Is the Bible Trustworthy?

 

  1. Why care if the Bible has errors or not?
    1. If there are errors in the Bible, then the god who wrote it could not be perfect or powerful.
      1. Another way of saying this is: any God that is all knowing and all powerful must be able to reveal himself to the world without error.
    2. If the Bible has errors, then how can it be trusted to tell us about God or how to live?
    3. To be able to use the Bible to learn about God and how He wants us to live, we need to know that the Bible can be trusted 
    4. For the Bible to be perfect, God would have to be powerful enough to write it and then to keep it without error through out the centuries. We will see this is in fact the case.
  2. How did we get the Bible? 1
    1. Old Testament
      1. The writings of Moses and the book of Joshua were immediately accepted as Scripture (Exodus 24:3; Joshua 24:26).
      2. The rest of the Old Testament were tested by the following principles:
        1. Written by a recognized prophet of God or leader in Israel.
        2. Internal evidence of its inspiration and authority. The reader was able to tell it was unique in communicating the revelation of God.
          1. Writings containing obvious doctrinal and factual errors were eliminated. Books accepted by the community that was the original audience were given priority consideration.
          2. Further validation was given to certain Old Testament books when they were quoted from by Christ or the New Testament writers and referred to as Scripture.
          3. The 12 books of the Apocrypha (which the Roman Catholic Church accepted at the Council of Trent in 1546AD) were not accepted as part of the officially accepted list of books for the Bible (and are still not accepted except by the Roman Catholic Church) for these reasons:
            1. They appeared in no Hebrew canon.
            2. None were quoted in the New Testament.
            3. They were not included in early lists.
            4. Their content was too mythological.
    2. The New Testament
      1. The books of the new testament must have been written by an apostle, like Peter or John or someone close to an apostle, such as Luke or Mark who had apostolic authorization. Positive identification of the New Testament books was necessary because there were false accounts of Christ’s life (Luke 1:1-4) and false epistles (2 Thessalonians 2:2) being distributed
      2. The church fathers supported the inspiration of the New Testament canon and carefully identified and eliminated questionable works. The Councils of Hippo (393 AD and Carthage (397 AD) accepted the 27 books that now appear in the New Testament.
  3. The Bible is a historical document.
    1. Comparisons of time spans between the earliest copy and the original date of writing for various historical documents show that the Bible is more likely to be considered a historical document than many other writings that historians have long considered historical.

      Document Name

      Number of Manuscripts

      Year Written

      Date of Earliest Copy

      Time Span

      Livy’s History of Rome

      20

      59 BC–17 AD

      400 AD

      383 years

      Pliny the Younger’s History

      7

      61-113 AD

      850 AD

      750 years

      Caesar’s Gallic Wars

      10

      100-44 BC

      900 AD

      1,000 years

      Thucydides’ History

      8

      460-400 BC

      900 AD

      1,300 years

      Herodotus’ History

      8

      480-425 BC

      900 AD

      1,300 years

      Euripides

      9

      480-406 BC

      1100 AD

      1,500 years

      Demosthenes

      2002

      383-322 BC

      100 AD

      1,500 years

      Aristotle

      493

      384-332 BC

      1100 AD

      1,400 years

      Sophocles

      193

      496-406 BC

      1000 AD

      1,400 years

      Document Name

      Number of Manuscripts

      Year Written

      Date of Earliest Copy

      Time Span

      The Old Testament

      20004

      1200-100 BC5

      Maybe completed by 400 BC6

      900 AD

       

      Dead Sea scrolls

      125 BC

      1000-1300 years

      <300 years

      The New Testament

      >24,000

      40-100 AD

      125 AD

      25 years

      7
       

    2. When the Dead Sea scrolls were found in 1947 (buried in 68 AD), the time span between the earliest known copy and the original writing dropped to less than 300 years. They also proved that the copies we had were VERY accurate, so accurate that they showed no difference in the message, and less than 5% difference in spelling or style.8
    3. The Bible speaks of historical events with accuracy.
      1. The Old Testament mentions a people called the Hittites about 50 different times, and for centuries there was no proof of their existence. But in 1906, the Hittite capital was uncovered 90 miles east of the capital of the country of Turkey. 9
      2. Genesis 14 mentions the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar. For YEARS critics claimed these cities and Abram’s defeat of Chedoloamer were fictitious, but in 1968 the Kingdom of Elba was unearthed, and from it over 17,000 tablets were removed. These mention the cities in question and have documented that Genesis 14 is historically accurate.10
      3. The version of the events surrounding the birth of Christ written about in the New Testament book of Luke were for many years thought to be inaccurate – that there was no census, that Quirinus was not governor of Syria, and that people did not have to return to their ancestral home. However archaeological discoveries have shown that the Roman empire held a census every 14 years and that Quirinus was the governor around 7BC, and that people had return to their family home to complete a family registration – regardless of where they were living at the time.11
    4. The Bible is accurate in prophecies. The word of God has proven time and again that it is trustworthy – even in areas of prophecies. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 states that the test of a prophet’s authority is the accuracy of his predictions.
      1. Ezekiel 26 tells of the destruction of the city of Tyre and that its ruins would be scraped into the sea and never be rebuilt. It happened exactly that way: Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and Alexander had his men use the ruins to build a causeway to an offshore island where the people had fled. That causeway can still be seen as a witness of the accuracy of the Bible.12
      2. David predicted the rise of four great world powers: Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (Daniel 2 and 7).13
      3. The predictions against Ninevah (Nahum 1-3), Ammom and Moab (Jeremiah 48-49), Babylon (Isaiah 13-14; Jeremiah 51), and Edom (Isaiah 34; Jeremiah 49; Ezekiel 25,35) were all fulfilled.
      4. Perhaps the most telling prophecies are those that foretell of the coming of the savior. These are only a few of the hundreds of such prophecies:

