Pulpit Today Sermons
How to Know the Bible is true; Jesus is the Messiah;
And Salvation is Yours!
1 Peter 3:15
Robert D Pace
Imagine the perfect Endtime strategy designed to turn Christians from their Faith. Something that would cause Christians to question all the Bible says is true. What would it be? I know the threat of persecution has turned some Christians from the Faith, but another strategy appears, not by assaulting Christians, but by assaulting their beliefs.
Christians are in the crosshairs of a malicious attack against truth. And the Bible warned this would happen. The Prophets predicted as the Clock of the Apocalypse ticked down that truth would be treated like cancer that needed extracting. And today, we are witnessing a systematic dismantling of Biblical values.
It’s reached the point to where even Christians are perplexed about their beliefs. And I am convinced it is due to a shrewd, master-minded plot by the world. Let me explain:
The world begins by making the soft appeal for everyone to get along and “COEXIST.” You’ve seen these cryptograms. They are well-placed emblems appealing for people to remain neutral in their beliefs. The world advocates Diversity of Thought, Moral Relativism, Pluralism, and above all, “Tolerance.” Do you realize “Tolerance” has become the supreme virtue of life?
It’s interesting that the ones required to exercise tolerance and maintain silence are those that maintain Biblical values. And when Christians dare to challenge the world’s propositions they’re accused of “HATE SPEECH”! It’s amazing that America, of all nations, has made the Bible the new “Hate Speech.” Can you imagine society surrendering its position on evolution, abortion, the definition of marriage, and gender-based issues?
Don’t misunderstand what society is enforcing. There’s nothing neutral in these appeals for Tolerance, Diversity of Thought, Pluralism, or Coexistence. The world is demanding that Christians compromise and surrender their beliefs! And this attack against truth causes Christians to make a choice:
1. We can shrink back and lower our voice;
2. We can compromise our convictions; or,
3. We can bear the Cross of Christ and stand firm. This is the Crisis of Faith Christians must resolve.
There is no question that Christians must be loving and gentle, but Christ doesn’t permit us to compromise truth. We can “speak the truth in love” even though the world brands it “Hate Speech!” In fact, Christ commissions us to proclaim the Gospel to the “ends of the earth” regardless of how society brands our message.
(Harbinger) No one is improved by the illusion that Jesus and the Scriptures are less than divine. (Pause) If Jesus is the Messiah and the Bible is the repository of truth, then Christians must bear witness to these facts not hide the evidence and coexist!
However, in order to stand firm in your Faith you have to know what you believe. That’s the purpose of this message. It’s about instilling a basic understanding of the Scriptures, the Savior, and Salvation.
(Questions) I want to begin by asking three questions: First, how many here are absolutely certain that the Bible is wholly true and it’s God’s revelation to man? Second, how many totally believe Jesus words when he said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”? And third, how many “know that you know” your sins are forgiven and there are no doubts you will spend eternity in heaven?
I want to give you some Good News. You Can Know these answers for sure! Every doubt can be eliminated! God wants to provide you with absolute assurance that the Bible is true; Jesus is the Messiah; and Salvation is yours.
(Transition) Let’s begin by investigating the Sourcebook of the Christian Faith—the Bible—and disclose how you can know the Scriptures are wholly reliable!
I. The Scriptures
(Challenge) What if someone approached you and said: “I know you’re a Christian and believe the Bible is God’s holy and infallible revelation to man. But I’m not sure. If you can convince me that it actually contains the words of God and is superior to all other books, I’ll become a Christian.” Could you answer this challenge? Or, would you leave it to someone more skilled in the Scriptures?
If you chose to defer, you aren’t alone. Studies report that only 2 out of 10 Christians can adequately explain their Faith. I know we have theologians that articulate Christian distinctions, but that doesn’t excuse other Christians from having this answer. The Apostle Peter said in our opening text that Christians should “be prepared to make a defense” for their beliefs.
