Something Different About This Book

Examining The Question, "Why Can We Trust The Bible?".

Eric Estes
Jan 29, 2023    47m
This message pulls out five pieces that can help answer the question, "Why can we trust the Bible?". This historical evidence makes a compelling case that there is something different about this book, and that it's truly God's word. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Eric Estes: [00:00:00] So on my 16th birthday, my mom let me stay home from school. We went to the DMV, I took the written test, and I nailed it, I did great. I took the driving test and, well, I passed it at least. And I thought, all right, I'm home free, freedom is mine to have, I've got it. Well, I didn't realize there's one more really important test you have to pass. Do you know what it is? It's the eye test. I failed the eye test on my 16th birthday. And so this shouldn't surprise me, I knew I needed correction, right? I couldn't really see the board in class, I knew there was a problem, but I didn't want glasses. I didn't want to deal with that, I didn't want to have glasses or the way they made me look or anything else. So I just kind of put it aside, I ignored it until that day when I couldn't ignore it anymore.

Eric Estes: [00:00:54] So my mom took me to the eye doctor that day, and we went, and you know they do the machine that kind of checks which lenses work best for you. And then he gave me some contacts, and I put them in and you blink, blink, blink, and I'll never forget when I opened my eyes and I looked out the window across the street over to a Kroger and there was a Kroger sign there, and I will never forget how that sign looked, it was like it was crisp and clear, I could see the edges of it, I could read the words, I could see the colors. It was like, whoa, this is what reality looks like. I can see the way things really are.

Eric Estes: [00:01:31] You guys probably know where I'm going with the story, right? We all see through lenses. We all see through different lenses shaped by our experiences, based on our beliefs, and our values, we see the world through a set of lenses and some of those lenses are more clear than others. And so we've been spending a lot of time in this series right now talking about the world views that we have, how we view the world and these lenses that we all have, some more clear than others. And we've tried to make the case that a biblical worldview, seeing the world through the lens of Scripture, the way God sees it, is the clearest way to see the world the way it really is. It's the lens that helps us to make the most sense out of all the things going on around us, it really makes the most sense. And not only that, but a biblical lens is also one that brings us peace and joy, like no other lens.

Eric Estes: [00:02:31] So we've talked about, okay, what does that look like to have a biblical lens? And we've used this diagram of the circles, of God's big story, which all that is, is it is a summary of Scripture. And when we look at life through that lens, it starts to make a lot of sense. We can filter movies through that, we can filter music, we listen to conversations and go, okay, what part of that lines up with God's story and what parts don't line up with God's story?

Eric Estes: [00:03:01] And then we took those elements and we said, okay, what are some questions we could ask to get at what someone's lens is? And so this funnel is those five questions, and when we ask those five questions, we get a pretty good view of the lens that someone is looking through. And I know several of you have taken Ross's challenge to ask these questions of people. And I've loved having those conversations with people because I think by and large, a lot of people have been surprised by the answers, even asking people that they know, people that they thought they knew pretty well, some of the answers that have come back. They're like, really, you believe that? But I think that probably the most surprising thing is how many people came back and said, I don't know, I never really thought about that. These are big questions, life-changing questions that we need to be thinking about, and we need to see that through a lens that sees it clearly.

Eric Estes: [00:03:55] So as we've talked about developing a biblical lens, we've got to start with the Bible, right? Why do we trust this book? Why do we feel like this is the best way to view and see reality? Why do we trust Scripture? So we've been spending two weeks, the last two weeks on that, and we learned that the Bible is, that it is God-breathed. God wrote it, God provided the Bible to us, it is his words. And because of that, we come under the authority of that. And with that authority comes protection when we come under that authority, and we are shaped and molded by the Bible.

Eric Estes: [00:04:34] And then we looked last week, that the Bible is living and active. Which means, that not only do we read the Bible, but the Bible in some ways reads us. It penetrates, we learned, it penetrates our soul, and it changes us from the inside out. By reading God's Word, we actually become something different, we change as we do that, and we start to see things through his perspective.

Eric Estes: [00:05:01] And then today, we're going to take another look at why we trust the Bible, and we're going to look at some outside sources, and some external evidence to make the case that there is something different about this book. That this is an amazing book, that this is miraculous in a lot of ways, that there is something powerful and there is something beautiful about this book.

