How can I be sure that the Bible is true?
This is an important topic because the implications are massive. A christian’s main evidence for God the father, Jesus the son and the Holy Spirit is based on the Word of God (The Bible), therefore looking into if we can be sure of about the truth of scripture is vitally important for our faith. From a christian point of view, the bible should be what we hold to in everything we do, as well as everything we compare back to. For example if someone feels God is calling them somewhere, the bible is a place to compare to, to see if a calling matches up with Gods word.
What the bible says is absolutely fundamental to what a Christian believe, holding to its truths and letting it impact our lives, therefore making sure it is trustworthy is vitally important.
There have been a number of challenges against the bible over time; one is “It’s been changed – the bible has gradually been changed through the years”, another is “its just not true! – authors made it up and its just a well preserved lie”.
We can look both into the bible itself and externally to respond to these challenges.
Evidence from the bible itself –
2 Timothy 3 v 16-17 says “All scripture is God Breathed” –
This shows that the bible is backing itself up. Saying all of scripture is God Breathed and true, therefore showing you can’t believe that some parts are true and other are made up or inaccurate. Another piece of evidence is the scale of bible, the bible is 66 books, 40+ different authors written over a massive timeline. The complexity of the lie to allow this to all to fit together is an impossibility.
Another passage from the bible which talks about the accounts of Jesus is Luke 1 v 1-2,
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of thing that have been fulfilled amount us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first eye-witnesses and servants of the word”.
This shows that there were many reports, just like you find one story in many newspapers, of the same events. Therefore different eye-witnesses would have recorded the same events in different ways. These witnesses would have been beaten, tortured, maybe even killed for what the spoke and wrote about. This wasn’t a light matter therefore people must have believed in what they had seen and wanted to tell others and record what they knew about. The possibility for dying for a lie is surely less believable then dying for what they had already seen and heard.
John Dickson says “Its almost embarrassing to think that I once so ignorantly dismissed the gospels as mere stories. Now I realise nobody bothers dying for a fairytale”.
External evidence –
There is also a wealth of external evidence to back up the bible and show its truth. Some of the most accurate documents of the bible is recorded on papyrus paper and dates back to times as close as 40-50 years from when the original documents where recorded. The John Rylands papyrus is of John 18 dates back to within 50 years of the time when the original writing would have been completed and the Chester Beatty papyrus show copies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts in one book dating from 200-250 AD, only 150 years after the original writings and events. After this, by around 350 AD, there were around 5000 Greek manuscripts of the new testament, 10,000 Latin and 9,300 other copies of the new testament all in circulation. This shows there are many different copies and translations that back up the original writings. If we compare this to the Caesar’s Gallic Wars which was recorded around 50 B.C. The Earliest manuscripts for this event were recorded around 900 AD, about 950 years after originals and there are only 10 copies in all. This shows the bible has a large amount of evidence backing it up, its whether people want to believe what is in the bible because what is at stake as a result of the truth of the bible. Christianity is not based on a lie or no evidence. The real history and evidence show why christian believe. One more example is the Dead sea scrolls, these were discovered in a cave and date back around 2000 years, they show large chunks of the bible exactly the same as it is written in the bible we read today. There are also a large amount of archaeological discoveries that will back up the bible.
“I wish I had your faith” or “I can’t believe what I can’t see”
These are both phrases people may say in relation to a christian belief in the bible. Imagine a train coming into a platform, you’re waiting, the only way you can be sure of where the train is going is to get on it, yes you can ask people, look at the times and destination of train, but until you get on and go to the place you are trying to get to, you can never be 100% sure that you will get there or if the train is going to the right place. You have to find out for yourself. And being able to see things of history is a very modern luxury, you never used to be able to watch a film of a historic event, so the way to know about an event of something in history, is either through people telling you or if it is written down, so we can’t always see everything before we have to believe it.
Ultimately the question isn’t whether the bible is true, there is so much evidence that backs it up, if people discount the bible as history then we really have to discount most history as well. We have to remember how the bible works, its works through the holy spirit convicting us.
One of my colleagues, Jude Colhoun, says this about what we must remember about the importance of the bible. ‘The Holy Spirit reveals to us that the bible is true. Jesus called the Holy Spirit ‘the Spirit of truth’ who would ‘guide us into all truth’ (John 16:13). This ‘truth’ that we are led into includes the truth about God, Christ, sin, salvation, etc., all of which the Spirit empowers us to understand and believe. These truths were written by men, but, these men were empowered by the Spirit of God. This then means that not only does the Spirit of God reveal to believers that the scriptures are true, that same Spirit guided the writers in what to write. The ‘sword of the Spirit’ is part of God’s armour in Ephesians 6. This sword is the word of God. Everything in the word is inspired by the Holy Spirit. When a person is open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, they approach scripture in a new way; more openly, and when they approach in this way, the Spirit helps them to understand what they are reading and to see the underlying truth of the word of God. In other words, we can’t believe the bible is true in and of ourselves, but only when the Spirit reveals the truth in it.’
As christians we must remember that the evidence back up the truth in the bible, let people know they need to go out and look into what the bible says, because of the consequences of ignoring the bible.
Jesus was a man, he did die and he leaves a question of was it for nothing or was it the ultimate sacrifice for you?
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This post was written by Pete Oram, an intern at Gold Hill and one of the leaders in our youth ministry.
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