By S.C. Shaw
I have been teaching the Gospel to people in every belief system and stage of life for a long time. One of the most regularly asked questions is “How can you trust the Bible?”, or some variation of that. And it is a valid concern. I approach every group I lead with the disclaimer, “I am going to tell what the Bible says about whatever your questions are. I want you to understand what this book is saying and not simply the opinions of others.” I figured with that kind of starting off point I should have something like this written up as to defend why I am giving this book for much clout.
I am going to write this in cliff note or summary form. If anything, I write here sounds curious then do the research. I want to make this short and to the point the best I can. Plus, if you are like me, as soon as too many big words get thrown around, I’m lost.
What the Bible says about itself?
The Bible tells us it is the Word of God, living and powerful, written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit, perfect and holds all the power of eternal salvation.
2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Psalms. 12:6; 19:7–9; 119:160; Proverbs 30:5–6; John 10:35; 17:17, Isaiah. 40:8; Matt. 24:35, John 10:35), 1 Peter 1:19 & 23, Matt. 22:45, Gal. 3:16, Matthew 22:32, Ephesians 6:1-2, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:5, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-14, James 1:22, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Deuteronomy 29:29, Proverbs 25:2, James 1:18 & 21, 2 Peter 1:3-4.
These are just a few Bible references that points to what it says about itself. We need to start with this because we don’t want to state our beliefs on this book on things that it doesn’t even say about itself.
How was the Bible written? by John F. Walvoord
Unlike other books, the Bible was written by about forty human authors who lived during a 1,500-year period beginning with Moses in the fifteenth century B.C. The Bible was written in two major languages—Hebrew and Greek, with a few portions of the Old Testament written in Aramaic. No other book has ever been composed in quite the same way as the Bible. The human authors came from various walks of life. Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, was probably the best educated man of his day, having studied under tutors in the royal palace of Egypt. The human authors also included those who were great leaders, such as Joshua, and those who were chosen of God to be prophets, such as Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Some of the authors were like David, who began as a shepherd but became king of Israel. From the position of one occupying the throne, he wrote many of the Psalms, forming a rich poetic background for much biblical truth. Some of the writers were farmers; some were warriors; some were fishermen. There was little that tied them together except that they all wrote a portion of the biblical truth as contained in the Bible.
The Bible is an unusual book. Despite its diversity, it has continuity, beginning in Genesis and ending in the book of Revelation. In its contents are included moral and political law, history, poetry, prophecy, and letters.
In Christian faith the unity of the Bible, despite its diversity of subject matter and authorship, is traced to the work of the Holy Spirit rather than to a human penman. The difficulty of producing a book like the Bible can be seen in the fact that if one could choose from all the literature in the world and could select from forty different authors ranging in time for 1,500 years, it would be impossible to create a second Bible equal to what the Bible is itself. Though some have attempted to explain the Bible on naturalistic grounds as simply revision of other current books on religion, the Bible stands as a supernatural production, uniquely different, self-consistent, and presenting a united picture of God and the world.
In the actual writing of the Bible, sometimes the writers had other manuscripts before them that contained facts about the past. The Bible, however, was not a copy of these books. Rather, the authors selected what was true, and the result was a fresh, unique, authoritative word about God’s truth.
The Bible Is a Supernatural Book
It would be impossible to explain the origin of the Bible by any other means than to note that it claims to be a supernatural book guided by the Holy Spirit and supports its claim by the facts presented. Though human authors were used, and the Bible has clear evidence of their human involvement in writing the Bible, they were so guided by the Holy Spirit that what they wrote was the truth as God wanted it to be said, and they were kept from the error of including anything that was extraneous or unnecessary.
The contents of the Bible make clear that it must be supernatural in its origin because the Bible includes revelation beyond the scope of people’s knowledge. The Bible also presents God’s point of view of human activity and history, which would be impossible to learn unless God Himself revealed it.
The Bible is not only supernatural in its origin but also supernatural in its truth, dealing with subjects such as salvation, forgiveness, righteousness, spiritual restoration, and hope for eternity. The scope of the revelation extending from eternity past to eternity future obviously requires divine revelation.
Prophecies fulfilled from Old to New Testament:
The Bible prophecies are a 100% accurate. That’s right, everything the bible “predicts” is from God and therefore has come to pass and is still coming to pass as we read through the Old and New Testament. Historical documentation proves that every single prophecy was fulfilled in its time.
One, Ezekiel predicted what was going to happen 250 years later to a city called Tyre. He uses detail, and it all happens the way he says.
Two, the fall of Babylon. It was a wealthy city. Jeremiah and Isiah prophesied the destruction of that city in detail. Secular history secures these prophecies.
Three, Messianic prophecies. The coming of Christ and many details from small to big were written up to 1000 years before Christ and fulfilled identical to how they were prophesied.
