Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Special Post--from How to Know God Exists

“I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever.” —Sir Isaac Newton

As we have seen in the previous chapter, atheists approach the Bible with a “darkened understanding” (see Ephesians 4:18) and try to make sense of it. But just as the Bible says, they cannot understand it (see 1 Corinthians 2:14). The only way the Scriptures can make sense to us is for us to read them with a humble heart that is searching for truth. God promises to resist those who are proud.

Obviously, the best way for anyone to understand God’s Word is to switch on the light—to repent and trust Him who said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).

It is legitimate, though, to ask: How can we know the Bible is divinely inspired? The Bible declares that it is the Word of God, His communication to humanity, so He certainly would give us evidence that it truly is His Word. The fulfilled prophecies, the amazing consistency, and the many scientific statements of the Bible provide evidence that it is supernatural in origin. We will look at some examples, and then we’ll consider what it is that gives even more credibility to the reality of God and the inspiration of the Scriptures.

Knowledge of the Future
Unlike other books, the Bible offers a multitude of specific predictions—some thousands of years in advance—that either have been literally fulfilled or point to a definite future time when they will come true. No other religion has specific, repeated, and unfailing fulfillment of predictions many years in advance of events over which the predictor had no control. The sacred writings of Buddhism, Islam, Confucius, etc., are all missing the element of proven prophecy. These kinds of predictions are unique to the Bible.

Only one who is omniscient can accurately predict details of events thousands of years in the future. Limited human beings know the future only if it is told to them by an omniscient Being. God provided this evidence for us so we would know that the Scriptures have a divine Author: “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” (Isaiah 46:9,10)

In addition, the Bible declares that prophets must be 100 percent accurate—no exceptions. If anyone claimed to be speaking for God and the prophesied event didn’t come to pass, he was proven to be a liar. The writings of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are littered with false prophecies, so we know can whether they are written by men or by God.

The Bible’s sixty-six books, written between 1400 B.C. and A.D. 90, contain approximately 3,856 verses concerned with prophecy. For example, the Scriptures predicted the rise and fall of great empires like Greece and Rome (Daniel 2:39,40), and foretold the destruction of cities like Tyre and Sidon (Isaiah 23). Tyre’s demise is recorded by ancient historians, who tell how Alexander the Great lay siege to the city for seven months. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had failed in a 13-year attempt to capture the seacoast city and completely destroy its inhabitants. During the siege of 573 B.C., much of the population of Tyre moved to its new island home half a mile from the land city. Here it remained surrounded by walls as high as 150 feet until judgment fell in 332 B.C. with the arrival of Alexander the Great. In the seven-month siege, he fulfilled the remainder of the prophecies (Zechariah 9:4; Ezekiel 26:12) concerning the city at sea by completely destroying Tyre, killing 8,000 of its inhabitants and selling 30,000 of its population into slavery. To reach the island, he scraped up the dust and rubble of the old land city of Tyre, just like the Bible predicted, and cast them into the sea, building a 200-foot-wide causeway out to the island.

Alexander’s death and the murder of his two sons were also foretold in the Scripture. Another startling prophecy was Jesus’ detailed prediction of Jerusalem’s destruction, and the further dispersion of Jews throughout the world, which is recorded in Luke 21. In A.D. 70, not only was Jerusalem destroyed by Titus, the future emperor of Rome, but another prediction of Jesus’ in Matthew 24:1,2 came to pass—the complete destruction of the temple of God.

Even more important are the many prophecies of a coming Messiah. God said He would send someone to redeem mankind from sin, and He wanted there to be no mistake about who that Person would be. For example, in the Book of Daniel, the Bible prophesied the coming of the one and only Jewish Messiah prior to the temple’s demise. The Old Testament prophets declared He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12,13), die by crucifixion (Psalm 22), and be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). There was only one person who fits all of the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament: Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary. In all, there are over three hundred prophecies that tell of the ancestry, birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth. All have been literally fulfilled to the smallest detail.

A fact often overlooked by critics is that, even if most biblical predictions could be explained naturally, the existence of just one real case of fulfilled prophecy is sufficient to establish the Bible’s supernatural origin. Over 25 percent of the entire Bible contains specific predictive prophecies that have been literally fulfilled. This is true of no other book in the world. And it is a sure sign of its divine origin.

Knowledge of Creation
Following are a few examples of incredible scientific facts that were written in the Bible, hundreds, even thousands of years before man discovered them.

