Why you can trust the Bible

bibleI was listening to SMILE FM this week and Riaan Swiegelaar, a psychic medium, was on air.  He offers “advice on challenges in different areas of your life and can connect with loved ones that have passed on”.  You phone in, tell him your birth date and he lets you know what direction to take.  On Thursday night he was saying that it is crucial that you give your child the right name that can release the inner energy your child has.  Wrongly naming your child can have disastrous effects.  Imagine that!  A parent could spend their entire life worrying that they gave their child the wrong name.  We are, everyday, surrounded with false teachings, wrong opinions and erroneous information.

Information highway

We live in the information age.  We simply have to switch on the radio, TV or our iPhone to get information.  Never before in the history of humanity has so much information been to readily available and much of it is biased, prejudiced, incorrect and even hateful.  Most of us have therefore grown to be highly suspicious of any information.

The Bible

Yet, in the midst of all this information, messages and words, we have the Bible.  Christians claim that the Bible is information from God, the message from God and indeed the very words of God.  Christians claim therefore that the Bible is the True Information by which all other information can be judged.   Interestingly, the first sin recorded in the Bible came as Satan cast doubt on the truthfulness of God’s Information.

Why can you trust the Bible?  This is a massive topic, but here are five simple reasons:

1. Because it is logical to trust the Bible

2 Timothy 3:14-17 says,

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 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 may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Apostle Paul was writing to his young apprentice minister Timothy.  Timothy had learnt the Old Testament Scriptures (v15, “sacred writing”) and how they are fulfilled in Jesus.   In contrast to the false teachers and false information, Timothy was to continue in what he had learnt.  If some group claims to have a new insight, a new vision, a new revelation or a new word from God, be very suspicious – we are to continue in what we have learned.  But for Timothy is was not just intellectual assent or agreeing with the historical facts, he “firmly believed” i.e. he put his confidence in what he had learnt.  That’s what faith is, that’s what makes you a Christian.

Sacred writings

What is the chief purpose of Old Testament?  V15 tells us that the sacred writings are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”.  The Old Testament is a Christian book as it points us to Jesus and thus makes us wise for salvation.

God breathed

V16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God”.   “All Scripture” refers to the Old Testament.  The New Testament was in the process of being written.  Paul here invents a brand new word, theoneustos, which translates as God-breathed.  The term stresses the divine origin and thus the authority of Scripture.   Paul does not point to the human authors of Scripture as inspired people but says that the writings themselves are the words spoken (“breathed out”) by God.  What was written is what God wanted written.  It comes to us as the very word of God.   The Bible does not merely contain the Word of God or become the Word of God under certain conditions; it is the word of God.   We all have Bible on our shelves, bed tables or cell phones, but sadly, for most, the Word of God is absent.  Owning a Bible means nothing, unless you read it, listen to it and obey it.

As the word of God, what is the Bible able to do?  V16-17 tells us that Scripture is profitable for teaching (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for training in righteousness (how to stay right), so that (here is the overall purpose) the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Man of God

The term “man of God” is a technical phrase from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Kings 17) and shows that Paul was thinking of Timothy specifically as his delegate and a leader over the church.  While this verse applies generally to all believers, Paul’s specific focus here is the preparation of Timothy to continue in his task when he is no longer present.  How is Timothy going to refute false teachers, grow the church, bring outsiders to faith and disciple believers to maturity? By the faithful teaching of the word of God.

Church shopping

By implication we should ask: How does one pick a church?  Do you look for trendiness, coolness, a onsite spa or the latest hairstyles?  Good question to ask would rather be: Are they devoted to the Bible as God’s word?  Do they teach the Bible? Do they sing the Bible?  Do they study the Bible?  Do they run the church according to the Bible?  Many churches don’t do these things.   The Bible is God’s Word and makes us wise to salvation through faith in Jesus and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness so that the man (and woman) of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Peter 3:15-16 says,

15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

The context that the Apostle Peter is writing into is again false teaching.  False information abounded back then as today.  Peter said that Jesus is delaying his return to give more people the opportunity to come to him by faith.   Peter says in v15 that the Apostle Paul wrote the same thing.

Hard to understand!

I find v16 very encouraging when Peter says about Paul’s writings:  “there are some things in them that are hard to understand.”  Some passages in the Bible are harder to understand than others!  But notice the rest of the sentence: “which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures”.  Peter refers to Paul’s writing as “Scripture” on par with the Old Testament Scriptures.  Even by this early stage in the first century the church already acknowledged the authority of the apostles writing as Scripture, as God-breathed.

