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Note: This is a relatively brief study of Christian evidences and apologetics. For a detail study, please go to the following link: Evidences for God, Jesus, & the Bible
Have you ever wondered whether God exists, whether Jesus really is God's Son, or whether the Bible is really true? Have you heard that the Bible contains "thousands of contradictions" and that all living thing originated by evolution rather than by creation? What about miracles, fulfilled prophecy, and the resurrection of Jesus?
The purpose of this study is to examine the evidence for some of the most basic claims of the Bible and Christianity. As you read, please look up the >>>CAPITALIZED Scriptures<<< in your Bible. Then answer each question that has a number enclosed in asterisks (*1*, *2*, etc.). NOTE: Correct answers for the questions are listed at the end. This lesson is not designed to be submitted to us for grading. If you wish to study this material as an online Bible study lesson, please go to our Free Bible Study Lessons web site at https://www.biblestudylessons.com. Thank you.
>>> Read HEBREWS 11:6. <<<
*1* To please God, what must we believe? (a) whatever our parents taught us, (b) whatever our preacher says, (c) that God exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
>>> Read 2 TIMOTHY 3:16,17. <<<
*2* Where did the Scriptures come from? (a) they are inspired by God, (b) they express the opinions of men (c) they are ancient legends of unknown origin.
"...The things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37). [See also Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Thess. 2:13; Gal. 1:11,12.]
>>> Read JOHN 20:26-31. <<<
*3* What did Thomas call Jesus? (a) a great preacher and a good man, (b) Lord and God, (c) a fraud.
*4* What must we believe to have eternal life? (a) that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, (b) that Mohammed is a prophet, (c) it does not matter.
"...we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). [See also John 8:24; Luke 19:10; Matt. 16:15-18; 10:37; John 1:1,14.]
Note: these claims do not permit compromise. We cannot say, "The Bible is just a good book," or "Jesus was just a great man." The Bible claims it is God's word, and Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. If these claims are not true, then Jesus is a liar and the Bible is a fraud!
(See the links at the end of this study for further information about the claims of Jesus and the claims of the Bible that it is inspired by God.)
God the Father is invisible (1 John 4:12). We cannot perform scientific laboratory experiments to determine if He exists, but this does not mean we must accept "blind faith" without evidence. Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. His life can be investigated like any other historical fact. Likewise, many other claims of the Bible can be investigated by evidence from logic, history, geography, and archaeology.
In our daily lives, all of us determine our beliefs on the basis of this kind of evidence. For example, a hunter may not see an animal, but from its footprints he knows it exists and he knows much about its nature. In the same way, God has left "footprints on the sands of time."
A judge and jury do not physically observe a crime, yet they reach a verdict about what happened by the testimony of witnesses. Likewise, God "did not leave Himself without witness" (Acts 14:17).
Let us call God's "witnesses," and you be the judge. Weigh the testimony honestly, then reach a verdict (Rom. 10:17), but remember that you are not determining the guilt or innocence of someone else. Rather, your verdict will determine your own eternal destiny!
No one can deny the existence of the universe. The question is: what is the origin of the universe?
Only two explanations are available: (1) there is an all-wise, all-powerful God who created it; or (2) matter is eternal and, beginning from an original simple life form, all living things developed gradually over millions of years by process of evolution. Consider which of these two views best fits the evidence.
>>> Read ACTS 17:24-28. <<<
*5* What does this verse say is the origin of life? (a) life on earth has always existed, (b) an unplanned accident of nature produced the first primitive life by spontaneous generation in an ancient swamp, (c) life on earth was created by a living, wise, powerful God.
One of the most firmly established laws of science is the Law of Biogenesis, which says that life comes only from living things. There is no evidence that dead matter can spontaneously generate life.
The Bible agrees with scientific fact, for it says that life came from the eternal, living Creator (cf. Acts 14:15). However, evolution contradicts scientific proof, since it requires that dead matter sometime spontaneously came to life. Which view best fits the evidence?
>>> Read GENESIS 1:11,21,24,25. <<<
*6* What kind of offspring do living things have? (a) the same kind as the parents, (b) with enough time, entirely different things may evolve, (c) you never know.
Every year millions of living things reproduce, and the offspring is always the same kind as the parent. This is exactly what the Bible says. The offspring of dogs will be other dogs, not fish, birds, or people!
Evolution, however, teaches that all the present kinds are the offspring of previous different kinds, all the way back to one original life-form. But there is no convincing evidence for this. Living things adapt to their environment, but where is the proof that they produce totally different kinds of living things (fish to reptile to bird, etc.)?
