Troubleshooting Truth – Step 5 Keep Common Items In Stock

When I was working in the field as a service electrician, I hated going to the supply house. If I was on a job site, I wanted to finish and move onto the next job. How did I prevent a trip to the supply house? I kept common times in stock. From receptacles to switches and ballasts, I knew what items I used on a regular basis and I kept them in stock. This helped me to avoid the supply house and be more productive. If I found a switch that needed replacing, for example, I had one on my truck that I could quickly use to remedy the situation. If our employees would only learn this lesson, my job would be a lot easier.

Let’s consider the claims of Christianity. Are there any “common items” we have “in stock” that we can use? Has God built into us anything that we can readily access in the pursuit of truth? I believe there are. Let’s look at three supplies God had placed on our shelf.

Logic.

The first item we find in our stock is logic. Merriam-Webster defines logic as “the science of the formal principles of reasoning.” We all use various forms of logic every day without even thinking about it. It is just built into us. It can be a complex topic and universities offer degrees in logic, so we’ll just cover one of it’s laws. The law of non contradiction is a law of logic that we all intuitively know is true. It says that that contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. It’s like trying to imagine a square circle or a married bachelor. They cannot logically exist together. We all know this law is true without even thinking about it, and to deny it is to affirm it. Think about that for a minute!

But where did this law come from? Logic concludes that every law must have a law-giver. Even if no humans existed in the universe, logic would still exist. But, this system of reasoning must be based in a mind. It is based in the ultimate mind. It comes from the mind of God.

The following quote from C. S. Lewis sums this up nicely:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

Morality.

Murder. Cowardice. Betrayal. Lying. These are things that are universally recognized as wrong. The moral argument for God says:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

2. Objective moral values do exist.

3. Therefore, God exists.

Basically, if one thing is objectively wrong, then God exists. Deep down inside, we all know that this is true. It is even confirmed to be the case in the Bible. Romans 2:14-15 says “14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” God has written the moral law on each of our hearts.

My favorite quote on morality also comes from the great C. S. Lewis. He famously said:

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

Nature.

Psalm 19:1-3 says “1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”

From biology to cosmology, the fingerprint of God is clearly seen. Many try to deny this but the Bible says that it is clearly seen and that we are all without excuse. The following are a couple of the arguments for God that we see in nature:

A. The Kalam Cosmological argument. It says:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its beginning.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its beginning.

The cause of the universe must be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, personal, and intelligent. This is a pretty good description of God. And, coupled with the other arguments we’ve discussed in previous posts, the Christian God appears to fit the bill.

B. The Fine Tuning Argument

This argument is summed up nicely in William Lane Craig’s book “On Guard.” He writes:

“1. The universe is fine-tuned for life.

2. Fine-tuning can potentially be explained by chance, necessity or design.

3. Not by chance or necessity.

4. Therefore, the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of design.

Why not chance?

The odds are literally astronomically high. According to Robert Penrose, an atheist, the odds are one part in 10^10^123. Even if you wrote a 0 on every proton and neutron in the entire universe you would not be able to write this number down! To persist in asserting chance as a legitimate explanation against overwhelming odds like this is irrational. To do so would completely undermine statistics and any other rational predictions (e.g., weather forecasting, stock projections, etc.).

Why not necessity?

Because the constants are independent of the laws of nature and independent of one another. And because there are no intrinsic reasons to, say, why the weak force is the strength it is. These are contingent (could have been otherwise) values. If all of these constants and laws are explainable in terms of some unified super-theory, this simply pushes back the problem one level: why is the unified super-theory so tightly and elegantly composed so as to produce each of these constants and laws so as to produce life?

This leaves design as the only viable explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe”

The other day I was working on a home standby generator at a customer’s house. It had failed to start during a power outage. A coworker of mine had diagnosed the problem as a bad starter, so we ordered the starter and I had returned to replace it. After replacing it, it still failed to start. I was puzzled. Upon further investigation, I found that it had a bad start relay switch. I was 45 minutes away from a supply house so I said a quick prayer that I would have something on my truck that could solve the problem. I looked through my stock and found a relay that worked perfectly. I was thankful it was in my stock.

As we investigate the truth of Christianity, we can also be thankful that God placed the common items of logic, morality, and nature in our stock.

