(This is a brief overview of why the Bible is God’s Word. For more detail see the reference material at the bottom)
How can we be sure that the Bible is God’s word?
What if critics are right that it is a bunch of outdated material with riddles and inaccuracies?
Back to the Garden
Genesis 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Did God Actually Say?
If there is one term that we seem to hear when it comes to God’s word is if it is really what God said. Whether it is non – Christians saying it is an outdated book full of fairy tales or even Christians who take God’s Word and twist it to fit how they want to live. Before you can deal with the details of what the Bible says you have to be convinced that it is from God.
“The Bible has many faces. It can be studied as literature and explored as a set of stories and poetic expressions, or views as history which tells us of the beginnings and the growth of God’s people. For some it is a guide to archeology, pointing the way to buried civilizations. There is a place and a purpose for each of those aspects, but at the basis of all, the Bible is the Word of God. It is God’s message to a rebelling world of how it can return to Him. It is a love letter from God to us. But do we take this claim seriously? (When Skeptics Ask, Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks, pg. 141)
1) The Uniqueness of the Bible
“This God- inspired book called the Bible was written during a 1500 year span through more than 40 generations by more than 40 different authors from every walk of life- shepherds, soldiers, prophets, poets, monarchs, scholars, statesmen, masters, servants, tax collectors, fishermen, and tent makers. It’s God –breathed words were written in a variety of places: in the wilderness, in a palace, in a dungeon, on a hillside, in a prison, and in exile. It was penned on the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe and was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. It tells hundreds of stories, records hundreds of songs, and addresses hundreds of controversial subjects. Yet with all its variety and authors, origins, and content, it achieves a miraculous continuity of them- God’s redemption of his children and the restoration of all things to his original design. (The Unshakable Truth, Josh and Sean McDowell, pg. 93)
2) The Accuracy of the Bible
The guidelines they had to follow
The scroll must be written on the skin of a clean animal.
Each skin must contain a specified number of columns, equal throughout the entire book.
The column breadth must consist of exactly 30 letters
The space of a thread must appear between every consonant.
The breadth of nine consonants had to be inserted between each section.
A space of three lines had to appear between each book
The fifth book of Moses (Deuteronomy) had to conclude exactly with a full line.
Nothing- not even the shortest word- could be copied from memory; it had to be copied letter by letter.
The scribe must count the number of times each letter of the alphabet occurred in each book and compare it to the original.
If a manuscript was found to contain even one mistake, it was discarded.
With the discovery of the dead sea scrolls we have manuscripts that are dated back to 125 BC The evidence also showed a 95% accuracy with a few minor things that did not change the meaning of the message. Critics will point out these small insignificant errors and make a bold claim that the Bible is full of errors.
To demonstrate what the errors are see the sentences below.
You won 20 million dollars
You won 20 millieon dollars
Y@u won 20 million dollars
The things that are wrong do not change the meaning and they are verified with another source that has them correct. To say that the Bible is error free is to say that there is no change in the message over the years. If you want to use small insignificant errors like what was listed above to say the Bible is not God’s Word then no amount of evidence will convince you. If you are willing to believe their is a God then how would He communicate to you?
The New Testament is just as reliable if we are going to accept other historical documents. The Test is the amount of documents found along with how early they are to the original writing. There are 25,000 different manuscripts or fragments of manuscripts of the Bible with one fragment from Johns Gospel being within 50 years of the original writing.
Even the most of liberal of theologians would date the Bible documents we have between 50 – 400 years old of when they were originally written. So if you are not going to accept the Bible than you cannot accept Homers Iliad, Plato, and Caesars Gallic Wars to name a few.
With all the evidence we have and all the fragments and historical data the Bible can be proven to be 99% with the 1% or less than that being things that do not change the meaning of the message.
3) Jesus confirmed the Bible
Luke 16:16-17 The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.[e] 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
John 14:25-26 These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Matthew 19:4-5 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
Have you not read? Read What? What God said? Jesus was reaffirming not only the Old Testament but the writing of the New Testament as well. So if you are a follower of Christ then you have to acknowledge that Jesus Himself was giving His approval to what would be written by the apostles.
4) Reasons why we know the Disciples told the Truth
(Adapted from I don’t have enough faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek)
A) They included embarrassing details about themselves.
They included things like falling asleep at a crucial time, being scared when they thought Jesus was a ghost. They had doubts and lack of faith at crucial times. If the Disciples were making up a myth than they could have made themselves look better. The fact that they shared their own doubts and lack of faith in Jesus shows they were telling the truth.
B) They included embarrassing details of Jesus
If you do not believe they would make themselves look better you have to agree that they could have made Jesus look better. Jesus family thought He was out of His mind (Mark 3:21,31) People called Jesus a drunkard and a friend of sinners. People that were followers turned away from Jesus and left Him only with His disciples. (John 6:66) If you are trying to get people to follow someone you show them who is following Him to give Him credibility. To show all the people that rejected and left Jesus would only be showing people they had reason to doubt Jesus was the Messiah.
C) They Included Demanding sayings of Jesus
Jesus views on Lust, Divorce, materialism and forgiveness were so difficult they were impossible. It was not popular teaching and yet the Disciples did not leave out the difficult sayings of Jesus. Jesus demands were to show that you cannot attain salvation on your own and that is exactly what the Disciples wanted others to see as well.
D) They were sure to distinguish Jesus words from their own.
If they wanted to dissolve any disputes in the early church they could have put words into Jesus mouth. They could have just made up more quotes from Jesus but instead they made sure they put down what Jesus said without adding or taking away from His words.
