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.
Fulfilled Prophecygod Does What He Says He Will Do
The Bible contains around 2,000 prophecies. Some of these prophecies have already been fulfilled, at least in part. Many predict end-time events and are yet to be fulfilled. Each additional prophecy from the pages of the Bible that is fully carried out brings credibility to God Himself and demonstrates to us that we can trust Him and His written Word in the pages of our Bibles.
Thus says Cyrus king of Persia . . . .
The first chapter of the book of Ezra contains the fulfillment of two prophecies that demonstrate both Gods unending love for His people and the involvement He has in the events of the world around us. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God foretold the end of the Babylonian Empire, saying, When seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation (Jeremiah 25:12Jeremiah 25:12And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, said the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
American King James Version×). He was led by God to bring punishment upon the Babylonian empire and to allow Gods people to safely return to Israel just as Isaiah had described. While the proclamation recorded in Ezra hasnt been found outside the pages of the Bible, similar words of Cyrus have been found inscribed on a clay cylinder called the Cyrus Cylinder.
Objections To Trusting The Bible
But arent there good reasons to believe that the Bible isnt trustworthy?
While this is a common view, its usually assumed rather than proven. The evidence actually supports the idea that the Bible is trustworthy.
Isnt the Bible just a collection of made-up stories?
Many people believe that the stories in the Bible that present themselves as records of historical events were written long after the events are claimed to have happened and are largely fabricated. However, there is little evidence to support this view and lots of evidence that the Bible offers records of events that did actually happen. Often the details of stories things like names, knowledge of geography, and cultural and religious practices can be shown to be to be accurate to the period claimed and not to later periods, making it highly unlikely that a later author could have fabricated the story so accurately. In a similar way, parallels from other cultures show the plausibility of biblical accounts. Archaeology also offers some confirmation of the biblical account, although archaeological evidence is always open to multiple interpretations. When it comes to the New Testament, there is strong evidence that the Gospels are based on eyewitness accounts.
Hasnt the Bible been corrupted through hundreds of years of copying?
There is actually good evidence to believe that the biblical text has been accurately passed down over the centuries.
Isnt the Bible full of contradictions and errors?
Isaiah 53 And The Dead Sea Scrolls
In 1947, shepherds chasing a lost sheep in the caves above the Qumran Valley northwest of the Dead Sea made one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of our timethe Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls were found in numerous clay jars, and numbered over 900, 200 of which include numerous sections and fragments of every book in the Old Testament except the book of Esther. Though few of its scholars dare admit it, they even contain fragments of several New Testament books.
One of the most significant scrolls is called the Great Isaiah Scroll, which includes the same Book of Isaiah that we have today in modern Bibles, but dates to 125 B.C.12 The Great Isaiah Scroll is significant for two reasons. First, it was written before the Lord Jesus Christ was born and it includes a chapter which includes specific and clear prophecies about the torture, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Second, its discovery now allows us to test three versions of the Bible representing different time periods: Pre-Christ Dead Sea Scroll, A.D. 930, and today. We can even compare how the English translation of this important text survived or changed through the years!
Table 3 provides a word-by-word comparison of these three versions so you can see for yourself how reliable the translation process has been through the millennia:
Table 3. Comparison of Isaiah 53 between the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Aleppo Codex, and the Modern Bible13
I Have Met Jesus In The Gospel And His Self
I met him in the Gospel. What’s the Gospel?
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
The gospel is the story of Christs life and death for sinners according to the Scriptures and his resurrection and what it achieved and how it is enjoyed and what it leads to ultimately.
When this gospel story is recounted in sufficient fullness, the glory of Christ becomes the ground of or trust in it.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Here the mind reaches certainty of Christ in the gospel by the self-authenticating glory that shines through.
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Can I Trust The Bible
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Is the Bible really a trustworthy text? Let’s take a look at the facts supported by archaeology and other ancient texts.