Troubleshooting Truth – Step 4 Process of Elimination

I live in the south, and, in the south, bad weather comes in all shapes and sizes. From thunderstorms to tornadoes and hurricanes, we see it all. And, with bad weather, come the inevitable power outages. And this leads to calls for generators, because most people can’t seem to survive a few hours without power.

One of the things the company I work for does is to install automatic standby generators. We’ve installed hundreds over the past few years due to a lot of bad weather. Mrs. Jones was one such customer, but she had a legitimate reason for needing a generator. She had cancer and she was on oxygen. A power loss was a life threatening situation for her.

I gave her a quote and she and her husband approved the installation. We came out, installed and tested the generator and everything seemed fine. But, then the calls began. She called and said the generator didn’t start during it’s weekly self test. I went and checked on it and it ran fine, so I figured that it was a fluke. It wasn’t. This began a frustrating 8 month process to solve her problem.

I could not seem to find a problem with her generator. Every time I came to check for a problem, it would run fine. The only thing I knew to do was to begin a process of elimination. I started with the controller, then the governor, then I changed the air filter. Nothing seemed to work. After elimination all other potential causes, I was convinced that she was having a fuel problem. But the fuel pressure tested fine.

Out of frustration, I hired another generator tech to diagnose the generator. He found the problem. The fuel pressure was randomly dropping which was causing the generator to cut off. He just happened to be testing it when this occurred. I called the plumbers who promptly replaced the fuel regulator and the problem was solved. She hasn’t had an issue since. It took eliminating all others potential causes before I became confidence that the fuel was the culprit.

Process of elimination is a common practice used while troubleshooting. What about the Gospels? Can we use this tool to eliminate all other potential causes other than that they are true and reliable? Let’s find out. Let’s look at the resurrection since it at is the core of the Gospel narrative. Let’s see what it’s potential causes might be.

First potential cause: The swoon theory.

The swoon theory claims that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. He just passed out, later revived and walked out of the tomb, thus leading the disciples to assume that he had been raised from the dead. There are several problems with this theory. If Jesus did revive, how did he unwrap the grave clothes, roll the stone away from the tomb, and overcome the Roman guards placed at the tomb? And even if He accomplished all this, He would have been in a very weak and wounded condition. He would have been hard pressed to convince anyone that He was miraculously risen. It would have taken weeks for Him to physically recover. There are so many holes in this theory, that most skeptics have stopped trying to use it.

Second potential cause: The Disciples stole the body.

This claim has multiple problems as well. Just as with the swoon theory, how could they have overcome trained Roman guards and rolled the massive stone away? Also, what would they have done with the body? Someone would have eventually noticed or told where the body was being hidden. And why would they have done this? They had no motive. They were all cowering in fear that they would be crucified as well. It’s also important to note that no one in history ever denied that the tomb was empty. They just tried to come up with reasons other than that Jesus had been raised from the dead. They are still trying this in our day. The Romans even passed a law after this criminalizing body thefts. Why would they care if this happened? Because the missing body of Jesus caused them quite a bit of trouble.

Third potential cause: Hallucination

Many skeptics claim that the disciples hallucinated that Jesus had risen. They were so convinced that Jesus would rise that they tricked themselves into thinking this happened. Again, we have problems. Hallucinations occur to individuals, not groups of people. Jesus appeared to multiple people at multiple locations, on multiple occasions. 1 Corinthians 15 records that Jesus appeared to 500 people at once! Paul basically said, “these witnesses are still alive. Go ask them what happened!” And another problem for skeptics is the empty tomb. Even if they were hallucinating, you still have to explain the empty tomb.

Fourth potential cause: The Disciples lied

Another claim is that the Disciples lied. Why would they lie? What would be their motive? They gained nothing from lying. They were ostracized, beaten, tortured, persecuted and martyred for this claim. They would have been better off lying and saying that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead! And, again, what about the empty tomb?

Fifth potential cause: Jesus really rose from the dead.

This is the claim that skeptics cannot bring themselves to consider. Jesus really rose from the dead. But if you use the process of elimination, the other causes fail time and time again. Like the Mrs. Jones’ generator, all other potential causes have been eliminated. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead provides the best explanation to the events surrounding His death. This makes the best sense of the empty tomb, the devotion of the Disciples and the multitude of appearances.