(Emphasis) I want you to understand something: The world has a right to challenge the veracity of the Bible! Unbelievers have a right to question and doubt all that Christianity claims. God doesn’t expect anybody to accept his truths by “blind faith.” That’s why Jesus and the Prophets invited men to scrutinize the Scriptures.
If this Book is incomparable to all other books; if it is God’s divine revelation to man—inerrant; eternal; and infallible—it will withstand any scrutiny the world can muster against it! You don’t have to fear errors will be discovered or science will disprove its claims. It will always pass the test!
You see, God has staked his reputation on his Word. If God’s Word fails, his Name fails! That won’t happen! Jesus said, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota or dot will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).
After hundreds of years of scrutiny, the Bible has never been exposed of making false claims. If it did we would have a problem! But its records regarding science, physics, antiquity, and archeology have never been disproven.
(Transition) I want to give you two examples of Bible discrepancies that critics have used to malign the Bible. The first occurs at the border of Jericho when Jesus healed Blind Bartimaeus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke recorded this miracle but they seem to contradict each other regarding where this miracle occurred.
Does the Bible Contain Errors?
(Illustration) When Matthew records this miracle, he shows Jesus healing Bartimaeus as he left Jericho. However, Luke said the healing occurred as Jesus entered Jericho. We have to be honest about something: At first glance, we have a problem! How can both Matthew and Luke be correct and write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Well, there is an explanation! Archeology discloses two cities called “Jericho” existed in the First Century. There were remnants of the city Joshua had defeated in the Old Testament; and then just southwest, there was the reconstructed city of Jericho. That means Matthew saw Jesus healing Bartimaeus as he left the ruins of ancient Jericho, while Luke saw this miracle at the entrance of the newer city. And when you converge the two perspectives, it not only erases a Bible discrepancy, it pinpoints the location of this miracle!
Like one man said: “Hammer away you hostile hands. Your hammers break God’s anvil stands!”
(Illustration) Here’s another example of a Bible error. In John 9, the Apostle recorded the miracle of Christ healing another blind man. John said Jesus took a lump of mud, pasted it onto the blind man’s eyes, and sent him to the Pool of Siloam to wash it off. For years, Bible skeptics said this healing never occurred because there was no evidence for the Pool of Siloam existing. But guess what happened? In 2004, archeologists excavated the remains of the Pool of Siloam. It was then front cover news of Biblical Archeology Review magazine. Here’s what’s incredible: An Olympic swimming pool is 164 feet long. That’s big! But when the excavation team whisked away the dirt they discovered the Pool of Siloam extended 1750 feet! That’s ten times larger than an Olympic size pool.
It’s fine for archeology and science to investigate the Bible. Just remember when you’re watching the History Channel or National Geographic Channel that the Bible isn’t flawed! It’s man’s assumptions and investigative techniques that are flawed. Let me illustrate this:
(Example) One of the Bible’s chief critics is science. And man insists science is the supreme arbiter of truth. Recently, a new field of research has developed called Scientometrics. Scientometrics involves the ‘science of science.’ A while back, scientometrics discovered a phenomenon known as the “Decay of Facts.” That is, over the course of time, modern techniques of research overturn scientific “facts” of the past. That means what was considered true 500, 100, or even 20 years ago is actually untrue. For example:
(Example) Before 570 BC, science asserted that the world was flat. We know that is flatly wrong! Job, who authored the oldest book of the Bible 4000 years ago, described the earth as a circle!
Here’s another false assumption of science. In 1689 John Locke proposed that humans were born with no built-in personality traits. He called it the “Blank Slate Theory” or “tabula rasa.” This theory asserts that people develop their personalities through their environment or a series of experiences. Well, by its own undoing, Scientometrics has overturned the Blank Slate Theory in a new field of research called Epigenetics. The prefix “epi” describes “something that operates above or outside the realm of another.”
As this applies to man’s genetics, it means there is something mysterious and unaccounted for that operates above our genetic structure that governs our proclivities. And epigenetics supports the Bible’s version of people inheriting the tendencies of their forefathers, which Moses recorded in Exodus 20:5-6.
