Lesson 1

Much that is presented as reliable information, under closer observation is found to be less than factual. Sometimes the information is deceptive by design, but not infrequently, the source presumed the information they were presenting was true, though in fact this was not the case. While no one likes to be fooled, there are some areas of life where failing to recognize the difference between fact and fiction is more important than in others. It is in these more important areas that it becomes critical that we be able to differentiate between truth and error; fact and fiction.

Several years ago, in the western part of the United States, an older man and his wife went to the country to look for comfrey. Comfrey is a plant that grows wild in that area and some people like to use the leaves to make a tea. They gathered what they thought to be comfrey leaves and taking them home, they dried them and later used them to make a tea.

Unfortunately, in the same area foxglove flourishes and while it can appear at times to be somewhat similar to comfrey, foxglove is very poisonous. Somehow these folks, failing to recognize the difference, had gathered foxglove rather than comfrey and the tea killed them both. Obviously, it really didn’t matter that they believed the leaves to be comfrey. The fact is, they had gathered foxglove and the foxglove killed them.

Without doubt, the most important question ever asked was posed by Jesus Christ near the close of His earthly ministry when He asked, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36, 37

This is a question that should be of great concern to every thinking person and one which requires our thoughtful consideration. If we are some mere evolutionary accident, having descended from some amoeba that originated in some primordial sea eons ago, then the meaning of life is greatly diminished, thus lessening our accountability for our actions and the convenience of the moment is all important. Thus, we can live our life with little concern beyond the present seeming good with an eye to how we may be most benefited here and now.

If, on the other hand, the Bible record is reliable and we are here by design as the result of special Creation, it greatly changes our view, and thus how we relate to life. According to the Bible record, God has given each one of us a probationary period of time to live in this world. During this life He gives us time and possessions that, by our use of these things, we may reveal whether we can be entrusted with eternal life and heavenly riches.

This raises question as to the accuracy of the Bible and whether or not it can be trusted as a source of reliable information. In the first two lessons, we will seek to establish beyond all reasonable doubt the Bible as a reliable source of information, thus building a foundation on which to continue our studies.

The Purpose of Prophecies

1. What claim does God make that sets Him apart from all others?

Isaiah 46:9–10

2. What has God promised regarding His dealings with mankind?

Amos 3:7

3. What did Jesus say was one purpose for revealing future events?

John 14:29

Note: The purpose of prophecy was often not so much for enlightenment as to future events as it was to be a means of strengthening the faith of the believer when the foretold event had taken place, thus confirming it as the inspired Word of God.

Prophecies of Jesus’ Birth and Ministry

Keeping in mind that the last of the Old Testament prophets wrote approximately 400 years before the birth of Christ, we will first examine prophecies that pointed forward to His life and compare those with the New Testament record of their fulfillment.

4. In what town did the prophet Micah say Jesus would be born?

Micah 5:2

5. Where does Luke tell us He was born?

Luke 2:1–7

6. What did Isaiah prophecy about the way Jesus would be received by His people?

Isaiah 53:3

7. What does John tell us about Jesus’ reception?

John 1:10–11

8. What was prophesied concerning Christ’s clothing at the crucifixion?

Psalm 22:18

9. How did the soldiers dispose of Jesus’ clothing?

John 19:23–24

Note: Without council or interference from friends, the soldiers parted Jesus garments among themselves but his tunic, which was woven without seam, they cast lots for rather than part it.

10. What did Isaiah say regarding Jesus place at death?

Isaiah 53:12

Note: Jesus’ position in the midst, between the two thieves, was ordered by the priest to indicate that He was the greatest criminal of the three.

11. With whom was Jesus to be placed in his death?

Isaiah 53:9

12. Where was Jesus buried?

Matthew 27:57–60

Note: What makes this fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah so absolutely amazing is the fact that Jesus died as an enemy of the empire. You may remember that the final charge that the Jews leveled against Him in seeking to persuade Pilate to act against his conscience and crucify Him, was the charge that Jesus had set Himself up as a king against Caesar. See John 19:12. This accusation went along with the writing that was placed above His head on the cross, proclaiming Him to be the King of the Jews. See Matthew 27:37.

The Romans were extremely jealous for their power and authority, and for anyone to be charged with the offense of attempting to establish kingly authority in opposition to the Roman government, was treason. Because this was the crime with which Jesus was charged, we could only expect that He would be buried in disgrace in an unmarked grave, where the worst of criminals were placed. However, contrary to all expectations, He was buried in the sepulcher of one of the richest men in Jerusalem; as fine a resting place as money could buy. That anyone would dare to request such a thing, or, for that matter, that Pilate would even allow it under the circumstances, testified to the fact that it was a fulfillment of prophecy.

13. What did the apostle Peter say that they had seen as evidence of Jesus being the Messiah?

2 Peter 1:16–18

Note: This is a reference to his having seen Jesus glorified by His Father at the time of His transfiguration. You can read about it in Matthew 17:1–8.

14. What even more certain evidence of Christ’s divinity did he have?

2 Peter 1:19

Note: The thought that Peter is sharing with us is this: even though he had seen with his eyes, and heard with his ears, great evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, the words of prophecy that were fulfilled in the life of Jesus were more certain and are, therefore, more to be trusted than are our senses.

These are but a few of the many prophecies that were fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus, confirming beyond any reasonable question that He was indeed the Messiah sent from God.

In our next lesson, we will consider a number of other prophecies written over many years by various writers that in their fulfillment confirm the Bible as being truly inspired.

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