Can We Trust the Claims of the Bible?
How can I trust the claims of the Bible?
That is a great question! Let me answer it this way ... If you bought a new iPhone, you’d probably sit down at some point and read the instruction manual written by its makers. Likewise, it’s good to understand your instruction manual for life—the Bible.
Humanly speaking, it doesn’t seem possible for the Bible’s 66 different books, written over 1,600 years by more than 30 authors, to all be true, does it? But then again, the Bible isn’t an ordinary book.
2 Timothy 3:16 reminds us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." The Bible was inspired by the Creator—the One who made you.
Perhaps you’re shaking your head and mumbling, But how do I know that the Bible is true?Well, the same way that you know if the iPhone instruction manual is true—you put your trust in it, follow the directions, and see if what it says works.
A great place to start checking out the claims of the Bible is in the Book of John (it’s in the Bible). You may also want to read More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell and A Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence of Jesus by Lee Strobel. Like you, both of these men were unsure if the Bible and the words of Jesus Christ could be trusted. What they found is written in their books.
Understanding the truths of the Bible will make a difference in how you view life. The other day I read a bumper sticker that said, “God is my co-pilot; we went to the mountains, and I ate him.” This message does not ring true with what the Bible reveals about God and the mountains.
Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Recently I went on a weekend getaway to the mountains and witnessed some of God’s invisible qualities. I was in awe at the mountaintop beauty as it pointed me to The Designer. As the morning fog lifted one day, I saw a breathtaking panoramic view of creation that revealed a microscopic picture of the power of God.
There’s only one way that you can know if the Bible is true: Check it out. Try reading it for yourself and put into practice what it says. I think you’ll discover an authentic message that can bring sense to your life.
Must Christians Read the Bible?
Why do Christians read the Bible all the time?
Most teachers hate circular answers. You know, the ones in which you use something in the question as part of the answer? But in this case, the information in the Bible does actually help us understand why Christians seem to read it all the time.
In the book of Psalms, the writer states: “Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” (Ps. 1:1, NIV)
Another version continues: “Instead you thrill to God's Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You're a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.” (Ps. 1:2-3, The Message)
There are three steps to understanding why Christians want to read the Bible.
First: Christians want to live changed lives that are different from the sin, wickedness, and mocking they embraced before encountering Jesus Christ. Why would anyone want to become a Christian if their lives would stay exactly the same after coming to know God?
Second: The Bible, which was written by God through people inspired by Him, provides access to His thoughts and commands on practically every topic of life. We don’t have to wait for God to write His thoughts down on a stone tablet and send them down a mountain to us! Instead, we can just pick up His book and read it. By reading His words, we can learn how to live life a different way.
Third: When we come to know and love His views, then we can begin to model our lives by them, which will make us like the strong, healthy tree in Psalm 1. We will always bear the right ‘fruit’ for every situation, and we will continually grow closer to God.
Why is the Bible, and Not Other Religious Books, the Word of God?
The Christian Bible is a history book and many other history books exist. The Bible comments on a belief system which promises the practitioner peace and a better life. From Confucius to Mohammed, Tony Robbins to L. Ron Hubbard, myriads of books set forth similar claims. So what sets the Bible apart from this mountain of literature? Can I be sure that this book is different than the rest?
One aspect differentiating the Bible from other religious, historical or inspirational works is this: throughout the Bible, future events are predicted with verifiable accuracy. If the Bible predicted the future (what biblical writers call prophecy) to the extent that it cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence, then the source of this book can only be an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God who chose to speak his word through individuals for his purposes and design. Let’s consider the evidence.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Israelites at the time Israel was conquered by the Babylonian empire. His writings, recorded between approximately 629 BC and the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, record geo-political events that we can verify via secular historical works. However, in the 25th chapter of (Jeremiah, he foretells that the Israelites will be held captive in Babylonian lands for 70 years, at the end of which they would be released when Babylon was in turn conquered by another nation. Can we verify this prediction?
Nearly a century later, a captive Israelite named Daniel is serving as a mid-level manager in the Medes kingdom of Ahasuerus. As recorded in Daniel’s own book, chapter 9, he reads the words penned by Jeremiah. His prayers ask his God to keep his promise, and release the Israelites to return home. Just like the chiming of an eternal clock, these events occur as prophesied by Jeremiah. These events are all included in the Bible, and are verifiable through secular history as well.
The more you investigate the historical record within the Bible, the more you can find events such as these. Occurring repeatedly, the only way for writers to accurately predict the future is with the input of the One outside these space time events.
[At the Bible’s epicenter is Jesus Christ, who fulfills more prophetic proclamations than any other person. During his lifetime, Jesus fulfilled close to 300 prophetic forecasts, many of which were written hundreds of years before his birth. Mathematically, this is a statistical impossibility. The odds of Jesus completing these prophetic promises during his lifetime are the same as successfully completing the following task.
