Can You Trust The Bible
The Bible makes many promises and offers much advice. Likely you are curious about what it teaches, but perhaps you are also cautious. Should you trust promises and advice from such an old book? Can you really believe what the Bible says about enjoying life now and in the future? Millions of people do. Let us see whether you can too.
Why Should We Trust The Bible
Dan WarneFriday, 12 March 21
Why Should We Trust the Bible?
The Bible is a book whose reading never leaves us indifferent. It will disquiet us. It will make us restless because its a book unlike any other book. It is the Book of Books.
Has the Bible ever disquieted you? Maybe you would just as soon remain indifferent to the Bible, but you feel an unsettling restlessness as you read it. You wonder, Can I really trust this book?
There are four main reasons why I believe we should trust the Bible.
1. The Bible claims to be inspired by God.
Wait a minute, you say, Thats circular reasoning and it doesnt prove anything! Maybe, but its important to start here. Whatever we think about the Bible, we must acknowledge what the Bible claims for itself.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:15 that all Scripture is breathed out by God. The Bible itself claims to be Gods inspired word, down to the very last word. Furthermore, the Old Testament prophets cite the pronouncements of earlier prophets as God-inspired and thus authoritative . The Apostle Peter says Pauls writings are hard to understand, but that theyre to be regarded as Scripture . Jesus himself during his wilderness temptation regards Old Testament commands as divinely given and thus to be obeyed , and he cites Old Testament writings as authoritative support for his own teaching .
2. The Bible has a shockingly coherent message.
3. The Bible has the power to change us.
Were The Original Sources Accurately Copied
As with other ancient books, the physical pieces of paper on which the original authors first wrote the New Testament have been lost to history. But we have thousands of other ancient writings with original-language text copied from each book of the Bibleabout 5,400 distinct pieces when it comes to the New Testament, many going back to the first three centuries. They allow us to reconstruct with a huge degree of confidence what the originals said.
We can confidently say that not one major doctrine of orthodox Christianity rests on any disputed or uncertain passage. We know what the Bible says and what it means.
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Has The Church Changed So Much We Cant Trust It
The answer to this question is an earth-rattling no! Why? Because we know all the changes that happened and why they happened. How do we know? One thing about the church, even from the beginning, is its leaders love to write! So, we have a long literary history documenting the changes
There are hundreds, if not thousands of documents written by the church leaders, starting with the Didache. Someone wrote the Didache around AD 125, This document describes Christian beliefs in the early second century, beliefs that come directly from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
There are other types of documents as well. For instance, we have two recorded defenses given to Emperor Hadrian, one from Quadratus and one from Aristides. These defenses originated about ten years after the Didache. Then, we also have the writings of Polycarp, who lived between AD 69-155, Irenaeus , and many others.
In general, these writings express a young church working out what it means to believe in Jesus. For many of them, their interest was in Jesus being both God and man. However, this focus did not change what the church believed. Instead, it sharpened those beliefs.
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What We Have Is What Was Written
Remember the Telephone game? One child would start by whispering a message in anothers ear, she would then whisper to the next child, and so on. Finally, the last person in the telephone line would reveal a message so distorted from the original, the children would break out in laughter. Skeptics use this childs game as a parallel to how the Bible has come down to us. Just like the final message of the telephone game, the New Testament is equally unreliable. Right? Wrong.
At first glance, the objection is compelling. But most people raising it simply dont know the facts. And the facts are on the Bibles side. Clearly, the telephone game does not accurately capture the manner in which the New Testament was passed down.
First, the New Testament message was not transmitted orally, a mode of communication that is easier to distort. Instead, it was handed down in writing. Second, there was not a singular line of transmissionthat is, it was not the case that a single individual passed the message to another individual who passed the message to a different individual and so on. Rather, there were many lines as one letter was copied multiple times and copies were copied multiple times, eventually resulting in a host of manuscript copies. Third, historians do not rely on the last person in line but look for earlier sources much closer to the original. Finally, original letters could be consulted, even after several generations of copies.
We Can Trust The Bible
The question of biblical authority is a burning one, so much so that to some theologians and preachers it is too hot to handle. Some writers, reportedly of high intellectual and spiritual standing, look upon the Bible as a book which, to them, is obviously marked by inconsistency, historical inaccuracy and self-contradiction. They see the Bible as containing but not as being the Word of God. While they are telling us that the Bible contains errors, incorrect dates and fictitious authorships, they claim that in this Book one may find the Word of God. These men say they are our brethren in Christ, and some of them might be, but I find it very hard to identify myself with such teachers and teaching.
