By Rev. O.L. Johnson
I am always encouraged when I scroll on Facebook and see so many posts of Bible verses and other posts that are biblically based. These posts lead me to believe that all is not lost; that there are still a multitude of God-fearing Christians out there who love God and his word and who believe in the authenticity of the Bible as the true word of God.
Recently my confidence was shaken a bit when I noticed a post authored by a young man who was looking for evidence of the existence of heaven and hell, and he made it clear that he did not accept the Bible as that evidence. He didn’t elaborate after that, so I’m not sure what he will accept as evidence. I suspect nothing short of eyewitness testimony will satisfy him.
But we all know that is an impossible expectation since no one has ever returned from either place and given humankind such testimony. So, what are we to do? How can we help this young man, not in his belief in heaven and hell, but in his lack of faith in the Bible as the authentic, truthful word of God?
This is a tall order for most of us, being the non-scholars that we are; but I’m willing to give it a try. I am convinced that the Bible I know is in fact the word of God, and completely trustworthy in what it says to us. I base my belief on the prophesies of Jesus found in the Old Testament and their fulfilment found in the New Testament.
For example: that he would be born in Bethlehem, prophesied in Micah 5:2, and fulfilled in Luke 2: 4-7; that he would be rejected by his own people, prophesied in Isaiah 53:3, and fulfilled in John 1:11, and that he would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, prophesied in Zechariah 11:12, and fulfilled in Matthew 26: 14-16.
If I may, allow me to play the devil’s advocate for a moment.
“What you just offered as proof is from a source I do not accept; and, how do I, outside of that source, know that Jesus even existed?” And, here’s my reply on these issues.
During the time that the Gospels were being composed, a Jewish historian named Josephus was writing the history of the Jewish people. He is credited with being an eyewitness of events in the later New Testament era. W
hat follows are excerpts from the book, “Josephsus: The Essential Writings,” translated and edited by Paul L. Maier, an authority on Josephsus and on first century Christianity.
On page 264 of this work, Maier quotes Josephsus as he wrote about the man Jesus.
Josephsus wrote, “there was a wise man named Jesus; many Jews became his disciples; his conduct was good; he was known to be virtuous; Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die; his disciples did not abandon him; they reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; he was perhaps the Messiah.”
This represents, in my mind, the best evidence for the authenticity of the Bible outside of the Bible itself. Josephsus certainly verifies the existence the Jesus of the scriptures. I’m convinced that the Bible we know is the authentic word of God, and I’m praying that our young man also becomes convinced.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.