Part 1 - Evidence that We Can Trust the Bible
Some people will point out that there are thousands of variations in the ancient copies of scripture we have
discovered. They will say all that variety proves we cannot trust the Bible. Scriptures are handed down by people who
copied by hand. Copies of copies will contain variations. You might misspell a word, leave out a word, or miss an entire
line of a verse as you copy. Most of the variations that exist are extremely minor: things like misspelled words and
words or lines that got left out as someone was making a copy. There are two things you need to know when it comes
to these differences:
1. No major teaching of the Christian faith depends on any of these variations
2. We can be certain that 95% of what we read are the exact words from the original. That is impressive given that
the New Testament was written nearly 2000 years ago.
Conclusion – The Bible we hold in our hands is accurate. That is an important conclusion because we are basing our
faith on the evidence provided in the Bible about who Jesus is and about how he wants us to live.
Part 2 - Proof of Jesus’ existence outside the Bible
There are two types of writing from Jesus’ day that give proof about Jesus’ existence.
Christian writings – The New Testament
The New Testament gives information about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is written by his followers
after his death. It is written from the perspective of multiple insiders and followers of Jesus.
Non-Christian First Century Writing:
This is an important group of writings because it is coming from people who didn’t have an agenda when it came to
matters of faith. They testify that Jesus was a real man, was crucified and raised from the dead.
Pliny –A Roman who wrote about the attempts to get Christians to deny Christ as divine and the punishments they
inflicted on Christians in order to get them to confess Caesar instead. Here is what Pliny wrote,
“Those who denied they were, or had ever been, Christians, who repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and
offered adoration, with wine and frankincense, to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose,
together with those of the Gods, and who finally cursed Christ; none of which acts, it is said, those who are really
Christians can be forced into performing; these I thought it proper to discharge. Others who were named by that
informer at first confessed themselves Christians, and then denied it; true, they had been of that persuasion but they
had quitted it, some three years, others many years, and a few as much as twenty five years ago. They all worshipped
your statue and the images of the gods, and cursed Christ. They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt, or
their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in
alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but
never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called
upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food; but food of
an ordinary and innocent kind.” (Pliny 10.96)
Tacitus –Another Roman who wrote that Jesus was a real man who was arrested and tried by Pilate and who was
given the sentence of capital punishment. Here is what he wrote,
“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class
hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered
the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most
mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil,
but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become
popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense
multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every
sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed
to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people
in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car.” (Tacitus, 15.44)
Suetonius–wrote about why Jews were expelled from Rome by Claudius in 49, that their leader was a name
named Chrestus (Christ)
“As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.”
Josephus (Jewish) –He was a Jewish historian who wrote about Jesus as the messiah, his miracles, death and
resurrection. He also writes about James as the brother of Jesus.
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful
works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and
many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had
condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again
the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.
And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Antiquities 18.3.3)
This helps us see that Jesus is not just a made up character by a bunch of men in the first century but that he was a
real man who was crucified under Pilate and some of them even agree he was raised from the dead.
Part 3 - What happened to Jesus followers?
Let’s assume that Jesus didn’t actually rise from the grave. All of Jesus’ followers are let down, depressed and upset.
They have lost all their hope. Would you continue to follow a man who promised he would rise from the dead in three
days but who stayed dead days, weeks, and even years later?
Here is what happened to Jesus’ followers:
• Andrew – crucified for his faith in Jesus
• Bartholomew – crucified for his faith in Jesus
• James – stoned for his faith
• James son of Zebedee – killed with a sword
• John – died of old age
• Matthew – died naturally
• Simon Peter – crucified
• Philip – crucified
• Simon – died naturally
• Thaddeus – died naturally
• Thomas – killed with a spear
7 of the 11 died for their faith that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Would you die for a lie? If the resurrection
didn’t happen these guys would not have stood firm in their faith. If a court asked you to chose between Caesar as
Lord or Jesus as Lord and choosing Jesus meant death, would you still choose Jesus if he hadn’t risen from the dead?
Their willingness to die points to the truth of the resurrection.
Part 4 - Other religions
Christianity is different from every other religion known to man. Every other religion is about how you work your way
to the goal. A brief summary of how the other three main religions say we solve the problems of life and gain the life
we were meant to live give these solutions:
Islam –submit perfectly to the will of Allah and you can go to heaven
Buddhism –empty yourself of all desire so you can blend into a sea of nothingness
Hinduism – Through meditation and seeing through the illusion of the world around us we move up the
reincarnation ladder toward our escape into Brahman
The common theme is that the burden is on us to get it all perfect. There is no room for grace. There is no one reaching
down to pull us out of this mess. That is where Christianity is different. Christianity says God is reaching down toward
us and has provided the answers for life’s problems through Jesus Christ. God offers us grace and an abundant hope
because our destiny is not based upon our ability to work the system perfectly but to put our faith in the One who did,
Jesus Christ. In him and through him we receive eternal life.