For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
(Isaiah 9:6: 700 B.C.).
Emmanuel …the Child is born … justly is he called Wonderful, for he is both God and man. His love is the wonder of angels and glorified saints. He is the Counsellor, for he knew the counsels of God from eternity; and he gives counsel to men, in which he consults our welfare. He is the Wonderful Counsellor; none teaches like him. He is God, the mighty One. Such is the work of the Mediator, that no less power than that of the mighty God could bring it to pass. He is God, one with the Father. As the Prince of Peace, he reconciles us to God; he is the Giver of peace in the heart and conscience; and when his kingdom is fully established, men shall learn war no more. The government shall be upon him; he shall bear the burden of it. Glorious things are spoken of Christ's government. There is no end to the increase of its peace, for the happiness of its subjects shall last forever (Matthew Henry on Isaiah 9:6).
Predictions Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus Christ: Declaring the Things to Come
Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were… Or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter… Thus says the LORD … I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me, there is no God. And who can proclaim as I do? … I have declared the former things from the beginning; … Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass... Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you... (Isaiah 41:22-23, 44:6-8, 48:3-20).
An important segment of “proof” for Christianity is the messianic prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The Old Testament foretold the coming of the Messiah in precise detail. The Old Testament (Tanakh) was written centuries before the coming of Jesus and predicted more than three hundred prophecies about Him including His birth. No other founder of any religion can provide a similar prophetic record of their life written down centuries before their birth. Joseph Smith, Ellen G. White, David Berg, Mohammad, and Buddha did not supply a widely transmitted, pre-existing written record that accurately predicted the specific details of their lives. Isaiah 9:6 is one of my favorite prophecies and serves as a wonderful text for celebrating the birth of Jesus. In the text the prophet Isaiah reveals that the future Messiah will be a “Son given” (see John 3:16) and “Mighty God” (see Revelation 1:7-8). The baby boy will be born as God manifested in the flesh—what a glorious truth to rejoice in.
But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:22; italics mine).
The three hundred clear prophecies of the coming Messiah were predicted and predestined by God (Acts 2:23). The Bible foretold events and historical details about the coming of Jesus prior to His birth. All these predictions came true in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. No other spiritual leader or prophet had predictive material written about their lives recorded before they were born. Jesus Christ had more than three hundred predictions about His life that were fulfilled in exact detail. An agent on The X-Files once said: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” And only one with extreme power (God’s omnipotence qualifies) to perfectly arrange history could create a future where one man could fulfill hundreds of predictions—most of which were out of a normal man’s control to arrange.
Christ’s Virgin Birth Foretold
Then He (Jesus) said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).
Christ’s virgin birth was predicted about seven hundred years before He was born in Isaiah chapter seven verse fourteen: “So the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel.” His place of birth was recorded in Micah 5:2, hundreds of years prior to the event: “And you, Bethlehem ... out of you He shall come forth to Me, to become Ruler in Israel, He whose goings forth have been ... from eternity.” The exact date of His entry in Jerusalem was predicted by Daniel in chapter nine. God prophesied the Palm Sunday event recorded in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly … O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Christ’s death on the cross was foretold long before that method of execution was even invented. Psalm 22:1-16 announced the crucifixion hundreds of years before it happened: “I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All who see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip; they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, since He delights in him! … I am poured out like water, and all my bones are spread apart; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels and you have brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have circled around me; the band of spoilers have hemmed me in, they pierced my hands and my feet.”
An unknown author tells the story of a secular psychologist, Jewish by race, who, on hearing the prophecy of Christ’s passion and death (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), answered: “What’s so impressive about that? Anyone standing at the foot of the cross could have written that.” He was amazed to learn that the passage had been written many centuries before Jesus’ crucifixion. That was the beginning of the end of his introverted secularism. Today that doctor is a Christian.
Powerful Mathematical Proof for God in Christ
Utilizing a mere eight of these prophecies concerning the Messiah, Peter Stoner applied the science of probability to demonstrate the chance that eight predictions would be fulfilled in one person. It was found to be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. When Stoner's findings were submitted to the American Scientific Affiliation for confirmation, the Executive Council found them "dependable and accurate in regards to the scientific material presented."
It is more than implausible that 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 could be fulfilled as a consequence of mere happenstance. In the book Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh McDowell writes that one could take 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars and cover the state of Texas with them and mark one of the silver dollars in order to bury it and conceal it. You then let another person with a blindfold roam around Texas as long he desired with the goal to stop and pick up the one marked coin. He is to stop at a place of his own choosing and then pick up one silver dollar. He would have the same chance of selecting the correct coin as one person would have of fulfilling just eight of the 333 prophecies about the Messiah—Jesus fulfilled them all!
Tacit Assumptions and the Acceptance of Truth
The biblical witness concerning the resurrection of Christ is convincing to me and other believers as well. But non-Christians have a different set of background assumptions which complicates the communication of the evidence. The scriptures do not instruct us to press only the brute evidence, but to contend for the universal requisite of the truth of Christian theism. God does not probably exist. It is impossible for God not to exist inasmuch as He is the precondition for all intelligent exchanges. The immaterial, universally powerful, and unchanging God provides the necessary preconditions for the use of immaterial, universal, unchanging laws of logic (A = A; A ~~A). Christianity is the worldview that provides human reasoning a foundation for its proper function. All human thought requires the employment and assumption of the universal and invariant laws of logic. The transcendent, immaterial, and unchanging God, who came to men in Bethlehem, provides the necessary truth conditions for the actuality of immaterial, universal, and unchanging laws of logic.
In addition, it is God’s grace alone, revealing the truth from scripture, which will dislodge unbelievers from the self-defeating nature of their own intellectual tacit assumptions and precommitments. Thus, let us lay aside any excessive worries regarding unbelievers. Let us lift up the glory of Christ now and throughout the year—the Mighty God came as Emmanuel to save men from their sins.
These great things for the church, shall be done by the Messiah, Emmanuel. The Child is born; it was certain; and the church, before Christ came in the flesh, benefitted by his undertaking. It is a prophecy of him and of his kingdom, which those that waited for the Consolation of Israel read with pleasure. This Child was born for the benefit of us men, of us sinners, of all believers, from the beginning to the end of the world (Matthew Henry).
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