If evolution was true, there should be many fossils of intermediate "links" between present kinds of living things. However, the "links" are still missing!
>>> Read GENESIS 1:26-28. <<<
*7* What is man's place in the universe? (a) man is just another animal, (b) man is the most intelligent and powerful being in existence, (c) man is in the image of God but above the animals.
Simple observation shows that man is far above the animals
Only man has rational intelligence. What animal uses abstract symbols (letters and numbers) to speak, write, or do mathematical calculations? What animal invents new tools and machines, trains animals, uses fire, or records wisdom to pass on to future generations?
Among animals there are many shades of intelligence. If man evolved from animals, why are there no animals with shades of intelligence right up to ours, instead of so vast a gulf?
Only man creates new beauty to appreciate in the form of music, art, poetry, humor, etc.
Only man has a conscience and sense of religious values. What animal by nature feels a sense of guilt or seeks to find and worship the cause of its existence?
If man evolved from animals, how do we explain these vast differences? If we develop new characteristics according to "survival of the fittest," how does appreciation of art, etc., make us more fit to survive?
The Bible, however, easily explains all these differences. Man shares these characteristics in common, not with the animals, but with God in whose image we were made.
>>> Read ROMANS 1:20 & PSALMS 19:1. <<<
*8* How can we see God's power and divinity? (a) by "blind faith" without evidence, (b) by the things God made, (c) we cannot see them.
When an intelligent being designs something to accomplish some purpose, that thing bears the marks of intelligence -- it is intelligible. Other intelligent beings can study how it works, etc. Even if we have never met the maker, we know he must exist and we can appreciate the degree of his intelligence.
To confirm this concept to yourself, take this test. Try to name one thing that has these characteristics: (1) It appeals to your intelligence -- it "makes sense" as a logical, reasonable way to accomplish some purpose. But, (2) you know it did not originate as the effort of some intelligent being -- it "just happened" by blind chance. Can you name any such thing? A car? house? bridge?
Cameras are designed by intelligent beings, but no camera can match the overall performance of the human eye. Where did your eyes come from?
Computers are made by intelligent beings, but the human brain can surpass computers in many ways. Where did your brain come from?
Factories are made by intelligent beings to manufacture a product. But who made the human reproductive system?
"For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God" (Hebrews 3:4). When you consider all the organs of the human body, then all the other plants and animals, the heavenly bodies, and all the complex laws of nature, is it reasonable to argue that all this came without intelligent planning?
Science is founded on the conviction that the universe is intelligible -- it is so orderly and systematic that the human intelligence is able to grasp much about its working. Doesn't this, of itself, prove that an intelligent Being invented it? And doesn't the fact that much of its working is beyond our ability to understand and to duplicate, prove that the intelligent Being who made it is far superior to us?
Every effect must have an adequate cause! Evolution says that life began by blind chance and then random mutations produced all advanced life forms. The Bible, however, says that the all-wise, all-powerful, living God intentionally planned and created the universe and all the life forms in it. As you reach your verdict, you must determine which view is more reasonable and best fits the evidence.
Although the Bible is a textbook on religion, it often touches on other subjects such as history, geography, or science. When it does, we can check it out by comparing it to archeology, etc. If the Bible is written by the all-knowing Creator, we would expect accuracy.
Further, the Bible was written 2000-3500 years ago, when scientific error abounded. Skeptics have searched it mercilessly to find error in it. But if, in spite of this, we find that it contains none of the common errors of its day -- if it actually speaks truths that were unknown to scientists till centuries later -- then this would greatly strengthen our confidence that it is not from men but from God.
Consider the following examples in which the Bible has been proved to be accurate, even when "scholars" disagreed with it.
The Bible frequently mentions this ancient nation (2 Sam. 11:3ff; Gen. 15:19-21; Num. 13:29; Josh. 3:10), but for years skeptics said the Bible was wrong. Then in 1906, Hugo Winckler excavated Hattusa, the Hittite capital. We now know that, at its height, the Hittite civilization rivaled Egypt and Assyria in glory! (See Biblical World, pp. 290ff.)
The Bible says that Israelite slaves built these Egyptian cities using bricks of clay mixed with straw, then clay and stubble, then clay alone (Ex. 1:11; 5:10-21). In 1883, Naville examined the ruins of Pithom and found all three types of brick. (See Biblical World, pp. 458,459.)
