Lesson 2: How We Can Know the Bible is True
1. For the student to become convinced that the Bible is true.
2. For the student to be overwhelmed by the evidence that proves such.
3. For the student to allow that truth to invade their lives.
Guidance, Prophecy, Truth, Word of God
2 Timothy 3:16
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (10 minutes)
Five Things You Need To Know About Me (Game) Click here
GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)
(To prepare students to think about fact of fiction, start out by having a little fun with this game. It’s simple…each statement is either true or false. Have them respond with what they think, and then reveal the answer.)
| FACT OR FICTION? |
1. Professional baseball umpires are required to wear black underwear…FACT
I don’t know how you did, but I've got a few more questions for you
• How could anyone know whether or not what I asked was true or false? How could you even begin to answer?
• How do you know if I’m right about each of those?
• Is there truth available somewhere out there where you could find out for sure, even if you didn’t trust me to tell you the truth?
Well all of those questions we just went through were relatively unimportant. But tonight, we’re going to tackle the most important question of all; is the Bible true?
1. Why does it matter if the Bible is true?
DIGGING IN (30 minutes)
There is so much information available; we’re going to dig right through it. As we study tonight, I want you to be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of evidence we have to support the truth of the Bible. Let’s get after it.
There are three basic areas of evidence that we are going to explore: Fulfilled Prophecy, Archaeological Support, and Historical Evidence.
Chances are you are all familiar with Horoscopes or Magic 8 Balls or other things that attempt to “predict” the future. Of course, they often prove unreliable or vague…or downright wrong!
Not so with Biblical prophecy! There are numerous prophecies recorded in the Old Testament that come true in the New Testament. Unlike modern-day attempts to read a palm or a tarot card, these predictions are specific, not general. Let’s explore a few:
Activity (10 minutes)
(Have students look up the prophetic prediction and have another student look up the New Testament fulfillment. Really dig in and let them discover the truth of this point first-hand. You might not have time to do every single one, but you can at least do some.)
• Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 predict the destruction of Jerusalem. In 70 AD this happened, and is recorded by the Roman historian Josephus.
When it comes down to it, Isaiah 53 predicts 15 different things about the Messiah that come true in the life of Jesus. 15 prophecies that come true from one chapter. The truth is, there are hundreds of prophecies about Jesus, about countries and kings and world events in the Bible…and none have been proven false yet!
1. When you hear some of these prophecies, what do you think? How do you feel? What does it do for your faith?
2. How do these predictions help show that the Bible is true?
If the Bible says that Jericho was in a certain place, and archaeology verifies it, that fact does not prove everything in the Bible is true. Archaeology cannot prove spiritual truths. It does however mean that the Bible is more trustworthy in general, and for that reason should not be ignored.
Let me say it right up front…archaeology has never proven the Bible false. There are some things it hasn’t yet supported, but it has never proven it false. Let me mention some things that have been supported. Again, as I roll through it, be in awe of how much evidence is out there.
Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts, has been proven accurate by archaeology in regards to 32 references to countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands…that’s 95 different references, all of which have been supported by archaeology.
John, the author of the Gospel of John, 1-3 John, and Revelation, mentions in his gospel that near the Pool of Bethesda there were 5 porches. For years, archaeologists believed John to be wrong…no such place had ever been discovered. But recently, 40 feet under ground, 5 porches were discovered.
There are 25,000 sites that show connection with the Old Testament that have been located in the lands of the Bible.
The most ancient textual evidence we have is a portion of the Gospel of John, on ancient paper called papyrus, is dated just after 100 AD. No other ancient document enjoys such compelling manuscript evidence.
• What do some of those facts cause you to think about the truth of the Bible?
• How many of you like history?
• How many of you can’t stand it?
No matter what you think of history, the fact is, there are some facts in history that are indisputable.
• What is an event in history that you know for a fact took place?
(They might mention a world war or the settling of a continent. It’s not so much important what they say…you’re going to take them a step further.)
• So if we take a historical event…like the fact that George Washington was the first president of the United States…how can we know that is true for sure? (Hopefully they’ll say something like, “People wrote about it, it’s in history books, or similar. Again, give them some freedom in their answers. We’re backing into a point about the historical evidence of the Bible.)