Words of God

The Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) is God’s word and if it is God’s word it makes total logical sense to view it as trustworthy, reliable and true. Indeed, it would be illogical not to trust it.

2. Because the Bible is historically reliable

Discoveries in archaeology have substantiated the Bible’s historical accuracy.  Archaeologists have consistently discovered the names of government officials, kings, cities and festivals mentioned in the Bible – sometimes when historians didn’t think such people or places existed.  For example, the Gospel of John tells of Jesus healing a cripple next to the Pool of Bethesda, the text even describes the five porticoes (walkways) leading to the pool.   Some scholars didn’t think the pool existed, until archaeologists found it 12 metres below ground, complete with the five porticoes.

Julius Caesar

The Biblical manuscripts are by far the most historically reliable of any ancient writing.  There is more historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than for Julius Caesar.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

 In 1947 a shepherd boy was searching for a lost goat.  He tossed a stone into a hole in a cliff on the west side of the Dead Sea and to his surprise he heard the shattering pottery.  When he investigated he found several large jars containing leather scrolls.  The jars were well sealed and the scrolls had been excellently preserved for 1900 years.    The scrolls, among other things, contained a complete copy of the Old Testament book of the Isaiah – a scroll 7m long.   In the whole of Isaiah (66 chapters) there were only minor spelling variations to what we have in our Bibles.  The Dead Sea Scrolls and other discoveries confirm what we have in our Bible today is reliable, accurate and has not been changed.

Bible Translations

Many people think the Bible is changing and that’s why we have so many translations like the NIV (New International Version), ESV (English Standard Version and NASB (New American Standard Bible) etc.  However, since the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek we need translations.   Translations simply seek to translate the original words and meaning better and better.  We are not losing the words and meaning of the Bible, but rather clarifying more and more its exact words and meaning.

A Jewish historian

Josephus was born in AD37 just after Jesus died .  He was an educated Pharisee and a Freedom Fighter, but later was captured by the Romans.  Listen to what Josephus, who became a historian, wrote:

“At this time there was a wise man called Jesus.  And his conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples.  Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.  And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.  They reported that he appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Christ concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”

You can trust the Bible because it’s historically accurate; it’s not some spiritual guru’s opinions, dreams or imagination. It’s based in history; ultimately in the real, historical God-man Jesus Christ of Nazareth who walked this earth.

3. Because the Bible is supernatural

The Bible is made up of 66 books, written by over 40 human authors, over 2000 years, in 3 languages; and  yet has one, unifying message culminating in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Bible also is full of fulfilled prophecies:

  • The prophet Micah (700BC) said the great saviour of God’s people would be born in Bethlehem – Jesus was.
  • The prophet Isaiah (700BC) said the deliverer of God’s people who would be called “God with us” and be born of a virgin – Jesus was.
  • Psalm 34 (1000BC) said that none of Jesus’ bones would be broken (they surprisingly weren’t).
  • Psalm 16 (1000BC) said that Jesus would be raised from the dead.
  • Psalm 110 (1000BC) said that Jesus would ascend into heaven.

Someone did not sit down one day, smoke the peace pipe, and decide to write the Bible.  The Bible is the end result of God working through human authors over a period of 2000 years in three languages culminating in the person of Jesus.  The Bible is supernatural.

4. Because the Bible is realistic

There is no other book in the world, besides the Bible, that is able to explain the existence of the universe, why the world is like it is and what the future of everything will be.

In the beginning

The Bible starts with the words, “In the beginning God”.  The Big Bang theory is unscientific.  The Bible tells us God is pre-existent; he created a good world out of nothing and human being in his image.  Humans rebelled against God’s good rule and sin and death entered our world.  Since Adam, we are all born with a bias towards evil.

The Bible tells us that God the Father, out of pure love, sends God the Son to rescue us from sin and death and eternal hell.  God the Son dies as the just penalty for our sin.  God the Son does not stay dead but rises, ascends to heaven and now rules.  God the Spirit now calls sinful rebels to faith in Christ.   We are commanded to turn from our sin, submit to Christ as Lord, ask God for forgiveness and live under his rule by obeying his word.  As Christians, we wait for a renewed universe where one day we will be with Christ and all God’s people.  The alternative is an eternal hell of ceaseless torment.  Either your sin is punished in Jesus or in hell.  No other book on the face of this planet will tell you all this and how things really are.   The Bible is realistic.

5. Because the Bible is powerful

Hebrews 4:12 says

“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.”

The Bible pierces deep and transforms people.   Forget the psychic medium; read, study, obey and delight in the Bible for it is God’s powerful, reliable, supernatural, realistic Word.

Psalm 119:18 is a great prayer to pray,

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”