can we trust the bible?
Proverbs 30:5 tells us that every word of God proves true, and 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
But, just saying something is true does not make it true. Fortunately, for us, we can test the Bible to see if it is true.
Areas Where the Bible can be Tested and Observed
- Unique Message:
The Bible says salvation is by grace through faith and not of works. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. No other religion says that about their message!
- Unity of the Message:
The Bible was written over a 1,500-year span by 40 different authors, yet the Bible has one message—God’s love and redemption. The Bible is the greatest story ever told. It says that God created, humanity rebelled against God, God promised a delivered, and He sent the deliver whose name is Jesus.
- Prophetic Nature of the Message:
There are approximately 300 prophecies concerning the Christ, of which Jesus would have no control over such as His birthplace or time of His birth. The odds of one man fulfilling just 16 of these prophecies is one in 10 to the 45th power (1:1045). That is one in a quattuordecillion which is a basically zero chance of it happening! And that’s for only 16 of the 300 prophecies, and Jesus fulfilled them all!
- Accuracy of the Message:
New Testament scholar, Bruce Metzger, found the New Testament to be 99.5 percent accurate to the earliest manuscripts that we have.
- Historical Reliability of the Message:
There are seven criteria for determining if a historical document or event is true. This is for any historical document not just the Bible.
- Early Testimony
The earlier the sources the more accurate the testimony. Most of the New Testament was written prior to 70 A.D. That is within 37 years of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
- Eyewitness Testimony
Eyewitness testimony is usually the best means for determining what really happened. The book of Acts alone has 84 historically confirmed eyewitness details. The Book of John has 59 historically confirmed or probable eyewitness details.
- Multiple Independent Eyewitness Sources
True independent sources normally tell the same basic story but with differing details. We see this primarily in the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—when the same basic stories are told multiple times.
- Trustworthy Eyewitnesses
We have to ask ourselves, “Should we believe the authors?” The character of the writers really matters, and we see in many instances that the authors are in fact trustworthy.
- Supporting Non-Biblical Evidence
In addition to having biblical evidence, we also need evidence from archaeology or other writers of non-biblical sources. The Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Anthropology says this about the historicity of the Bible:
“much of the Bible, in particular the historical books of the Old Testament, are as accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity and are in fact more accurate than many of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories. These biblical records can be and are used, as are other ancient documents in archeological work. For the most part, historical events described took place and the peoples cited really existed.”
There are ten ancient non-Christian sources that talk about Jesus and/or His followers:
- Historians: Josephus, Tactitus, Suetonius, Thallus, and Phlegon
- Government officials: Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, and Emperor Hadrian
- Two other sources are the Jewish Talmud and the Greek writer Lucian
- Early Church Fathers, Polycarp, Ignatius, Clement, Irenaeus, and many others from the first century through the third century quoted the New Testament often. In fact, they quoted the New Testament over 36,000 times, and the Gospels alone over 19,000 times. Much of the New Testament can be reconstructed from these writings alone.
- Enemy Attestation
If enemies of the eyewitnesses admit certain facts the eyewitnesses say are true, then those facts are most likely true. An example of this is the Pharisees and Sadducees did not deny that Jesus did miraculous works. They said that He did these works by the power of the devil as an attempt to discount his miracles, but still, they did not deny them happening.
- Embarrassing Details About the Authors
The final criteria to ask is “Does the testimony contain events or details that are embarrassing to the authors?” People typically do not like to admit negative information about themselves, but we see this time and time again such as David’s failures as king, Peter’s denial of Christ, and more.
When the Bible is tested according to these seven criteria, it passes all seven, so you know can trust the Bible!
To watch a video of this week’s blog, click here!