Eric Estes: [00:05:28] We're going to be in Second Peter chapter 1 verses 16 through 21. And Peter, in verse 16, he starts off saying this, He says, "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus." You see, Peter is making the case that Jesus is coming back, and he's making the case among people who are doubting him and saying there are false teachers who are saying, no, that's not the case, that's a myth. And most commentators that study this will tell you that those false teachers, you know, we can probably understand, well, yeah, that's pretty miraculous that somebody dead comes back. You can see why somebody might not believe that. But most commentators would say that's not why they didn't believe, they believe plenty of things that were supernatural. The reason they didn't believe, these false teachers didn't believe, and they called it a myth was because they didn't want to believe. You see, if Jesus is coming back, then that changes things for them. If Jesus is coming back, then that means He is who he said he is, and that changes everything for us, so they didn't want to believe.

Eric Estes: [00:06:37] And I think today we experienced some of the same things. First of all, we know that there are several people who would say that the Bible is a myth. They would say that it's just made-up stories, that's one version of it. Others would take a little more subtle approach and say, well, it's not that we believe that the truth of the principles underneath it, but we don't believe all these things really happened, do we? Which kind of treats it more like a fable, which is a type of myth. For many people, the way they see the Bible, and some Christians, people who would consider themselves Christians, would say that, well, you know what? I believe this part of it, but not this part of it. But that's also treating it like a myth because God's Word says the Bible says, that it is God-breathed. And if it's from Him, then we've got to take the whole thing, we can't pick and choose.

Eric Estes: [00:07:31] And many people, just like the teachers that Peter was addressing, the reason they don't want to believe isn't because they've done all the research, they've examined it, they've compared it to other things and said, you know what? I don't think this is real. For most people, the reason we don't believe in Scripture is because we don't want to. There are significant implications if this is real, if this is right, then it changes things for us. And maybe you're in a place where you're kind of wrestling through what that looks like for you, wrestling through, do I really believe this book? And let me just encourage you to take a look at it. Just like me refusing to go to the eye doctor, eventually, you've got to come to grips with the terms and see, is this real or not? So I want to encourage you to do that.

Eric Estes: [00:08:23] As we get into it today, as we look at some of this external evidence, Peter goes through, and he identifies a couple of different things. We're going to see in verse 16, we're going to see that he says that there is eyewitness proof for this. And also in verse 20, he's going to talk about the prophetic Scriptures. What he's doing is he's building a case, right? And these are the same types of evidence that we use in a court of law today, eyewitness testimony and documents, right? So Peter's appealing to those types of evidence, and we're going to see today that we're going to actually pull out five different pieces of evidence that make a really compelling case, make it really reasonable that there is something different about this book, that there is something supernatural about this book, and even to the point where we're going to say that this book could only be explained if it is actually the words of God.

Eric Estes: [00:09:14] Now, as we do this, I want to give you a couple just cautions, because when we do stuff like this, a lot of times the first thing is there's going to be a lot of information on you today. And don't feel like you have to get it all, don't feel like you have to learn every bit of it. What I want you to do, and I'd rather you do today, is soak it in. Just soak in the evidence that God's Word is reliable. That God's word is His word. Soak in that evidence so that you would be awed by it. That's not odd but in awe of Scripture. That you would be in awe of Scripture, that you would walk out of here just even more confident that this is, there's something amazing about this book, there's something different about this book, and that we can know that this is the word of God and we can trust it and live by it.

Eric Estes: [00:10:08] So as we do that, the other thing, I will come back at the end, and I'll give you an easy way to remember these points. An easy way, so as you're in conversations or if you're wrestling through it yourself, or if you're in conversations with other people, you can bring up some of these things. But now remember, we don't want to do that as just more ammo to go argue and go toe to toe with someone on this, because, for most people, the reason they don't believe this is true is because they don't want to. So no amount of data or facts or anything will necessarily convince them. But would we fall in love with this book? Then we would become tour guides and we say, did you know this? Did you know this? Look at this. What about this? And we bring them in to experience what God has here, because it's in reading His word that we really start to feel like there is something different. This is not just any book, there is something amazing going on here, and he starts to change our hearts through his Holy Spirit one step at a time.