The Bible can be a tough book to swallow. Strange stories, descriptions of an unseen God, a man rising from the dead? Perhaps we should just go ahead and conclude as Mark Twain did: is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it and some clever fables and some blood-drenched history and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity and upwards of a thousand lies.1
Heres the key question: Can we trust the Bible? Can we genuinely believe what it says about history, life, truth, and God? Can it stand up to the scrutiny of historians, scientists, and common sense? Or is it no different than books about Zeus or Santa Claus?
One Trait Of Secularism Is The Criticism Of The Bible As A Mixture Of Truth And Error
Star Tribune, Oct. 17, 1992 Letter from Minnesota Atheists
One of the few worthwhile statements in the Bible is, You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. . . . Knowledge of the Bible is hindered by the informal censorship imposed by religious leaders who would rather their followers didnt know whats in itthe innumerable contradictions, historical errors, plagiarism, absurdities, meaningless prophecies, myths presented as historical fact, and countless instances of divinely ordered or approved atrocities. . . . It is true that the Bible has some worthwhile material, including entertaining stories, inspirational sentiments and astute observations about human behavior. However, those worthwhile parts could probably be contained in a pamphlet.
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Reasons To Trust The Bible
Why We Can Rely on Gods Word
The Bible is a trustworthy book. Scripture is a message given to us by almighty God. And since it is the Word of our Creator and Savior, we can trust that it is true. He says His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Therefore, it always leads us the right way . And though our world constantly changes, the word of our God stands forever . Because He wants us to know how to live in a manner that honors Him and benefits us, Hes given us words of promise, joy, and peace as well as instructions and warnings.
The Bible is more than just another book because it . . .
Is timeless. The truths of Scripture are never outdated and are still applicable for any situation we might face.
Is infallible. Since Scripture is the revelation of the one true God, it has no errors. Because He is all-powerful, He has the ability to speak through men, guiding them to write only what is true. There may be concepts we dont understand, but that never invalidates the fact that Gods Word is inerrant.
Is a trustworthy guide. The Bible is adequate for every need. Because its infallible, we can confidently depend on it for wise guidance in every circumstance of life.
Tells of Gods unconditional love for us. Its His very nature to love. Because He loved the world, He gave His Son so those who believe in Him could have everlasting life .
Teaches how to endure difficulty and hardship. From the Scripture , we learn to respond to trials as the Lord desires.
The New Testament Contains A Collection Of Independent Evidence About Jesus
The New Testament seems like one book today. It has its own ISBN, after all! But, originally, many of these texts were written independently of each other.
The Gospel of Mark was written without a knowledge of what was in the letters of Paul. Paul himself wrote without any knowledge of the Gospel of Mark. James wrote his letter without possessing copies of Mark or Pauls epistles. Here, then, are three separate sources, only later brought into a single volume called the New Testament.
Do we have more than one source testifying to the event?
There are even sources within individual gospels, according to most secular experts today. Luke in his opening line tells us, Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us. Today, scholars reckon they can detect at least three separate sources in his gospel. Overall, then, there are between five and seven sources in the New Testament which havent been simply copied from each other. The point of the observation from the historical point of view is that this fulfils one of the most important tests that contemporary historians apply when trying to work out what happened in the past: Do we have more than one source testifying to the event? In the case of Jesus, we have between five and seven different sources saying roughly the same thing about him. That puts the broad outline of Jesus life beyond reasonable doubt for most specialists working today.
Almighty God Safeguarded The Bible
Confidence in the Bible is as sure as the character of God. Our assurance is based on:
His pledge. The eternal God promised His Word would endure forever . He never breaks a promise .
His goodness. Gods character is connected to His enduring truth: The Lord is good his mercy is everlasting and his truth endureth to all generations . If we can trust Gods wisdom to provide Scripture , then we can trust Gods omnipotence to safeguard it .
His justice. Since God is just , it follows that once God gave His Word to one generation, it had to remain for all generations. He would not condemn man for not keeping His statutes if no one had them .
Answering Five Big Questions
The bulk of the book addresses five big questions about the Bibles trustworthiness:
To each question, Gilbert offers reasoned arguments for why the answer is yes.
