Intro : Many doubts voiced about truth, relevance of Christianity. Sermon
series will address some of those questions, doubts. Want to deal with actual claims/
objections made by skeptics of Christianity. Today: Any evidence to support belief
that God exists?
Some Skeptical Statements: (From the Atheist Empire Website)
Start: Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms : "All thinking men are atheists."
Yet: Isaac Asimov, famous Science Fiction author: "I am an atheist, out and out.
It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but
somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist,
because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have... I don't have the evidence to
prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't
want to waste my time."
Finally: Lisa Williams <"www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Lisa_Williams/">, Learning the
Lessons of Nixon, 03-29-08 (Podcast?): "I'm the world's least happy
atheist. I miss having religious faith, but trying to have it seems like trying
to be in love with someone that you're not in love with. <"www.quotationspage.com/quote/40257.html">"
Transition : Quotes shed light on war within hearts, minds of atheists. But,
honestly: Not just atheists feel this way! For you and me, seeking God can feel
like a waste of time, a failing love affair. All humans at times suspect/hope/fear
God doesn't exist!
What if there was actual evidence which you could examine for yourself that suggests
God does exist? Over next four weeks, we'll wrestle with evidence, drawn from a
study of Acts 2. What I read earlier was very first Christian sermon in history.
Peter proclaimed that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified just two months earlier, had
been raised from the dead. This morning, I want to examine one of the claims which
Peter makes in his sermon: There were actual OT prophecies about the Messiah which
were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. (Read Acts 2:29-31.) (Repeat claim.)
Isn't this what Peter's saying? Explain Messiah: In OT, God promises a Savior-King
who would rescue and rule over God's people. God's promises, which are called prophecies,
Please listen to me: Another skeptic of Christianity admits that, if Peter's claim
is true, it would be an incredible support for Christianity. Jim Lippard is a former
fundamentalist Christian who has converted to atheism, (website Internet Infidels):
"In the case of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, however, we have documents
(e.g., the Dead Sea Scrolls) which do predate the time at which the historical Jesus
is believed to have lived. If numerous specific and detailed prophecies in the Old
Testament were found to match the life of an historical Jesus, this would provide
considerable evidence in support of the Christian faith."
Significance! Peter claims there were actual OT prophecies about the Messiah
which were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. Why significant? If there are
many accurate predictions of future, there had to be a source of information about
the future which no human could know. It could suggest that God exists, and communicated
Some Prophecies about Messiah That Jesus Fulfilled!
- Descended from tribe of Judah! Predicted about 2,000 years before Jesus' birth.
Recorded in Genesis 49:10. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 1:1-16, especially v. 3.)
- Descended from King David! Predicted about 1,000 years before Jesus' birth. Recorded
in 2 Samuel 7:11-13. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 1:1-16, especially v. 6.)
- Born in Bethlehem! Predicted about 725 years before Jesus' birth. Recorded in
Micah 5:1-5. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 2:1, Luke 2:1-7.)
- Betrayed by a close friend! Predicted about 1,000 years before Jesus' birth.
Recorded in Psalm 55:12-14. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:1-6, John 18:1-3.)
- Hands and feet pierced! Predicted about 1,000 years before Jesus' birth. Recorded
in Psalm 22:16. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 27:31-35, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19.)
- No broken bones! Predicted about 1,000 years before Jesus' birth. Recorded in
Psalm 34:19-20. Jesus fulfilled, (John 19:31-37.)
- People gambled for His clothes! Predicted about 1,000 years before Jesus' birth.
Recorded in Psalm 22:18. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24.)
- Given vinegar to drink! Predicted about 1,000 years before Jesus' birth. Recorded
in Psalm 69:21. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 27:34,48; Mark 15:23, Luke 23:36, John 19:28-30.)
- Killed with criminals! Predicted about 700 years before Jesus' birth. Recorded
in Isaiah 53:12. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27, Luke 23:32-43, John 19:18.)
- Buried in a rich man's tomb! Predicted about 700 years before Jesus' birth.
Recorded in Isaiah 53:9. Jesus fulfilled, (Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42.)
There are Many Other Prophecies Jesus Fulfilled! Only selected the above
10 because these were events over which, if Jesus were only human, He could not
have planned, manipulated, or orchestrated. Beyond these 10, there are hundreds
of prophecies about the Messiah, scattered throughout the OT, which Jesus fulfilled.
(Not able to keep your attention if I discuss how unlikely this is statistically:
A picture! Silver dollars two feet deep over Texas...) Point? No human could have
known or guessed this. No human could predict these events accurately unless Someone
who stood outside of time told them. There were actual OT prophecies about the Messiah
which were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. This truth has consequences!
The most logical explanation for this evidence is that God does exist, and He revealed
to His prophets who the Messiah would be, what He would do, and when.
Conclusion! Remember the quote from Lisa Williams, which
I read? "I'm the world's least happy atheist. I miss having religious faith, but
trying to have it seems like trying to be in love with someone that you're not in
Lisa's words remind us that, ultimately, the problem with believing in God's existence
is not an issue of convincing people's minds; it's a matter of the heart! People
don't want to believe God exists because they don't want to be with Him, to love
Him, to obey Him!
As we continue this sermon series over the next few weeks, we'll find out that,
despite the critics, Christians do have solid evidence for believing what we do.
I challenge you: Will you dare to let the evidence speak for itself, no matter what?
The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. You may have
to change your beliefs. You may have to change your behavior! But will you check
out the evidence for yourself? G.K. Chesterton: "The Christian ideal has not been
tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."