Sir William Ramsay was a skeptic who sought to disprove Acts by tracing Paul's journeys. Instead, his examination made him a firm believer in the accuracy of the book! The turning point came when he proved that, contrary to accepted scholarship, the Bible was right when it implied Iconium was in a different region from Lystra and Derbe (Acts 14:6). (See Archaeology and Bible History, Free, p. 317.)
"...it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries." -- Dr. Nelson Glueck (Rivers in the Desert, p. 31)
"...archaeology has confirmed countless passages which have been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contradictory to known facts ... Yet archaeological discoveries have shown that these critical charges ... are wrong and that the Bible is trustworthy in the very statements which have been set aside as untrustworthy ... We do not know of any cases where the Bible has been proved wrong." -- Dr. Joseph P. Free (Archaeology and Bible History, pp. 1,2,134)
>>>Read ISAIAH 40:22. <<<
*9* What is the shape of the earth? (a) circle, (b) flat, (c) cylinder.
Isaiah wrote this when men thought the earth was flat ("circle" = "a circle, sphere" -- Gesenius). Today we have pictures taken from space to show the earth's shape, but how did Isaiah know?
>>>Read JOB 26:7. <<<
*10* How is the earth held up? (a) by 4 huge pillars, (b) on the back of Atlas, (c) it is hung on nothing.
Ancient men believed many errors. How did Job know the truth?
>>>Read PSALM 8:8. <<<
*11* What is found in the sea according to this verse? (a) mountains, (b) paths, (c) seaweed, (d) fish.
Men knew of no paths in the sea until Matthew Maury read this verse and determined to find them. He discovered the ocean currents, and became known as the Father of Oceanography. (Impact, 9/91, pp. 3,4).
>>>Read ECCLESIASTES 1:7. <<<
*12* What does this verse tell us about rivers? (a) rivers run to the sea, (b) the sea does not get fuller, (c) rivers go back where they were before, (d) all the preceding.
Today we understand how this happens by the water cycle and evaporation. How did Solomon know?
The Bible has contradicted unproved theories, but properly understood it has never contradicted any proved scientific fact. Yet it has often stated scientific truths centuries before men knew them.
While the Bible has been repeatedly proved accurate, those who criticize the Bible have been consistently unable to disprove it. This surely strengthens our faith in other Bible teachings.
These were men of widely different generations, localities and backgrounds. There were kings, slaves, fisherman, physicians, etc. They lived in Israel, Babylon, or Rome, from 1400 BC to 100 AD
Paul does not disagree with Moses, John does not argue with David, etc., though they wrote on the most controversial subjects known to man. Instead, their teachings strengthen and support one another.
Some skeptics claim contradictions exist in the Bible, but ask them to produce one! Most will not even try. Usually they have never really studied the Bible, but are taking someone else's word about it. Proper study can reconcile any supposed contradictions that are suggested.
Consider religious teachers who do write by their own wisdom. Can you find even two who completely agree? Many times just one man will eventually contradict himself!
How then could 40 men of such different backgrounds agree so completely? The answer must be that they were not writing by their own wisdom! The Bible cannot possibly be the product of 40 different minds. It must be the product of one supreme Mind, just as it claims.
This witness testifies that: (1) God must exist, since only a Supreme Being could write such a book as the Bible, and (2) the Bible is a message from that Supreme Being.
>>> Read ISAIAH 41:21-23; 42:8,9. <<<
*13* How did God prove He is the true God and graven images are false? (a) He predicted future events, (b) He just told us to accept this without proof, (c) He does not care what people believe.
Men "do not know what will happen tomorrow" (James 4:14). It takes a Supreme Being to foretell the future accurately. If the God of the Bible can do this, then He must exist and must be the true God.
>>> Read DEUTERONOMY 18:20-22. <<<
*14* If a man attempts to predict the future and fails, what can we know? (a) he is from God so we should believe him, (b) he is not guided by God, (c) we can't know anything about him.
If the Bible writers could infallibly predict the future, surely this would indicate God was working through them. [See also Jer. 28:9.]
>>> Read LUKE 24:25-27,44. <<<
*15* What did Jesus say about Old Testament Scriptures? (a) they no longer have any value, (b) He was unable to understand them, (c) they spoke about Him and He fulfilled them, (d) all the preceding.
Jesus' disciples often quoted Old Testament prophecy to prove that Jesus was the Messiah and that His claims must be true [cf. John 5:39; Acts 2:25-36; 3:18- 26; 10:43; 13:27-39].