To be clear, he isnt trying to break new ground. Anyone familiar with the literature knows these questions have been amply handled many times by evangelical scholars. But what Gilbert gives us is a helpful condensing of the textual critical insights of a Daniel Wallace, the canon research of a Michael Kruger, and the historical arguments of a Craig Blombergall rolled into one tiny hardback. And for those wanting to go deeper, he provides an excellent bibliography .
Allow me to single out one chapter for its wealth of insight and illustration: Copies of Copies of Copies of Copies? Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay this chapter is to say it will make you so excited about textual criticism that youll want to teach a Sunday school lesson on it. Seriously.
Recommended Reading: Is The Bible In Chronological Order
Were The Original Authors Mistaken
So the Bible is a reliable historical record of what these authors believe happened. But did those things really happen?
After all, the Bible is filled with miracle stories that invite our natural skepticism. These miracles appear essential to the Bibles message, and their eyewitness accounts come across as far more plausible than miracles found in ancient myths and legends.
Its here that one miracle in particular leaps out: the resurrection of Jesus. If biblical writers were genuinely mistaken about that, its unlikely they were right about much else. If Jesus is still dead, hes assuredly not the Christ the Bible speaks of.
Here again, careful historical analysis reveals that what happened at Jesuss tomb couldnt have been his near death, nor some hoax or deception or mass hallucination involving his followers. Their confident insistence that they found his tomb empty and saw the risen Jesus a belief embraced even at cost of their livesis explained by only one possibility: Jesus was bodily, historically resurrected from the dead.
Adapted from Greg Gilbert’s book Why Trust the Bible?, this tract helps believers and unbelievers alike understand and explain why God’s Word can be trusted.
Jesus Is More Trustworthy Than We Are Trusting
In the opening paragraph of his Gospel, Luke reveals the historical nature of his subject. He mentions his earlier sources, insists that the information comes from eyewitnesses, and claims to have investigated everything from the beginning. He rounds off his introductory remarks with a highly significant statement about his goal: so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
The word certainty is the Greek term asphalaia, from which we get the English asphalt, that mixture of bituminous pitch with sand or gravel that we make roads with. The term means firmness, safety, stability. While it is possible Luke just means he wants readers to arrive at cognitive certainty about Jesus, the precise wording suggests something different.
I no longer stress about doubts.
He wants readers to perceive how firm Jesus is. In other words, this isnt about us having no intellectual doubts. Its about us developing a sense of the dependability of Christ himself.
The difference may seem subtle, but it is significant. Having spent decades reading and researching ancient history and the historical Jesus, I have come to believe Jesus is more reliable than my subjective feelings of confidence.
Our personal confidence in the Bible can ebb and flow. It is affected by whatever documentary we last saw on the subject, or by what our friends think of Christianity, or just by how much sleep we had last night!
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The New Testament Is Probably The Best Preserved Text Of All Ancient History
A rumour has spread that the text of the New Testament has not been reliably passed down through the centuries. It was copied from one document to another document, translated from one dead language to another dead language, and eventually it ended up in our pew Bibles. Who knows if what we read today is what the original writers first wrote!? Well, in fact we do know. The more manuscript copies of an ancient text we have, the better able we are to determine what was in the original document. Mistakes and changes certainly happen in all ancient copies of documents but if you only have, say, two or three copies of a document and they vary from one another here and there, it is quite difficult to work out which wording is original and which is a variation.
So how does the New Testament fare in the copying stakes? Better than any other ancient writing! Let me offer the fairest comparison imaginable. The most celebrated epic poem of Roman history is the Aeneid, by Virgil . It was so popular, it was copied over and over. And it is now considered the best preserved Latin text we have from ancient times. It has come down to us in the following manuscript copies:
- Three complete or near-complete copies
- Seven partial manuscripts
- 20 papyrus fragments
Compare this with the New Testament manuscript copies:
- Four complete or near-complete copies
- 340 partial manuscripts
- 1000s of papyrus fragments