Eric Estes: [00:11:13] Charles Spurgeon said," We don't need to defend the Bible, just like you don't need to defend a lion, you just let him out of his cage.". The Bible can defend itself, but we get the pleasure of being tour guides to help other people and ourselves go on the journey to see the life-changing message of this book. All right, y'all ready to get started? Let's dive in.

Eric Estes: [00:11:34] We're going to keep going in verse 16, where Peter says this, he says, "But we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain." So Peter is saying, I saw this, this is what I saw, and he was referring to a scene that we see actually in three of the Gospels called the Transfiguration. Many aren't that exposed to that particular scene; we don't even know what to do with it. But it's a really incredible scene where Jesus, with his three disciples that went up on the mountain, is transfigured into fully white clothes and a radiance.

Eric Estes: [00:12:25] And it's all around this idea that he is projected as he is the Messiah, it clearly shows that he is the Messiah. And so what Peter is saying, he's saying, I saw it, and that's the first piece of evidence we're going to look at. And by the way, we're going to do this kind of like a courtroom and we're going to call it Exhibit A. Exhibit A, the first piece of evidence is that we have eyewitness testimony. Peter said, I saw it. Now you might be thinking, so what? I've talked to people all the time who said they saw a UFO, right, or I saw Bigfoot. Why does it matter if Peter saw it? Well, this is different for a few reasons. So first of all, it's different because he wasn't the only one, he and two other people saw this particular event happen on the mountain.

Eric Estes: [00:13:13] But when we look at the whole of the New Testament, or the whole of the Bible, we see that there were lots of witnesses. We see hundreds of people that saw Jesus's miracles, saw what Jesus did, saw his death, and saw his resurrection. In First Corinthians 15, Paul writes this, and he says, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures". So that's the core piece, those three things are the core of our belief and of our faith, right? That Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for our sins. And he says, "Then he appeared to Cephas, (Which is Peter) then to the twelve. 6After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.". Hundreds of people saw this, and some are still alive. Now, why is that important? Because as these letters went out, and as they took the message of Jesus out, any one of these guys could have said, oh, wait a second, I was there, that's not how it happened, but they didn't.

Eric Estes: [00:14:23] So we have this eyewitness testimony, and just like in a court of law, the eyewitness testimony of one person is important. But if you have multiple people, it becomes more and more valid. So we have multiple eyewitness accounts about what happened in the person and in the life of Jesus. But beyond that, the other reason why this is so spectacular, this eyewitness testimony, is because we can look at the lives of the disciples and see that something happened. So J. Warner Wallace is a guy who was a cold case homicide detective, so he worked the hardest cases and he wanted to use the skills that he had in solving these crimes and use it to apply to Jesus and see, okay, can we validate is this real or not? And in doing so, he became a Christian, he said, yes, the evidence points to it is very reasonable that he is who he said he is. So he writes a book called Person of Interest, and in his book he kind of builds this idea, and I think it's pretty helpful for us. He says, look at a crime Scene, a crime that was committed, and you don't really know what happened there, so it's hard to investigate that. But if you treat that crime like an explosion, like something happened at this one point, there's always, to every explosion, there's a fuse and there's a fallout.. A fuse and a fallout, what led up to it, and then what happened afterwards. And by looking at that, you can often find who it was, it kind of points back to different patterns that you see and who that was.

Eric Estes: [00:15:52] Well, let's look at it the disciples that way. If the disciples, as we hear in the Scriptures before Jesus was resurrected, they were kind of timid, they were really confused, and they argued back and forth a lot, you don't really see them cohesive at all. And then we see that they were fishermen, they're uneducated fishermen, but after the resurrection, we see a completely different story. Their lives were totally changed. They had a boldness about them. They took this message out, and they started a global movement, a movement that continues to this day, that reaches every part of society. Something happened to change them, there was an incredible boldness in them. So much so that most of them were executed in pretty horrible ways for their testimony. And don't miss that, because all they would have had to do was say, sorry, I'm just kidding, we made it up, and they would have been set free. But they didn't, they were willing to die for this eyewitness testimony that they were giving. People don't die for myths, people are only willing to die when something so incredible happens that they're like, I don't care, this is what's important, I know what is true. So we see that there's a difference in the eyewitness testimony that we have in Scripture.