At a time when it was commonly believed that the earth sat on a large animal or a giant (1500 B.C.), the Bible spoke of the earth’s free float in space: “He hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7). Science didn’t discover that the earth hangs on nothing until 1650.

The Scriptures tell us that the earth is round: “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). The word translated “circle” here is the Hebrew word chuwg, which is also translated “circuit” or “compass” (depending on the con¬text). That is, it indicates something spherical or rounded—not flat or square. The Book of Isaiah was written between 740 and 680 B.C. This is at least 300 years before Aristotle suggested, in his book On the Heavens, that the earth might be a sphere. It was another 2,000 years later (at a time when science believed that the earth was flat) that the Scriptures inspired Christopher Columbus to sail around the world.

Matthew Maury (1806–1873) is considered the father of oceanography. He noticed the expression “paths of the seas” in Psalm 8:8 (written 2,800 years ago) and stated, “If God said there are paths in the sea, I am going to find them.” Maury then took God at His word and went looking for these paths, and we are indebted to him for his discovery of the warm and cold continental currents. His book on oceanography remains a basic text on the subject and is still used in universities.
Only in recent years has science discovered that everything we see is composed of things that we cannot see invisible atoms. In Hebrews 11:3, written 2,000 years ago, Scripture tells us that the “things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

Three different places in the Bible (Isaiah 51:6; Psalm 102:25,26; Hebrews 1:11) indicate that the earth is wearing out. This is what the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the Law of Increasing Entropy) states: that in all physical processes, every ordered system over time tends to become more disordered. Everything is running down and wearing out as energy is becoming less and less available for use. That means the universe will eventually “wear out” to the extent that (theoretically speaking) there will be a “heat death” and therefore no more energy available for use. This wasn’t discovered by science until recently, but the Bible states it in concise terms.

The Scriptures inform us, “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again” (Ecclesiastes 1:7). This statement alone may not seem profound. But when considered with other biblical passages, it becomes all the more remarkable. For example, the Mississippi River dumps approximately 518 billion gallons of water every 24 hours into the Gulf of Mexico. Where does all that water go? And that’s just one of thousands of rivers. The answer lies in the hydrologic cycle, so well brought out in the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 11:3 states that “if the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth.” Look at the Bible’s words in Amos 9:6: “He...calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the face of the earth.” The idea of a complete water cycle was not fully understood by science until the seventeenth century. However, more than two thousand years prior to the discoveries of Pierre Perrault, Edme Mariotte, Edmund Halley, and others, the Scriptures clearly spoke of a water cycle.

The Scriptures also describe a “cycle” of air currents two thousand years before scientists discovered them: “The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; the wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit” (Ecclesiastes 1:6). We now know that air around the earth turns in huge circles, clockwise in one hemisphere and counterclockwise in the other.

The Bible declares, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished” (Genesis 2:1). The original Hebrew uses the past definite tense for the verb “finished,” indicating an action completed in the past, never again to occur. The creation was “finished”—once and for all. That is exactly what the First Law of Thermodynamics says. This law (often referred to as the Law of the Con¬ser¬vation of Energy and/or Mass) states that neither matter nor energy can be either created or destroyed. It was because of this Law that Sir Fred Hoyle’s “Steady-State” (or “Continuous Creation”) Theory was discarded. Hoyle stated that at points in the universe called “irtrons,” matter (or energy) was constantly being created. But, the First Law states just the opposite. Indeed, there is no “creation” ongoing today. It is “finished” exactly as the Bible states.

In Genesis 6, God gave Noah the dimensions of the 1.5 million cubic foot ark he was to build. In 1609 at Hoorn in Holland, a ship was built after that same pattern (30:5:3), revolutionizing ship-building. By 1900 every large ship on the high seas was inclined toward the proportions of the ark (verified by “Lloyd’s Register of
Shipping” in the World Almanac).

Since God is the Author of creation as well as the Bible, it’s only natural that the two should correspond. While the Bible is not intended to be a scientific book, the scientific statements it makes are accurate. In his book Proofs of God’s Existence,

Richard Wurmbrand explains:
In antiquity and in what is called the Dark Ages, men did not know what they now know about humanity and the cosmos. They did not know the lock but they possessed the key, which is God. Now many have excellent descriptions of the lock but they have lost the key. The proper solution is union between religion and science. We should be owners of the lock and the key. The fact is that as science advances, it discovers what was said thousands of years ago in the Bible.106

There Is Another Way
I know that many who read through the above evidences of the Bible being divinely inspired will disregard them. They maintain that we are reading into Scripture something that was never intended by the writers. So, in an effort to counter this reaction, I am going to present my case from another angle.