• How much evidence do you think it takes to prove something like that true? Does only one person have to record it, a few? What does it take to verify something in history as having actually happened?
When it comes to the Bible, we have a lot of historical evidence. And we not only have a lot, but we have it from a lot of different people. Let’s explore what we have and at the end, I’ll ask you if you think that is enough to prove that the Bible is historically accurate.
Historically speaking, a piece of writing was passed along on animal skins or papyrus, which was sort of like paper. What exists of those copies is referred to as manuscript evidence. We’re just going to call them ancient copies.
We have over 24,000 ancient copies of the New Testament alone.
In case you are wondering, that’s a lot, more than any other ancient writing. Consider this:
(Below is a list of secular writers…philosophers, historians, etc. Read a couple as an example, and then draw out the comparison for the students. It might need repeated, but it’s an important point that they should be able to grasp.)
How many of you have heard of Aristotle? He was a philosopher who lived and wrote stuff in the 300s B.C. However, we only have 5 copies of anything he wrote. 5! How many do we have of the New Testament alone? (24,000)
Tacitus was a Greek Historian, who actually wrote just a little after the Bible was completed. We have a lot from him. Guess how many? (Let them guess, hopefully they’ll guess big).
The answer is 20 copies of what he wrote. How many do we have of the New Testament? (24,000)
As you can see, the historical evidence is huge. No one doubts Aristotle or Tacitus wrote those copies we possess, and we only have a few from them. Why would anyone doubt the Bible when it has over 1,000 times more ancient copies than anything else?
But there’s more!
480 - 425 BC
460 - 400 BC
384 - 332 BC
100 - 44 BC
61 - 113 AD
|Suetonius (Roman History)|
70 - 140 AD
Tacitus (Greek History)
Activity (10 minutes)
(Say something and let it get passed. Chances are it will get distorted. If you want, trace it back and try to find out where it got distorted. This will help prove the point. If it doesn’t, that’s okay. Either play again or just roll with it.)
There’s a simple truth to that game. The further the words got from the beginning, the easier it was for them to get messed up. That’s one argument against the Bible. How can we have what the original write intended to say, it must be twisted to say what other people wanted it to say, etc. And those are fair criticisms.
Just because we have a lot of ancient copies doesn’t make them reliable. So, like the game of telephone, we have to figure out how close the ancient copies we have are to the originals. Again, the Bible trumps all other ancient documents.
Refer to chart above - Let’s consider Aristotle again. He lived in the 300s B.C., and the earliest copy we have of anything he wrote is from 1100 A.D., some 1400 years earlier. That’s a long time, for sure.
Tacitus was our other example. His earliest copy is 1000 years from when he lived.
In fact, the shortest span of time between the author’s life and the earliest copy is 800 years.
The Bible, on the other hand, is much closer. Of the 24,000 copies we have of the New Testament, 230 of them date before 600 A.D., a difference of only 550 years or so. And some of the copies date much closer. In the last 20 years or so, study has been done on a portion of Matthew’s gospel that some people believe is either an original or was written while Matthew was still alive. There is most definitely a piece of a copy of the gospel of John that dates to 125 A.D., perhaps as soon as 35 years from John’s life.
With all that evidence, and with the closeness of it to the original, why would anyone doubt the truth of the Bible?
Let me ask you again, do you think that is enough to say that the Bible is probably true? (Hopefully they’ll say yes, but if they still have reservations, explore those and try to lead them back to the overwhelming evidence of the Scriptures)
On top of that evidence, consider the archaeological evidence and fulfilled prophecy we’ve already talked about. And there’s a lot more we didn’t cover! The Bible is a trustworthy document.
MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)
There are a lot of things in our world that claim to be true. Budweiser’s ad campaign is based upon that one word…True. Kool cigarettes’ tag line is “Be True.”
Truth matters. If the Bible is not true, we’re all wasting our time. Tonight we’ve explored whether or not the Bible is true. If you want to study more, there’s lot of stuff you can do. I can tell you of a couple of easy-to-understand books that can help you understand even more evidence.
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