Eric Estes: [00:17:18] So that's exhibit A, that eyewitness testimony. But how does this compare, let's just kind of do this, how does this compare to other lenses that people see through? So, for instance, maybe some other world religions like the Quran, it's the Muslim holy book, Right? How does it compare to eyewitness testimony? Well, it doesn't really have eyewitness testimony, it was supposedly revealed from Gabriel to Muhammad. So we don't really have any eyewitness testimony to collaborate that. The Book of Mormon is kind of the same thing. The Bhagavad Gita is the Hindu holy book, it also is more of a conversation between one of their gods and a prophet. So in any of these religions, we don't really have any kind of eyewitness testimony in there.

Eric Estes: [00:18:07] What about the cultural narrative, kind of the ideas that are around us today where most people we talk to, their lens is really heavily influenced by these ideas and stories? Is there any eyewitness testimony behind that? No, these ideas that are floating around us are usually more about I feel this, I think this, so it must be true, right? That's the culture that we live in a lot of times, whereas Scripture we see has eye eyewitness testimony. So that's exhibit A.

Eric Estes: [00:18:42] Exhibit B, I want to show the next one, because it really flows from that. If Peter is saying, hey, I saw this, this happened in a particular time and place, that he's saying it's anchored in history. So that's Exhibit B, anchored in history, and all throughout the Bible we see this. Which is different than a myth, because a myth, how do myths start off? Once upon a time, or maybe you're more of a, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Right? Those are all how myths start. Why? Because it's not talking about a particular time, it's just kind of in general, sometime in the past. Right? Greek mythology, you know, all of that is the same thing, it just kind of happened at some point. But that's not what we see in Scripture, Scripture is anchored into a historical timeline. The Bible says this happened when this king was reigning, at this place, this year, I mean it is specific with what happens.

Eric Estes: [00:19:38] As a matter of fact, when we do our Bible reading plan and we get to the parts that it's the genealogy, you know, it's this person begat this person that begat this person. We often go, why is this in here? Well, it anchors us in history. It's saying this happened and this happened, and this happened as a way to show that there is a sequence of events, it happened in history, and here's where how it played out. We're anchored in history. As we look at history books and the timeline that non-Christian historians have laid out, we see that the Bible fits right in that timeline. Now, typically in our textbooks, we don't see the mention of Jesus and everything else because it's a myth, but we see this kind of timeline play out, and the Bible fits right in that.

Eric Estes: [00:20:24] Not only that, but if you go back and you look at first-century documents from historians, we see mention of a lot of these things we see in Scripture. So one of those guys is Josephus, he's a Jewish historian who probably, if anybody would have been not wanting this to be true, it would have been someone from Jewish origin. Right. And so he said, he writes this, remember, this isn't the Bible, this is a first-century history book. It says, for there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it'd be lawful to call him a man. For he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and Gentiles, he was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had him condemned to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again on the third day, as the Divine Prophets had foretold these and 10,000 other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day. That's history right there, and it aligns up and it shows that the Bible is rooted in history.

Eric Estes: [00:21:39] Not only that, but archeology today, it's fascinating if you see some of the developments. Because every time we dig, it validates the Scripture even more. So historians for years didn't believe that the Hittites were a real people because they had no evidence of this group of people, it was just made up in the Bible. Well, then in the late 19th century, guess what? They dig up a city and go, whoa! And they find out, they look at the library and they go, this is the Hittites. The same thing happened with the city of Jericho. The city of Jericho, they didn't believe was a real city, they thought it was, oh, that's kind of a myth that we see in the Bible. Until they discovered it, and amazingly enough, the walls somehow collapsed. It's crazy that David, the King David of Scripture, they said, oh, that's a literary character, that didn't really happen, we don't have any evidence of that. And now they're excavating a big part of Jerusalem, we actually took a group of people to Israel from this church a few years ago, and we saw where they're digging and some of the things they're finding. And they're seeing that, yes, David was a king of Israel, he was a real person, and archeology is showing this over and over and over again in so many different places. So the Bible is rooted, it's anchored in history.

