Proof Even a Skeptic Can't Deny Sermon by David A. Reed at Immanuel Baptist Church – May 7, 2017Back to ImmanuelBaptistNB.org
Jesus gave all Christians - not just pastors and missionaries -
the Great Commission:
to preach the Gospel to all people,
making disciples and teaching them.
And 1 Peter 3:15 says,
"always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you"
When we actually do this -
when we talk to unbelievers about our faith -
we find that many have doubts about the Bible:
-- Is it really true?
-- Is it really the Word of God?
Many people have doubts like that,
and our job as Christians is to reach them with the Gospel.
So, how can you do that?
How can you ease their doubts about the Bible
by giving them evidence that it is true
and that it is really the Word of God?
How can you convince even a skeptic
that there is sound reason to believe the Bible?
There are many lines of approach to proving
the Bible is truly the Word of God,
not just a book written by men.
One approach involves Bible history - the accurate history
of the Middle East
recorded in the Bible.
The existence of ancient kings and kingdoms
described in Scripture has been verified,
time and again, by archaeological discoveries.
In fact, archaeologists have long used the Bible as a guide,
to help them know what to look for and where to dig for it.
Another approach to proving the existence of God
involves Bible prophecy.
And this is my favorite approach,
because the evidence is right there in your hand,
in the Bible itself.
The Bible contains many prophecies that have already undergone fulfillment.
If we look at these, and at their accurate fulfillment
hundreds or even thousands of years later,
we will find convincing evidence
for building faith.
How could the Bible contain these accurate prophecies,
unless the writers were inspired by an all-wise and all-knowing God?
The Bible foretold the rise and fall of kingdoms,
and many events down through history.
For example, in the book of Daniel
the prophet uses symbolic language to predict
a succession of world powers who would fight each other
over a period of hundreds and thousands of years.
And Daniel concludes with this long line of human governments
being replaced by the Kingdom of God
in the hands of the coming Messiah, or Christ.
In other passages written hundreds and even a thousand years before Christ,
the Bible foretold that the Messiah
- would be born in Bethlehem
- would be born of a virgin
- prophecy foretold the exact year when Jesus
began his earthly ministry,
- that he would preach in Galilee
- would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
- would be scourged leaving stripes on his body,
- and would be killed for our sins
- would be buried in a rich man's grave
- and would rise again from the dead.
All of these things were written in the Old Testament
hundreds of years before they happened.
So, Bible prophecy provides lots of evidence and proof
that can be shown to an unbeliever,
to help them come to belief in Jesus.
Is there a chance that later writers 'fudged' the Old Testament prophecies
by writing them, or re-writing them, after the events occurred?
No, because many copies of the ancient hand-written scrolls
were already distributed far and wide
long before the events
that fulfilled those prophecies.
The Old Testament was completed by the third century B.C.,
when it was translated into Greek in Alexandria, Egypt.
There were Hebrew copies of the Old Testament
circulating in some lands,
and Greek copies circulating elsewhere.
There were also Aramaic translations
of the Old Testament circulating
before the birth of Christ.
So, if anyone tried to change a copy
to fudge the fulfillment of a prophecy
such an attempt would have been exposed
by all the other copies already in circulation.
No one could possibly have collected all the copies,
in multiple languages,
from Egypt to Babylon and everywhere in between,
to make such later modifications.
And enough copies have been found,
among ancient artifacts unearthed during archaeological digs,
to establish that they were written long before
the events they accurately predicted.
Fulfilled prophecy constitutes irrefutable evidence
proving the Bible is a supernatural book,
beyond human wisdom,
even though humans were used as God's scribes to write it.
But some of these prophecies are rather complex,
and some of them can be difficult to explain
to someone unfamiliar with ancient history.
Also, unbelievers may doubt some of the evidence.
They may say, "How do you know that's really a prophecy?
How do you know it wasn't written after the events described."
So, what I want to do this morning
is look at a prophecy that can't be denied.
This is a prophecy that even the most skeptical can't deny.
It was written thousands of years in advance,
and it came true beyond any reasonable doubt.
And everyone can see the fulfillment today.
This is the Bible's prediction
that the God of the Jews
would someday be worshiped
by people of all nations all over the earth.
Psalm 22 is one place where we find it stated. [ OPEN ]
Many of the Psalms in the Old Testament
were written around 1000 B.C. - around 3000 years ago -
when people all over the earth were worshiping idols.
But Psalm 22:27 predicts that people all over the earth
will someday worship the God of Israel.
[ READ ]
So, the Psalm predicted
that nations far away at the ends of the earth
would turn to Israel's God.
That prophecy is repeated,
over and over again, in many ancient parts of the Old Testament,
written thousands of years ago.
And it came true thousands of years later.
This prophecy that the God of Israel
would someday be worshiped world-wide
by people of all nations
was written during an era
when each nation had its own gods and goddesses.
So, there's no way that ordinary people could have written this
without Almighty God
telling them what to write.
Psalm 96, which we read this morning mentions the contrast
between the true God
worshiped ONLY by the Jews,
and the false gods and idols worshiped
by all the other nations on earth.
Psalm 96 says in verses 4 and 5, which we read:
4 For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Yes, the people of Israel worshipped the unseen Creator of the universe.
He revealed himself to Abraham and Abraham's offspring
by the name Yahweh or Jehovah -
the Hebrew tetragrammaton or word of four letters, YHWH.
But the rest of the world
had long earlier forgotten about the Creator.
All the families of the nations were descended
from Noah and his family
after the world-wide flood.
The book of Genesis tells how the various nations
of Europe, Asia and Africa
all descended from Noah's sons and grandsons.
