So we now know without a doubt that the Bible accurately reflects the events and people it describes. Nevertheless, a skeptic could legitimately still challenge a Bible thumper on this point: The Bible may tell the story as it happened, but how do you know the people whose lives and word were recorded were telling the truth? And among all biblical figures, no character makes a better target than Jesus Himself.
Every time you write a check, you acknowledge that Jesus Christ walked on earth. Every time you take a test and write your name and date at the top of the page, you acknowledge that Jesus Christ lived. It is a historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person. No credible historian can impugn the evidence that Jesus Christ was. But what evidence is there that Jesus Christ was God come to earth in the form of a man?
The deity of Jesus Christ is crucial to proving Christianity true because unless Jesus was God He is a dead Savior, and a dead Savior can hardly save others if He cannot save Himself. So how do we know Jesus was God?
Someone who claims to be God could surely prove He was God, right?
Jesus gave more than enough signs to show who He really was. The things Jesus did revealed that He was and is a supernatural being. Only God could predict the location of His birth, the details of His life, betrayal, death, burial, and resurrection. Only if Jesus Christ is God could He have performed miracles, predicted the future through prophecies with complete accuracy, defeated death, and guaranteed forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those who repent and follow Him. Dr. Tim LaHaye, who has spoken for the Worldview Weekend, writes:
[Quote] Scholars agree there are at least 109 distinct prophecies that the Messiah had to fulfill. For all of them to be fulfilled by one individual requires a man so unusual and a life so unique as to eliminate all pretenders and indeed all men who have ever lived—except one! Quite possibly a scheme could have been hatched to make Jesus’ life seem prophetic by creating these “prophecies” after He had passed from the scene. Modern scholars have established that such a scheme is simply not possible.
The very latest the Old Testament could have been written was some two to three hundred years before Jesus’ birth, for that is when the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) was written. Most scholars of antiquities admit that the Hebrew original must have existed at least 50 to 150 years before the Septuagint was produced. That means that all 109 prophecies of Jesus’ life and death had to be written at least 250 to 400 years prior to His birth! Consequently, these prophecies are more than adequate witnesses to His unique person and identity. [end quote] (Footnote #27)
LaHaye goes on to say, “Consider the mathematics involved in the fulfillment of these prophecies. The probability that just 20 of these 109 prophecies could be fulfilled in one man by chance is less than one in one quadrillion, one hundred and twenty-five trillion. Most people cannot even imagine such a number. If they did, it would look something like this: 1 in 1,125,000,000,000,000.” (Footnote #28)
In addition, Norman Geisler contends, “Even the most liberal critic of the Old Testament admits to the completion of the prophetic books by some four hundred years before Christ and the book of Daniel by about 165 B.C.” (Footnote #29)
In his book, Unshakable Foundations, Dr. Geisler lists a small sampling of some of the prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ:
1. The Christ (Messiah) will be born of a woman (Gen. 3:15).
2. He will be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14).
3. He will be of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3; 22:18).
4. He will be of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33).
5. He will be of the House of David (2 Sam. 7:12; Matt. 1:1).
6. His birthplace will be Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2; Matt. 2:1).
7. He will be anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:2; Matt. 3:16–17).
8. He will be heralded by a messenger of God (Isa. 40:3; Matt. 3:1–2).
9. He will perform miracles (Isa. 35:5–6; Matt. 9:35).
10. He will cleanse the temple (Mal. 3:1; Matt. 21:12).
11. He will be rejected by His own people (Ps. 118:22; 1 Pet. 2:7).
12. He will die some 483 years after 444 B.C. (Dan. 9:24).
13. He will die a humiliating death (Ps. 22; Isa. 53; Matt. 27), involving:
A. Rejection by Israel (Isa. 53:3; John 1:10–11; 7:5, 48).
B. Silence before His accusers (Isa. 53:7; Matt. 27:12–19).
C. Humiliation—being mocked (Ps. 22:16; John 20:25).
D. Piercing of His hands and feet (Ps. 22:16; John 20:25).
E. Being crucified with thieves (Isa. 53:12; Luke 23:33).
F. Praying for His persecutors (Isa. 53:12; Luke 23:34).
G. Piercing of His side (Zech. 12:10; John 19:34).
H. Burial in a rich man’s tomb (Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57–60).
I. Casting lots for His garments (Ps. 22:18; John 19:23–24).
14. He will rise from the dead (Ps. 16:10; Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31).
15. He will ascend into heaven (Ps. 68:18; Acts 1:9).
16. He will sit at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:3)/ (Footnote #30)
For those who think perhaps a psychic could have made such accurate predictions of the future, they simply do not know the facts:
One test of a prophet was whether they ever uttered predictions that did not come to pass (Deuteronomy 18:22). Those whose prophecies failed were stoned (18:20); a practice that no doubt gave pause to any who were not absolutely sure their messages were from God. Amid hundreds of prophecies, biblical prophets are not known to have made a single error. A study of psychics in 1975 and observed until 1981 showed that of the seventy-two predictions, only six were fulfilled in any way. Two of these were vague and two others were hardly surprising—the U.S. and Russia would remain leading powers and there would be no world wars. The people’s Almanac (1976) did a study of predictions of twenty-five top psychics. The results: of the total seventy-two predictions, sixty-six (92 percent) were totally wrong (Kole 69). An accuracy rate around 8 percent could easily be explained by chance and general knowledge of circumstances. In 1993 the psychics missed every major unexpected news story, including Michael Jordan’s retirement, the Midwest flooding, and the Israel-PLO peace treaty. Among their false prophecies were that the Queen of England would become a nun, and Kathie Lee Gifford would replace Jay Leno as host of “The Tonight Show.” (Footnote #31)
You get the picture. The prophets certainly did. What remains, though, is to confront the most often derided—and most central—fact of Christianity.
27 Tim LaHaye, Jesus Who Is He? (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1996), 176–77.
28 Ibid., 178.
29 Geisler and Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations, 302.
31 Charlotte Observer, December 30, 1993; quoted by Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Baker Book House), 615.