of its constitution were Orthodox followers of Jesus Christ, right? And as you know, in the United States, there are literally millions of Bibles that have been created just by the United States alone in terms of producing stuff like that, so clearly, that did not come to pass either.

Alan Shlemon: [00:41:37] I want you to listen to the words of this poem that I think nicely summarizes this point I'm making about the Bible's survival over time, despite its critics. Listen to this poem! “Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door, and heard the anvil ring the vesper chime; Then looking in, I saw upon the floor, old hammers, worn with beating years of time. “‘How many anvils have you had,’ said I, ‘To wear and batter all these hammers so?’ ‘Just one,’ said he, and then with twinkling eye, ‘The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.’ “And so, I thought, the Anvil of God’s Word for ages skeptic blows have beat upon; Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard, the Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.” Right, that is a picture of what has happened throughout history, the Bible being like the anvil, and the hammer is being the attacks by skeptics, by tyrants, by dictators, by people who have tried to destroy the Bible, but despite all that, there are now more Bibles in the planet today than there are any other book. The Bible is still the best-selling book of all time because it's a fighter, it's demonstrated supernatural survival through time and persecution.

Alan Shlemon: [00:42:58] So again, notice we have six pieces of evidence as to why we can trust the Bible, right? We have them all at our fingertips. Remember, the sixth one is to make a fist, right? So we have them at our fingertips, so you'll always be able to know what those are, even if you happen to lose the notes, which I know are passed out for some of you there.

Alan Shlemon: [00:43:21] But let me close with this final thought that you might think is contrary to what I just said, or perhaps a little bit surprising. But these six persuasive evidences’ have almost nothing to do with why so many people around the world are convinced that the Bible is God's word, in fact, it's not the reason even why I believe the Bible is God's word. I came to believe the Bible was God's inspired word the same way most Christians around the world do, and that is when they encounter the Bible firsthand, they are changed. When Jesus addressed the multitude in his day, did he say here are six reasons why you should trust the words I'm about to say? No, right, he simply began to speak with authority and people marveled at his words, He basically let the words do the work for themselves.

Alan Shlemon: [00:44:13] And I submit to you that if you're here this morning and are questioning whether the Bible is the word of God, or maybe you have a friend who questions that, I submit to you, perhaps the best thing you can do is simply just read what the Bible says, let Jesus speak for himself. And if you do, you just might discover that the Bible is a book by God given to man and that God has spoken, and this book is the prime example of that very truth and reality.

Alan Shlemon: [00:44:46] Let's close in prayer. Heavenly Father, thank you that you have given us your word. Lord, your word contains the words of life, Lord, the words of our Savior. We're so grateful for that, because, without them, we would be wondering, wandering, lost. Thank you for your word, Lord, and thank you that you have made it so evident and clear that you have spoken clearly in it. Help us to be able to remember some of these things, Lord, so that when we're faced with questions, either questions from our own thoughts, or maybe questions from others, Lord, we would have answers to give them, Lord. Thank you for this truth, Lord, help us to be able to share it in a way that is although persuasive, also gracious, loving, and winsome, Lord, so that ultimately, we can bring honor and glory to your son. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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