Eric Estes: [00:22:59] How does that compare? Well, in these other world religions, it's kind of hard to compare that because it's not an eyewitness thing, right, it didn't happen in history, it's just a revelation of certain facts. So we really can't compare that, they don't have that anchoring in history.

Eric Estes: [00:23:15] How about the contemporary ideas, the contemporary narrative that we're that we hear most often around us? Is it rooted in history? No, not really. Most of the ideas that are shaping the way people live have been around for maybe only 10, 20, 30 years, they've really taken root. They've been around before, but they're really taking root now and kind of being the driving force. Ideas like live your truth, right? That hyper-individualistic concept that's never been tried before in history, that it's all about the individual, it's all about how you feel. And then if anything outside says something different, you've got to ignore that because it's not being true to you. Right? That is a radically different philosophy than has ever been tried in human history. Where does it lead? I don't know. I think if we look at our mental health crisis right now, it's probably not a good place. But it's not rooted in history, whereas Scripture we have thousands and thousands of years of proven how this is true, how this is wise, how this makes sense. So we see that the Bible not only is we have reliable eyewitness testimony but then also, exhibit B, we saw that it's rooted and anchored in history.

Eric Estes: [00:24:36] Well, let's go back to Second Peter verse 19, Peter says, "And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." Peter is saying, don't just take my word for it, the prophets said it the prophets told us this was going to happen, and it happened. And the way he describes it, remember, he's trying to make the case that Jesus is coming back, and he uses the language until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. That's an allusion to the day when Jesus is coming back. And he will reveal all of it, and we'll be able to see completely clear and be like, oh, that's what it looks like. But until then, between now and then, what do we have in order to reveal what is true? What is real? Well, he says you would do well to pay attention to the prophetic word, right, Scripture, God's word, and let it be a shining light in a dark place. So as we're trying to navigate life, there's no better lens to see through than this book right here.

Eric Estes: [00:25:50] Psalm 119, maybe you know it, says, Your word is a lamp to my fee, and a light to my path.", and that's how we see the Bible. So he talks about the prophetic word, and that's going to be exhibit C, the next piece of evidence is that we have in the Bible fulfilled prophecy, places where God said this is going to happen, and then we see it actually played out already. It's really amazing to see, when you kind of think and look at some of this stuff, there's hundreds sometimes say thousands of places where the Bible said something, and it was fulfilled.

Eric Estes: [00:26:25] I won't go through a lot of those, you can kind of do the research on your own. I do want to point out a couple, though, because it's really fascinating. My favorite, the one that just blows me away, is the Book of Daniel in chapters 7 and 8. We see this picture that Daniel paints of four successive kingdoms that come. Right? One of them is easy, it's the one that he was living in now in Babylon, but then three other ones. And in doing so, remember, this was written in 540 to 530 B.C. He describes the next 500 years of Middle Eastern history to a tee about the kingdoms that come and conquer that area. And so he describes Babylon, so the first one, we'll give you that, that they were in charge and in control there. The next one, Media and Persia, okay, you probably could have seen that coming, they were a superpower at that time, so you could see that coming pretty easily. But in the next one, he actually mentions them by name, the Greeks. Well, the Greeks didn't conquer that area for another 200 years, and 334. And then the next one he doesn't mention by name, but by the description, it's pretty clear that it's the Roman Empire that comes in, in 146 B.C., 400 years after that prophecy was written.

Eric Estes: [00:27:41] Now, if that's not cool enough, this will blow your mind. In chapter 8, he then digs deeper into two of them, and he talks about the Medes and the Persians, and he talks about the Greeks. And for Greece, he uses this image of a goat with one horn. Well, he says that the horn is broken and four more horns pop up. Now, when you look at history, and you look at 334 when the Greeks took over, who led the Greek army during that time? Alexander the Great, he conquered the world in that time. And so when he came in, after he died, they said no one could rule this vast empire by themselves, so they divided the empire into four different chunks and gave each one to one of his generals. It's crazy how the Bible predicted that even before it happened, hundreds of years before it happened.