Here’s one more: In the 20th Century Einstein proposed the Theory of a Static Universe. That is, the boundaries of the cosmos are fixed. Einstein later called this the greatest blunder of his career and he had to reverse his thinking once he discovered the universe was ever-expanding. Did the Bible have to recalculate its statement about the universe? No! Isaiah wrote of an ever-expanding universe in 800 BC! The Bible never needs reversing; it is forever settled!
There is no question that much of science is accurate. But when Scientometrics asserts science is plagued with miscalculations, it disqualifies science as the decisive Judge of the Bible. So where does this leave us? Do government, culture, or philosophy determine the integrity of the Scriptures?
(Proof for Truth) Should anyone ask you to validate the Bible’s claims and show evidence that God wrote it, there is a failsafe test to demonstrate this. And there is no other book, whether sacred or secular, that can duplicate it. Here’s the answer:
Fulfillment of Prophecy Authenticates the Bible
It has been calculated that the Bible employs prophecy 1,817 times; and to this point, no prophecy has failed—all have come to pass or are in process of finding fulfillment! Here is what’s significant about prophecy. The Bible’s ability to peer into the future and see the un-seeable; to know the unknowable; and reveal the concealed—all without error makes the Bible self-validating. It’s the Book that bears indisputable witness to itself!
This is why the Lord told Isaiah: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come” (46:10) . . . “I declared them to you long ago, before they took place I proclaimed them to you” (48:5).
Do you realize that of the many world religions with their sacred texts, none has dared to employ prophecy like the Bible? Even though God challenged other religious prophets to forecast events, none accepted his challenge (41:21-29). It’s evident why the pagan prophets ignored God’s challenge: False prophecies are ruinous! Had those prophets uttered false prophecies it would have destroyed their credibility. There is only One dwelling in the arena of pure prophecy and it’s Jehovah! And when the Bible predicts the future 1,817 times in flawless fashion it becomes the surest sign that God has penned his signature to this Book.
Fulfilled Prophecy proves the Bible is true. It provides proof for truth! Additionally, it discloses how an Unimpeachable Witness directed the Prophets to write the Bible. And that Unimpeachable Witness is the Holy Spirit who knows everything! Every line, every verse, every chapter, and every book comes from the Holy Spirit. I’ll say it again: “Hammer away you hostile hands. Your hammers break God’s anvil stands!”
(Transition) Before we leave this point I want to mention another aspect of the Scriptures that is fascinating to discuss.
Is the Bible Complete? Do other Holy Books Exist?
Many people have wondered, Is the Bible Complete? What if other books of Scripture were lost and are yet to be discovered? Is it possible that even a parchment of Scripture has been misplaced? And what about additional revelation? Has God permitted others to write Scripture besides the original Apostles?
I’ve provided an in-depth answer on the DVD that discusses the Apocrypha and extra-Biblical writings, and Biblical Formation, but I only have time to cover this briefly now. So let me disclose how you can know the Bible is totally complete and why God has not sanctioned any other “Holy Books.” Remember, unbelievers have a right to hear our explanation to this and we should not dodge it.
(Emphasis) One of the most important facts of Christianity is found in John 4. This is where Jesus discoursed with a Samaritan woman that plied him with questions about the Scriptures, the Savior, and Salvation—exactly what we are discussing. She wanted to know where ground zero of truth was. This gave Jesus the perfect opportunity to disclose it. With unequivocal semantics, Jesus said: “Salvation is of the Jews” (4:22). Those five words are absolutely imperative to the Christian Faith!
Jesus said that the complete plan of redemption—the recording of Scripture; the appearance of the Messiah; and the path to Heaven—would find passage through one and only one people: the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob known as the “Jews.” God ordained the Jewish people to show Mankind the way to God.
That means when any religion claims to possess divine writings it must answer one question: Did the Jews compile those writings? If the answer is “No,” then the writings are not from God, because the Lord expressly chose the Jews, and no other people group, for this purpose. “Salvation is of the Jews.”
