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Factually Accurate, Historically True, Archaeologically Proven

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Big Idea:  The Bible has been proven true in every detail through the use or archaeology and shows that it is a special book written by God.

I.              Introduction

A.            In mathematics, a proof is a convincing demonstration that a mathematical theory is necessarily true.

1.             Generally this is done by deductive reasoning and logic.

2.             However, there are also some theories that can be proven by what’s called “proof by exhaustion” or what same people call “proof by brute force”

a.              What they seek to do is test the theory by running trial after trial in the hopes of finding a way to prove the theory false.

b.              For example, I can speculate that the sum of two even numbers is also an even number.

i.               That would be easy to test by brute force, as you would go about simply adding two even numbers together and seeing what the sum was.

ii.             To “prove” this theorem, you would have to do it with an infinite amount of numbers.

iii.           In reality, you do it for awhile until you are exhausted and come to the conclusion that the theory is true.

c.              Another example is one we see every day:  a map of the US

i.               The “four-coloured theory” states that you only need four different colors to color a map without two states touching each other having the same color.

ii.             This has been proven true primarily through computer simulations.

3.             Two points immediately come up

a.              The first is that you need to decide how many trials or cases will be enough to prove the theory true.  How much evidence will you need before you decide for yourself that the theory is true?

b.              The second is that it will only take one example, or one trial, to prove the theory false.

i.               Only one sum that is odd.

ii.             Or one map where two same-colored states touch.

B.            Last week Pastor Doug opened up our sermon series entitled “From God To Us” by preaching on “Why I Believe the Bible”

1.             One of the excuses he gave as to why many people don’t believe the Bible is that they think it contains just a bunch of stories, not historical events.

2.             What I want to do today is show you that the Bible is not just a collection of stories, but is a collection of events, recorded by eyewitnesses, that are factually accurate, historically true and archaeologically proven.

C.            Why this topic?

1.             Two reasons:

a.              First, is that the Bible makes the claim to be from God

i.               Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God”

ii.             David in 2 Sam. 23:2 said, “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.”

iii.           Throughout the OT we have the phrase “Thus saith the Lord”, indicating that these are His very words.

iv.           Therefore, if the Bible is from God, it should stand up to the highest scrutiny.  Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God proves true”

a.)           Hebrew means that the Word of God is tested and refined like a precious metal and comes through the fire pure and without blemish.

b.)           Every name, event, date and detail that is written in the Bible is an opportunity for us to put these claims to the test.

v.             However, the Bible is not the only book that makes claims of supernatural authorship.

a.)           The Book of Mormon, for example, is another book that claims to be from God.

i.)             Describes several Israelite tribes coming to America in 600BC and building great cities and civilizations before being wiped out.

ii.)           Absolutely no archaeological evidence for this.  No proof that any of it ever happened.  No great cities, no chariots, no evidences of any kind.

iii.)         The Smithsonian Institution issued an official statement in 1996 and again in 1998 that it "has found no archaeological evidence to support [the book's] claims."

iv.)         National Geographic Society has made similar comments.

b.)           Therefore, if the Book of Mormon can’t get any of its facts straight, why would you believe anything it has to say about God, Jesus, salvation, or eternity?

vi.           What about the Bible?  Can it get its facts straight?

a.)           The Bible claims this about itself, we want to examine it.

b.              Second, archaeology is used to try to disprove the Bible

i.               “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”

a.)           A tomb found in Jerusalem that contained 10 ossuaries (bone boxes) that had inscribed on them names like Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

b.)           In March 2007 (just before Easter), a famous director produced a documentary explaining this find with the understanding that if Jesus had an ossuary, He couldn’t have possibly risen from the dead.

c.)           Almost immediately denounced by nearly every expert, including the actual archaeologist who discovered the tomb nearly 30 years previous as impossible that these belonged to Jesus’ family, let alone Jesus Himself.

2.             So we have two main reasons for looking at this topic: the first is that other books make a similar claim as being from God, and second is that people are trying to disprove that the Bible is from God.

a.              Let’s look at some evidences and see what they have to say.

