A new minister was asked to teach a boys' Sunday School class when the regular teacher was absent. He decided to see what they knew about the Bible, so he asked them who knocked down the walls of Jericho. The boys immediately began denying that they did it, and the preacher was appalled at their lack of knowledge of the Bible.
At the next deacons' meeting, he told about the experience. "Not one of them knows who knocked down the walls of Jericho," he complained. The deacons were silent until finally one old veteran spoke up. "Preacher, this appears to be bothering you a lot. But I've known all those boys since they were born and they're good boys. If they said they didn't know, I believe them. Let's just take some money out of the buildings and grounds fund, fix the walls, and let it go at that."
They didn’t know the Bible very well, did they?
How well do we know the Bible?
A recent survey demonstrated that many Americans have a woeful knowledge of the Bible.
• Among Christians in the survey, 22% thought there actually is a Book of Thomas in the Bible, and 13% said they did not know whether Thomas is a book of the Bible or not.
• 61% knew that Jonah is a book of the Bible, while 27% said it is not, and 12% had no idea.
Why is there so much ignorance about the Bible? Obviously, it’s because they don’t read the Bible.
The survey found that only 18% of all Christians said they read the Word every day, while another 18% read the Bible between three and six days a week, 37% read it once or twice a week, and 23% said they do not read the Bible at all.
Could it be that the reason that we don't read the Bible more, is that we're not really convinced that the Bible is the Word of God? It seems like the whole world is asking the question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus in John 18:38. Pilates' question was "What is truth?”
In another survey, people were asked, "Do you agree or disagree strongly with the following statement: “There is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct." Only 28% of the respondents expressed strong belief in "absolute truth," and more surprisingly, only 23% of born-again Christians believed in absolute truth.
If there is no absolute truth, then by definition, nothing can be said to be absolutely true. That’s a problem. But the problem isn't just with lay people.
A poll was conducted by sociologist Jeffery Hadden of 10,000 pastors in the United States. When they were asked if they believed that the Scriptures are the inspired and inerrant Word of God in faith, history, and secular matters:
95% of Episcopalians said "No."
87% of Methodists said "No."
82% of Presbyterians said "No."
77% of Lutherans said "No."
67% of Baptists said "No."
If the pastors of our churches don't believe in the absolute truth of God's word, then why should we expect the members of their churches to be any different?
Is the Bible the Word of God? Is the Bible true? Is the Bible reliable?
Is the Bible any different from any other book?
What does the Bible claim to be?
According to the Bible itself, it claims to be no less than the inspired word of God.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)Claims of the Bible
So what does the Bible claim for itself? It claims to be nothing less than the inspired word of God. It claims to have God as its author.
What does it mean that Scripture is given by "inspiration" of God? The Greek word translated ”inspiration," in 2 Timothy 3:16, literally means "God-breathed." It refers not to the writers, but to what is written. God used men to write the words but the words are God's.
2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (NKJV)You see, the Bible says that it didn't come from the will of man but by holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Bible itself, claims that it originates from God, not man. The Bible came from God through the men who wrote it.
So the Bible claims to be the revelation of God to mankind. Through the Bible, God reveals Himself, His plan, and His grace and mercy for all mankind.
But if we’re witnessing to non-believers and quoting Scripture, many times they reject what we say because they don’t believe the Bible. So, how can we know that the Bible is what it claims to be? Let's take a look at some of the characteristics of the Bible.
The Uniqueness of the Bible.
The Bible is unique. There is no other book on earth like the Bible.
• The Bible consists of 66 different books which were written over a span of 1,500 years, which is over 40 generations.
• The Bible was written by more than 40 different authors from all walks of life.
• The writers included kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, military leaders, a doctors, a tax collector, as well as many others.
• The Bible was written on different continents including Africa, Asia, and Europe and it was written in three different languages; Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
And for all of this diversity of time, language, background, and culture, the most amazing fact is that the Bible is one cohesive unit. It speaks on hundreds of controversial topics with harmony and agreement. It is clearly one Book, with perfect unity and consistency throughout.