I am going to build a fence around the perimeter of Texas, and cover the entire state with silver dollars to a depth of two feet. I will pick one of those coins, paint it red, and drop the coin somewhere in Texas, mixing it into the silver expanse. Your task is to fly in a helicopter over the state and pick up my coin. The entire state is yours, and you can take as much time as you like, but you must select my coin the first time you reach down into the silver expanse. And by the way, you will be blindfolded.
Now, back to our point - what does this have to do with the Bible being the only word of God? Do other religious works include the same prophetic content? The answer is no. The writings from the Far East, the teachings of Confucius, Buddhism and Hinduism do not even make a claim to be God’s word. They present to their followers a path to a simpler, more satisfactory life. The Muslim Koran makes no claims to being words from Allah. Rather it is the writing of Mohammed, a religious leader, his record of history as well as his desire for the future. But has any prophecy in the Koran come to pass? Only the Christian Bible claims to be God’s very word to man and only the Bible contains the verifiable track record of prophetic fulfillment as evidence of its claims. Biblical prophecies are batting 1000. No other religious group or religious writings can make the same claim. (Bible references related to this article: Jeremiah 25.11, Daniel 9.1-5, John 1.1-5)
Can I Trust the Bible?
How can I read a book like the Bible and accept the idea that these are God’s words and his will for me? In a world full of spiritual crosscurrents, how can I ever come close to being sure that this collection is veritable truth upon which I can build my life?
A search regarding how many Bibles have been sold would reveal that it is the most published work in all of history. But that only proves its popularity. One could be assured by devout Christians that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, but that would only prove that Christians believe what they have been taught. Further inquiry would uncover that Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus have similar faith in their holy books. No, if we are to ascribe the status of uncompromising, unchanging truth to a mere book, we need more than anecdotal evidence.
Let’s start by considering the Bible as literature. What are the verifiable elements of this book as literature? The Bible is composed of 66 individual books. Each was written as an independent project, by authors spanning over 1200 years. The writers originated from diverse backgrounds. Some were lawyers and doctors while others were kings, sheep herders, tax collectors and social outcasts. Some were educated in the best schools of their time. Others were itinerant blue collar workers: soldiers, fisherman and fig pickers. Books were written by men and women; yet each author sought to communicate his or her perspective on incredibly weighty and complicated matters.
These writers were concerned with controversial topics which have been at the heart of political and social debate since men began building societies. This eclectic group wrote about:
- the nature and origin of the universe
- the nature, identity and personality of an Eternal God
- prediction of future events
- the problem of evil in the world
- described, and agreed upon the only way to defeat evil in the heart of man
- attaining eternal life.
Without debating the pros and cons of these beliefs / doctrines in this short article, we must acknowledge this fact. These many authors agreed unanimously on all of these diverse and controversial metaphysical issues. The Bible comments without contradiction on all these topics, which leads to the second half of our proof. While many scholars argue that there are contradictions within the bible, for the purpose of this discussion, we will limit our scope to the 6 categories above. And regarding these topics, the bible has no internal disagreements.
What would happen if we attempted to duplicate this procedure, and create a new bible today? Select 40 men and women from across different cultures, of different ages, levels of education and position. Isolate them from one another and ask them to write a book on a list of topics similar to the one listed above. Ask them to predict future events, and interpret history in light of their doctrinal assertions. What would be the outcome?
Do you think that these men and women would agree on these issues? Could they produce the cohesive and complete ‘Dissertation of the Eternal’ which would be worthy of copying and publishing for over 1900 years?
The evidence that the bible is trustworthy, and is God’s word is the (undeniable) unity of the message it delivers. The consistency and lack of internal conflict is evidence that the Bible was written by One Mind, working through the lives of individual men and women whom were called to this specific work. The logical conclusion is that this work is the Word of God, written by God to and through men and women in order to reveal Himself to us, and to draw us into an intimate relationship with Him.
So, the last question is – what will you do with the evidence?
(Bible references related to this article: Isaiah 40.8, Psalm 119.89, 2 Timothy 3.16, 2 Peter 1.20-21)
Why Do Christians Read the Bible?
Reading the Bible is a way Christians receive communication from God. Like checking your e-mail or voice mail for messages, the Bible is where God allowed some of His thoughts to be written down for us to learn from Him.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and, training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,”says 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Because the Bible contains God’s thoughts, recorded by men under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is different from any other book in the world. The Holy Spirit is at work any time a Christian reads the Bible, helping him or her to understand what is written.
I’ve been writing for several years and whenever my words go into print around the world, I cannot be present everywhere with each person reading my words. The Holy Spirit is different. He is present whenever a Christian reads the Bible, anywhere or anytime, much like having the author of a book you are reading sitting beside you as you read their words. That makes reading the Bible a very exciting venture for a Christian. You never know what He is going to point out or help you learn next!
The Bible is full of answers about how we are to live. Hebrews 4:12 tells us: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I can tell you from first-hand experience that the Bible can correct and judge my attitudes, and that it also gives great hope and encouragement to keep going in the Christian life.