Why You Can Believe the Bible
Fingerprints or a Hug
Are you satisfied with the “fingerprints” of God discovered in nature, history, reason, and conscience? You can experience Him personally, the artist whose brush paints the heavens and the earth.
His book reveals part of the mystery of who He is. In it, He communicates His nature, promises, and expectations. What has been your primary source of information about God?
Unique as a Snowflake Book
a. The Bible claims to be God-breathed and helpful in learning the truth (2 Timothy 3:16).
b. It will last forever (Isaiah 40:8).
c. It is living, active, penetrating, and judges (Hebrews 4:12).
d. It gives spiritual life to the spiritually dead (1 Peter 1:23).
An Authoritative Book
Anyone could claim to speak words God has uniquely given them. How do we know biblical authors didn’t just invent their so-called messages from God? A very severe Old Testament test weeded out impostors. If a “prophet’s” predictions didn’t come true, that prophet was executed (Deuteronomy 18:20).
God worked through people to produce the best-selling book ever written. God moved the men who held the pens and communicated His truth through their unique styles and personalities.
Do most people prefer to live under the authority of the Bible or to decide for themselves what to accept or reject in it? Why?
You feel fine when you go to the doctor for a physical examination. You expect a good report. You don’t get it.
After detecting something suspicious, the doctor sends you for a biopsy. He calls several days later and informs you of a life-threatening colon cancer.
It would be best if you did something about it immediately. Is it wise to put more confidence in your feelings than the doctor’s diagnosis? Why? God’s word reveals the inner person’s spiritual cancer like a biopsy.
Most like to think they are good people. God’s word describes the core of our being as deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9). Is it wise to put more confidence in how we feel about ourselves than in the diagnosis of the “Doctor”? Why?
God Texted You
Many think that God is like a safe, nonjudgmental, all-loving Grandfather. Is He?
On the one hand, John 3:16 records that God loves people enough to sacrifice His Son’s life to save them. On the other hand, Hebrews 10:31 NLT says, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” This verse describes the fate of those who haven’t accepted God’s offer of forgiveness.
Is it wise to put more confidence in our feelings than the diagnosing “Doctor”? Why are an accurate understanding of God’s nature, promises, and expectations critical?
A Hebrew Book
The Old Testament has 39 books. Moses wrote the first five in about 1400 BC. We don’t know the human authors of many of the rest. God both inspired and protected these books and superintended their collection.
Almost all were written in Hebrew, and Malachi wrote the last in about 430 B.C. The Old Testament, therefore, was written and collected over 1,000 years.
A Greek Book
The New Testament includes 27 books. Apostles or men closely connected with them wrote the original documents in Greek. The first books were James and Galatians about A. D. 50.
The last was Revelation about A. D. 95. The New Testament was written over about 45 years.
A Reliable Book
Because the Scriptures were written on perishable materials, we have only copies of copies. The earliest surviving New Testament fragment is dated about A. D. 130, and the Bodmer Library in Geneva, Switzerland, has documents from the late 100s and early 200s.
Some people assume that over the centuries, as the books of the Bible were copied and recopied, so many errors crept into them that they aren’t reliable. Is that the case?
Two tests measure the reliability of a copy of ancient writing. The shorter the time between the original and the oldest manuscript, the less chance for error. The number of copies is also essential; multiple copies help experts detect and eliminate copying errors.
Based on these two tests, the New Testament is far more reliable than any other ancient writing. For other ancient works, 900-1400 years separate the originals and the oldest existing manuscripts, whereas only a few hundred years separate the originals and the oldest copies of the New Testament.
Instead of the usual 10-15 manuscripts of ancient classics, over 5,000 manuscripts contain at least part of the New Testament. If the Bible is discarded on the trash heap as too error-laden to trust, all other ancient literature must also be thrown there.
An English Book
The Bible was first translated into Old English around the 7th century. Under John Wycliffe’s influence, the 14th century produced two English versions of the Bible. In 1534 after the invention of the printing press, William Tyndale published an English New Testament.
After seven years of work, a team of scholars completed the King James Version in 1611. It was the Bible of the English world for 300 years.
