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This Christmas, how to share the reason for the season

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I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior primarily based on a personal experience of hearing Him call my name. I was in desperate need of a direct relationship with God, and I asked Him to reveal himself to me. Jesus answered my call. It was that clear and convincing. However, in these tumultuous times when our faith is under attack, every believer should be able to objectively articulate why salvation comes only through faith in Christ and why the Bible is God's infallible, living Word. Many religions claim to be true, but only one answer can be right. Therefore if we define and communicate why the Bible is authentic, our faith is defensible beyond the experiential. We can build our confidence in the Bible and provide objective evidence to draw people to Him.

So how can we independently defend that the Bible is the Word of God?  The apostles Luke and Peter both claim they wrote as eyewitnesses to Jesus' life and miracles, and what they wrote was based on inspiration by God through the Holy Spirit. 

Just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word delivered them to us,it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. Luke 1:2-4

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  2 Peter 1:16

Though they claimed the authenticity of their narrations, how can it be verified?  Impact Video Ministries did an excellent job outlining how to evaluate the assertions of the Apostles and the integrity of the Bible. First is the Honesty Test. This hypothesis centers around the principle that when a historical account includes disparaging details about the author, it is significant because it indicates that they are more concerned about telling the truth than telling an amazing story about themselves. Otherwise, they would have changed the facts to make themselves look better if they were making up a lie.  In Peter's gospel, he said Jesus called him Satan and was upset that the disciples fell asleep in Gethsemane, despite repeated requests to stay awake in prayer. Both Luke and Peter explain how all the disciples abandoned Jesus when he was arrested. They all denied knowing Jesus and even hid after he died. Furthermore, all the authors of the Gospel except John died gruesome deaths. Why would they be willing to die for a lie? All they would have to do was renounce their faith, but they didn't. They were so committed to relaying the truth; they were willing to die for it. 

Second is the historical accuracy of the Bible. One way to test that is the time gap — when was the first copy written after the actual events? Handwritten documents of historical or spiritual significance are referred to as manuscripts before they are made into copies and reproduced. The manuscripts about Caesar were written 1,000 years after his life, and for Plato, it is about 1200 years. The first biography of Alexander the Great is still 400 years after he lived, but no one doubts his existence. The time gap of the New Testament is only 50 years after the life of Jesus. Jesus' time gap is far less than all of these figures and far less than any other major event in ancient history. When you compare how many original manuscripts there are about Jesus' life, the others do not come close. Everything about Caesar was contained in only ten manuscripts, Plato had seven, but the New Testament has over 24,633 original manuscripts! The closest is the Iliad by Homer, which has only 643. Yet, no one contests the existence of those historical figures even though the record for Christ far exceeds them.

Another test of the historical accuracy of the Bible is the prophetic scripture about the nation of Israel and its rebirth, as well as the coming of Jesus Christ. It covers the entire span of humanity and tells us of events in the future with perfect accuracy. Critics were so shocked by its precision that they would claim parts of the Old Testament had to have been written after the fact. The criticism of Christianity I hear most often from Muslims is that the Bible was corrupted, though no one can ever provide the factual evidence to back up this assertion. It was the discovery of The Dead Sea Scrolls, which finally put this notion to rest. Dated from around 200 B.C. to A.D. 68, the scrolls are more than 1,000 years older than any manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament that we had before their discovery. Because of their age and close similarity with the text used in the Bible from the 10th century, we have "an objective basis for determining that the biblical text used in our modern copies of the Old Testament is accurate." 

Finally, there is the Corroboration Test. What other historical materials confirm or deny the facts in the Bible? Nine non-Christian sources mention Jesus within 100 years of his death, and 33 additional sources are written by Christians, creating 42 records in total. Ceaser has only 10. Jesus's life, his crucifixion, his reappearance, and ascension were corroborated four times as much, yet people still deny that he died and rose again. 

The Bible passes all three tests by dramatic proportions. Even the skeptic should take pause and consider that the Bible is the living Word of God. So this Christmas season, share the Good news of eternal life and forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, not just because you feel it is right but because there is undeniable, irrefutable evidence that God sent His only Son to save us.

Religion, by its definition, is man's attempt to reach or find God.  But God cried out to us to meet him face to face, to be in a relationship with Him that goes way beyond a set of rules of religion. The Bible is how God communicates to each and every one of us that we are loved.  Through His Word, He sends this message of love to all of humanity and for all time. 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Merry Christmas.

Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel.  She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast LivingFearlessDevotional.com.

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