Our study this month has dealt mainly with the miraculous birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. This Messiah, we have seen, comes in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. In the interest of looking at the biblical prophecies about Jesus more closely, we will take a short break from Matthew and follow Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Coming of the Messiah as our guide.
Across the United States this day, many college students are sitting under professors hostile to the New Testament. Parallels are often drawn between Greek myths of dying and rising gods and the biblical account as proof that the Scriptures are just another work of mythology. Unfortunately, young people are too often unprepared for this onslaught and begin to doubt the Christian faith.
However, as those familiar with ancient literature well know, these similarities are superficial. The Greeks made no real attempt to defend their myths as historical while the Bible grounds itself in real space and time. Luke 2, for example, locates the birth of Jesus during the reign of Caesar Augustus and the governorship of Quirinius, both of whom were real people. The evangelist assumes that we will take his account at face value — that Jesus was a real person who lived in space and time. Scripture is also clear that God became incarnate in the person of Christ Jesus (John 1:14). Ancient Greeks abhorred this idea because they believed the physical body to be corrupt, unlike the spiritual realm. Many other such differences between the Bible and pagan thought could be cited.
We must not miss the emphasis Scripture places on history. God’s Word is clear that the events it describes actually occurred, and even tells us our faith is in vain if events like the resurrection of Jesus never happened (1 Cor. 15:14). Yet, Scripture does not give us every detail concerning what happened between the time of Adam and the apostles; it often omits pedantic figures and details (as was common in those days) in order to relay God’s plan of redemption (2 Kings 20:20–21). When time was “full,” when all things were perfectly ready, the most significant event of all took place — Jesus was born (Gal. 4:4–5). Tomorrow we will begin to study what the Old Testament says about this fullness of time.
College students are not the only ones who face attacks on the historicity of Scripture. Hollywood, the Internet, apologists for other religions, and so on bombard us with assaults on Scripture’s integrity. The Bible is the most vilified book on the planet, and yet its stories are regularly found to be historically reliable. Take time to find some resources on the historicity of Scripture so that you may be able to answer its critics (1 Peter 3:15–16).
For further study:
The Bible in a year: