The Validity Of The Bible In An Age Of Skepticism – Part 8

According to the Christian faith, God has chosen to reveal Himself primarily within a permanent written document. And in the process, what He’s done, sometimes I don’t think we realize and understand this, He has, in the process, deliberately chosen to surrender His greatest advantage, and that is the power to compel belief. In other words, God has not chose to overwhelm us nor enslave us by His awesome power. Instead, what He’s done is He’s provided the written word and He invites those who choose, and I would underscore that word choose, to seek Him in that written document, the Bible. And what’s interesting is that He makes this promise. He promises that if we will truly seek Him, we will find Him to be a living reality. But in the work that I do, what I so often encounter is men who aren’t really interested in seeking. They’re out chasing after the wind. Now if you will recall, if you’ve been to any of our previous sessions, we looked at the historical record. That was in session two; and in session five I believe it is, we looked at the archeological record. And I believe demonstrated that the words we have in the Bible, the words that we read in the Bible today have been passed down to us with incredible accuracy, more so really than any other book in antiquity. And the historical details, we spend a lot of time talking about the historical details, the times, the places, the names; they also are very sound and very accurate. But it leads us really to the big question – the real big question. Okay, let’s say it is historically accurate and it hasn’t been doctored with as it’s been passed down and handed down over the years from one generation to the next. The real question is how do we know it’s a divine book? How do we know it’s the revealed Word of God? In other words, what makes it any different from any other ancient history book or book on philosophy? And really, if you think about it, that’s a very legitimate question. A very good question. But the answer to it is quite simple. Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God for one main reason. Because Jesus says it is. I want you to think about that for a minute. Jesus puts His stamp of approval on the Old Testament. In fact, on 92 occasions, Jesus and His apostles supported a position they took by saying “It is written” and then would quote the Old Testament. And the reason they did it is because Jesus and His apostles considered the Old Testament scriptures to be the written Word of God and therefore the ultimate authority in life. You know, Jesus could have come along and said, Don’t accept the Old Testament scriptures, the inspired writings, or He could have come along and pointed out all the errors in it, what they should accept and what they should reject. Instead, by His authority, He confirmed them. Jeffrey Sheler, who is quite the scholar, he was a journalist for U.S. News and World Report for a number of years. He says, “It is clear from the New Testament that Jesus held the Psalms, for instance, in high regard and equated David’s writing with scripture. Throughout the Gospel, Jesus quotes the Psalms more than any other part of the Hebrew Bible.” And in Mark 12:35, He precedes a quotation of Psalm 110 by declaring that its author, David, wrote it through the power of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, as we talked last week, Jesus had appointed the apostles and He had told them before His final departure that the Holy Spirit would come, the third person of the Trinity, and listen to this, He said very distinctly, “He will guide you into all truth and he will bring to remembrance all that you have seen and heard that you’ve seen in my life.” All that you’ve witnessed. You see, Christ, He appointed them as witnesses. They were eyewitnesses to His glory. Clearly, as His representatives, they were to write out and approve the New Testament record. The bottom line, guys, one of their primary responsibilities was to write out and approve the New Testament record. This is why the books in the New Testament, as we said last week, had to have apostolic authority. When they were doing the canon, that’s what determined what went into the New Testament and what was discarded. In effect, Jesus has confirmed that the written word in the past, the present, and the future, is God’s primary means of communicating with humanity. And therefore, the real question becomes not is the Bible the Word of God, but is Jesus the Son of God. Does Jesus have the authority to put His stamp of approval on the Old Testament? Does He have the authority to appoint men to write out the New Testament? Because, guys, I don’t have that authority. I can’t say the Bible is divine because I say so. Only God can do that. And so, the big question is, is Jesus God? Again, the Bible tells us that Christ came into the world in the flesh. God became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory. Hebrews 1:3 says, “He, Jesus as the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of God’s nature.” And, maybe most significantly, while being tried for blasphemy, Jesus stood before the High Priest and was asked, “Are you the Christ? Are you the son of the most blessed one?” Listen to Jesus’ response. He said, “I am and you shall see the son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of Heaven.” Now guys, either that statement is true or it’s false. There’s really no other position you can take when somebody makes a claim like