II.           Body

A.            For the longest time, biblical scholars refused to believe the Bible to be an accurate record of events, places and people because they could not find evidence for some things they considered to be major.

B.            People

1.             The ancient existence of a nation called Israel.

a.              Most scholars didn’t believe that Israel existed as a distinct people group before 800BC, whereas the Bible describes Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt around 1450BC.

b.              In 1896, an English discoverer found what is called the Merneptah Stele, named after the Egyptian King who wrote this description of his war victories.

c.              At the bottom of this 10-foot rock, king Merneptah mentions that previously he had defeated a people called Israel in a land called Canaan.

d.             Not only is this the earliest mention of Israel outside of the Bible, but it has been dated to 1207BC, which lines up with when the people of Israel were living in the Promised Land.

e.              Michael Hasel, director of the Institute of Archaeology at Southern Adventist University says the Merneptah Stele gives indication “that Israel was a significant socioethnic entity that needed to be reckoned with.”

f.               Not only did the people of Israel exist as early as the Bible describes they did, they existed where the Bible says they did and they were a well-formed, sophisticated ethnic community.

g.              Finding evidence of a large people group (>1 million) should be relatively easy.  What about individuals?

2.             King David

a.              For many years, scholars and critics asserted that many biblical figures, including King David, were mere myth because of their failure to find any evidence of them outside of the Bible.

b.              In 1994, a black rock, called the Tel Dan Stele, was found that dated to around 850BC.

c.              On it is inscribed a military conquest by a king of Damascus over the kings of Israel and Judah.

d.             What makes it significant is that the phrase “House of David” appears as a reference to the king of Judah and is the first time that the name of David has appeared anywhere outside of the Bible.

e.              This discovery was sensational enough to make the front page of The New York Times.

3.             Pontius Pilate

a.              Pontius Pilate is someone that Christianity knows all too well.

i.               He was the Roman leader mentioned in the Gospels as having officially “washed his hands” of Jesus’ scourging and execution even as he was ordering it to be done.

ii.             He is the one mentioned in the Apostle’s Creed that affirms that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.

iii.           Yet, it wasn’t until 1961 that anyone could find any proof that he existed.

b.              In 1961, a block of limestone was discovered in a Roman theatre in Israel that has the inscription, “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea”.

i.               This short inscription tells us several things.

a.)           First, Pontius Pilate did exist.

b.)           Second, he was the Roman leader of Judea.

c.)           Third, he was called a prefect, and not a procurator.  Leaders weren’t called procurators until after 44AD.

ii.             Which means that the Bible got it right as to the person’s name, his rank, where he was stationed, and when he held office.

iii.           Not bad for someone who didn’t exist in some people’s minds until 48 years ago.

4.             Gedaliah

a.              What about the little guys – the people who are mentioned only once or in passing?

b.              Jeremiah 38:1-6 records four men arresting Jeremiah, presenting him to King Zedekiah for judgment and then lowering him into a water-storage pit as his sentence.

c.              One of these men is Gedaliah, son of Pashhur, who is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible.

i.               In July 2008, a bulla was found near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

ii.             A bulla was a lump of clay used to secure a rolled-up piece of papyrus and normally a signet ring or other device was pushed against the clay to make an impression as to who wrote or owned the scroll.

iii.           This bulla that was found contained the words “Gedaliah son of Pashhur” just as it is recorded in the Bible.

d.             Interesting that it was found right next to where, three years earlier, a bulla with the royal inscription “Jehucal son of Shelemiah” was found.

i.               Jehucal is also mentioned in the same verse as Gedaliah as one of Jeremiah’s conspirators (Jehucal is an alternate form of Jucal).

ii.             Two nobodys who are mentioned only in passing in the middle of the book of Jeremiah, but yet both of them are confirmed through archaeological discoveries.