Eric Estes: [00:28:37] Another thing to look at is the prophecies of the Messiah, Jesus coming. There is going to be a Messiah coming, and there are hundreds of prophecies about this that have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus. I won't go through a lot of them. I mean, some of them you know, he was born of a virgin that was prophesied. He was born in Bethlehem. His way would be prepared by a forerunner. If you want to learn more about this, we actually did a sermon in November of 2018 called Did the Bible Predict the Future? And we go into more detail about these particular prophecies, and how amazing it is that it was fulfilled in the person of Jesus.

Eric Estes: [00:29:18] But one guy, a mathematician, Peter Stoner, actually did the math. And he said, okay, if eight of these are true, just take eight of those out of hundreds of prophecies that were fulfilled, what are the odds of that really happening? And so he did all the calculations, and I don't know how you do that, but he came up with this number of ten to the 17th power. That means nothing to me, right, it's actually it's a lot of zeros is what it is. But he gives this illustration, he said to be the same odds as if you took quarters and stacked them two feet high across the state of Texas, and then you took another quarter and colored it a certain color and threw it in and mixed them all up, and what are the odds of you picking that one corner out at random? That's the odds of one person fulfilling this, it's pretty incredible when you start to look at these prophecies.

Eric Estes: [00:30:03] But rather than list them all out and kind of do that, here's what I want to do, I want to read one. I want you to hear it. I want you to just feel the weight of God's word that was written 700 years, it's Isaiah 53, written 700 years before Jesus came on the scene. He said this, "For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." So far, a pretty good description of Jesus, it could probably apply to a lot of people. But wait, "And as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted." Here's where it gets good, "But he was pierced for our transgressions." This was written long before the Roman Cross was even invented as a way of execution, "He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." Y'all, that's the Gospel right there, that is the core of our faith, written way before Jesus came on the scene. We believe that Jesus, because he died for our sins, he was crucified to take on our sins because we couldn't do it ourselves, and because of that, we receive his right standing with God and we trust in Him. He died to heal us from what we couldn't heal ourselves from, and that's the relationship we have with God.

Eric Estes: [00:31:52] But He keeps going and he says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Just let that soak for a minute. How amazing is God's word? How powerful is it? God keeps his promises. Our kids right now, if you have kids in Kids Creationland, they're learning about how God kept his promises through Moses. And so it's a great conversation to have on the way home. You heard Robert in his baptism talk about how God keeps his promises. And we see as we look at this fulfilled prophecy, how amazing it is. And as we look at other world religions, we see that some do claim that there are fulfilled prophecies, but nothing on the scale of the Bible.

Eric Estes: [00:32:44] If we look at the culture around us, there's not really anything like fulfilled prophecy in there. The best that secular or non-Christian historians would say when they're confronted with some of this amazing stuff is they go, well, okay, it's so detailed on what was going to happen, there's no way it could have been written beforehand. So that means that, as a result, that means it has to be dated after the events happened. That's the best they can do with it. But there's something amazing, something different about Scripture that it fulfilled prophecy over and over and over again.

Eric Estes: [00:33:24] So we see in Exhibit A, that we have eyewitness testimony. Exhibit B, we were anchored in history, Exhibit C, the Scripture has fulfilled prophecy. And then the next one is going to be Exhibit D, and this is one consistent story. So if you remember, Peter gives us two types of evidence, eyewitness testimony and he gives us the prophetic writings. Eyewitness testimony is what the apostles saw, that's basically the New Testament. If you look at the prophetic writings, that's the Old Testament. And so he's saying if we put both of those together, it shows that this is one amazing story, it's proof that the Bible is what it is, is something amazing and miraculous because there is one story woven all the way through it. Jesus says it this way, in John 5 he says, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me." He's saying from cover to cover of this book, there's one story and it's all about Jesus.

Eric Estes: [00:34:32] And we see that if we go to Genesis, and we see at the very beginning, there are hints that there's a problem here, and the only way that's going to solve that problem is through a sacrifice. And so we go through years and years and years of people trying to solve the problem themselves, and continuously falling short of God's needs and his expectations and being able to be made right with him. And then we get to the climax where Jesus is on the scene, and he dies on the cross for our sins, and it's all leading up to that. And when we look back, we go, whoa, how did that happen? It's an amazing story. You'll say, okay, well, great, it's a cool story and it's consistent, why does that prove, or should give reason, that the Bible is God's word?

