In our previous article, we looked at experience and agreement as two lines of evidence for the authority of the Bible. Our third proof is Revelation.
One of the things that sets the Bible apart from all the so-called holy books of world religions is that the Bible is a book of prophecy - it reveals the future. In our evangelism, we have found this to be the simplest and best way to establish that the Bible is God’s word. There are many examples of fulfilled prophecy, but the two that we use over and over again are Psalm 22 and Isaiah chapter 53.
The approach we take is typically to ask, ‘Do you ever think about what happens after death?’ This is an inoffensive question that almost everyone at some point has considered. Whatever their response is, it will usually give opportunity to ask, ‘Do you think it’s possible to know for sure?’ People rarely would claim to be certain on this issue, so you can say something like, ‘I agree that, left to ourselves, we could never be sure, but I think the Bible has proven itself to get it right when it talks about the future’. If they are open to hearing more, you can say, ‘Let me take a minute and show you what I mean’.
Then show them Psalm 22 (perhaps verses 14 to 18) or Isaiah chapter 53 (perhaps verses 3 to 7), and ask the person, ‘Do you know what this is talking about?’ Usually, they are able to tell you it’s about the crucifixion of Jesus. Then you point out that the passage was written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. You want to impress upon them that this is humanly impossible, and it confirms that the writers of the Bible were getting their information from God.
There are two things you need to be able to defend. The first is that this is prophecy, and the second is that it is fulfilled.
There is no doubt these passages predate the birth of Christ. They are in the Hebrew Scriptures, and there’s no way the Christians could have gathered up all the scrolls and somehow inserted a whole chapter or psalm into them without anyone noticing. And why would they do that anyway? Why tamper with God’s word to promote a lie and then be prepared to die for it? And if anyone has any lingering doubts, you can let them know there are copies of these passages that predate the birth of Christ by over a hundred years in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
There is no doubt that the Lord Jesus fulfilled these prophecies. As one radically sceptical New Testament scholar puts it, ‘That [Jesus] was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be’.1 It is recorded by multiple independent sources not only in the New Testament but outside it too, and not only by Christians, but by Jewish and Roman non-Christian sources such as Josephus and Tacitus. There’s no doubt that the prophecy is fulfilled in no one other than Jesus - what other victim of execution has been the means of Gentiles turning to the God of Israel, Ps. 22. 27? What other victim of crucifixion is esteemed as being equal with God, Isa. 52. 13?
You can underline the relevance of this by saying, ‘The Bible has proven itself to speak with accuracy and authority about the future, and this same book speaks about our future - it tells us death is not the end, there is a heaven and a hell, and, because of the wrong we’ve done, it’s not heaven we’re going to. That’s why God sent His Son to the cross.’
These three lines of evidence provide powerful proof of the inspiration of scripture. That means if someone brings up a supposed contradiction that you can’t answer, you can tell them that, although you can’t answer that at the moment, it doesn’t get rid of the proof that the Bible is God’s word. Or, if they bring up the perceived immorality of the Bible, you can answer that the Bible has proven itself to be God’s word, and you should therefore approach it humbly instead of standing in judgement on it.
Or, if they present a different worldview, you can answer that you go by what the Bible says because it has given evidence that it can be trusted.
By using the guidance of the first two articles, and the evidence for the Bible in this and the previous article, we have had countless wonderful gospel opportunities. But remember, tactics and evidence are useful but God is essential - bathe all your efforts in prayer and trust God to work.
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