that. And, at one point, when Jesus was with His disciples, He asked the question, “Who do people say that I am?” And they gave several responses, and then He turned to them and said, “Who do you say that I am?” And finally Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Now how would we respond to that? I mean, do we have an answer that we have real conviction in? So this morning I want to close our series by looking at this claim that Jesus made to be to the High Priest, is it true. Now hear this, this is important, guys, because if it’s not true, if Jesus was not God in the flesh, then what are we to make of Him? What are we to make of this historical person who led such an extraordinary life? You know, history clearly indicates He was not a mythological figure. So, was He just a great moral teacher? Was He a magician? Was He an illusionist? You know, if you were serious about seeking spiritual truth, you just can’t dismiss Him.  And if Jesus claimed to be God, but was really not, then what are we to think of Him? French journalist, Michka Assayas, had a fascinating interview with rock superstar Bono of the rock group U2. You may be familiar with him, you may not. He’s quite a figure, he’s in the news all the time and he is a Christian, which baffles the media. But in this interview, listen to this, Assayas asks this question, He says, “Christ has His rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, Bono, isn’t that a little far-fetched?” Listen to the response. “No, it’s not far-fetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this. He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Mohammed, Buddha, or Confucius, but actually Christ doesn’t allow you to do that. He doesn’t allow you off the hook. Christ says, no, I’m not saying I’m a teacher. Don’t call me a teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. What I am saying is I am The Messiah. I am saying I am God incarnate. And then, of course, people respond. No, no, no, please just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey. We can handle that. Please don’t admit to the “M” word, the Messiah. Because, you know, we’re going to have to crucify you. And then He goes, No, No, I know you’re not expecting me to come back with an army and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes and says, ‘Oh My God, He’s going to keep saying this.’ So, what you’re left with this is either Christ was who He said He was, the Messiah, or a complete nut case. I mean, we’re talking nut case on the level of Charles Manson. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire core of civilization for over half of the globe could have its faith changed and turned upside down by a nut case.” And then he looked at the guy and says, “For me, that’s far-fetched.” C.S. Lewis says something very similar, which you’ve probably all heard. He says, “You know, if you make a remarkable statement about yourself, like Jesus did, it’s either true or false. There’s no real middle ground. And in this case, if someone makes these kinds of claims and it’s false, it’s because they’d either intentionally lied or they’re delusional – they’re crazy.” Lewis said, “You can’t say He was a great teacher, as many would like, either He was and is the Son of God, or He is a liar and He is a lunatic. Great teachers don’t claim to be God and therefore Jesus has not left us this option.” And in another essay, Lewis says, listen to this, “We may note in passing that he was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any people who actually met Him.In other words, they didn’t sit back and think, “What a great teacher.” He says, “He produced mainly three effects. Hatred, terror, or adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval of Jesus. Either they hated Him, they were terrorized by Him, they were just in fear because of the unbelievable things He did, or they adored Him. They saw God.” And then Lewis says at the end, he says, “You have two choices. You either have to accept or reject the story.” And I would say this, guys, if a person is wise, in order to make an intelligent decision, he must look at the evidence and make a decision, a faith decision, because, again, this isn’t science, we’re talking about history. And in the balance of our time, what I want to share is a few thoughts with you on this. In other words, if I was going to make my case in a court of law, I’ve taken all that I’ve learned over all the years and I would boil it down, and there would be four vital points that I would lay out in order to make the case that Christ was the Son of God. And I’m not sure what order I would put these in, but, of these four, one of the most powerful pieces of evidence is what I spoke on last week. Jesus fulfilling the Messianic prophesies of the Old Testament. Unbelievably powerful. We looked at how many people’s lives have been changed because of that. Starting with Pascal, then Justin Martyr 1,800 years ago. All these Jewish individuals I mentioned last week. And just recently, I was reading about a book that’s obviously quite popular; it’s been translated into 20 languages, it’s sold all over the world, it’s called Betrayed. And it’s about a businessman, Stan Telchin, who lived up on the East Coast. He was a Jewish businessman. And then, his oldest daughter went off to college, and then came home during one of her school breaks and informed her Dad that she had come to recognize Jesus as the true Messiah and that she had become a Christian and Telchin was horrified and he felt she’d