Paul’s prophecy of the coming conflict came to pass, and the struggle becomes more intense and more serious with every passing day. While the imposters and deceivers multiply, the exhortation stands which says, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” .
How Do We Know The Bible Is Historically Accurate
Given this brief history of the Bible, lets put the Bible through some tests that historians use when analyzing the historical accuracy and reliability of ancient manuscripts. First, lets evaluate whether what we have today matches what was written originally. In the Bibles case, this was about 2,000 years ago and earlier. Second, well analyze whether the recorded events actually described true events. Lets see how the Bible holds up to each of these important questions.
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The Indestructibility Of The Bible
The Witness of Scripture
Now I have no fear that the Bible will ever disappear from the world. My reasons for believing this are valid ones. First, there is The Witness of Scripture. “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” . This verse is in a remarkable setting. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, its outstanding feature being that all but six of the one hundred and seventy-six verses speak directly about the Word of God. What the inspired writer is saying in verse 89 is that God’s Word was established in heaven before He revealed it to men and reduced it to writing. The Word of God is “forever,” it is eternal. That which holy men of God wrote on earth is but a copy of what God had already written in heaven in eternity past. You see, there is a permanent quality about the Word of God. It is forever. It was with God in the beginning, and so shall it ever be. “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of Thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” .
The Work of Scribes
The Wiles of Satan
“Holy Bible, Book divine, Precious treasure, thou art mine.”
“Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door And heard the anvil ring the vesper chimes Then looking in, I saw upon the floor Old hammers worn with beating years of time.
‘How many anvils have you had,’ said I,’To wear and batter all these hammers so?”Just one,â said he, and then with twinkling eye, ‘The anvil wears the hammer out, you know.’
Aiming For Historical Confidence
Despite what the title might suggest, Why Trust the Bible? isnt a hermeneutical defense of biblical inspiration or inerrancy, although Gilbert clearly affirms those doctrines. Nor does he spend equal time on all sections of Scripture for reasons well see later, Gilbert deliberately limits himself to the New Testament, especially the four Gospels .
Instead, Gilberts primary aim is more modest: establish the readers confidence in the Bibles historical reliability, especially its account of Jesus. This isnt the final step, of course. But for many, it may be a necessary first step:
Long before we get even get to questions like who is Jesus? or what is the gospel?, another question vexes many people around us, a question they want to ask but doubt we can answer: Why do you trust the Bible in the first place?
This is an epistemological issue: how do we know the Bible is trustworthy? Do we simply presuppose its reliability because it claims to be Gods Word? Gilbert sees this method of reasoning as circular and inadequate. He recognizes no one operates with a blank-slate mind, and that we all have to presuppose some thingsfor example, that the external world exists, that were not brains in a vat, that our senses are basically reliablein order to know anything else. But this doesnt mean we can simply presuppose anything we want. Nor does it mean we should ask unbelievers to just take a leap of faith .
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And Other Questions About Scripture Truth And How God Speaks
Part of the Questions Christians Ask series.
The Bible makes big claims for itself. But do those claims stand up?
Arent the stories just legends? Hasnt the information been corrupted over time? Isnt the Bible full of mistakes? And isnt it culturally outdated?
In this absorbing little book, Barry Cooper explores these questions – and many others – with warmth, wit and integrity.
Part of the Questions Christians Ask series: a range of short, simple books designed to help Christians understand what God has said about these questions and many more in the Bible.
- 1. Does the Bible claim to be Gods word?
- The world, the word, and what Jesus thought of the Bible
- 2. Does the Bible claim to be Gods word?
- The word, the Word, and the rightness of writing
- 3. Does the Bible seem to be Gods word?
- Consistency, conspiracies and corruptions
- 4. Does the Bible seem to be Gods word?
- Canon, contradictions and criticisms
- 5. Does the Bible prove to be Gods word?
- Tasting, seeing, and the sweetness of Scripture
Painstaking Researchers Verified The Bible
The New Testament was written from about ad 40 to 96. By the end of the first century, all twenty-seven books had been sorted , shared , circulated , collected , and quoted .
While the original documents were God-breathed and without error , the Bible nowhere says copies would be inspired. As meticulous as church members were at replicating Scripture, minor differences inevitably occurred. Of the thousands of manuscripts, no two were identical until the printing press. At the same time, they were incredibly similar.