What I am going to say flies in the face of many respected Bible teachers. It almost sounds like heresy, but I will say it anyway because it’s important. The Christian’s salvation isn’t dependent on his belief in or understanding of the Scriptures. Why does that fly in the face of many? Because they believe that our salvation depends on the Word of God. They believe that everything we have in Christ stands or falls on the promises of the Bible. The Scriptures are the foundation for our faith. While I absolutely believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, I don’t believe our salvation stands or falls on our believing the Bible.

To illustrate this, let’s look at two men who are in a Russian dungeon. One is a Christian who has been horribly tortured for his faith. As he lies dying in his cell, he shares his faith with his unbelieving cellmate. The other prisoner is a bitter man who so despised Christians that he hadn’t spoken to him since they were forced to share the tiny cell. But this day was different. He listens intently to the dying man’s words, because he is on his deathbed. Through parched lips the Christian once again whispers the Ten Commandments, showing sin to be very serious in the sight of God. The man becomes deeply concerned as his conscience begins to bear witness to what he is hearing.107 The moral Law shows him that he has a serious problem with God’s wrath.108 There is no talk of a God-shaped hole in his heart, a wonderful plan for his life, or the promise of any benefits of faith in Jesus during this life. How could the Christian talk of a “wonderful plan” that so many speak of, while he lies dying because he had been beaten for his faith?

The prisoner listens as he is told that he is a desperately wicked criminal who needs forgiveness from the God he has greatly angered. Then he hears the pure gospel of the love of God in Christ, and of the necessity of repentance and faith. He hears of the One who can wash him clean. It answers his problem of coming wrath of which he is now convinced. The Christian then pleads with him to repent, breaths his last, and passes into eternity.

The prisoner is left alone in the cold cell. He is shaken by what he has just heard. He falls to his knees on the hard floor and trembles before God. He can hardly lift his head because of the weight of his sins. In humble contrition, he openly confesses his many transgressions against God’s Law. He pleads for mercy, repents, and places his entire trust in Jesus Christ for his eternal salvation. He has no Bible. He has no fellowship. He has no one to “follow up” with him. He is entirely alone.

The next day he wakens while still lying on the floor. As he opens his tired eyes, something is different. Something is radically different. There is a new song in his heart. It’s not a “song” that he could sing, but it’s some sort of a joy that he can hardly express. He also has a sense of peace that is beyond his comprehension. He has never felt these emotions before, and what is mystifying is that he has no reason to feel this joy. He is tired, alone, and hungry, in a cold dungeon. He also notices that he is no longer ashamed to lift his head to the heavens. In fact, he wants to speak to God in prayer.

But more than that, he has an overwhelming desire to please Him more than anything else in his life. He even notices that his nagging conscience was silenced and any sense of guilt about any of his past sins is gone. He is amazed at what he has experienced. Again, nothing like this has ever happened before—-not for a fleeting moment in his bitter, godless years. Never. God was the last thing on his mind.

He then looks at the lifeless body of the cellmate he once despised, and longs to speak with him. He wants to ask for his forgiveness. He wants to talk about the God who made Himself known to him, the God who forgave him for his sins...the God who loved him enough to send His Son to die for him.

This was more than some sort of subjective experience. He was a brand new person with a new heart and new desires. Tears filled his eyes as he thought of the cross of Jesus Christ. Oh, that wonderful cross! Jesus of Nazareth had suffered and died for him! Then He defeated death. The man’s heart almost burst with joy.

After five more years of solitary confinement, our prisoner has grown in his faith. He has preached the gospel to hardened guards. He has told them of the standard of perfection with which God would judge them, opening up the Ten Commandments. He has faithfully shared the reality of Judgment Day and the terrors of an eternal Hell. He preaches that Christ was crucified for the sin of the world, and stresses the necessity of repentance and faith. The guards taunt him regularly, and now and then beat him. He, in return, prays earnestly for their salvation. He also prays for the salvation of his family, and for the world. He continually worships God and lives a life of holiness, free from sin, trusting minute by minute in the finished work of Calvary’s cross.