gotten involved in some type of cult. Which then led him on a very serious investigation. And he was shocked at what he found. And he concluded Jesus is the Christ. He is the Jewish Messiah. And then so he eventually, his wife, and their other daughter, all become Christians, and today he is a Christian minister. Guys, I can tell you story after story like this but I’m not going to go any further. You can listen to this from last week, but I really believe that the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament fulfilled by Jesus in the New makes for a compelling argument. Now, if you weren’t here last week, I really would invite you to listen to session seven. Now, the second point that I would make and consider is how, and this is really pretty strong, I mean you have to really think through this, is how Jesus’ simple and short life in one of the most desolate places in the Roman Empire – there was no press there – has had such an impact on human history. I could give you a lot here in just a couple of thoughts. A famous author, the historian H.G. Wells, who wrote the prominent book, The Outline of History, as well as many others, listen to what Wells says. He says, “The historian’s test of an individual’s greatness is what did he leave to grow? Did he start men to thinking along fresh lines with a vigor that persisted after him?” In other words, what Wells is saying in one sense is that you gauge the size of a ship that has passed by the huge wake that it leaves behind after its gone. And Wells, who didn’t consider himself a Christian, says this, he concluded, by this test, the test that he laid out, he says, “Jesus clearly stands first, among every other person who has ever lived.” Author Henry Bosch has made this observation. He says, “Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only three. Yet the influence of Christ’s three-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who are among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus painted no pictures, but some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry, but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music, still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratories they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble carpenter of Nazareth and it makes you wonder how could that be.”  I don’t know if you are familiar with a guy by the name of Will Durant. His classic book, The Story of Philosophy, is used in many a class as an introduction to philosophy. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning author but he is most well known for his 11-volume series that he wrote with his wife, Ariel. It’s called The Story of Civilization. It’s 11 volumes. Volume 1 came out in 1935. Volume 11 came out in the early 70s. So you can see he and his wife spent 35 – 40 years on this massive work and Durant was not a friend of the Christian faith, but in this series, in this 11-volume series, The Story of Civilization, one of the volumes is on the Roman Empire, and from it we learn that after Jesus’ death, and maybe you know this, that the Christian religion was considered an enemy of Rome, and this lasted for over 280 years. Then in 312 A.D., the edict of Milan went into the law legalizing Christianity, legalizing Christian worship, and then in 381 A.D., under Constantine, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Listen to Durant’s observation of what happened in Rome over this period of time. He says, “There is no greater drama in human history than the sight of a few Christians who were scorned and oppressed by a long line of Roman emperors, bearing their persecution with tenacity. Over the years, they quietly multiplied. They built order while Rome generated chaos. They countered the sword with the words of the Bible. They faced brutality with hope. Ultimately, these Christians defeated the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena and Christ had won.” You know, the final thing I would say in this regard is, just look at time. Our time, our calendar, is arranged around His life. And that was determined by the Romans years ago but that’s what happened. So, I guess the second point that I’m trying to make is to consider the impact Jesus had on history and how incredible it is when you consider the extent of His life and where he lived His life. That short little three-year time period has had such a huge impact. What’s that all about? Now, moving to my third point. A number of years ago, I heard a scholar say this and I agree with it. He says, “If you are a person seeking spiritual truth, you should always start with Christianity,” and this is why he says you should always start with it. He says, “It is the only falsifiable religion in the world.” The only falsifiable religion in the world. What did he mean by that? Well, if you will remember we said in session two that Christianity is the only world religion that makes spiritual truth depend on historical events referring to the resurrection. That assertion comes from the apostle Paul who said very explicitly if Christ is not raised from the dead, your faith is worthless, you’re still in your sins, and we should be pitied for our foolishness. You see, the veracity of Christianity depends on an historical event, the resurrection of Christ and so what needs to be determined is did it happen or did it not happen? Now over the years, this is something I find to be really fascinating, there has been many a skeptic who understood this, rightly so, that Christianity is