Relevant questions to ask in verifying any ancient book include: Where was it found? If a Greek manuscript is unearthed in South Dakota, it would raise eyebrows. If in ancient Alexandria, then not so much. How many copies do we possess? The more copies to compare, the more likely it is that scholars will spot errors. How old is it? Generally speaking, older is better, for it is closer to the source.
Four facts about Bible manuscripts give confidence:
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One Of The Most Overlooked Reasons Why We Should Trust The Bible
When deciding what to believe about the Bible, who should we listen to?
Thats a rather basic question, and I suppose there are many possible answers. We could listen to our friendsmaybe a roommate or a co-worker. Then there are family members, maybe our parents or siblings. Surely they would have an opinion. Or we could look to our leaders, a pastor or professor who seems to be an expert. And theres always Google if we really want to know what to think!
But in the midst of all the options there is one person that, ironically, Christians overlook. Jesus.
Now, of course, Christians dont overlook Jesus generally. He is central to about everything Christians think and do. But, strangely, he is not often the ultimate court of appeal when they are deciding what to think about the Bible. But, just a few moments of reflection suggest he should be.
First, and most obviously, Jesus opinion about the Bible matters most because he wrote it. Now, obviously, he didnt literally write itwe have no evidence that Jesus himself left any written records. But, as the incarnate Lord, as the very God of Israel enfleshed, he is the divine author of Scripture. If he is who he claims to be, then he is the one who inspired the Old Testament authors. When you hear the voice of the Old Testament Scriptures, you are hearing the voice of the Lordthe voice of Christ.
Who better to tell us what to think about the Old Testament than its author?
Taking The Bible Really Seriously Means Dealing With Its Messiness Not Finding Clever Ways Of Avoiding It
I also balk a bit at the thought of trusting the Bible. I understand the point, but perhaps the Bible shouldnt be the object of our trust to begin with. Maybeas the Bible repeatedly saysthe object of our trust is God alone.
And God and the Bible arent the same things.
Calling the Bible Gods word doesnt elevate it to an object worthy of trust. Rather, as I see it, the Bible bears witnessto God. Christians will say that the Bible bears witness ultimately to what God has done in Christ.
But heres the catch: The Bible bears witness in ancient and culturally diverse ways. Thats why the Bible is such a mess. And that is why working out how the Bible functions in the life of faith is an ongoing task.
The Christian Bible was written between 2000 and 3000 years ago. We are as distant from the world of the Bible as we are from the years 4000 to 5000 CE.
Respect that distance.
The writings that would eventually make up the Bible were composed and eventually collected over a period of about 1000 years, in times of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, under Assyrian, then Babylonian, Persian, and Roman rule, in a plethora of social settings, written by simply folk, kings, priests, prophets, and who knows who else, in three languages.
Respect that diversity.
The Bible we have is ancient, diverse, and therefore invariably gives us multiple perspectives on many thingsincluding even what God is like.
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How Do We Know We Can Trust The Bible
Recent research has revealed a serious epidemic with todays Christian youth. So many are caught up in an unfortunate pattern that goes something like this:
Many teens today are in Step 1 above, some are in Steps 23. Some may even be recovering from Step 4. Fortunately, some have not entered the cycle above because of their biblical grounding. Whatever your or your childs current position, we encourage you to slowly and steadily read the following section about the most important book in historythe Bible.
We Can Trust God But Why
Daily Devotions With Pastor Dan Nickerson October 20th, 2021
Why is it that David can trust God? Why can we trust Him? Because He is Lord , He is , He has authority and power and is matchless in His being. David wrote, The LORD said to my Lord. Thomas said, My Lord and my God!. Paul wrote, Christ Jesus my Lord , by virtue of His death and resurrection . Peter also proclaimed Jesus as Lord, to the Jews at Pentecost , to the Gentiles at Cornelius home . To a true Christian, Jesus is the only Lord . This rules out any other lordsSuch as my self , such as the world .
Who is Jesus to you? You might acknowledge Him as the Lord. You might join others in praising Him as our Lord. But have you submitted to Him such that you can rightly say Jesus my Lord? You see, we are nothing without Jesus Christ, It is the Lord who preserves us! It is the Lord who has authority and power and is matchless in His being. Without Him who are we? Even our goodness is nothing apart from Him -There is no success to me outside of the Lord. .
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