Notice that he is a Christian. He is born again. He knows that he has passed from death to life. He is a believer who is strong in his faith and he has not yet even seen a Bible or spoken to another Christian. His faith rests on the fact that God made him a new creature, wrote His Law on his heart and caused him to walk in His statutes.109 He is a new person, a “new man which was created according to God, in true right¬eousness and holiness.”110 Old things passed away and all things became new.111 This is because He was born of God.112

The New Testament didn’t convert him. It is the gospel that is the power of God to salvation.113 Neither did the New Testament spiritually feed him. He now has the Spirit of God living within him to guide him into all truth.114 His faith wasn’t in the Scriptures, or a church, or a pastor, or another Christian. It wasn’t in his good works or in his religion. It was the fact that he was a new creature that convinced him of the reality of God. The New Testament addresses this thought: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation”115 (emphasis added).

The Explanation Book
One day, a sympathetic guard slips the prisoner a battered and well-used New Testament that once belonged to his deceased cellmate. The prisoner doesn’t even know what “The New Testament” is. He wasn’t aware that there was such a thing. But from what the guard said, all he knows is that it is a book about the Savior he knows and loves.

He carefully opens its sacred pages for the first time in his life, and for the next few days he drinks in its truths about Jesus of Nazareth. Does his faith stand or fall on the New Testament truths? No. His faith was strong before he even opened the Scriptures. However, his faith is now strengthened by the fact that this 2,000-year-old book confirmed his experience. It brought him comfort.116 It explained why he suddenly longed for Christian fellowship.117 It mentioned his peace that passed all understanding,118 and it spoke about why he loved Jesus Christ (whom he had never seen), and why he had an unspeakable joy that bubbled within him.119 It ad¬dressed the fact that he was born again,120 was a new creature in Christ,121 and why he continually thought of Jesus of Nazareth122 and the cross.123

This was the experience of the converted at the birth of Christianity. Early Christians didn’t have a Bible. It wasn’t yet compiled. Most couldn’t read. Besides, there was no such thing as the printing press. They were saved by believing the spoken message that they heard.

How do I know that Christianity is true? Is it dependent on the inspiration of the Bible? No. My faith doesn’t rise or fall on that fact. Remember, I can be a Christian and not even know that the Bible exists. The Scriptures simply confirm my experience and provide spiritual nourishment to help me to grow in my faith.124 Christianity isn’t true because the Bible confirms it. It is true with or without the Scriptures.

I believe in Jesus Christ because I know Him experientially. The moral Law put me at the edge of a plane door, looking in horror at a 10,000-foot drop. The gospel perfectly addressed that problem. I am persuaded of the absolute truth of Christianity because it answered my need for a Savior and made me a new person in Jesus Christ.

Dwight Eisenhower rightly surmised,
It takes no brains to be an atheist. Any stupid person can deny the existence of a supernatural power because man’s physical senses cannot detect it. But there cannot be ignored the influence of conscience, the respect we feel for the moral Law, the mystery of first life...or the marvelous order in which the universe moves about us on this earth. All these evidence the handiwork of the beneficent Deity...That Deity is the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ, His Son.

Test It for Yourself
For anyone who is open to the truth, there is indeed 100 percent scientific (knowledge-producing) proof of God:

Creation produces intellectual knowledge of God.
For since the creation of the world His invisible at¬tri¬butes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and God¬head, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

Conscience produces subconscious knowledge of God.
...who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them. (Romans 2:15)

Conversion produces experiential knowledge of God.
Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

Creation reveals that there is an omnipotent, divine Creator to whom we owe our existence. It leaves us without excuse for chopping down a tree and carving an idol, and then falling before that idol and believing it is the Creator...or believing that “Mother Nature” is all there is.

It is the human conscience that points to the moral character and the requirements of God. We know that if there is a universal moral Law, then there is a Lawgiver—a God to whom we are accountable. It is the Law of God that awakens the conscience so that we can hear its voice of alarm, and turn in repentance and faith to the only Savior, Jesus Christ.

God has revealed Himself to us in the physical world and in our conscience. There’s one way to prove to yourself that God exists. Flick the switch.

106. Richard Wurmbrand, Proofs of God’s Existence (Bartlesville, OK: Living Sacrifice Books, 2007), p. 72.
107. See Romans 2:15.
108. See Romans 4:15.
109. Ezekiel 11:19,20.
110. Ephesians 4:24.
111. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
112. John 1:12,13.
113. Romans 1:16.
114. John 16:13.
115. Galatians 6:15.
116. Romans 15:4.
117. 1 John 3:14.
118. Philippians 4:7.
119. 1 Peter 1:8.
120. John 3:3–7; 1 Peter 1:23.
121. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
122. John 16:14.
123. Galatians 6:14.
124. 1 Peter 2:2.