falsifiable and one thing so many of them have done they have set out on a course, they have set out to discredit the Christian faith. You see, a number of years ago I was working on a talk that I entitled “Jesus, Divine or Mythological?” And as I was doing the research, I began to notice how many men had set out to debunk Jesus and Christianity through the study of the historical record. And I kept encountering men who had set out on this journey and yet, through their research, changed their minds and became Christians. Since I did that study, that list has grown. You’ve got J.D. Anderson, Lee Strobel, William Ramsay, Josh McDowell, Frank Morrison, Gilbert West. Locally, if you know Frank Limehouse, that’s his story. I think the most intriguing of all these is Frank Morrison. A very gifted English lawyer who set out to write a book, this was going to be the title of it, Disproving the Resurrection of Jesus. He was convinced that he could do it, but when he completed his research, he wrote a completely different book entitled, Who Moved the Stone? It’s become a classic. Warren Lightfoot uses it in his argument. And in that book, Morrison showed that the rules of evidence in a court of law confirm Jesus’ resurrection. You need to read the book if you want to find out more about that.  It’s called Who Moved the Stone. It’s a classic work by Frank Morrison. Now, guys, I know this. There is a great deal of information that goes into the argument that Jesus rose from the dead, most of which you have probably heard if you have any interest in this. You’ve read C.S. Lewis, he talks about it. But I want to take just a different approach and maybe share something you may not be aware of. It’s quite interesting. There’s a guy by the name of Gary Habermas. He is quite the scholar. He has completed the most comprehensive investigation ever done on what scholars believe about the resurrection. So Habermas and this huge research team of his collected more than 1400 of the most critical scholarly works on the resurrection written from 1975 to 2003. The most up-to-date scholarly work that we have. And Habermas basically reports that virtually all scholars, he says from across the ideological spectrum, there were ultra-liberals, and what he called Bible-thumping conservatives, and he took all of this research, and he wrote down what they all agreed upon. And this is what all of these scholars agree took place. And he says, all of these people agree that the following points concerning Jesus and Christianity are historical facts. Not scientific facts, historical facts. You have 1400 scholars from all walks of life agreeing on this. Listen to what he says. There’s 12 points, so bear with me here. Number One. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion. Number Two. He was buried most likely in a private tomb. Number Three. Soon afterwards, the disciples were discouraged, bereaved and despondent, having lost hope. Number Four. Jesus’ tomb was found empty very soon after his interment. Number Five. The disciples had experiences they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus. Number Six. Due to these experiences, the disciples’ lives were thoroughly transformed. They were even willing to die for their belief. Number Seven. The proclamation of the resurrection took place very early from the beginning of Church history. Eight. The disciples’ public testimony and preaching of the resurrection took place in the city of Jerusalem where Jesus had been crucified and very shortly after. Nine. The gospel message centered on the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Ten. Sunday was the primary day for gathering and worshipping. Eleven. James, the brother of Jesus, and a skeptic before this time, was converted when he also saw the risen Jesus. Twelve. Just a few years later, Saul of Tarsus, Paul, became a Christian believer due to the experience that he also believed; that he thought was an appearance of the risen Christ. It said that’s 12 historical facts that they knew. But notice number five. The disciples had experiences that they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus. Notice they didn’t say Jesus rose from the dead. Obviously, a number of the scholars didn’t necessarily believe it. But notice, it doesn’t say either that He did not. It’s just kind of left out there. It’s left on the basis that the disciples thought that they saw that. But they did agree that the disciples believed that Jesus rose from the dead. So, I guess those who think Jesus did not rise from the dead could only conclude that the disciples were hallucinating or they were lying. And I’ll come back to that, but as you read through this, guys, you’ll kind of see that they dug themselves into a corner with number four and number six. What is number four? Jesus’ tomb was found empty very soon after; they agree the tomb was empty. Jesus’ body was moved out of the tomb somehow and then, number six, due to these experiences; the disciples’ lives were thoroughly transformed. They were even willing to die for their belief. So, there’s an empty tomb and the disciples’ lives are transformed radically. If these are considered historical facts, how do you account for that? Now, I don’t have a whole lot of time to do this justice, but just a couple of quick thoughts. The empty tomb. Go back to fact number one. He died a Roman crucifixion. So, if that’s a historical fact, there’s no swoon theory, you ever heard of a swoon theory? Some people believe that Jesus didn’t die. That they