Eric Estes: [00:35:20] Keep this in mind, the Bible was written over 1500 years, that is a long time. Forty different people wrote it, from farmers to kings, from shepherds to tax collectors, you name it, in different walks of life and in different conditions, on three different continents with three different languages, and yet, amidst all that, no way to collaborate together, amidst all that, it tells one consistent story. That's pretty amazing, it's pretty incredible how that all plays out.

Eric Estes: [00:36:01] If you are kind of wrestling through it and go, I don't really know that I know the whole story of the Bible. I struggle in my Bible reading because I don't really know how it fits together. Let me encourage you, Tuesday night, we're starting a class called Overview of the Bible. I would encourage you; Jordan will tell you more details at the end, but I want to encourage you to do that so that you just have a better understanding of this incredible book that we have. So all of it is one consistent story. And so you ask, well, how can that be? Unless there's really one author, and that's what we see in Scripture, the consistency points to one particular author.

Eric Estes: [00:36:39] So how does that compare to other lenses that people use? Well, in a lot of the other world religions, the story isn't really told, it's not as epic of a story. In Islam, we see the Koran, actually, they say that they kind of tie back to the Old Testament and the New Testament, but they say they're both corrupt. So by default, they kind of say this isn't a consistent story. How about our cultural narrative, the ideas flowing around here, that we kind of live and breathe every day most of the time? I think it'd be hard-pressed to say it's consistent, at the very least, right? We see things like, well, science explains it all. Until we get to other issues like when does life begin, what is gender, all this kind of stuff, and then science is out the window. These are hard topics; I don't mean to belittle them by any means. I'm just saying that there seems to be an inconsistency in the way we think as a culture right now. But the Bible, it's consistent all the way through, beginning to end.

Eric Estes: [00:37:54] Okay, so we've looked at four pieces of evidence, and we're going to go now to verse 20 as we kind of head toward the end. And we see that verse 20 says this, "Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." I love that image of being carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Eric Estes: [00:38:21] And that's how we get Scripture, we said it is, in Second Timothy 3:16, it's God-breathed, it's given by God. But God didn't just use people as kind of robots to say, you know, dictate exactly what I say. He used their individual personalities, their individual experiences, and their circumstances to pen exactly what he wanted. It's pretty incredible to think about that, but he says that it's carried along by the Holy Spirit, all along the way, it's delivered by the Holy Spirit, but then it also continues to be carried on today. How so? Because it is incredibly well, supernaturally maintained.

Eric Estes: [00:39:05] And that's exhibit E, the last one, is that it's supernaturally maintained. It is unbelievable how well these Scriptures have been preserved. If you compare it to any other ancient document, any other ancient text, there is so much more evidence and so much more manuscripts in place about the Bible. It has been so well preserved. And why does that matter? Well, first of all, it shows that there's something special about it, but also it allows us to know with confidence that we have what they originally wrote. So just to give you a picture of this, there's a graphic and you won't be able to read this and that's fine. But the red represents, every little dot on there represents the manuscript evidence that we have of Scripture. And then the blue ones are other historical ancient works, the biggest blue one is Homer's Iliad, that's the one we have the most manuscripts on. By the way, this will be on the website if you want to see it and just look at the comparison. Yet nobody ever doubts the authenticity or the authorship of the Iliad, but boy, do a lot of people struggle with the Bible, but there is overwhelming evidence.