        Old Testament Verse

        Prophecy

        New Testament Fulfillment

        Genesis 21:12, 22:18

        All nations will be blessed through the seed of Abraham

        Matthew 1

        Psalm 131:11; Jeremiah 23:5

        One of David’s descendants would be King

        Matthew 1

        Isaiah 7:14

        Virgin birth, called “God with us”

        Matthew 1

        Micah 5:2

        The Ruler would come from Bethlehem

        Matthew 2:1

        Hosea 11:1

        The Son would be called out of Egypt

        Matthew 2:15

        Isaiah 9:1-2

        He would minister in Galilee

        Matthew 4:4:12-16

        Isaiah 35:5-6

        He would heal the deaf, blind and lame.

        Matthew 11:5

        Zechariah 11:12

        He would be sold for 30 piece of silver

        Matthew 26

        Psalm 34:1

        A friend would betray him

        Matthew 26

        Psalm 22:16

        His hands and feet would be pierced

        John 20:25

        Isaiah 53:9

        Buried with the rich

        Matthew 27:57-61

        Psalm 68:18

        Ascend into heaven

        Acts 1:9

  4. The Bible testifies to itself.
    1. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:20-22 state that God’s message is identified by complete truthfulness.
    2. Moses’ writings and the book of Joshua claimed to be the word of God (Exodus 24:3; Joshua 24:26).
    3. Samuel claimed God spoke through him (2 Samuel 22:2-3).
    4. Isaiah said in Isaiah 59:21 that God spoke through him.
    5. Jeremiah said a similar thing in Jeremiah 1:9.
    6. Zechariah 7:12 states that God spoke through the prophets.
    7. Jesus Himself recognized the authority of the Old Testament in Matthew 4:1-11; 5:18; John 10:35, and elsewhere. In fact Matthew 22:23, Jesus claimed the writings of David were inspired by God.
      1. In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus claimed the Old Testament would remain until perfection comes.
      2. Jesus said in John 7:16-18 that His teaching was from God the Father.
      3. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance the things He said (John 14:26).
      4. Jesus said in Luke 10:16 that those who listen to the apostles listen to Him.
      5. The Apostle John claimed his writings were accurate and true (John 21:24).
      6. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:20-21 that speaking for God (true prophecy) comes only from God.
      7. Peter equated Paul’s writings with the Old Testament in 2 Peter 3:15-16, calling his writings scripture.
      8. Paul stated in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is breathed out by God.
      9. Paul claimed his teaching came from God (1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Corinthians 2:12-14;2 Corinthians 12:19; Galatians 1:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15).
      10. Paul quoted from the Pentateuch and the Gospels and stated he was quoting scripture (1 Timothy 5:18).
    8. The New Testament documents were written while people who would remember the things Jesus did and said were still alive. Those people, especially non-believers would have objected to any contradictions. The authors of the New Testament documents were subjected to ridicule, scorn, imprisonment, and beatings. They would not have allowed themselves to be subjected to those things if their writings and what they claimed to believe were lies. Infallibility does not mean verbatim. God did not overrule the authors’ styles, the audiences the books were intended for, nor the circumstances they were written for. Each book had a different author, source and purpose.
  5. Finally let’s recognize that the Bible shows remarkable unity, even though its origins are very diverse:
    1. God superintended 40 different human authors to write the Bible.
    2. God wrote it, speaking through the human authors.
    3. The human authors each had their own perspective, history, education, language and style.
    4. Each book was written for a specific audience and for a specific purpose.
    5. It was written over a period of 1,600 years.
    6. It was written in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek).
    7. The writers came from many different walks of life: prophet (Jeremiah), priest (Zechariah), shepherd (Amos), king (David), servant (Nehemiah), doctor (Luke), tax collector (Matthew) and Pharisee (Paul).
    8. It was written on 3 continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe.
    9. But as diverse as it is, the Bible makes up a single unit. Its doctrine, details of prophecy, what it says about Jesus Christ, and its offer of rescue for mankind. The Bible is one book made up of many books whose central theme is the telling the history of the human race through the eyes or the Hebrew people, the looking forward to, and backward to, the savior of the world, sent by God the Father – Christ Jesus – all while teaching us about God and how to trust Him and how He wants us to live and how those who accept Christ as savior will live forever with God.

       

Adapted from “Can I Really Trust the Bible?” <http://www.gospelcom.net/rbc/ds/q0402/q0402.html> [Accessed 24 October, 2001].

All from one copy

Of any one work.

Fletcher, Tim. “Is Christianity Credible? – Sermon 5”. <http://www.escape.ca/~acc/reading/cred5.html> [Accessed 24 October, 2001].

“Old Testament” Britannica Online. <http://www.eb.com:180/cgi-bin/g?DocF=micro/437/13.html> [Accessed 07 November, 1998].

McDowell, Josh. Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernadino, CA: Here’s Life Publisher’s Inc., 1979), 53.

Adapted from Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell and “Can I Really Trust the Bible?”.

McDowell, 42.

“Can I Really Trust the Bible?”

McDowell, 68.

McDowell, 71.

“Can I Really Trust the Bible?”

Ibid.

 

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