Community Group Questions 4/21/13

Evidence Series Artwork

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Announcements:

  • Next Class - (blue insert)
    • If you have never really had anyone explain how to read the bible or pray or what the next step is to take since putting your faith in Jesus, or maybe you just recently put your faith in Jesus, I want to tell you about a new class we’ve developed just for you.
    • We want you to understand what to do with a Bible or how to pray or what the next step is.
    • So we’ve designed anew, 3-week classthat will take placeduring the 2nd Service, starting this past Sunday (4/21).
    • If you’re interested, you can follow the big blue signs right after the service to find the class.
    • If you can’t make it today but still want some information, write “NEXT” on your Connection Card. We’ll get you more information and make sure you know where to go and what to do.
    • If you can’t make it to one of them, that’s ok. Come to the others.
  • Family Dedication Celebration
    • This Mother's Day (5/12) we will be having our newly redesigned Family Dedication Celebration.
    • Save the date in your calendars now and pick up a Family Dedication Celebration packetin the Kids Ministry.
    • Our goal with the Family Dedication Celebration is to look at this as the beginning of your journey as you teach your children what it means to love God with all your heart.
    • If you have questions please feel free to contact Melissa Mashburn, Kids Ministry Director

Sermon Title:Evidence, Part 3: The Case of a Reliable Bible

Psalm 19:7-11, Psalm 119:160, Proverbs 30:5, 2 Timothy 3:16

 

Topics:

  • Christians claim that the scripture is infallible (the message it contains is true) and that it is inerrant it has no errors. That is why we base our lives on it. We trust that God has preserved His message to us. We expect it to transform our lives.
  • But that is a huge claim! Wouldn’t it be true that if we found one error then it would be all unravelled? And aren’t there a people who claim there are a ton of errors in the Bible?
  • What we will find when we examine the evidence is that if we look a little bit deeper we will find out just how reliable the Bible is! It is unbelievably reliable.
  • First, what does the Bible claim about itself? Psalm 119:7-11 uses words like: it is perfect, sure, right, pure, true. Psalm 119:160, Proverbs 30:5, and 2 Timothy 3:16 say it is: truth, endures forever, proves true, breathed out by God.
  • So what the Bible is saying is that when God inspired the individual authors to write down His message, it was perfect.
  • Then what we know is that God’s people meticulously copied those documents through the centuries. The Bible is not claiming that the scribes' transcriptions have been true and pure and perfect. It’s saying the originals are true.
  • Wait, doesn’t that make you uncomfortable? Knowing that your Bible is imperfect? Not at all. Let’s look at the evidence.
  • When compared to other ancient documents, the Bible has a wealth of evidence that shows it is extremely reliable. For example:
    • Illiad by Homer has 643 ancient copies. The oldest copy is 400 years after Homer wrote it.
    • Of Plato’s writings we have 7 ancient manuscripts. The oldest is 1300 years after it was written.
    • Of the New Testament we have 5366 ancient manuscripts in Greek. And we have manuscripts that date within 40-50 years of when it was originally written. In other translations we have 19,284. Within the quotations of the “Church Fathers” (100 AD - 300s AD) we have 36,289 quotations. We could easily reconstruct the scripture just from the quotations of the Church Fathers.
    • The ancient manuscripts we have of the Bible, puts it on an entire different level when compared to other ancient writings. No other ancient document is even near as closely attested to as the Bible.
    • Bruce Metzger of Princeton Seminary said of the 20,000 lines in the new testament we can have 99.6% accuracy rate.
  • But what about that last .4%? What kind of errors are those. Could a scribe have let something really bad in? Does it bother you that there are not any of the original documents left? It does not bother us because the scribal errors are usually minimal and they do not change the meaning at all. Here is an example of an error that people say shows a clear error in the Bible:
    • In 1 Kings 4:26 it says Solomon had 40,000 horse stalls, and in 2 Chronicles 9:25 it says he had 4,000. Is that an error? Is that an inconsistency? Yes it is a scribal error. Remember the Bible doesn’t claim the preservation has been perfect but the original.
    • But this isn’t new information. This is not something scholars are trying to keep silent. In fact most Bible translations have a footnote in 1 Kings that tells the reader that there is an ancient manuscript that says 4,000. So obviously we know it was a scribal error.
    • But within that scribal error did any of the meaning get lost?
  • Sometimes the Bible is questions on historical ground. People say how can you know what the historical Jesus was really like. There is great evidence for Jesus, especially when compared to other historical figures.
    • Most of what we know about Alexander the Great is from 5 ancient sources, the earliest of whom were not even born until 3-400 years after Alexander the Great.
    • What we know about Jesus is written by His followers and during that first generation. They are eye witness accounts.
    • But scholars don’t trust the Biblical histories because they think His followers' perspectives were skewed.
    • But all we know about Socrates is primarily from three ancient sources. Of these three, historians defer to the accounts of those who were his followers.
  • What about other errors like alleged contradictions in the Bible? Again look a little farther and you will find many of them are not contradictions.
  • Unfortunately many people nitpick the scripture and miss the brilliance of it. A statistician calculated the chances of Jesus fulfilling just 8 of his prophecies and found it to be 1 in 100 quadrillion.
  • When we have with the Bible is an ancient document that has more ancient manuscripts to back it up than any other in history. One that was written perfectly and has been meticulously preserved. A document that God preserved to impact our lives with.
  • We should be inspired to invest time studying such a message from God.

For more info on this subject, check out these resources:

  • The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel
  • The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell
  • Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, by Norman Geisler

Key Questions:

  1. What is the best kind of peanut butter?
  2. Read Psalm 19:7-11
  3. What are some of the things this passage says about the scripture?
  4. Read Psalm 119:160, Proverbs 30:5, and 2 Timothy 3:16
  5. What jumps out at you from these passages?
  6. Which of all of these statements are the hardest for you to believe? Why?
  7. What are arguments you have heard that question the reliability of the Bible?
  8. What evidences give you confidence in the Bible?
  9. How will you respond next time someone questions the reliability of the Bible?
  10. What should you say when someone shows you what appears to be an error or an inconsistency and you don’t know how explain it?
  11. How does this reinvigorate us concerning personal study of the Bible?
  12. What specifically can you do this week to invest more time in studying God’s words?

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