E) They included events from the resurrection that they could not have invented
Jesus Burial and Resurrection were widely known and highly documented by the governing rulers. Their stories about the resurrection of Christ was not mythological because it is recorded in Roman history as well as seen by witnesses who could have refuted their story.
F) They included 30 historically confirmed people in their writings.
The fact that all the places and people mentioned by the Disciples are documented historically proves that the Bible is not mythological. If you are making up a story you would not write about people that could be checked to see if it was true.
G) They wrote from their perspective
So critics say that the Disciples have different accounts of the same story. The Disciples reported from their vantage point and wrote in their style. Some of them were more detailed than others and added to the story. Their stories do not conflict with each other but show they they did not collaborate with each other to devise a myth. If you are making up a legend and you are all in on it you would get all that worked out. Like people all witnessing a scene of an accident they told their perspective. If the Disciples were to appear in court today and tell their side it would build a case that Jesus was the Messiah not take away from it. Their stories are not in conflict just told from the perspective of the disciple reporting it.
H) They wrote specific things that could be checked and verified
All of their writings could have easily been thrown out if they were made up. We cannot just say that their writings were embellished or they misrepresented Christ because that would have been known from the start that they were lying.
I) They described miracles the same way the explained historical facts
If Jesus did not perform miracles then people would have known. The disciples wrote down facts about miracles that people would have either experienced first hand or had someone they trusted experience. When a person is brought back from the dead that is hard evidence to refute. If you were making up that Jesus did miracles without Him really doing them then Josephus would not have called Jesus a miracle worker.
J) The Disciples abandoned their long held beliefs and practices for new ones
They gave up everything they believed and practiced their whole lives and changed because of Jesus Christ.
K) They faced death without denying their stories.
Remember not one of them recanted their story even while facing death. If one of them would have denied Christ at their death then we would have known about it. So what they wrote they believed and although believing something in and of itself does not make it true, believing something along with all the other factors mentioned does.
“Why would the apostles lie?…If they lied, what was their motive, what did they get out of it? What they got out of it was misunderstanding, rejection, persecution, torture, and martyrdom. Hardly a list of perks”. Peter Kreft
5) External Evidence
Archeology has shown that the Bible as a Historical book is accurate. You do not write a mythical story and include real places and people. For a person to call the Bible fairy tales or mythological they have to ignore all the other historical evidence we have that show the people and the places all existed. Every time it is thought that a city or a reigning official the Bible mentions is wrong a discovery has happened proving it true.
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
The external evidence is so unique to the Bible as compared to other religious writings.
“Of all the world religious leaders, neither Confucius nor Buddha nor Muhammad nor Joseph Smith was confirmed by miracles verified by contemporary and credible witnesses. (Who Made God? Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler, pg. 132)
2 Corinthians 12:12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.
7) Biblical Prophecy
The Old Testament has over 200 predictions of the coming Messiah which Jesus Christ fulfilled. Even skeptics believe the prophecies were all made hundreds of years before He came and could not have been written after the fact. This is a unique factor because although much is made about psychic predictions only the Bible has been a hundred percent accurate on the fulfilled predictions.
A study done about top psychics showed they were wrong 92% of the time. Some say Nostradamus made predictions but just like psychics his predictions are vague and can fit many different scenarios and only interpreted after the fact. On top of that he made several false prophecies that do not get published only the ones that seem to come true.
The Bible’s predictions were specific and detailed and showed that Jesus would be born of woman, through the line of Abraham, through the tribe of Judah, be the son of David in the city of Bethlehem, of a virgin, suffer and die for our sins, and rise from the dead. Too many specific details that were predicted long before Jesus arrived on earth not only proved that Jesus was the Messiah, but that the Bible is true.
8) What this Means for us
A) The Bible we have today is God’s Word
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, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
God’s word is to be followed because it will guide us and show us the way. We can turn to it every day for guidance, peace, encouragement and direction knowing that God has given it to us. That does not mean we do not pray or seek guidance but the Bible, and not man’s opinion, is the standard we live by.
Back to The Garden
Our scientific beliefs tell us that we should go by our senses and not by faith.
Eve Listened to the Serpent, and Not what God said.
Eve Saw the Apple and focused on what she did not have instead of what she already had.
Eve touched the apple taking a step toward disobedience. It was not touching the apple that was a sin but the eating of it.
Eve tasted the apple and suffered consequences.
If God created us then He knows what is best for us, if He knows what is best for us then we can trust Him,if we can trust Him then we should obey what He says we should do even if it goes against our own senses and thinking.
B) The Bible can be trusted
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
Many think that God is a cosmic kill joy trying to keep you from having fun. In reality He knows the consequences that lay ahead for you and so He tells you not to do things for your benefit. Just like us telling our children to not play in a busy street is not to restrict them but to protect them from harm. Just because our children do not understand our rule does not mean we are trying to keep them from having fun we are trying to keep them from destroying their lives with a bad decision.
Evidence of the Bible does not prove the Bible true it just gives us confidence that it is true. The Bible is true regardless of mans opinion of it. The evidence is given to us so that we can trust it because no other book comes close to meeting the standards of the Bible as proof that it is from God.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
If you can trust it than you will read it and if you read it you will be changed.
I Don’t have enough faith to be an atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek
The Unshakable Truth by Josh and Sean Mcdowell
When Skeptics Ask by Norman L. Geisler and Ron Brooks
Who made God? (And answers to over 100 other tough quesiton of Faith) by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler.