A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell….
Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower and in it the “seed” is the Word of God.
For generations, so many Christians have taking it for granted that the Word of God is authoritative and reliable.
It certainly is. But for too long this has been one of those things that “goes without saying.”
We now have a generation living that thinks of the Word of God – the Bible – as, at best, just another book.
In the “Gospel of Jesus” Bible study that has been used here at St. Matthew, we start by looking at just why we can trust the Bible.
Historians and academics – especially those on the university level – seem to have no trouble at all accepting the veracity and authenticity of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars that he wrote sometime between 100 – 44 BC. Same with Plato’s philosophical writings – 427-327 BC, and Homer’s Iliad, believed to have been written about 900 BC.
The earliest 10 manuscripts of Caesar’s writing date to 900 AD, about a 1000 years after he wrote it. The earliest 7 manuscripts of Plato’s writings also date to 900 AD, about 1200 years after he wrote. And the earliest manuscripts of Homer’s Iliad – of which there are over 600 – date to about 400 BC, or about 500 years after he wrote it.
Again, most historians and academics have no trouble at all accepting the authenticity of these writings.
But today, most historians, academics – and a large majority of non-Christian Millennials (those born after 1980) – relegate the Bible to, at best, equal status with these other writings. Far more common is to consider the Bible as “an outdated book with no relevance for today,” “story,” “mythology,” “symbolic,” “fairy tale,” and the worst I’ve seen is: “a dangerous book of religious dogma used for centuries to oppress people.”
But getting back to the evidence of Caesar, Plato and Homer using the same criteria of manuscript evidence – of which there is relatively little evidence and that 500 to 1000 years after the original writings.
Compare that to the manuscript evidence of the New Testament:
The New Testament was written over a span of about 60 years – 40-100 AD. And our earliest copies of at least fragments of the New Testament date to 125 AD – only 25-40 years after it was written. And here’s the most interesting fact: there are over 24,000 pieces of these fragments in existence today!
The overwhelming evidence of the authenticity of the New Testament Scriptures has, for too many generations, been one of those things that “goes without saying.” I want to change that and will continue to say that we can trust the evidence of the manuscripts of the Bible.
The truthfulness of the Bible can also be trusted – although that, too, has “gone without saying” for far too long.
O holy and most merciful God, you have taught us the way of your commandments. We implore you to pour out your grace into our hearts. Cause it to bear fruit in us that, being ever mindful of your mercies and your laws, we may always be directed to your will and daily increase in love toward you and one another. Enable us to resist all evil and to live a godly life. Help us to follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to walk in steps until we shall possess the kingdom that has been prepared for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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