Four, the fall of Jerusalem. Jesus prophesied about the fall. About 40 years later it all came true. This is all documented in secular historical books.
Five, the reign of Cyrus. Isiah the destruction of a city and even named Cyrus as the conquering King. This was 150 years before Cyrus was born.
And these are just a few of hundreds of examples.
Eyewitnesses to Christ Resurrection:
Every religion or belief system has a foundation, even if that’s simply a single person believing what they believe do to their life experience alone. All the way up to the major world religions. All of them except Christianity was founded upon a single revelation to a single person. The Bible sets itself apart by being written over 1000’s of years by multiple authors and completely working together in harmony and meaning.
The main point of the Christian faith is Jesus’ resurrection. If that didn’t happen then our faith is worthless. Christ revealed Himself to about 500 people when He was raised in His new body. Many wrote about it including secular writers that may or may not have been there but affirm people’s eyewitness accounts.
One of the most powerful evidence’s is how dramatically changed the disciples were after Christ’s resurrection. Historical documents about what happened to these men after Christ’s ascended to heaven was death or exiling all for the sake of Christ. The same man that they ran from and denied just days prior. You don’t lose your life over something you don’t believe to be real.
The Historical Reliability:
The manuscripts we have are the closest ones to the time of each event, closer than any other historical document. A few generations away as opposed to a half a millennium. As well as the number of manuscripts we have compared to other ancient manuscripts. All other ancient writing, if stacked on top of each other is the difference between 4 feet high compared to the Bible’s manuscripts would be over a mile high.
On top of all that we have many secular manuscripts affirming many main doctrines and even Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
We have many secular writings of powerful leaders concerned about this man called Jesus and His followers. How He has great influence, and something should be done.
Textual critique is how any document in a different language gets translated to another language. There is much concern about the translations being corrupt because of the many variances found.
Over the 500,000 variances we have in the text about 99% of them make no change to the meaning of the text. If a word is spelled wrong, spelt differently or just in a different order would count as a variance. And the 1% of variances that change meaning are things that can change implications on Christian practice but not on doctrine. Refer to Mark 9, Jesus’ disciples are trying to cast out a demon but can’t. Jesus says, “This kind can only be cast out by prayer.” Other manuscripts found say, “By prayer and fasting.” It’s important but it’s not that important. Even manuscripts found that don’t affirm traditional Christian doctrines don’t deny them, they are simply just not written about or aren’t written about as much as other manuscripts. The Bible we have today may not be exactly what was written in the original manuscripts but the one we have today, in all the essentials, is the Word of God. No Christian belief from the Bible is jeopardized by any viable variant.
The wisdom the Bible contains is outstanding. Even from a secular point of view, the moral and logistical life info is incomparable. In fact, most of our world has been affected by what the Bible says. Believe in Jesus or not, you follow its rules and moral standard every day. Your heart manifests the truth God has written on your heart. For there is no moral standard on anything if there is no ultimate higher power telling you what’s wrong or right. Every argument against this truth falls heavily short and flat.
This cannot be a man-based religion:
I believe one of the biggest proofs of the Bible’s authentication is its very existence. If you truly understand what the Bible teaches, you begin to realize how unhuman it is. What I mean is, no man would make up such self-denying and countercultural ideas. And even if they did it would be highly denied, and that man would put to death or exiled. That’s not far off from what happened except persecution didn’t stop the church, it only strengthened it. And the teaching wasn’t from man but from God. To deny yourself and take up your cross, love your enemies as well as treat everyone equal. That’s not a good way to get the things most people want out of this life. Everything the Bible teaches is against our natural tendencies. There’s no money, power or clout when following Christ. Yes, people have perverted the message to get those earthly things, but that just shows how powerful God’s Word is. Even when used wrongly, it still holds power. Therefore, we must be good stewards of it and faithful to its true meaning. Scripture in context is most important.
Second, I find it fascinating when I read about the false religions in the Old Testament and most of them sexualized. Meaning, the way they worshiped was having text with the temple prostitute. If the God of the Bible wasn’t real, I do think that would be the world religion of today, right? But our hearts know that isn’t right. Today we find the same thing going on but it’s simply sleeping around in the name of doing whatever you want. That’s the new pagan religion. Enslaved to sin is the world religion. But sin has its own consequences without God lifting a finger. The way He lays out the standard for living has no natural consequences.
I have only scratched the surface here with these answers as well as the questions. Do your own research but always ask questions. People have been trying to disprove the Bible and destroy Christianity since it was revealed to the world through Christ and His teachings. Why do you think that is? I don’t see anyone trying to abolish Buddhism or worshiping the earth. It’s because our natural mind holds us accountable when we hear the truth. And those who suppress the truth in themselves, hate the truth in and from everyone who lives and speaks it.
Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s and Louis Berkhof’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!