The individual writers, at the time of writing, had no idea that their message was eventually to be incorporated into such a Book, but each fits perfectly into place
and serves its own unique purpose as a component of the whole.
The one consistent theme of the Bible, developing in grandeur from Genesis to Revelation, is God's great work in the creationand redemption of all things, through His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no other book in the world like the Bible. Not the Koran. Not the Book of Mormon. Not any of the Eastern books of wisdom. None are like the Bible. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Professor Montiero-Williams, a former Boden professor of Sanskrit, who spent 42 years studying Eastern books, said the following:
"Pile them, if you will, on the left sideof your study table, but place your own Holy Bible on the right side all by itself, alone, and with a wide gap between them. For there is a gulf between the Bible and the so-called sacred books of the East which severs the one from the other utterly, hopelessly, and forever. A massive gulf which cannot be bridged over by any science or religious thought."
Reliability of the Manuscripts
How reliable is the Bible we have today? We don't have copies of the originals, so how do we know that what we have is what God inspired?
There are now more than 5,300 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Add over 10,000 copies of the Latin Vulgate, and at least 9,300 other early versions and we have more than 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence today. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers of copies.
In comparison, the "Iliad" by Homer is second to the New Testament, with only 643 manuscripts that still survive. The first complete preserved text of Homer dates from the 13th century, centuries after it was written.
The New Testament, however, has a fragment within 25 years of its original composition, and whole books within about 100 years from the time of the original manuscript.
Most of the New Testament have manuscripts which date less than 200 years from the original writings, and the entire New Testament dates within 250 years from the date of its origin. The degree of accuracy of the copies is greater for the New Testament than for any other book of antiquity.
From this documentary evidence, then, it is clear that the New Testament writings are superior to comparable ancient writings. The records for the New Testament are vastly more abundant, clearly more ancient, and considerably more accurate in their text.
But what about the Old Testament?
The Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1947, prove the accuracy of the transmission of the Old Testament.
In the Dead Sea Scrolls, there was a copy of every Old Testament book, except Esther. Now, we have Old Testament manuscripts that date about a thousand years earlier than any other copies we ever had before.
The scholarly theory is, that the older the document is, the closer it is to the time of writing, the more accurate it is likely to be.
The significant thing is that when one compares the two sets of manuscripts, it is clear that they are essentially the same, with very few changes. The fact that manuscripts separated by a thousand years are essentially the same, indicates the incredible accuracy of the Old Testament's manuscript transmission.
For example, when scholars compared the copy of the Book of Isaiah, found near the Dead Sea, to the copies they had, which were more than 1,000 years later, they found a difference of only 8 words.
That is undeniable evidence that today's Old Testament Scripture, for all practical purposes, is exactly the same as it was when originally inspired by God.
When we combine this with the massive amount of manuscript evidence we have for the Old and New Testaments, it is clear that the Bible we have, is the Bible that the writers originally wrote.
Historical accuracy of the Bible.
What about the historical accuracy of the Bible? Can we trust that the events spoken of in the Bible really happened? Archaeology is probably our best indicator of the accuracy of historical events in the Bible. What does the archaeological record say? Archeological confirmations of the Biblical record have been almost innumerable in the last century.
Dr. Nelson Glueck, probably the greatest modern authority on Israeli archeology, has said: "No archeological discovery has ever contradicted a Biblical reference."
Another great archaelogist, Dr. William Albright, said, "There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of Old Testament tradition."
Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail, historical statements in the Bible. Here are a few examples.
Critics used to say that the biblical description of the Hittite Empire was wrong because, according to them, the Hittite Empire never existed. Then in 1906, archaeologists discovered the Hittite capital and found that the Hittites were actually a very large and prominent civilization.