put Him in the tomb, and the coolness of the place, He kind of recovered. The swoon theory. Well, they, uh, He died, so, there’s no swoon theory. And if He didn’t rise, scholars agree you have only three people that would steal the body. And Warren Lightfoot does a magnificent job on this, by the way. The Romans, the Jewish authorities, or the disciples. The problem is those first two are not very plausible. Once the resurrection was being proclaimed throughout Jerusalem, all they had to do was produce the body. And Christianity would have died a very quick death. As the famous British historian Arnold Toynbee said, “If they only could have found the body of that Jew” – talking about Jesus – “Christianity crumbles into ruins.” It’s like he’s frustrated. Why couldn’t you find the body? And then, of course, you’re left with the disciples. Could they have stolen the body, disposed of it, and then spent the rest of their lives propagating a lie, particularly when the heart of their teaching was to be committed to the truth? I mean, do you seriously think that these men who were discouraged, they were defeated, and they feared for their lives, would go out, steal Jesus’ body and then go out and boldly preach the resurrection to hostile crowds. I mean, think about it. What was in it for them? What would motivate them to face prison, torture and death knowing that Jesus’ dead body lay in some hidden place? A number of years ago, there was an article in the U.S. News & World Report, which is a very prominent secular magazine, even though I think it’s kind of gone down. And I think it was titled “Jesus’ Last Days”, but this was right out of the magazine. “Yet even the most skeptical Biblical scholars conceded that something extraordinary happened in Jerusalem after Good Friday to account for the radical change in the behavior of the disciples, who at Jesus’ arrest had fled to their own homes in fear. Could Jesus’ resurrection account for the fact that within a few weeks they were boldly preaching their message to the very people who had sought to crush them?” And, as you probably know, 11 of the 12 disciples died martyrs’ deaths. Historian Thomas Arnold, author of the distinguished 3-volume work, The History of Rome, listen to this, this is powerful guys, listen to it, he says, “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times and to examine and weight the evidence of those who have written about them. And I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort to the understanding of a fair inquirer than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” Now, guys, I barely touched the surface on this, but if you’ll take the time to examine the evidence for the resurrection, you will find it very compelling. And the reason is, there is really no other way to account for the empty tomb and the changed lives of the disciples and the explosion of the early church other than Jesus rose from the dead, and all the skeptics that I mentioned to you who were willing to go and look at the evidence, even though they had the intent of discrediting the Christian faith, the reason they all changed their mind is because the evidence is powerful. The problem is, so many people don’t really care. Now, let me just say this. The final evidence I’ll present to you, and I’ve got about seven minutes, and this may be the most powerful, in my opinion, is this. Jesus did not impact the world through power, or wealth, or by setting up a worldly kingdom, or by any other means that generally leads to greatness. He chose the path of humility, and this was clearly God’s design. You know, a worldly leader who was in a position to really understand this and grasp this was a man like Napoleon. Listen to what Napoleon said right before he died. He said, “I die before my time and my body shall be given back to the earth and devoured by worms. What an abysmal gulf between my deep miseries and the eternal kingdom of Christ. I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself and of Alexander and of Caesar, should have vanished into thin air, and yet a Judean peasant, Jesus, should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations.” You hear what he’s saying? He’s saying here are three famous men, Alexander the Great, Caesar, and me, Napoleon, seeking to control the world by power, and he says, when you see their lives contrasted with this one man Jesus, the humble carpenter, you have to marvel at how the world is so powerfully impacted and changed through his simple life of humility. Then Napoleon goes on to say this, listen, he says, “Time,” and he’s right about this, “Time is the great destroyer. Time the great destroyer, powerless to extinguish Christ’s sacred flame. Time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most. I have often thought of it. This is which proves to me quite convincingly the divinity of Jesus Christ.” Now think about this for a second, I’ve thought about this. Use your imagination for a minute, guys. If God gave you the task of creating a life, any life, for your son or your daughter, that would lead them to a platform so they could have a huge influence on the world, what would you choose? I mean, you can determine their giftedness, their achievements, their wealth. What would you choose? President of the United States? King of England? Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Senator? President of Apple? A rock star, a movie star, think about it, I mean, an Academy Award winner, Heisman trophy winner, I mean, think about it. Most of us would choose some type of person of power and celebrity, a person of notoriety. And I ask that because this is what God could have easily done with Jesus. He could have put him in a wealthy Roman household, or put him in Athens, where all the scholars were, all the influence was. God could have given Jesus every advantage you would want in life, but instead He was born and lived in the most desolate part of the Roman Empire called Palestine. He lived a very quiet life with his parents for thirty years as a carpenter. He left almost no traces of himself on earth, and then he never owned any belongings or possessions that could be enshrined in a museum. He never wrote anything. He allowed himself to be taken into custody, though he could have, we are told in Matthew 26:53, that he could have called on over seventy thousand angels to come to his rescue. He was mocked, beaten, spat upon, and then listen, he was stripped naked. When you were crucified, they took all your clothes off in front of the whole community and they crucified you. And he was crucified between two criminals for all the world to see. He asked God the Father to forgive those who crucified him, and yet somehow he and his small following has produced the dominant faith in Western civilization and the question you have to ask is, ‘How do you explain that?’ I was reading one of Philip Yancey’s books about a French philosopher and anthropologist whose name was Rene Girard, a very accomplished man. In fact, he ended up as a professor at Stanford, and Girard began to notice in all of his studies that he did that a cavalcade of liberation movements from the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, women’s rights, minority rights, human rights, had gathered speed in the 20th century. The trend mystified Girard because he found nothing compatible in his readings of ancient literature. In his further research, Girard traced this phenomenon back to the historical figure of Jesus. It struck Girard that Jesus’ story cuts against the grain of every heroic story from its time. Indeed, Jesus chose poverty and disgrace. He spent His infancy as a refugee.  He lived in a minority race under a harsh regime. He died as a prisoner. From the very beginning, Jesus took the side of the underdog. The poor, the oppressed, the sick, the marginalized. His crucifixion, Girard concluded, introduced a new plot to history. The victim becomes a hero by being a victim. You see what Girard recognized? He recognized there here we are 2,000 years later and the reverberations from Christ’s life has not stopped. And yet, ironically, at the center of the Christian faith, hangs a suffering Christ on the cross, dying in shame, for all the world to see. And because of all this, to the shock and consternation of his friends and secular colleagues, Girard announced to them that he had become a Christian because of this very thing. One final thought and I’ll conclude. Just a quick thought by a guy, an author, his name is Jack Deer, he says this, and I think this is pretty interesting, listen to it, he says, “Jesus’ humility that we’re speaking of here, is both a blessing and a very great problem. It’s a blessing because His humility leads Him to fellowship with people as low as we are. We can see and understand who He is, but His humility is also a problem, because it leads Him to us in ways that makes it easy for us to reject Him. And many do reject Him.” I’ll leave you with this. I don’t know if you are familiar with the name Antony Flew. Flew is a very well-know philosopher and for years was considered one of the world’s most notorious atheists. And then at the age of 80, he changed his mind. And in an interview with ABC News, he said that he had always been driven to search for the truth. He had a willingness to follow the truth wherever it led and he said, finally the evidence has led me to believe in God. Now, I share this, because as Jesus stood before Pilate, He tells Pilate that He had come into the world to bear witness to the truth and that if you are on the side of the truth and if you really love the truth, He says, you will hear my voice. You see, God has provided the means for us to seek Him and to seek spiritual truth. And the means He has promised is the written documented Word of God, the Bible. It’s just out there for us to pick up and read or just leave and gather dust on the bookshelf. The Bible, which Peter says was written by men, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God. And the one thing you see in both the Old and the New Testaments, is God invites all people to come, to see, to examine, and He promises this one thing. If we will seek Him with a heart that is committed to the truth, He promises that we will find it, and we will have an encounter with the living God. And this is the question, Are we willing to take this challenge if we’re not believers?

Let me close with a word of prayer. Father we thank you for sending Jesus into the world, who authenticated the scriptures, who left us with a clear picture of who you are, and yet, He came in humility. He came in quietness. And yet we do thank you Lord that you promise us that if we will be wiling to seek you that we will find you, that you are there, and that you desire and have a relationship with each one of us. For this we are grateful. Lord, I thank you for all of these men, and their willingness to be here. Thank you for our lives, our community … (recording ended)

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