The swoon theory, the stolen body theory, the hallucination theory, and the claim that the Disciples lied quickly fail upon careful examination. The process of elimination leaves only the truth that Jesus rose from the dead. Place your faith in Him today.

Troubleshooting Truth – Step 3 Interview the Owner

Over my many years of troubleshooting in the electrical field, one of the first things I would do would be to interview the owner. I could glean a lot of information that could possibly shorten the repair process. “Where were you at when it happened?” “Did you do anything right before the problem occurred?” “Have you made any changes to your home?” These are a few of the types of questions I would ask.

A common scenario was that a breaker had tripped when a customer turned on a light switch. This information would help me know where to look for the problem. Usually, in this situation, I would find a problem in the related light fixtures. But, I would not have known this if I had not asked.

But what about the problem of Jesus’ claim to be God? Do we have any “homeowners” we can interview that can shed light on what happened when the life of Jesus occurred? We most certainly do. The gospels are the reliable accounts of the actual eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ life. But how do we really know they are reliable? Many of the ways we know we can trust a homeowner are the same ways we can trust the gospel writers.

First, were they there? This seems to be a pretty silly question to ask a homeowner, but, if they weren’t at home when the problem occurred, then what they had to say would be of no use to us. It’s the same with the gospel writers. Were they there?

Skeptics often claim that the gospels were written centuries after the life of Jesus and the stories contained therein are exaggerated and false. But is there any truth to this? Early dating of the gospels is the easiest way to show that they were truly there. If the gospels were written immediately after the life of Jesus, then the people who wrote them were “at home” when it all happened.

There are many ways to show that the gospels were written early, but my favorite is the fact that the destruction of the temple in 70 A. D. is not mentioned in the New Testament. Why does this show early dating? Because, if it had occurred before the gospels were written, then they surely would have mentioned it. This was equivalent to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the Jews of that day. Their tradition and religious lives revolved around the temple. Surely they would have wrote about it’s destruction. But they didn’t. Also, Jesus predicted that this would happen. If the gospels were written after this, they would have most certainly wrote about it to show that Jesus was correct in His prediction. Yet there is no mention of it. What can we conclude? All of the New Testament was written prior to 70 A. D. The “homeowners” were definitely home.

Second, is it their home? Here we have another silly question, but if the person living there doesn’t own the home, they probably aren’t as interested in the details of what happened. Renters usually have little invested in the home they live in.

What about the gospel writers? Did they have anything invested in the claims that they were making? They most certainly did! The decision to follow Jesus and proclaim Him as God and risen Savior led to them being ostracized, persecuted, tortured, ridiculed and killed. They had invested all to the truth of Jesus. Certainly they had a sincere belief that this was true.

Finally, what did they do when the problem occurred? The actions of the homeowner often point to the cause of the problem. This is the case in the example of the switch that we mentioned earlier.

Again, what about the gospel writers? What did they do when the problem of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus occurred?

Honestly, they scattered. They gave up and went back to the lives they knew before Jesus. Peter went back to fishing.

Then Jesus came and appeared before them. All He told them was true and His resurrection verified all of it. They went back to following Jesus with a renewed vigor that never diminished until the day they died.

This is independently verified by the Roman historian Tacitus in his work “The Annals.” He wrote concerning Nero blaming the great fire in Rome on the Christians:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.

Notice how he said “a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out.” This perfectly describes how the disciples gave up when Jesus died, then came back after His resurrection. Their radically changed lives are yet further proof of the truth of the gospels.

A few years ago, I went on a troubleshooting call at a local fuel terminal. I had recently been promoted at my job when a veteran supervisor had retired. He was an expert in fuel terminal systems which are extremely complex. Eager to prove myself, I attempted to solve the problem at the terminal on my own. After a few hours of frustration and failure to find the problem, I prayed to God for a solution and I asked my wife to pray. Right after that, the terminal manager, Kevin, began trying to help me. In the following conversations with him, I discovered that he knew the terminal like the back of his hand. He was there when the problem occurred, he was certainly invested in finding a solution, and he knew what the scenario was when the problem happened. With his knowledge and expertise, we quickly solved the problem. If I had only interviewed him at the beginning, I would have come to a solution much quicker.

