YGod Adult Forum Class
August 31, 2014
Part 1 - A People of the Book
The words and the Word
Early in his career, Billy Graham, had a crisis of faith. Lee Strobel recounts this in the story of two men: Billy Graham and his good friend and co-evangelist, Charles Templeton. Both men came to a moment of decision and that decision was regarding the "veracity" of the Word of God. One decided one way, and the other another way. Charles Templeton became an apologist for agnosticism - his reason overruled faith, and he eventually wrote a book called Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting The Christian Faith. Of course, we know the choice that Mr. Graham made, on his knees before the historic Los Angeles Crusade: "I will accept this [bible] as Thy Word - by faith. I'm going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be your inspired Word.
Of course we know that difference that made for the ministry of Billy Graham! And like Billy we are forced to make a decision, not only about Christ, but about the Word which He embodies. Will we allow faith once again to take us past what we "think" - what we think is possible or probable according to our natural reason and the rules of logic in our world. But once again, faith can be placed in evidence and need not be merely 'blind.'
There are twin tributaries that come together as our understanding, by faith, of the Bible as the Word of God: Its external evidence and its internal witness. Externally, one must point to the Bible as the most unique book in the whole world! Just a few facts:
> Written over a period of 1500 years
> Written on three continents
> Written in three languages
> 40 different writers from different settings as diverse as a palace and a cave!
> Writers from times of war and times of peace; from the heights of joy to the depths of despair.
It is a very human book, exposing the roots and fruits of human wickedness and sin, yet always sounding a note of hope for redemption. There are also some other external facts about the Bible that are pertinent:
> World's first printed book
> World's most popular printed book
> World's largest first edition printing : RSV in 1,000,000 copies
And its not just its popularity that matters, but the facts of its manuscript evidence:
> Placed side by side with other great manuscripts of history, the bible far surpasses normal
standards and norms for reliability, established for all other historical writings. It's authenticity
is above reproach, though many have tried. One writer referred to the Bible as "an anvil that
had worn out many a hammer!"
> Historic authors like Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Tacitus, Herodutus, and Thudydides are attested to
and considered authentic with as few as 5 manuscripts in existence or as many as 20. Compare
this to the New Testament manuscripts which number in excess of 5,000 existing copies.
> Authenticity is also determined by the time between the writing and the first copies that we have.
The standard for historic literature of this type is 900 - 1,400 years, while the evidence we have
for the Bible's N.T. only has 100 years between its writing and our first existing copy.
Externally it makes good sense to believe that the Bible is a very special book, because of the above facts, but it takes more than externals to give us the faith to believe that this is in fact the Word of God!
The Bible's internal witness is every bit as amazing as its external evidence.
Next week we will cover the internal witness of the scriptures and their apprehension by eyes of faith.
Questions for Consideration:
What objections have you encountered from others in regard to the Bible? Hard sayings? Contradictions? Out of date? Non-scientific?
Is a Biblical worldview different from the prevalent worldview today (a systematization of the world and how it works)?
What is the part of the Bible that has touched your life the most? Gospels? Psalms? Proverbs?
What difference has the Bible made in your life?