Another example is, that in spite of the account of David's life recorded in the Bible, some critics doubted that King David ever existed. Recently, however archaeological discoveries have verified that David, King of Israel, was a real historical figure. In 1993, a fragment of a monument was found at the site of the ancient Israelite city of Dan that mentioned David and his dynasty, dating to about 100 years after David's death. This was the first time that the name David had been found in any ancient inscription outside the Bible. Since then, additional archaeological evidence has confirmed that David was a real person, just as the Bible testifies.
Another example is that Luke’s writings are very detailed in their reference of people and places. Sir William Ramsey, one of the greatest archeologists to ever live, demonstrated that Luke made no mistakes in his references to 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands.
Another example is that liberal scholars used to argue that a town named Nazareth didn't exist at the time of Jesus, until archaeology of the last few decades confirmed its existence.
The Gospel's portrayals of the temple, Pilate's court, Jesus' crown of thorns, and the mode of His execution by crucifixion have all also been confirmed.
The historical evidence clearly shows that the Bible is reliable.
Another indicator of biblical reliability is fulfilled prophecy.
2 Peter 1:20-21 reads, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."Fulfilled prophecy is strong evidence that God is the author of the Bible because when you look at the mathematical odds of prophecy being fulfilled, you quickly see a design, a purpose, and a guiding hand behind the Bible.
If just one prophecy failed, then we would know that God is not the true God, because the creator of all things, which includes time, would not be wrong about predicting the future.
The Bible itself spells out the test of a prophet: "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously" Deuteronomy 18:22 (NIV).
Hundreds of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled, specifically and meticulously, often long after the writer had passed away.
For example, Ezekiel 26, predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the city of Tyre and he did. (1 in 75,000 probability)
Amos, chapter 1, predicted that the Philistines would not continue and they were later destroyed. (1 in 40,000 probability)
Zephaniah, chapter 2, predicted that Ashkelon would be deserted, and that sheep would dwell in the area, and that the Jews would inhabit their land.
Ashkelon was destroyed in 1270 A.D. and since the restoral of the nation of Israel in the 20th century, Jews have inhabited the land previously known as Ashkelon. (1 in 12,000 probability)
But the greatest testimony of fulfilled prophecy is Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, there are 60 major messianic prophecies and approximately 270 ramifications that were fulfilled in one person, Jesus Christ.
Professor Peter Stoner has stated in his book entitled, "Science Speaks," that by using the modern science of probability in reference to 8 of these messianic prophecies, he finds that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled only 8 of these 330 prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.
That's 1 chance in the number 10 with 17 zeros beside it.
1 in 1000000000000000000.
These are the odds that just 8 prophecies fulfilled in one man.
Then Professor Stoner calculated that the chance of just 48 of the 330 prophecies being fulfilled in one man was 1 in 10 to the 157th power. That's the number 10 with 157 zeros beside it. That’s the odds of just 48 of the 330 prophecies being fulfilled in one man. That’s a big number. Those are long odds.
This is no coincidence. This is by design. Not only could God fulfill all these prophecies in one man, but He even said He would do it, hundreds of years before! All 330 prophecies of the Bible about the Messiah were fulfilled in one person, Jesus Christ.
The Bible beat the odds. It is true and trustworthy. There is no other book like the Bible.
For all of the evidence that supports that the Bible is exactly what it says it is, probably the greatest evidence that it is the word of God is changed lives. Millions of people have been changed because of the power of this book. And when it comes right down to it, that's the real proof of the power of God's word. A life that has been transformed.
Is the Bible the Word of God?
My answer is the same as an old preacher, who once said, "This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.”
“Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.”Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God?
“Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.”
“It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character.”
“Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.”
“Jesus is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.”
“It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully.”
“It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.”
“Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; and yes, to glory itself, for eternity.”
If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then read it, study it.
If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, memorize it.
If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, meditate upon it.
If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then put it in your hearts, put it inside where you can never lose it.
If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then take the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ which is in this book and go out from here and proclaim it wherever you go.
Never be ashamed of God's Word.
Never be ashamed to believe it.
Never be ashamed to stand upon it. His Word is true.
His Word is the firm foundation. His Word will stand forever.