Genesis names the nationalities,
and which sons and grandsons of Noah they descended from,
and the geographical areas where they settled.
The sons of Noah and their wives
who survived the flood in Noah's ark
must have told their children about the flood
and the Almighty Creator who sent it
to cleanse the earth of wickedness.
But their offspring failed to pass this knowledge on
to subsequent generations.
And so the nations descended from them
made statues or idols to worship.
Israel, too, often fell into idolatry,
and instead of worshiping the true God,
they made idols for themselves,
and worshiped those false gods.
But Israel possessed the Pentateuch,
the ancient Hebrew books of Moses
with their history of Creation,
mankind's fall into sin,
and the flood of Noah's day.
And God kept sending prophets to Israel,
to remind the Jews of the true God,
and to turn them back to the sacred Scriptures.
But the rest of the world had no such reminders.
Instead, they made idols for themselves,
and worshiped those idols as gods,
for thousands of years.
As we read at Psalm 96, verse 5:
5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols
Each nation had its own 'god' or 'gods.'
But the Bible writers kept prophesying
that this would change:
that the God of Israel would someday be worshiped world-wide.
Let's look at Psalm 67, where this prophecy is repeated.
Remember, at the time this Psalm was written,
hardly anyone outside of Israel
had ever heard of the God of Israel.
[ READ Psalm 67 verses 1 through 7 ]
So, the psalmist spoke of God being known
among all nations
and people far away at "the ends of the earth"
fearing the true God.
Back when the Old Testament
was being written,
the nation of the Ammonites
worshipped an idol named Molech,
and sacrificed their children as part of that worship.
The people of Phoenicia and Canaan
bowed down to statues of the false god Baal
and the false goddess Ashtoreth.
The nation of Moab served their god Chemosh.
The Philistines prostrated themselves
Throughout ancient history,
the people of Ephesus shouted praise
to their goddess Artemis.
The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all worshipped
whole pantheons of gods,
including Zeus, Mercury, deified emperors and pharaohs,
and many, many others.
So, here is where the undeniable evidence for the Bible comes in.
Here is where there is proof
that the God of the Bible must exist
-- because the Bible tells the future,
even thousands of years ahead of time.
Let's turn to Psalm 86
where the prophecy is repeated again,
that the true God worshiped only by the Jews
would someday be worshiped in all nations.
[ READ Psalm 86 verses 9 and 10 ]
So, the psalmist said "all nations" would worship
the God of Israel.
At the time these Psalms were written - 3000 years ago -
nearly everyone on earth worshiped idols
and never heard of the God of Israel.
But today there are millions of Christians worshiping God
in China, in North and South America, and
all over Europe and Asia -
everywhere on earth.
How could the writers of those Psalms
possibly have known this would happen -
unless Almighty God inspired their writing
with supernatural knowledge?
Now, let's turn to Jeremiah, chapter 10.
Jeremiah was written around 600 B.C. - around 2,600 years ago.
[ READ Jeremiah 10 verses 1 - 11 ]
So, God told the prophet Jeremiah
how foolish the Gentile nations were
by making idols for themselves
to worship as gods.
And God said those false gods would be destroyed.
And that has actually happened.
Who today worships Dagon or Molech? Nobody!
Jeremiah went on in chapter 16, [ OPEN ]
to foretell that the Gentile nations
would someday worship the God of Israel.
[ READ Jeremiah 16 verses 19 - 20 ]
How could Jeremiah have known
thousands of years ahead of time
that people of all nations
would give up their idols to worship the God of Israel?
And now let's turn to the book of Malachi - the last book
in the Old Testament,
just before Matthew and the New Testament.
Malachi was written around 430 B.C. - around 2400 years ago.
[ READ Malachi 1:11 ]
So, this predicts that the God of the Bible
would someday be worshiped among all nations
from east to west,
"from the rising to the setting of the sun."
Just think how unlikely those words would have seemed
to non-Israelites at that time.
The rest the world
had no curiosity to read the religious writings of the Jews!
They were all worshiping false gods and idols
everywhere on earth.
But the God of Israel has worshipers today
throughout the earth.
Besides Jewish synagogues,
there are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches
everywhere on every continent
devoted to the God of Israel.
And even a billion Muslims claim to worship the God of Abraham.
Is it mere coincidence
that the God of Israel has worshipers everywhere
while the gods of Israel's ancient neighbors
like Molech and Dagon
have been forgotten?
No, this is exactly what the Bible prophesied would occur.
Yes, in spite of overwhelming odds,
these ancient biblical prophecies have proved true.
The God of Israel is worshiped today by people of all nations,
even by millions in a land as foreign to Israel as China.
When one of my books was published
in a Japanese language edition,
I visited Japan
and shared in worship with Japanese Christians.
In South Korea,
30 percent of the population is Christian.
Yes, the God of Israel finds worshipers everywhere today
just as He prophesied in the Bible thousands of years ago.
How could the ancient Bible writers see thousands of years ahead
into mankind's future?
How could they know, in advance,
that the gods of the Gentile nations would be forgotten, while the of that tiny Hebrew nation
God would have worshipers in every nation?
Actually, the Bible writers themselves did not "know" the future,
except in the sense that they wrote down
what they were told by God.
It was the God of the Bible who knew the future,
because he could make it happen.
These prophecies were undeniably fulfilled thousands of years later,
and they constitute indisputable evidence
of the truthfulness, inspiration and reliability of the Bible.
These things can serve to strengthen our faith.
And we can share these things with unbelievers
to give them reason to believe.