And for those that have wondered, “Have any books of the Bible been misplaced or are some waiting to be written?” the answer again is, “No.” The Apostle Jude (Christ’s half-brother) said the Christian Faith was “once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).
That phrase “Once for all handed down to the saints” means the Scriptures are fixed, complete, and without the loss of one text—not even a fragment! This is why Revelation 22:18 says: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” Folks, the Bible is complete!
(Transition) I’ve pointed out several reasons that You Can Know the Bible is true and reliable. Now, I want to talk about Jesus. How can we know Jesus Christ is the One and only Savior of the world?
II. The Savior
The most important question you will ever answer is this: Who is Jesus Christ? Is he the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary, fully God and fully man, and mysteriously both in one? Or, is he just another wise and wondrous prophet? It’s life’s chief question because your answer determines your future!
One of the clearest declarations Jesus made of Himself is found in John 14:6, when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” This is also one of Christ’s most controversial statements, because it doesn’t leave room for fitting another Messianic figure into the picture. And many other religions claim their path leads to heaven.
So how do we deal with this? Do we practice pluralism and say “all religions lead to heaven”? And if we don’t compromise and insist Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life” then how do we know this is true? The answer, again, comes by inspecting the Scriptures.
1 John 5:13 says: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (20) “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
There’s a reason I began this message by validating the Scriptures. It’s because the Bible is the chief witness for itself. If you believe the Scriptures it creates faith for accepting its Messiah; but if you distrust the Scriptures you lose all basis for identifying the Messiah.
(Transition) So how does the Bible affirm Jesus is the Messiah? How can we know for certain Jesus is man’s one and only Savior? Once again, it involves the use of prophecy.
1. Jesus fulfilled dozens of OT prophecies that marked him as the Messiah.
Remember, God doesn’t require people to use “blind faith” to identify the Messiah. It might surprise you that God provided a mountain of evidence for this. And it is the unfailing use of prophecy that arises as the most convincing proof for identifying our Savior and Messiah. Let me show you what I mean:
The Old Testament had issued over 60 prophecies that, when fulfilled, would form a fingerprint that only one person could match. And when you calculate the probability of Jesus fulfilling these prophecies, the figure is astronomical!
(Illustration) One way to illustrate this is by applying the Principle of Chance. For example: the probability of your house being struck by a meteorite is 1 in 182 trillion! Not likely to happen! However, that number is diminutive when compared to the probability of Christ fulfilling just 8 Old Testament prophecies. Dr. Peter Stoner says that number would be 1 in 10 to the 17th power; or 1 in one hundred thousand trillion! (Pause) But notice this: When Dr. Stoner calculated the probability of one person fulfilling 48 Old Testament prophecies the figure jumped to 1 in 10 to the 157th power. Yet Jesus, who specifically claimed to be “the Messiah” (John 4:26), fulfilled every Old Testament prophecy that pertained to his appearance!
Is the Bible’s use of prophecy becoming clearer? Prophecy removes the need of guessing the identity of our Savior. That’s why the Old Testament foretold Christ’s lineage, his birthplace; his manner of teaching; his betrayal; the details of his of death and resurrection. The chief witness for Christ is the Bible, and had the Scriptures refused to testify of Jesus of Nazareth it would have rendered him an imposter. But they didn’t; they affirm Christ’s claims. “Hammer away you hostile hands. Your hammers break God’s anvil stands!”
(Transition) But the evidence for Jesus being the Messiah doesn’t stop here.
2. Biblical Genealogy Affirms the Jesus is the Messiah. You’re thinking, genealogy? That’s the most boring part of the Bible. Maybe so, but let’s investigate it.
Did you ever wonder why God required the Prophets to include all those “begets” in the Bible? Why they included all those pages of chronology, lineage, and ancestry? When you read these passages you realize the Jews were experts at genealogy. And the reason God ordained those precise tables of genealogy was so the Jews could trace and affirm the lineage of their Messiah when he arrived.
