Mathematical Probability that Jesus is the Christ

From the BBS; often questions and answers. From the Internet, by David Williams, Computer Systems Manager, for the Mathematics Faculty, at the University of Newcastle.

I think you'll find this edifying. Now remember, David Williams is a mathematician. In this post he's responding to a Jewish user from Melbourne. His subject is: Jesus and Prophecy. Here's what he says:-

"In a recent follow up to a posting by Leslie Brown I said I'd make a post detailing the probability of Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy by chance. Here it is!

The reason why prophecy is an indication of the divine authorship of the Scriptures, and hence a testimony to the trustworthiness of the Message of the Scriptures, is because of the minute probability of fulfillment.

Anyone can make predictions. Having those prophecies fulfilled is vastly different. In fact, the more statements made about the future, and the more the detail, then the less likely the precise fulfillment will be.

For example, what's the likelihood of a person predicting today the exact city in which the birth of a future leader would take place, well into the 21st century? This is indeed what the prophet Micah did 700 years before the Messiah. Further, what is the likelihood of predicting the precise manner of death that a new, unknown religious leader would experience, a thousand years from now - a manner of death presently unknown, and to remain unknown for hundreds of years? Yet, this is what David did in 1000 B.C.

Again, what is the likelihood of predicting the specific date of the appearance of some great future leader, hundreds of years in advance? This is what Daniel did, 530 years before Christ.

If one were to conceive 50 specific prophecies about a person in the future, whom one would never meet, just what's the likelihood that this person will fulfill all 50 of the predictions? How much less would this likelihood be if 25 of these predictions were about what other people would do to him, and were completely beyond his control?

For example, how does someone "arrange" to be born in a specific family?

How does one "arrange" to be born in a specified city, in which their parents don't actually live? How does one "arrange" their own death - and specifically by crucifixion, with two others, and then "arrange" to have their executioners gamble for His clothing (John 16:19; Psalms 22:18)? How does one "arrange" to be betrayed in advance? How does one "arrange" to have the executioners carry out the regular practice of breaking the legs of the two victims on either side, but not their own? Finally, how does one "arrange" to be God? How does one escape from a grave and appear to people after having been killed?

Indeed, it may be possible for someone to fake one or two of the Messianic prophecies, but it would be impossible for any one person to arrange and fulfill all of these prophecies.

John Ankerberg relates the true story of how governments use prearranged identification signs to identify correct agents:

David Greenglass was a World War II traitor. He gave atomic secrets to the Russians and then fled to Mexico after the war. His conspirators arranged to help him by planning a meeting with the secretary of the Russian ambassador in Mexico City. Proper identification for both parties became vital. Greenglass was to identify himself with six prearranged signs. These instructions had been given to both the secretary and Greenglass so there would be no possibility of making a mistake. They were: (1) once in Mexico City, Greenglass was to write a note to the secretary, signing his name as "I. JACKSON"; (2) after three days he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in Mexico City and (3) stand before the statue of Columbus, (4) with his middle finger placed in a guide book. In addition, (5) when he was approached, he was to say it was a magnificent statue and that he was from Oklahoma. (6) The secretary was to then give him a passport.

These six prearranged signs worked. Why? With six identifying characteristics it was impossible for the secretary not to identify Greenglass as the proper contact (John Ankerberg, John Weldon and Walter Kaiser, "The Case for Jesus The Messiah", Melbourne: Pacific College Study Series, 1994, 17-18).

How true, then, it must be that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, if he had 456 identifying characteristics well in advance, and fulfilled them all! In fact, what does the science of probability make of this?

The science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. The value and accuracy of the science of probability has been well established beyond doubt - for example, insurance rates are fixed according to statistical probabilities.

Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students.

The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students.

However Professor Stoner then took their estimates, and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair. Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented (Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 4).

For example, concerning Micah 5:2, where it states the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, Stoner and his students determined the average population of BETHLEHEM from the time of Micah to the present; then they divided it by the average population of the earth during the same period.