Eric Estes: [00:40:15] Now, this may or may not mean anything to you, and that's okay. But if you're wrestling with some of this stuff, it really is important to kind of look at this. We will be doing a workshop at 2:30 this afternoon, we did one last week, hard conversations. It was great, with great discussions on the reliability of the Bible and different objections that people throw out. Today, we're going to really be focusing on how did we get the Bible? How do we know this is the right Bible? How do we know it hasn't been corrupted? Who chose the books of the Bible? Why are these books in, and these aren't in? We're going to wrestle with a lot of those things at 2:30 today, so I just encourage you to come and be a part of that. It'll be really good to kind of go deeper into some of these things. We don't have time today to go into it, but just kind of know that this has been supernaturally maintained and not only the documents, but just think about how many times over history, people have tried to squash the Scriptures, tried to get rid of the Scriptures, either through persecution, through burning them, through outlawing them, through making people feel stupid for believing them. Like you just name it, everybody's been attacking and against the Scriptures, yet the more they've been suppressed, the more they've thrived. And we see impact after impact in people's lives because God has supernaturally maintained this incredible book. Isaiah 40 says this, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God will endure forever."

Eric Estes: [00:41:48] Okay, so we've made our case, we've got five pieces of evidence. I think it presents a pretty compelling case that there is something different about this book. I think it makes a pretty compelling case that it is supernatural and that the best explanation for that is that God wrote this book. We saw that exhibit A, eyewitness testimony. We saw that it's anchored in history. We saw it has fulfilled prophecy. We saw that it's consistent, one consistent story. And we saw that it has been supernaturally maintained.

Eric Estes: [00:42:21] All right I told you I was going to give you at the end an easy way to remember this. So that as you're in conversations, you can kind of think back and look at some of these things and be able to challenge people on things, to be able to kind of help people to see just how incredible this book is. Picture someone throwing a rock in a lake. If you were up on a cliff and you didn't see him throw the rock, what would you see? When someone throws a rock at a lake, what do you see? Ripples, right? There's an impact that causes ripples. Well, if you didn't see the size of the rock and you were just looking down at the ripples, could you kind of tell, was it a big rock or a small rock? Yeah. How so? By the size of the ripples, right? Well, Scripture, I want to argue, has made an enormous impact on culture and society. I mean, you can't debate that, right? There has been nothing that has had such an impact on culture, on society, on people's lives, time after time after time, people who are hardened against religion of any kind read the Bible and have confronted themselves and turn in their lives are completely changed. The Bible has had an incredible impact, you can't argue that.

Eric Estes: [00:43:35] So I want you to remember that word impact, and we're going to use each letter in the word impact to give you one piece of evidence that helps us just be confident that there is something different about this book. I, this is the easy one, is for impact. M, it's been maintained. P, prophecy fulfilled. A, anchored in history. C, one consistent story. T, testimony, reliable testimony. I hope that's helpful as you engage others in conversations. I hope it's also helpful as you wrestle through it yourself. Do you really believe that Scripture is the word of God, that all of it in its entirety is the word of God? Because if we do, what do we do with it? Like, where does that lead us? What do we do? Well, first of all, we believe it, right? That's kind of obvious. But not only that, we trust it. So when Scripture says one thing, and we see culture saying something else or things around us or we feel something else, we've got to trust this, this is anchored, this is solid, this doesn't change. Not only do we trust it, but we come underneath it. We let it speak into our lives. We let it shape us. Not only do we trust it, not only do we come underneath it, but then we also enjoy it.

Eric Estes: [00:45:12] In all the facts we've shared today, all the information, don't lose the fact that the God of the universe has given us his word, he wrote to us. He communicates, he talks to us. The God of the universe, that's amazing, we just need to savor that. Why would he do such a thing? Because he wants us to know him, so enjoy it, delight in it, treasure it, spend time in it, embrace it, love it, because there's something different about this book. There's something miraculous, there's something powerful, and there's something beautiful.

Eric Estes: [00:46:06] Father, we love you and we just thank you for how you have spoken to us through your word. And Lord, we all sometimes doubt those things at different points. Lord, I just pray that you would give us a conviction and a confidence, that you would push us to be in your word more so that we can experience and know that there is something amazing about this book. Lord, I pray that you would help us to follow it, help us to live in accordance with it. But, Lord, most of all, I pray that you would just help us to be shaped by it and to see the beauty of your promises in there. The biggest one being your son, Jesus, and Lord, I pray that you would bring us to faith, a deep, deep, deep faith in him, and confidence in your word. So we thank you for this time, and I want to give you guys a minute to just kind of process that, and to just ask yourself the question, do I really trust in this word? Why or why not? What does that look like for my life going forward?

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051