Here are just a few of the hundreds of prophecies Jesus fulfilled:
|Place of birth: Bethlehem||Micah 5:2||Matthew 2:1-6|
|Lineage: Seed of David||Jeremiah 23:5||Acts 13:22,23|
|Virgin Birth||Isaiah 7:14||Matthew 1:18-25|
|Prophet, priest, and king||Deut. 18:17-19; Psalm 110:1-4||Acts 3:20-23; Hebrews 7:17; 8:1|
|Fore-runner: John Baptist||Isaiah 40:3,4||Luke 3:2-5|
|Triumphal entry||Zechariah 9:9||Matthew 21:1-9|
|Death by crucifixion||Psalm 22:16-18; 34:20||John 19:18-37|
|Died for others' guilt||Isaiah 53:4-12||1 Peter 2:21-25|
|Buried in rich man's tomb||Isaiah 53:9||Matthew 27:57-60|
|Resurrection||Psalm 16:10||Acts 2:24-32|
Though a man might fulfill one or two of these by coincidence, to fulfill all of them would be impossible except by plan of God.
In addition, the Bible often accurately predicted the future of nations and cities such as Israel (Deut. 28:15-64), Tyre (Ezek. 26:3-14), Nineveh (Zeph. 2:13-15), and Babylon (Isa. 13:19-21; Jer. 51:37-58).
Mere men, writing by their own human wisdom, could never have predicted the future like this, but the Bible writers did so time and again. This witness testifies that God exists and that He spoke through these men. Since Jesus fulfilled these prophecies, He must be the Messiah, the King, the Prophet, and Savior God sent into the world.
A miracle, according to the Bible, is not just any unusual event, nor would an event be called a miracle just because God caused it. A miracle is an event that would be impossible by natural law, but is brought to pass by the supernatural power of God. Examples are:
Raising the dead (John 11:17-44; Acts 9:36-42).
Walking on water and calming a storm (Matt. 14:22-33; 8:23-27).
Feeding multitudes with a few loaves & fishes and having more food left over than there was at the beginning (Matt. 14:13-21; 15:32-39).
Instantaneously and completely healing all kinds of diseases such as leprosy, blindness, deafness, lameness, withered hands, etc. (John 4:46-54; 5:1-9; 9:1-11,30-38; Acts 3:1-20; 4:22; 14:8-10; 5:12-16; 19:11,12; 9:32-35; Mk. 2:1-12, etc.).
>>>Read JOHN 5:36. <<<
*16* What did Jesus say His works proved? (a) that the Father sent Him, (b) that He was a skilled magician, (c) that anybody who loves God can receive miracles.
>>>Read ACTS 14:3. <<<
*17* What purpose was served by the miracles done through Paul? (a) they made Paul wealthy, (b) they proved the Lord spoke through Paul, (c) they proved everybody can do miracles, (d) all the preceding.
People need a way to distinguish God's true spokesmen from false ones. This was the purpose of miracles -- they "confirmed the word" (Mark 16:20). If men could do works that could occur only by the power of God, people would know God was working in those men and they would believe the message preached (Heb. 2:3,4; Acts 2:22; John 20:30,31; 4:48; 2 Cor. 12:12).
Since Jesus and His apostles are not personally in our presence, how can we today reach a verdict whether or not miracles were really performed? We must call the witnesses.
1. The Bible contains testimony from many eyewitnesses to confirm that miracles occurred (John 20:30,31 -- see also the many examples already listed). Remember that the Bible is historically trustworthy.
2. Even the enemies of the gospel testified that Jesus and His apostles did miracles.
>>>Read ACTS 4:16 and JOHN 11:47. <<<
*18* Who realized that Jesus and His apostles did miracles? (a) Jewish leaders and all people in Jerusalem, (b) only Jesus' disciples, (c) only gullible fanatics.
Whether friend or foe, no one who really saw the works of Jesus and His apostles could deny that miracles were done. Their testimony becomes evidence on which we can base our faith (cf. Matt. 12:22-24; Acts 8:5-13; 13:10-13; Ex. 8:17-19; 1 Kings 18:17-39).
Miracles are God's stamp of approval on the teaching of Jesus and the Bible writers. This witness testifies that there is a God who possesses supernatural power. Since Bible writers did miracles, they must have been guided by God's power. And since Jesus did miracles, His claims also must be valid: He was the Son of God.
Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God with power ... by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4). The resurrection is God's proof that Jesus is His Son. It is the greatest of all miracles in that, if we accept it, all other Bible miracles are easy to accept. Yet if we reject the resurrection, the other miracles will not matter since we cannot be saved if we reject the resurrection (cf. Rom. 10:9,10; John 20:28-31).
