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Bible Basics

Lesson 2: How We Can Know the Bible is True?


Lessons in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Overview
Lesson Index

Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here
Five Things You Need To Know About Me (Game) Click here


LESSON OBJECTIVES
Goals

1. For students to become convinced that the Bible is true.
2. For students to be overwhelmed by the evidence that proves such.
3. For student to allow that truth to invade their lives.

Topics

Guidance, Prophecy, Truth, Word of God

Scripture Memorization

Psalm 119:160


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 versus fiction, start 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.)
2. Humans have unique finger prints. Gorillas have unique nose prints. (Fact.)
3. The average American eats 46 slices of pizza per year. (Fact.)
4. Smoking is the leading cause of house fires in the U.S.  (Fiction, cooking is the leading cause.)
5. The first music record ever featured a recital of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” (Fact.)
6. Velcro was invented in Great Britain. (Fiction, it was invented in Switzerland.)
7. The most popular pet name in the U.S. is Smokey. (Fiction, it is Max.)
8. The bat is the only mammal that flies. (Fact.)
9. Muslim people are asked to tithe 10% of their income. (Fiction, 2.5% is the suggested tithe.)
10. It takes 11 feet of wire to make a Slinky. (Fiction, it is 63 feet of wire.)


I don’t know how well you did, but I've got a few 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 the questions we just went through are relatively unimportant. But today/tonight, we’re going to tackle the most important question of all: Is the Bible true?

Discussion Question:
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. You may be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of evidence we have to support that the Bible is true. 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.

Fulfilled Prophecy
Chances are you are all familiar with horoscopes, a Magic 8 Ball, or other things that attempt to “predict” the future. Of course, they often prove unreliable, 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 palms or a tarot cards, 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.)

• Micah 5:2 & Luke 2:4-7—Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
• Isaiah 53:12 & Luke 23:32-33—Jesus would be condemned with criminals.
• Psalm 22:16 & John 19:18—Jesus would have His hands and feet pierced (predicted before crucifixion was invented).
• Isaiah 53:9 & Luke 23:50-53—Jesus would be buried by a rich man.

There are other prophecies predicted in the Bible that came true and are confirmed by non-Biblical evidence:

• 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.
• Jeremiah predicts the re-instatement of Israel as a nation in Jeremiah 31. This was thought to be a joke of a prediction until 1948, when Israel was a country again, after almost 2,000 years of non-existence.

When it comes down to it, Isaiah 53 predicts 15 different things about the Messiah that came true in the life of Jesus. Fifteen of these prophecies came true from one chapter. The truth is, there are hundreds of prophecies about Jesus, countries, kings, and world events in the Bible—not one of these has been proven false yet!


Discussion Questions
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 demonstrate that the Bible is true?


Archeology Support
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 in the most upfront manner possible: 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 there is available.
 
Support #1:
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.

Support #2:
John, the author of the Gospel of John, 1-3 John, and Revelation, mentions in his Gospel that near the Pool of Bethesda there are 5 porches. For years, archaeologists believed John to be wrong. No such place had been discovered. But recently, 40 feet under ground, 5 porches were discovered.

Support #3:
There are 25,000 sites that show connection with the Old Testament that have been located in the lands of the Bible.

Support #4:
The most ancient textual evidence we have is a portion of the Gospel of John, on ancient paper called papyrus, that 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 whether or not the Bible is true?

Historical Evidence
• 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 occurred?
(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, or 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 several different sources. Let’s explore what we have. At the end, I’ll ask you if you think that is enough to prove that the Bible is historically accurate.

Support #1:
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:

Support #2:
(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 to be 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 around 300 BC. 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 the 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!

Secular Manuscripts

 Author

 Date Written

 Earliest Copy

 Time Span

 Copies (extent)

 Herodotus (History)

 480 - 425 BC

 900 AD

 1,300 Years

 8

 Thucydides (History)

 460 - 400 BC

 900 AD

 1,300 Years

 ?

Aristotle (Philosopher)

 384 - 332 BC

 1,100 AD

 1,400 Years

 5

 Caesar (History)

 100 - 44 BC

 900 AD

1,000 Years 

 10

 Pliny (History)

 61 - 113 AD

 850 AD

750 Years 

 7

 Suetonius (Roman History)

 70 - 140 AD

 950 AD

800 Years 

 ?

 Tacitus (Greek History)

 100 AD

 1,100 AD

 1,000 Years

 20

(Source http://www.gotquestions.org/)  


Support #3

Activity (10 minutes)


Let’s play another game. This one is old school, too. How many of you remember telephone? I’m going to tell _____________________ (pick a person) a phrase. We’re going to pass it all the way around the circle, and see what happens. The last person to get the message will tell the class what I said. Ready?

(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 writers intended to say? It must have been twisted to what others wanted it to say, etc. 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 300 BC, and the earliest copy we have of anything he wrote is from 1100 AD, some 1,400 years earlier. That’s a long time, for sure.

Tacitus is another example. His earliest copy is 1,000 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 AD—a difference of only 550 years or so. And some of the copies date much closer. In the last 20 or so years, a study has been conducted on a portion of Matthew’s Gospel that some believe is either an original or copied while Matthew was alive. There is most definitely a piece of a copy of the Gospel of John that dates to 125 AD, 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 accuracy 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 discussed. And there’s a lot more we didn’t cover! The Bible is a trustworthy document.

  
MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)

There are many things in our world that claim truth. Budweiser’s advertising campaign is based upon that 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.

Optional Idea:

(Silicon wristbands can be ordered for less than a dollar a piece depending on the amount needed. Check companies out online.)

To help you remember what’s really true, we want to give you a wristband. It’s message is simple, but the implications of that message should change the way we live. If the Bible is, in fact, true, then that means that Jesus has advised us how to live, He has forgiven our sins, and we should follow the example He has set.


CLOSING PRAYER (2 minutes)

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