Can We Trust the Bible?
How do we know the Bible can be trusted? What evidence, arguments, or line of reasoning can we point to to say the Bible is a reliable source of information?
Let's start here - what is the Bible? I think Voddie Bauchum has given one of the absolute best answers to that question. He says, “The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eye witnesses during the lifetime of other eye witnesses. They report to us supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim to be divine rather than human in origin.”
Personally, I came up with my own acronym that helps me call to mind the reasons I know that the Bible is trustworthy. The acronym is this: SUPERTEAMS. You might think what in the world is SUPERTEAMS? It has no special meaning, except each letter in the word represents a reason or line of argumentation for the truthfulness of the Bible.
Here it is:
· Says about itself
· Resurrection of Jesus Christ
· Archaeological Evidence
· Manuscript Evidence
· Scientific Evidence
What the Bible Says about Itself
· "All Your words are true" Psalm 119:160a
We know that the Bible claims to be the words of God because it says it over and over again. Right from Genesis 1, we read, “And God said…” God speaks directly to Adam and Eve in the ensuing chapters. In fact more than 400 times we find in the Old Testament, “Thus says the Lord.” This is what we call revelation.
In addition to revelation, theologians speak of inspiration. Meaning that God “inspired” the Biblical writers to write down exactly what He wanted written.
The Bible is “God-breathed” as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16,17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:20,21 tells us how God did it: knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
So, the formula for biblical authority is the following:
· God has spoken. (Numbers 12:8)
· God “inspired” the biblical writers. (2 Timothy 3:16)
· God “carried men along” as they recorded His words. (2 Peter 1:20,21)
· God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2).
· God does not change. (Malachi 3:6)
Therefore, we can trust what’s contained on the pages of our Bible.
As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30
The Uniqueness of the Bible
· The Bible is comprised of 66 separate books, and it was written over a period of at least 1,500 years by more than 40 authors who for the most part didn't know each other personally.
· The writers of the Bible came from different social and occupational backgrounds.
· The Bible was composed on three different continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek).
· One common thread: How a sinful rebellious human race can be made right with a Holy and Perfect God, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
· The Bible's message of grace. Every other faith book tells you what you need to do to be accepted by God, the Bible says you can't do it, it was done for you.
If a book was truly from God, we would expect to see predictions of future events, with precisely 100% accuracy. The Bible contains many fulfilled prophecies and some yet to be fulfilled. If just one prophecy fails, the Bible cannot be from God.
Here is a passage from Scripture:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; "He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet- I can count all my bones-they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:1,7-8,16-18
What is this describing? If you said Jesus' crucifixion, you're right! But it was written 1000 years before Jesus was even born. Moreover, crucifixion hadn't even been invented yet!
The early followers of Jesus had absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose by claiming what they did. There is no reason to suppose that the writers of the New Testament would fabricate the events of the New Testament since they had nothing to gain. Not only was there nothing to gain, but there was everything to lose by claiming what they did regarding Jesus.
Generally, the reliability of eyewitness testimony is strengthened if it can be shown that the witness has much to lose by telling the truth. For example, we can believe a child when he confesses to doing something wrong that would ultimately lead him into getting a spanking. If he admits to it and risks a spanking, then it is reasonable to believe that the child is telling the truth.
In addition, if the eye witnesses' testimonies were false, others would have been able to contradict and stop the growth of Christianity. In addition to the many writers of the New Testament who were eye witnesses, there were thousands of others:
· Feeding of over 5,000 people
· Feeding of over 4,000 people
· Those who saw Jesus enter Jerusalem
· Over 500 witnesses to the resurrected Christ
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Here is an acronym inside of an acronym. When I think about the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, I think of the word WOMEN. See the image below.
The Truthfulness of the Bible
If a writing mentions something embarrassing about its author, it's probably true. Why would a writer make up a lie that would make him look bad? The Bible records people's behavior whether it was good or bad. There are numerous accounts that could have been conveniently omitted from Scripture.
Some examples include:
· The disciples are constantly not understanding Jesus' teachings.
· Peter was called Satan by Jesus.
· Peter denied Christ three times.
· The disciples were cowards.
· The disciples hid when Jesus was arrested, and the women turned out to be the brave ones who went to the empty tomb first. The women were the first ones to spread the news Jesus had risen from the dead. Why would men start up a new religion just to show how cowardly they acted in the face of fear?
· The disciples were doubters. Even after a resurrected Jesus physically appears, some of them still weren't sure he had risen.
· The Bible doesn't shy away from recording sinful behavior from people like David and Peter.
It records squabbles, hard sayings, rebukes amongst the church leaders, gory descriptions and many unpleasant details. It's not a sugar-coated message, but rather the truth. Truth is that which corresponds to reality, and reality, likewise is often ugly and difficult.
The Endurance of the Bible
No other book has been dissected, critiqued, banned, burned and ridiculed the way the Bible has. No other book has motivated more people to attempt to discredit its validity. Yet the Bible stands and it's still here today, having sold more copies than any other book in history.
· The Hittites were once thought to be a biblical legend, until their capital and records were discovered in Turkey.
· It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon as recorded in Isaiah 20:1, because this name was not known in any other record. Then, Sargon's palace was discovered in Iraq. The very event mentioned in Isaiah Chapter 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded in the palace walls.
· The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 also verify the reliability of the OT manuscripts. They were ancient documents that were hidden in a cave in Israel about 2000 years ago. The scrolls contained many Old Testament Scriptures (many fragments, and even entire books of the Old Testament).
See this helpful chart below to compare the New Testament with the other books of antiquity. When deciding upon the veracity of ancient texts, three main criteria are universally accepted:
· How old are the manuscripts?
· How close in time were the writings to the actual events they are recording?
· How many manuscripts have survived?
The Spherical Shape of the Earth "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth." Isaiah 40:22
The Earth's Free Float in Space "He stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.” Job 26:7
The Water Cycle "He wraps the rain in His thick clouds, and the clouds don't burst with the weight.” Job 26:8 "For He draws up the drops of water; they distill His mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly." Job 36:27-28
Read Luke 17:34-36 It says the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will occur while some are asleep at night and others are working in the field during daytime. This indicates a revolving earth, with day and night at the same time.
If you have read through this entire page and you still believe the Bible is full of myths, fables, errors and contradictions, I would simply ask you this question; have you ever read the Bible with an open mind and an honest heart seeking truth?
I’m asking you to perform a heart check on yourself. Are there any reasons that you don't want to believe it? If you approach the Bible with a hard heart, you'll be able to find what you believe to be problems with it. God gives grace to the humble, but He resists the proud. (James 4:6) For the individual with a humble heart, the Bible contains the very words of life.