My first major goal was to graduate from college with an engineering degree. And I was able to accomplish this, graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in Industrial Engineering. During my college years, I was an officer in my social fraternity, an editor of the college yearbook, an officer in the Air Force R.O.T.C., and involved in other campus activities. All of this was motivated by my goal- oriented philosophy of life.
During my senior year in college, I married my high school sweetheart and I had always thought it would be nice to have a son and daughter -- in that order. I was so committed to my goal-oriented approach to life that I made this a goal and my wife and I were able to accomplish it -- a son and a daughter in order.
Upon graduation from college, I served for two and a half years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. After completing my military service, I accepted a position as an engineer in industry. It was a fantastic job! The company was involved in building a new refinery and I was able to immediately begin designing equipment and processes to be used in the refinery. I could not have found a more challenging nor intellectually stimulating position.
Yet within a few months I began to have a strange, empty feeling about my life. Whenever I would honestly evaluate my life, I had to admit to myself that something was missing; it just wasn't as fulfilling as I thought it should be. I decided that education was the answer: that I needed an advanced degree. So after two years in industry, I left my job and returned to the university to pursue graduate studies.
I was able to complete the requirements for a Ph.D. in Engineering Management from Clemson University and received an appointment as Assistant Professor of Management Science at the University of Alabama. I thought to myself, "I have arrived! Life is really going to be great from now on." I was not quite thirty years old and I had achieved every one of the goals I had set for myself. I had an excellent job, a good income, a lovely wife, two fine children, a fine home in a beautiful neighborhood, two cars in the garage and a cocker spaniel in the back yard. I had it all.
Surprisingly, within six months of assuming my new position, the old feeling of emptiness returned. Something was still missing. I couldn't understand it. According to my philosophy of life, I was a success; but when I seriously considered my life, it came up short. As I struggled with this state of mind trying to understand it, it occurred to me that all of the goals I had set for myself were essentially materialistic -- the accumulation of things: degrees, positions, family, money. What if there was a spiritual dimension to life? What if for a person to really be successful, to be fulfilled, one had to come up with answers in this spiritual realm? These questions lead to others. What if there was a God? What would He be like? I was not much interested in some impersonal force which was somewhere out in the universe impassively observing things. But a personal god who was interested in me; one who wanted to have a personal relationship with me -- I was interested in that kind of God. But how could one find out about God? How could one know God?
I had always heard that the Bible was God's way of communicating with people. But I had also heard that the Bible was filled with errors and that one had to sort out truth from error. It occurred to me that a sovereign, omnipotent God should be able to communicate with His creation in a reliable, error-free way and I began to investigate the Bible seeking to answer the questions, "Is the Bible reliable? Is it true? Can I base my life on what the bible says about the issues of life?"
The evidence for the reliability of the Bible can grouped into four areas: prophecy, archaeology, science, and manuscripts. Here is a summary of what I found in each of these areas.
Prophecy. The Bible is a book that is filled with prophetic statements,
in fact, it contains hundreds of prophecies. Detailed, very specific
prophecies; prophecies about individuals, about people, about cities,
about nations, about events, and about governments. In some cases, the
time between when a prophecy was made and when it was fulfilled is a
thousand years or more. My conclusion was that some power who knows the
future and who is, in fact, in control of the affairs of men and nations
is responsible for the record contained in the Bible.
Science. Having been educated as an engineer, I had been taught that the Bible is not accurate when it touches on what we have learned from science about our world and the universe. But when I began to check into this, I discovered that the explanation offered by the Bible as to how the universe came into existence fits extremely well with what we know from science and, furthermore, there are numerous details in the Bible about the earth and the universe that we are just discovering from science. Again, I had to conclude that the Bible was not an ordinary book -- it could not be explained away in ordinary terms.
Manuscripts. One criticism of the Bible that I had often heard was that
because it was manually copied over and over for thousands of years,
there could be little resemblance between the versions we have today and
the original version. This sounded like a logical argument to me. Then
I learned that texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls (discovered in 1947)
dated approximately 200 BC had been compared to our earliest previously
existing texts dated around 800 AD. These texts which differed in age
by more than 1000 years were described as 99 percent
What does the Bible tell us about God and his purposes? Briefly four things.