My history room is huge and filled with classic works of art that depict God’s activity throughout all of human history. Among my favorites are Michelangelos’ “The Creation of Adam” and “The Last Judgment” which are part of the spectacular Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. (My wife actually got sick while we were in the Sistine Chapel a few years ago, but that’s another story. After your tour today, I’d recommend visiting a cool website that provides 3D zoom animation of the Sistine Chapel.
The compelling story in this room is presented with remarkable continuity throughout all of Scripture. It reveals God’s plan from the first Adam (who brought sin into the world) to the second Adam, Jesus, whose crucifixion brought grace and forgiveness (see Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:42-49). It traces God’s work from the Garden of Eden, to the Garden of Gethsemane (where Jesus prayed and where Judas betrayed), to the garden of His tomb where He was seen alive three days after His crucifixion (John 19:41-42; John 20:11-18), to the restored garden of Eden in a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21-22). The 1965 movie called “The Greatest Story Ever Told” is actually just part of “the greatest story ever told.” The movie was just about part of the story, although it was about the major turning point. The entire story goes full circle—everything that is lost at the beginning of the story is restored at the end of the story, though the final restoration isn’t for everybody if they don’t want it.
My history room has many ancient documents that inscribed significant predictions about God’s work, especially through Jesus, who is the promised Messiah or anointed one of God. Among them are the following: He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:3-8). He would have a forerunner who would prepare His coming (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:2-15); He would be “pierced for our transgressions” and “led to slaughter” like a lamb, even though He had done no violence and had no deceit (Isaiah 53; Matthew 27:11-14,27-37); His body would not decay (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:24-32).
The manuscripts in this room focus on Jesus. They relay His words, like “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26). They describe His works—for instance, how He responded to those who brought him a man who had never walked before. He said to them, “So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to you”—to the paralytic—“get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.’” Jesus did not just claim to forgive sin; He visibly demonstrated His power and His authority to do so.
This room describes the crucifixion of Jesus and gives evidence of His bodily resurrection. He appeared after His death and resurrection to His followers over a period of 40 days, in different settings, on at least 10 different occasions. His resurrection was publically proclaimed in the same city where He was executed less than 50 days earlier (see Acts 1-2). And all of this led to the radical transformation of His followers. They went from cowardly fear to an unexpected confident faith that stood strong even when it meant their martyrdom. The very existence of the Christian church, which began within two months of Jesus’ death and resurrection, cannot be adequately explained without the to-the-death conviction of nearly every apostle chosen by Jesus who became a witness of His resurrection.
This room also includes evidence about the literary record of God’s revelation. (a) It is adequate to accomplish God’s purposes. While many other things could have been communicated about God’s miraculous work in Christ, what is written is sufficient for us to believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:30-31). (b) The scripture is also reliable. What was written about Jesus, according to John, consisted of what they had “heard” and “seen” and “handled” (1 John 1:1-4). And the apostle Peter affirms that they did not follow “cleverly devised tales” about Jesus Christ; they “were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
Its reliability is also attested through significant literary connections with non-Christian authors and a variety of archaeological confirmations. For example, notable references to New Testament characters and events are given by the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius.
(If you look on the third bookshelf near the door, you’ll find some good books and articles that compile this kind of information. One source is Paul Barnett, “Is the New Testament Historically Reliable?” in In Defense of the Bible, 224-265, edited by Stephen Cowan and Terry Wilder [B&H Academic, 2013]. A simple but helpful survey of some of the archaeological connections to the Bible is given in Doug Powell’s Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics , pp.162-163, 194-199. I especially like it because it’s got a lot of pictures. If you want a few websites to view, I suggest checking out the materials from the Bible and Archaeology’s Online Museum and the Biblical Archaeology Society. While Wikipedia articles are sometimes questionable, the following article on “List of Artifacts in Biblical Archaeology” provides a lot of relevant information—and pictures too.)