I began last week’s column stating the presupposition on which I base my opinions in writing this column.
“I believe Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior for the world and Christmas is the celebration of the birth of that promised Savior.”
I give you that look inside my head because I believe all of us operate with presuppositions about faith and life that shape how we think and act about everything; and I want you, as a reader of this column, to be able to “connect the dots” between what I believe and why.
I think when we are able to connect the dots between what someone writes, speaks, or acts, with their basic faith presupposition, we gain valuable insight. That doesn’t mean our spiritual or intellectual position on a subject necessarily shifts from one side to another; but it does at least allow for an appreciation of a differing perspective. That can be helpful in any relationship. A husband and wife. A doctor and patient. A therapist and client. A pastor and parishioner. A writer and reader.
In my last column I attempted to “connect the dots” between what I believe and why by providing a number of passages in the Bible that - in my opinion - support my basic faith presupposition: Jesus is the Savior of the world.
I also stated “While I don’t think this idea of a supernatural being having to die for our sins and rise from the grave is a logically easily understood and accepted idea, I do think that, apart from the gift of faith in such, there is some logic that can aid in the process of this faith. It’s what I call a faith in the logic of ‘connecting the dots.’”
In that first column I appealed to this “faith in the logic” by connecting the dots between prophetic statements written in the Bible and the historical person of Jesus. In this second column I appeal to this “faith in the logic” by connecting the dots between the number of prophetic statements in the Bible that point to the historical person of Jesus and the odds of such being a coincidence.
Peter Stoner, while a Professor of Science & Mathematics at Westmont College, used the help of over 600 of his students to calculate the probability of one man fulfilling just eight prophecies written in the Bible about the Messiah - the promised Savior. They concluded that the possibility of any one man who lived from when the prophecies were made until the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the seventeenth power.
Stoner uses the following analogy to illustrate just how big a number this is and how inconceivable it is that just one man could fulfill eight prophecies:
Suppose we took a man, blindfolded him, and covered the state of Texas two feet deep with silver dollars. Then we put a black mark on one of those silver dollars and mixed them up. We then place the man in a helicopter and fly over the state of Texas. We land when the man says “land.” He then jumps out of the chopper, reaches into that layer of silver dollars, and pulls out the one with the black mark. The odds of just one person fulfilling eight prophecies would be the same as this man selecting the silver dollar with the black mark.
Stoner then calculated the odds of just one man fulfilling sixteen prophecies. The odds would be: 1 in 10 to the 45th power.
Stoner continues the analogy to illustrate the larger number and even more inconceivable odds:
A sack of silver dollars equal to this number would have a diameter thirty times the distance from the center of the earth to the sun. Placing a black mark on just one of these silver dollars, then taking that same man wearing the blindfold; putting a space suit on him, and shooting him out into space, where he blindly grabs the silver dollar with the black mark, would be the odds of one person fulfilling just sixteen prophecies.
There are over 300 prophecies written in the Old Testament to help us identify Who is the promised Messiah. Jesus fulfills them all. Coincidence? Not if you connect the dots.
Not saying that’s easy to do. It’s not even possible if it were simply up to me and you. It’s not! Because having faith in the logic of connecting the dots between prophecy and Jesus isn’t about how smart you are; but rather how OPEN you are…to letting God connect the dots for you.
When we do - and He does - Christmas becomes more than just a festive holiday. It becomes the celebration of Jesus being the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior for the world.
That’s how I connect the dots.
Live a Life that BEGS the question.
Rev. Dr. Martin J. Brauer is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 700 W. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park, TX. He lives with his wife, Leona, and dog, Tica, in Leander. Contact him at email@example.com.