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The apostles throughout the New Testament appealed to two areas of Christ's life to establish His Messiahship. One was fulfilled messianic prophecy and the other was the resurrection. The Old Testament, written over a 1,500 year period contains several hundred references to the coming Messiah. All of these were fulfilled in Christ and they establish a solid confirmation of His credentials as the Messiah. Larry Wessels, director of Christian Answers of Austin, TX (CANSWERSTV at http://www.youtube.com/user...
...) is joined in studio by Steve Morrison, Ph.D. (Steve is the creator of our websites: http://www.BIBLEQUERY.ORG
) for an analysis of this vital subject.
That Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah can be verified by the fact that He had 456 prophetic identifying characteristics mentioned in the Old Testament hundreds of years in advance & He fulfilled them all! What does the science of probability make of this? Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students.
The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students.
However Professor Stoner then took their estimates, and made them even more conservative. Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented (Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 4).
For example, concerning Micah 5:2, where it states the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, Stoner and his students determined the average population of BETHLEHEM from the time of Micah to the present; then they divided it by the average population of the earth during the same period.
They concluded that the chance of one man being born in Bethlehem was one in 300,000, (or one in 2.8 x 10^5 - rounded),
After examining only eight different prophecies (Idem, 106), they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 10^17.
To illustrate how large the number 10^17 IS (a figure with 17 zeros), Stoner gave this illustration :
If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They'll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would've had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom (Idem, 106-107).
From these figures, Professor Stoner, concludes the fulfillment of these eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of the prophecies (Idem, 107) - the likelihood of mere chance is only one in 10^17!
But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation, Stoner used 48 prophecies (Idem, 109) (even though he could have used Edersheim's 456), and arrived at the extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is the incredible number 10^157. How large is the number one in 10^157? 10^157 contains 157 zeros! Stoner gives an illustration of this number using electrons. Electrons are very small objects. They're smaller than atoms. It would take 2.5 TIMES 10^15 of them, laid side by side, to make one inch. Even if we counted 250 of these electrons each minute, and counted day and night, it would still take 19 million years just to count a line of electrons one-inch long (Stoner, op. cit, 109).
As Stoner concludes, 'Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact, proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world (Stoner, op. cit., 112).' Even Einstein accepted the historical existence of Jesus Christ ("Saturday Evening Post," October 26, 1929).
Part 2 of a 2 part series.