The OT showed Christ would descend from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He would be the Son of David. That title, “Son of David,” appears repeatedly about Jesus. The reason the NT opens with Matthew and Luke documenting Christ’s genealogy is because they were affirming Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, was the Son of David and thus, the predetermined Messiah.
Here’s what’s interesting. Do you realize that Matthew and Luke agree in their genealogy of Jesus until David appears, but afterward they split in two directions? The reason they separate is because Matthew traced Christ’s paternal ancestry while Luke traced Christ’s maternal lineage.
The most notable child of David was Solomon. And he was the Great-Great Granddaddy of Joseph. But David and Bathsheba had a lesser-known son named Nathan. And he was the Great-Great Granddaddy of Mary.
Do you see what this means? Jesus was repeatedly called the “Son of David” because both Joseph and Mary could trace their lineage back to David! And just like a foundation imbedded with steel and cement provides double-strength, Christ was doubly and indisputably the “Son of David”!
You see, the easiest way the Pharisees could have disputed the Messianic claims of Jesus of Nazareth would have been to consult the Temple Registry that stored his ancestral records. But their very own records affirmed Jesus was the seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. They testified that he was the Son of David!
(Temple Destroyed) This helps solve a mystery as to why God let the Romans to destroy the Temple in 70 AD. You remember Jesus prophesied that his generation would not pass away until “not one stone [of the Temple] would be left upon another.” Christ’s prophecy came to pass 40 years after his crucifixion when Vespasian led his forces into Jerusalem, killed a million Jews, and burned the Temple. Once the registry of genealogy served its purpose to identify the Messiah, God ordered its destruction. That meant God eliminated any attempt of an imposter arising and validating his messianic claims through genealogy.
(Transition) There are numerous ways that attest to Christ’s Lordship, but I want to briefly mention the last one.
3. Christ’s Resurrection Affirms his Messianic Claims. Had Christ remained in the grave it would have meant death had conquered him. But it didn’t! Jesus said, “No one takes My life from Me. I lay it down and I have the power to take it up again” (John 10:18)!
Paul went on to say without Christ’s Resurrection our Christian “faith is useless and we are still in our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). This is why Jesus didn’t limit the proof of his Resurrection to his Apostles; the Bible accounts for more than 500 people encountering Christ after his death the Cross!
Certainly, skeptics have denied that Christ rose from the grave, but there is a serious question to answer had the Resurrection been contrived. Why would hundreds of Christians choose to be imprisoned, tortured, fed to lions, and beheaded if they knew Christ’s resurrection was fabricated? The early Christians suffered and died for their beliefs because they knew firsthand Jesus conquered the grave!
You see, God doesn’t expect anyone to use “blind faith” to identify the Lord and Savior. He has attested to Jesus of Nazareth by use of (1) Genealogy, (2) Prophecy, and (3) the Resurrection. And deep within your heart, God also provides divine confirmation—a witness between your spirit and his Spirit—to know that you know Jesus is the one and only Savior and path to God (Romans 8:16).
(Transition) We’ve talked about the Scriptures and the Savior, but now I want to talk about Your Salvation and how you can know, beyond doubt, that you will spend eternity in heaven.
Does it seem strange that many professing Christians are plagued with doubts about their salvation? It shouldn’t, because the issue initially surfaced among First Century Christians. 1 John 5:13 says: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (ESV).
You see, some people of the First Century doubted their salvation. And the Apostle John knew salvation shouldn’t be a matter of speculating or doubting. He said it could be settled.
Since many Christians today have the same doubts let’s investigate how you can secure a steadfast assurance that brings deep and confident peace. The answer to this assurance begins by overturning false assumptions:
1. One false pretext assumes Salvation involves a Formula. In other words, did you pray the right words; were your motives correct; did you approach God earnestly enough? But do you see the focal-point of these assumptions? It’s man! Christians doubt their salvation when they focus on whether they did it right instead of focusing on the fact that God always gets it right!