They concluded that the chance of one man being born in Bethlehem was one in 300,000, (or one in 2.8 x 10^5 - rounded),

After examining only eight different prophecies (Idem, 106), they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 10^17.

To illustrate how large the number 10^17 IS (a figure with 17 zeros), Stoner gave this illustration :

If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They'll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would've had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom (Idem, 106-107).

In financial terms, is there anyone who would not invest in a financial venture if the chance of failure were only one in 10^17? This is the kind of sure investment we're offered by god for faith in His Messiah.

From these figures, Professor Stoner, concludes the fulfillment of these eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of the prophecies (Idem, 107) - the likelihood of mere chance is only one in 10^17!

Another way of saying this is that any person who minimizes or ignores the significance of the biblical identifying signs concerning the Messiah would be foolish.

But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation, Stoner used 48 prophecies (Idem, 109) (even though he could have used Edersheim's 456), and arrived at the extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is the incredible number 10^157. In fact, if anybody can find someone, living or dead, other than Jesus, who can fulfill only half of the predictions concerning the Messiah given in the book "Messiah in Both Testaments" by Fred J. Meldau, the Christian Victory Publishing Company is ready to give a ONE thousand dollar reward! As apologist Josh McDowell says, "There are a lot of men in the universities that could use some extra cash!" (Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, California: Campus Crusade for Christ, 175).

How large is the number one in 10^157? 10^157 contains 157 zeros! Stoner gives an illustration of this number using electrons. Electrons are very small objects. They're smaller than atoms. It would take 2.5 TIMES 10^15 of them, laid side by side, to make one inch. Even if we counted 250 of these electrons each minute, and counted day and night, it would still take 19 million years just to count a line of electrons one-inch long (Stoner, op. cit, 109).

With this introduction, let's go back to our chance of one in 10^157. Let's suppose that we're taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance has he of finding the right one? What kind of a pile will this number of electrons make? They make an inconceivably large volume.

This is the result from considering a mere 48 prophecies. Obviously, the probability that 456 prophecies would be fulfilled in one man by chance is vastly smaller. According to Emile Borel, once one goes past one chance in 10^50, the probabilities are so small that it is impossible to think that they will ever occur (Ankerberg et. al., op. cit., 21).

As Stoner concludes, 'Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact, proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world (Stoner, op. cit., 112).'

God so thoroughly vindicated Jesus Christ that even mathematicians and statisticians, who were without faith, had to acknowledge that it is scientifically impossible to deny that Jesus is the Christ. our thanks to David Williams, a mathematician who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last century, a lecturer on Russian literature, Carlyle, Emerson, Tolstoy and others discovered the amazing mathematical design in the Bible, firstly in the Greek, and later in Hebrew. He found that the Bible is divisible by seven in 56 DIFFERENT ways. This was Ivan Panin, author of 'God's Amazing Seal', the 'Numerical Bible' and 'The Inspiration of the Scriptures Scientifically Demonstrated'.

Applying the same criteria to the books of other religions, Panin proclaimed 'No order at all; and not of God'. He discovered that everything in God's creation: animal, vegetable, or mineral, has a unique mathematical signature.

Yes, sir, God so thoroughly vindicated Jesus Christ the unbeliever will be speechless at the judgment. But Jesus Christ was sent to Israel at the end of their dispensation, when their denominations were apostate. And God is no respecter of persons. He promised to reveal and vindicate Jesus Christ to us Gentiles at the end of our dispensation, when our denominations are apostate.

God never leaves Himself without a witness. Jesus said, 'As it was in the days of Lot, so will it be when the Son of man is revealed' by the same Sign which vindicated Him to be Messiah in the days of His flesh.

Now, in the days of Lot, the Gentile civilization was in a Sodom condition. Homosexuality was rampant. Before God sent Fire from heaven which destroyed them, He sent three witnesses to those who claimed to be His Own. Two went and preached to Lot's group, the nominal, worldly church down in Sodom.