>>>Read 1 CORINTHIANS 15:3-8. <<<
*19* What did Paul preach about Jesus? (a) He died, (b) He was buried, (c) He arose, (d) He appeared to many, (e) all the preceding.
The four gospel accounts confirm the following facts. Remember that the Bible is historically trustworthy. Virtually everyone concedes these events to be true:
1. Jesus was beaten, nailed to the cross, and pierced by a
2. Roman soldiers examined His body to be sure He was dead.
3. His disciples embalmed His body and placed it in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
4. Jews sealed the tomb and placed soldiers to guard it.
5. On the third day afterwards, the body was gone.
6. Many people claimed they had seen Jesus alive again.
7. The disciples began to preach that His resurrection proved He was Christ (Acts 1:3; 2:24-36; 3:15, etc.).
Any explanation offered for these events must account for all the facts. Especially one must explain the empty tomb and the eyewitness testimony of those who claimed to see Jesus alive. (Read the accounts in Matt. 27 & 28; Mark 15 & 16; Luke 23 & 24; John 18-21; and Acts 1.)
The soldiers were paid to say this (Matt. 28:11-15), but consider:
* This involves men testifying about what happened while they slept! Should we accept this as valid testimony?
* How did the disciples evade the guards who were there to prevent the theft of the body? Note: the punishment for losing a prisoner, especially while sleeping on duty, was death (cf. Acts 12:19; 16:27). If this really had happened, would the soldiers admit it?
* What motive would the disciples have for this? They were persecuted and most died for preaching the resurrection. None gained power, riches, or pleasure. Yet none ever denied his testimony regarding the resurrection. Why do this if they knew it was a lie?
* How would this explain the personal appearances of the body, especially to foes and doubters like Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9) and Thomas (John 20:26ff)?
* How can this explain the testimony of the Roman soldiers, the centurion, and the disciples who embalmed Jesus, all of whom said He was dead (John 19:32-34,38-42; Mk. 15:44,45)?
* Jesus had been scourged, crucified, and pierced by a spear. He was three days in the tomb without food, water, or medication. How could He revive, roll away the huge stone, evade the guards, walk the length of Palestine, and still appear healthy enough to convince the skeptical disciples that He was resurrected? This would be a miracle almost as great as the resurrection!
* Would the character of Jesus allow this? Remember, this would make Him a liar and blasphemer.
* What happened to the body? This theory would mean it would still be in the tomb where the enemies could bring it forth to disprove the claims of a resurrection.
* Were the disciples in a state of mind to hallucinate? People who hallucinate see what they expect to see, but the disciples did not expect to see Jesus alive again. They did not even believe when they did see (Mark 16:11-14; Luke 24:11). Did doubting Thomas and unbelieving Saul hallucinate too?
* How does this explain the number and nature of the appearances? How could so many people have the same hallucination, many of them at the same time? The tone is factual and historical. The witnesses saw, heard, and handled the body (Luke 24:39; John 20:26-29).
None of these theories fit the evidence. The only reasonable verdict is that Jesus presented Himself alive "by many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3). He truly was raised from the dead. Therefore, He truly is the Divine Son of God, just as He claimed.
The witnesses have now testified, and you must reach your verdict. Remember that it does not matter to you what verdict other people reach. What matters is the verdict you reach. Your eternal destiny depends on your decision. In order to conclude honestly that God does NOT exist, the Bible is NOT God's word, and Jesus is NOT God's Son, here is what you must do:
1. Explain the existence of the universe without God to create
it. What reasonable explanation is there?
2. Disprove the accuracy of the Bible. Skeptics have tried this for centuries without success.
3. Disprove the unity of the Bible. Again, this has been tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully.
4. Explain the fulfilled prophecies. What explanation can there be, other than the inspiration of God?
5. Disprove the miracles. But even Jesus' enemies in the first century could not do this!
6. Disprove the resurrection. What explanation can you give?
What verdict will you reach? Do you believe God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God?
Correct answers to the questions are as follows:
*1* = C; *2* = A; *3* = B; *4* = A; *5* = C; *6* = A; *7* = C; *8* = B; *9* = A; *10* = C; *11* = B; *12 = D; *13* = A; *14* = B; *15* = C; *16* = A; *17* = B; *18* = A; *19* = E
The following books were especially helpful in preparing this study and will be helpful to you in further study:
Indestructible Foundations, by Peter Wilson.
Internal Evidences of Christianity, by Homer Hailey.
Introduction to Christian Evidences, by Ferrell Jenkins.
Twilight of Evolution, by Henry M. Morris.
Copyright 1980, 1990, 1998, David E. Pratte; www.gospelway.com
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