5.             Luke-Acts

a.              What of the New Testament, particularly the Gospels – the books that tell us specifically the story of Jesus?

b.              Sir William Ramsay was a Scottish archaeologist in the late 1800s and before the turn of the century became the recognized authority on all matters pertaining to Paul’s missionary travels and Christianity in the Roman Empire.

i.               Yet, he started out with a different goal in mind: to disprove the reliability of the book of Acts.

ii.             He said, “I began with a mind unfavorable to [Christianity]...but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.”

iii.           After years of searching, he found that Luke named and described 32 countries, 54 cities and 9 islands without a single error.  Facts that so overwhelmed Ramsay that he eventually gave his life to Christ.

c.              At one time, Luke was thought to be totally inaccurate regarding details surrounding the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-3.

i.               The critics once argued that there was no census, Quirinius was governor of Syria at a later date and that citizens did not have to return to their homelands for a census.

ii.             However, archaeology has shown that the Romans did hold censuses every 14 years.

iii.           Furthermore, it is now known that Quirinius was likely governor of Syria twice, once around 6 A.D., but the other around 7 B.C., which would correspond to the time of the census of Luke 2.

iv.           Finally, a papyrus was found in Egypt which gives directions for a Roman census and orders all people away from home to return in preparation of the coming census.

v.             Ramsay also said, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of facts trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense...In short this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”

6.             While none of these evidences or quotes proves that the Bible is true in all that it says, or even proves that it is from God, it does show that the Bible is factually accurate, in what it presents to us, even down to the minutest details.

a.              As Christians, this should give us confidence.

b.              What we read, what we study and preach from, what we use to help us guide our lives contains a reliable and accurate detailed description of what God has done in history.

c.              We have archaeology to help us see that these are not just stories, or cleverly devised myths (2 Peter 1:16), but they are eyewitness accounts of reality, proving every word of God to be true (Prov. 30:5).

C.            Dead Sea Scrolls

1.             Yet archaeology has given us one more thing.  With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls we have been given a greater confidence that the copies of the Bible that we are holding today are true and accurate copies of what was originally written down well over 2000 years ago.

2.             We can have confidence that the Word of God that we hold today, was God’s original Word.

III.        Transition

A.            So not only do we hold in our hands what was written down more than 2000 years ago almost exactly, but we also have confidence that what is written is historically accurate down to the smallest detail.

B.            We hold in our hands a gift from God to us, for no other book in the world can make the claims that the Bible makes and back them up like the Bible does.

IV.        Conclusion

A.            As I said in the opening, we are able to put this book to the test.

1.             We are able to take each of the claims and prove whether or not they are true.

2.             I have only scratched the surface as to the evidences that exist that back up the Bible’s claims of accuracy.

3.             In fact, the late archaeologist Joseph Free said, “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.”

4.             Although not every person, place or event has been validated with extra-biblical evidence, there has not been one discovery that has been contrary to what the Bible has described.

B.            How many cases or scenarios must be proven true, before you accept the theory that the Bible is written by God?  How many evidences do you need before you realize that this Book is from God to us?

1.             Considering that 40 different human writers, over a period of 1500 years, writing in different languages and cultures, with different lifestyles and experiences can put these 66 books together without a single error or contradiction of fact.

2.             This is strong evidence that there was a supernatural author behind the creation of this book

C.            Archaeology is a wonderful tool we have to validate that what we believe is true.

1.             Yet the Bible is not the focus of our faith.

2.             The focus of our faith is on a Man who walked this earth 2000 years ago, who lived a sinless life, who died on a cross and then rose from the dead, just as He said He would.

3.             Because every other description in the Bible has proven to be accurate, I can believe with certainty that the tomb was empty on Sunday morning, just as the Bible tells me it was.

4.             I can believe that Jesus ate and conversed with the disciples after His resurrection from the dead.

5.             I can believe that the Holy Spirit was given to each believer on Pentecost and is given to us believers today.

6.             I can believe these things, and put my faith in the God that the Bible describes because I believe that this Bible is from God to us.

V.           Prayer

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