Our Gentile civilization is in a Sodom condition. God's sent two witnesses to the nominal church of the world: a Billy Graham and Oral Roberts. The world knows about it. By the great ministry of these God-given men, He's shaken the nations. They performed no miracles. Only blinded a few eyes. Preaching the Gospel blinds the unbeliever.

But, remember, the word 'CHURCH' means, "called out." Abraham had separated himself from all that. The third One stayed behind and talked with Abraham, who called Him 'LORD'. That was God. Read your Bible; Abraham called Him, capital, "L-O-R-D", Elohim, "Lord God." Abraham fed Him the meat of a calf, milk of a cow, butter, and cakes. He ate it. And He was Elohim.

He stayed with the elect Church. He never went down to the church in Sodom; He came to the called out, the elected church: Abraham.

He was a stranger. And while He was talking, He said, 'Abraham'. Now, remember, He NEVER called him Abram. Just a few days before that, his name had been changed from Abram to Abraham. He said, "Abraham, where is Sarah (not Sarai, Sarah, her new name - which had been changed just a few days before)? Where is Sarah, thy wife?"

He was God, veiled behind the flesh of a created Man, and He proved He was the Word by discerning the thoughts and intents of Abraham and Sarah's heart. That's the Messianic Sign.

God veiled Himself behind the virgin-born flesh of Jesus Christ and discerned the thoughts and intents of the people's hearts to vindicate that in him dwelt the fullness of the godhead bodily.

You'll remember, Jesus told Peter his name - and the name of his father. When Jesus discerned Nathanael's heart, Nathanael called Him 'Elohim' ... Lord. So did the little prostitute at the well, when Jesus told her all about herself.

Jesus said this would repeat in our day, just before God destroys all life by Fire from heaven. In this day He veiled Himself behind the flesh of a sinner saved by grace, revealing 'Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and today, and forever' - discerning the thoughts and intents of people's hearts around and around the world, before congregations of up to 500,000; healing the sick, restoring sight, raising the dead, and casting out demons.

This is the last Sign promised to the Gentiles. And God vindicated His Word in the ministry of the late William Branham. His ministry restored the apostolic faith, finished the mystery of God, and is now calling the wise and foolish virgin out of Babylon; bringing His elect into oneness with the word and maturity for the manifestation of the Sons of God and the translation.

God vindicates His Word so thoroughly, and not in a secret place. Will you search the Scriptures to recognize YOUR day and ITS Message.


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Every now and again I receive an enquiry through Bible Believers' web site or this program concerning the Sabbath. The confusion on this topic among those who've never been born-again, is because several cults preach that Christians must observe a Sabbath day.

The typical Sabbaths of the Law of Moses have been abolished. Paul calls Sabbath day observance, 'traditions of men and the rudiments of the world'. He expounds on this in Colossians 2:9-17 which I'll paraphrase for you.

'The fullness of the attributes, (or character and nature of God), was manifested bodily in Jesus Christ. So when we have Christ, we too have the fullness, through our Spiritual union in Him, which is the new birth, because He's Head of all principality and power.

When we come to Christ, He sets us free from our evil desires; not by physical circumcision but a spiritual circumcision of the soul, by the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, cutting away the carnal desires of our flesh and mortal spirit.

We are accounted buried with Him in death when we're baptized with the Holy Spirit; and also as risen with him, because of our faith in God's vindicated Word, Which raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 3:3; Romans 8:11; Ephesians 2:6).

You were dead in your sins (or unbelief of your mind or spirit) and the uncircumcision of your flesh, then God brought you to Life together with Jesus, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the charges proved against you: the list of His Commandments you had not obeyed. He took this list and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross. There Christ took our place, and paid the penalty for our sin.

In this way God took away Satan's power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ's triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.

So let no man judge you for what you eat, or drink, or in respect of Jewish holydays and feasts, or of the new moon or sabbath days. For these were only temporary rules, foreshadowing things to come, having only symbolic value; but the body (or thing which cast the shadow) is the substance or reality of things hoped for, and belongs to Christ (Colossians 2:9-17). radio034.html