During the 20th century, many new translations appeared. The New International Version, completed in 1978, outsells the King James Version in the United States.
It was a cooperative effort of over 100 scholars from various denominations. Have you read more than one version of the Bible? If so, which is your favorite? Why?
A Unified Book
The Bible is unique. Although 40 authors wrote it over 1500 years, it is a single book. The door between the two testaments is open.
Genesis begins with the creation of heaven and earth. Revelation, the last book, ends with creating the new heavens and earth.
In the New Testament, Christ carries out the Old Testament roles the prophet, priest, and king performed. His New Testament crucifixion eliminated the necessity of the repeated sacrifices described in the Old Testament. His giving of the Spirit fulfills the prophet’s prediction that God’s law would be written on the hearts of His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
A Prophetic Book
The Bible foretells the future. Jesus Christ fulfilled over 350 Old Testament prophecies. For example, He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1-6). He would be raised from the grave (Psalm 16:10 and Matthew 28:1-10)
A Trustworthy Book
Jesus held a lofty view of the authority of the Old Testament.
1. In Matthew 22:29 NLT “Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.”
2. In John 10:35 NLT, He said, “…the Scriptures cannot be altered. …”
3. In Matthew 5:17-18 NLT, He said that He didn’t come to abolish the Law or the Prophets [the Old Testament] but to fulfill them. He said, "not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.”
A Resurrected Witness
Jesus’ opinions about the Scriptures are only vital if He is God, as He claimed. His identity is linked to a historical event, and He is declared the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
Lord Darling, a former Chief Justice of England, brought a legal perspective to the evidence for the resurrection. He concluded, “There exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”
Jesus’ followers claimed He talked with them after He had risen from the dead (Acts 1:3). Were they all liars and fools?
Tradition holds that enemies of the faith killed all Jesus’ disciples except John for preaching a resurrected Christ. Would you die for what you knew was a lie? Would they? Why?
What, if anything, would Jesus’ disciples gain from inventing and then sticking to a resurrection story?
If Jesus rose from the dead and believed the Old Testament was God’s Word, how should that influence our opinion about the Scriptures?
Sometimes A Difficult Book
Some portions of Scripture are puzzling. How do we treat them? Bishop H. C. G. Moule said that because Christ trusted the Bible, he also reverently trusted in it despite the difficulties. Time, further study, and insight from the Holy Spirit often eventually answer our question about troublesome passages.
Treat difficult biblical passages like a baked rainbow trout’s bone. Don’t choke on it! Just pick the meat away from it! Someday the “bones” might be as nourishing as the rest.
Does this principle that you don’t have to understand everything the Bible says now help you deal with biblical difficulties? Why?
An Unchallenged Book
Why couldn’t Former President Bill Clinton get away with claiming he had a completely unblemished record while serving in the White House? Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their Gospels while many still lived who had witnessed what Jesus said and did. Many were bitter enemies of the faith who would have undoubtedly questioned any false or exaggerated statements. What does the absence of any such challenge suggest?
A Profitable Book
The Bible is a beneficial book. It equips believers for every good work. It is an authority on what to believe and how to live. It teaches that loving is better than hating and forgiving than retaliating.
It emphasizes giving more than receiving. Living in harmony with its teaching produces deep satisfaction and fulfillment.
Former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin said, “The Bible is a high explosive. But it works in strange ways, and no living man can tell or know how that book, in its journey through the world, has startled the individual soul in ten thousand different places into a new life, a new world, a new belief, a new conception, a new faith.” How do you explain the vast life-changing influence of the Bible throughout history?
How has belief in the Bible changed how you live?
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Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? InterVarsity Press. 1978. p. 17.
McDowell, Josh. More Than a Carpenter. Tyndale. 1977. p. 49.
Bruce, F. F. “Transmission and Translation of the Bible.” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.
Green, Michael. Man Alive. 1968. InterVarsity Press. p. 54.
Henry, Carl F. H. “The Authority and Inspiration of the Bible,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 31.
Gumbel, Nicky. Questions of Life. 1996. David C. Cook. p. 71
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