Apologetics – Defending the Faith
Christian “Apologetics” can be defined as, “reasonable arguments or writings used to justify or defend a theory or religious doctrine”. From the Greek word apologia, – “to offer a defense”.
It is commanded by Scripture: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” 1 Peter 3:15 NKJV
I. How to argue for the reliability of the Bible:
Premise 1: The Bible is a basically trustworthy historical document. (Give examples from rules that establish the trustworthiness of all historical literature.)
Premise 2: The Bible is suitable to make a reasonable judgment about the person and character of Jesus of Nazareth.
Premise 3: Jesus claimed to be more than a man; He claimed to have great authority. In light of this, we must make the inquiry, “What was Jesus’ view of Scripture?” (Give New Testament references of Jesus’ teachings on the reliability and inerrancy of Scripture.
II. The Bible is self-authenticating.
Since all Christian doctrine is derived from the Bible, it is not really necessary to prepare long arguments in defense of Christianity; simply challenge skeptics to read the self-authenticating Bible for themselves. The Bible testifies to its own authenticity. Furthermore, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would convince people of the truth (John 16:13).
III. The Bible assumes God’s existence.
- The Bible does not attempt to prove the existence of God, but rather assumes the logical conclusion of the teleological argument; that the universe’s order and complexity are best explained by reference to a Creator.
- “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”” Psalm 14:1 NKJV.
- “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 NKJV.
- “In the beginning God…” Genesis 1:1 NKJV.
- Historically, the apologetic arguements for the existence of God are as follows:
- The cosmological argument.
- The teleological argument.
- The ontological argument.
- The anthropic argument.
- The moral argument.
- The transcendental argument.
IV. The Bible declares its own inspiration.
- 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” NASB (“God-breathed” NIV, “breathed out by God” ESV).
- 2 Peter 1:21 “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” NKJV
V. Evidences of the Bible’s inspiration:
- Internal and external evidences…
- Fulfilled Prophecy – Hundreds of predictive prophecies found in the Bible have been fulfilled in history and in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
- Archeological discoveries have confirmed the accuracy of Biblical history.
- Uniqueness of its revelation – The Bible’s teachings about God are unique among world religions.
- Its honesty and truthfulness in recording the faults of Biblical characters.
- Its survival and preservation throughout history.
- Its unity…
- The Bible was…
- Written over a period of about 1,500 years. (@1446 B.C. to A.D. 96)
- By over 40 authors from many walks of life. (kings, fishermen, statesmen, scholars, shepherds, etc.)
- On three continents. (Asia, Africa and Europe.)
- In three languages. (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.)
- The Bible contains…
- A library of 66 books, divided into two Testaments (or, Covenants) with 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New.
- Every kind of literary genre. (History, poetry, song, prophecy, laws, proverbs, drama, romance, etc.)
- Every kind of human emotion. (Love, joy, anger, despair, etc.)
- Yet the Bible tells one continuous story: God’s redemption of mankind.
- The Bible is God’s history of salvation; a record of God’s interaction with human beings in space and time.
VI. Our present Bible is reliable.
- The Bible was originally written on: stone tablets, animal skins, and papyri (Paper made from papyrus reeds.) The Bible was copied by hand in the form of scrolls and books (Codices).
- Compared to other ancient writings, the Bible stands alone as the best preserved of all literary works of antiquity. For the Old Testament, we have the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Greek Septuagint translation and thousands of copies of the Hebrew Masoretic text for comparison. For the New Testament, we have nearly 25,000 ancient manuscripts discovered and archived so far, at least 5,600 of which are copies and fragments in the original Greek.
- Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Great Isaiah Scroll, found relatively intact among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, is @1,100 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah. A comparison of the text with later manuscript copies reveals an amazing accuracy in the transmission of the Old Testament by scribes and demonstrates the over-all reliability of our modern Biblical text.
- The invention of the printing-press further reduced the possibility of copy error.
- The Bible has now joined the “information age” in its availability on the internet and computer software.
VII. Fulfilled prophecy proves the Bible is true.
- The example of Messianic prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth:
Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific events in detail many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. Approximately 2,500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2,000 of which have already been fulfilled in history. Over 300 of these fulfilled prophecies were Messianic and were fulfilled in minute detail in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Below is a short list of only 67 examples of these Messianic prophecies. Since the probability for any one of these 67 prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten, and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of each other, the odds for all 67 of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance is less than one in 1067 (that is 1 with 67 zeros after it). The odds for all 300+ Messianic prophecies being fulfilled by chance, then, would be less than one in 10300+!
VIII. Providential Preservation – a Biblical doctrine.
- The Scriptures teach that God has promised to preserve His Word forever:
- “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 NKJV
- “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.” Psalm 12:6-7 NKJV
- “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Luke 21:33 NKJV
- “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matt. 5:18 NASB
What good is belief in Biblical inspiration if “providential preservation” is not true?
“Without providential preservation the doctrine of inspiration is of little practical value because it would lack a reliable foundation for authority.” – Dr. James D. Price on Providential Preservation