Is the Bible Reliable?
The Bible has never been more under attack than it is today. Some say it is a “pack of lies.” Still, others contend it is a book of legends and myths from long ago that has very little to contribute to modern culture. Many people view the Bible as a good book of wisdom but certainly not inspired by God.
The Bible itself claims to be inspired by God. The truth- absolute truth under which all other information must be measured. It claims to cut through to who we really are as humans, and give us the truth about how to live. Yet in a recent Gallup poll, 95% of respondents say they believe in God, but only 28% believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. 20% believe it is a book of fables, and 50% believe it is God’s Word but should not be taken literally.
Three Questions to Ask about the Bible
Is the Bible Unique?
Is it fundamentally different from other literature?The Bible is unique in composition. It is composed of 66 books written over a 1600 year span by 40 different authors, from 40 different generations, from numerous walks of life, in various moods, in different literary forms, on 3 different continents, in 3 different languages, yet as a whole the Bible has remarkable continuity and unity on a myriad of subjects.
How does one explain this?
The Bible is unique in circulation. It has sold billions of copies more than any other book. It has been a best seller for 200 years.
The Bible is unique in translation. It is more translated than any other book in history. It has been translated into over 2400 languages. It has been translated into every national language in the world except the Maldives (an island off of India where most of the inhabitants speak English).
The Bible is unique in durability. It has survived burnings, bans, and critics. It cannot be destroyed.
The Bible is unique in its impact on lives. People all over the world live and die claiming it has transformed their lives, values, and relationships. People read it over and over claiming they are changed with each reading. (Other books are read and discarded). Millions of people all over the world will meet this week in groups to study the Bible and long to do it next week.
Is the Bible Accurate?
Historical accuracy. The Bible passes all the tests of historical accuracy. Whenever archaeology contends there are contradictions between the Biblical record and science, archaeological discoveries always support the Biblical record. There are countless examples of science proving the Bible as historically accurate. Here are a couple of examples:
The Bible refers to the Hittites. Historians claimed the Bible was not accurate because there was no mention of the Hittites in secular annals. Archaeologists discovered the Hittite capital and 40 other major cities.
Daniel 5 refers to Belshazzar as the King of Babylon. Historical documents said Nabinitus was King. Archaeologists discovered 3 stones that said when Nabinitus went to war; he named his son Belshazzar to be King in his absence.
Over and over the Bible stands the test of historicity and is proven trustworthy. There are hundreds of references to history in the Bible, and every time it passes the test. The Jewish archaeological expert Nelson Gluck states, “It may be categorically stated that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.”
Manuscript evidence. When you go to college and read Aristotle and Plato, no one ever questions the accuracy of the message or the validity of the manuscripts. The manuscripts are taken at face value for accuracy. They have had a huge influence on Western thought. The number of manuscripts we have for both philosophers- less than 10. The number of manuscript copies that are preserved for the Bible- 14,000. The Bible is by far the best documented ancient manuscript ever. There are 184,590 words in the New Testament and only 400 words are on the disputable list. None of those words affect the meaning of any text. Each scribe would read each word and it would be copied and checked by another scribe to assure accuracy. The Bible is incredibly accurate.
We believe that our God is the eternal, all-powerful God who can do anything He desires including miracles. The Bible is written by God and is about God. When written, every event was a contemporary event with public eyewitnesses. If any recorded event did not actually happen or was inaccurately recorded, there would have been a public outcry by society. They would have demanded retractions, corrections, and restatement of fact. Every miracle was in fact recorded as accurate with no public outcry, and many of the miracles were corroborated by secular historians of the day.
Human nature. The Bible is painfully accurate in what it says about me. It speaks accurately about the root issues in my life, relationships, values, motives, ethics, behaviors, and fears. It speaks the truth about sin, forgiveness, pain, heaven, hell, eternity, reality, consequences, and righteousness.
Is the Bible Inspired?
Here are three verses that record what the Bible says about itself- 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Hebrews 4:12. The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God. But is there any evidence?
The proof is in prophecy. There are 332 references to the coming Messiah in the Old Testament, 61 of which Jesus directly fulfilled. Could this be a coincidence? Maybe once but not 332 or even 61 times. These are prophecies written hundreds of years before Jesus was born; prophecies about His lineage, where He was born, His ministry, His death, and resurrection. The prophecies were very specific and were fulfilled in specific detail. Peter Stoner took the mathematical probabilities and applied them to fulfilled prophecy. The odds of only 8 of the prophecies being fulfilled is 1×1017 or 1×100 quadrillion. 100,000,000,000,000,000. If you double the fulfilled prophecies to 16, the probability grows to 1×1045.
Jesus claimed the Bible was the inspired Word of God. He was known as a man of integrity (not a liar). No one challenged Him or refuted His claim. The evidence points to the fact that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God. We have faith in the Word based on both reason and evidence. If we were to toss the Bible, what is plan B? Where would we go for truth? I have never regretted following this book. My only regrets in life stem from times I did not follow this book.