Interviewing the homeowner is one of the most sure fire ways to solve an electrical problem and interviewing the eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus is one of the most convincing ways to discover the truth of the New Testament.

Troubleshooting Truth – Step #1 Know the Construction Methods

I spent many years as a service electrician. This position required the ability to perform a wide variety of electrical tasks. I had to be able to wire a new house, remodel a commercial space, repair industrial equipment, install generators, and perform many other electrically related jobs. But one of the main tasks of a service electrician is troubleshooting. Webster’s defines a troubleshooter as “an expert in discovering and eliminating the cause of trouble in mechanical equipment, power lines, etc.”

There are many steps in troubleshooting, but one of the first is to Know the Construction Methods. When trying to repair an electrical problem, it helps to know how the building you are working on was wired and what methods were used. The main types of wiring used over the years are knob and tube, cloth, conduit, romex, and mc cable. Knowing which type was used can go a long way toward finding the problem. If you know how it is supposed to work, it can make it easier to repair a problem.

How can this approach help us troubleshoot the truth of the Bible? We’ve assessed that the situation is that Jesus claimed to be God. To the world this is a major problem. We must troubleshoot this problem and see if we can find a solution. Knowing the construction methods is one step in Troubleshooting Truth. But what are the construction methods of the Messiah? Let’s investigate and see if this helps us come closer to a solution to this age old problem.

The blueprint or construction methods of the Messiah was laid out in amazing detail throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah 53 is a remarkably accurate description of Jesus’ life that was written nearly 750 years before He was born. Here are some of the predictions Isaiah wrote:

 

“1 ¶ Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Isaiah 53

In 1947,the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves east of Jerusalem and among them there was a complete copy of the book of Isaiah. This scroll was dated to 100 years before Jesus was born. It is undeniable that the prophecies were made before Jesus was born and they were fulfilled with amazing accuracy.

How remarkable are these prophecies? Peter Stoner, Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College, wrote in his book titled “Science Speaks” the probabilities that these prophecies would be fulfilled by chance. He calculated that the probability that Jesus fulfilled just 8 of the Old Testament prophecies by chance was one in 10 to the 17th power. That’s 10 with 17 zeros behind it! And there are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled.

Here are some of the construction methods required of the the Messiah:

1 – He would come from the human race (Gen 3:15)

2 – He would come from a section of the race (Gen 9:26)

3 – He would come from a nation of that section of the race (Gen 12:1-3)

4 – He would be a descendant of Isaac (Gen 17)

5 – He would be a descendant of Jacob (Num 24:17)

6 – He would be a from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10)

7 – He would come out of a family of the tribe of Judah (Jesse) (Is 11:1,2)

8 – He would come from a certain household of Jesse (David) (2 Sam 7:6-16)

9 – He would be born of a virgin of the household of David (Is 7:14)

10 – He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

11- He would be sold (Zechariah 11:12,13)

12 – He would be crucified (Ps 22)

13 – He would be raised from the dead (Ps 16:10, 30:3)

God laid out a blueprint for how the Messiah would be built. We can clearly see how the Messiah was supposed to work. Jesus was constructed perfectly according to the specifications.

A few years ago, I was working at the local Salvation Army headquarters. It was located in an old historic house. I was working on replacing a light fixture and I touched the hot wire that I thought was dead. I had turned the switch off, so I was confident that there was no electricity on the wire. It gave me one of the worst shocks I ever received. This house was wired with knob and tubing, and sometimes the electricians of that era would switch the neutral wire instead of the hot wire. This practice was later forbidden by the code due to the dangerous condition that it created. I was not aware of this which resulted in a shocking experience. I was unfamiliar with the construction methods.

The same is true with those who discount the prophecies of Jesus. They create a dangerous situation because they never familiarize them with the truth of the claims of the Old Testament. My unfamiliarity created a momentary discomfort, but the unfamiliarity of the truths of the Bible can create have eternal consequences. Take them time to Know the Construction Methods of the Messiah so that you may find eternal life.

Our first step in Troubleshooting Truth is to Know the Construction Methods and we’ve briefly shown how the Messiah was designed and constructed with amazing accuracy.