(Illustration) Years ago, a young man entered my Church Office distraught about his salvation. He had asked Christ to forgive him, but Satan overwhelmed him with doubts. He questioned his salvation because he wasn’t sure he had prayed the right prayer. Regardless of his attempts to confess his sins, say the precise words, and call upon Christ he felt the perfect prescription eluded him.
Do you see how Satan confused this young man? he thought salvation depended on him implementing the correct formula; but that isn’t what the Bible suggests. It’s not praying the right words or quoting the perfectly selected verse. The Bible simply points people to Jesus. Let me show you what I mean:
The Bible says: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Another passage says: “The Kingdom of God is at hand; Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Another says: “Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Another says: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Do you recall how the thief on the Cross was saved? he simply turned to Jesus and said: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).
Salvation is not a formula! You can come to Christ by saying: “Lord, I believe” or “Forgive me of my sins” or “Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus, I accept you as my Savior.”
When you understand this it also clarifies another issue. And many elderly Christians nearing the end of their life struggle with this. Some Christians wonder if God will prevent them from entering heaven because they inadvertently failed to confess a sin. To knowingly reject the Holy Spirit’s prompting to confess a specific sin is wrong; but failing to verbalize an exhaustive account of sin is not commanded in Scripture.
Jesus paid suffered immensely when he died on the Cross for your sins. He’s not searching for a way to prevent you from getting to heaven; He’s done everything possible to get you there! You can trust the power of Christ’s Blood to pardon every transgression—known or unknown.
(Transition) This leads us to the next false assumption of salvation:
2. Christians doubt their salvation when they assume “their” faith in Christ secures eternal life.
Perhaps this sounds confusing, but do you realize the faith people use for salvation is distinct from all other faith? Saving faith doesn’t originate from you; it originates from God! And the reason some doubt their salvation is because they question whether they “believed” hard enough. They wonder if they mustered enough faith to satisfy God’s Faith-O-Meter?
Remember: the entire process of salvation, whether you call it being “Born Again,” “Redeemed,” “Converted,” or “Saved,” is a divine work. God provides the Savior, the Blood, the mercy, the grace, the pardon, and even the faith you use to accept salvation. Salvation comes through a deposit of God’s divine faith; not your human faith.
The Apostle Paul said: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this faith is not from yourself, it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). If God required us to muster our faith to accept Christ we couldn’t be sure that it would work. That’s because human faith is flawed and occasionally disappoints us. For example:
(Example) Have you ever entered a dark room, flipped on the light switch, but found yourself standing in the dark? You expected light, but there was none because the bulb had burned out. That describes the flawed nature of human faith. It’s not evil; it’s just imperfect and occasionally disappoints us. And that’s why God disallows it for obtaining salvation through Christ. God provides nothing less than a perfect, unfailing, divine faith and it seals our heart with blessed assurance.
1 John 5:4 says, “Who is he that overcomes the world? he that believes Jesus is the Son of God. (5) Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world—even our faith!” This faith is from God!
(Transition) I can’t leave this point without mentioning the most frequent culprit for creating doubt:
3. People doubt their salvation when they don’t “feel” saved. I’m not quite certain what it means to “feel” saved, but whatever it means I have never met anyone that “felt” like they were a Christian all the time.
There are occasions when everyone feels anxious; we all feel burdened, fearful, and drained of spiritual life. At times, Christians have even felt God abandoned them!
We need to recognize that while God created our emotions, they aren’t used to validate our salvation. Security in Christ is based on something far more stable than feelings; it’s based on God’s Word. The Bible says Jesus paid the penalty for our sin through his death on the Cross.
Our entrance into the Kingdom of God comes through Christ’s Blood; and “without the shedding of Blood there is no remission of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). So regardless of what our “feelings” may indicate, accepting Christ’s work on the Cross is enough; and according to his promise “He will never leave us or forsake us.”
Robert D Pace (Copyright 2014)