How Do We Know the Bible Is True?
What is the Bible?
The Bible is divided into two major parts. These two are called the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament contains more material than the New Testament. It was written before Jesus was born. In the Old Testament we learn of: God’s creation of the world and humans, the fall of humans into sin, and the helplessness of humans to overcome this problem of sin. Even though God specifically chose and blessed a certain group of people, the Israelites, they still did not follow Him. The Old Testament establishes the fact that humans need a Savior
and in it God promises that He will send one (Isaiah 49:6-7).
The New Testament was written after Jesus was born and describes His life and how the good news of His death and resurrection spread across the world. The New Testament fulfills the prophecies in the Old Testament and shows us that God did send a Savior to the world to save humans from the terrible problem of sin (Matthew 1:21). It also contains many principles that God wants His children to know and follow.
The Bible has many different genres. In order to properly understand what you are reading, you need to know what is the genre of what you are reading. For example there are:
- Didactic/Teaching – These passages are instructional. They contain commands we should follow or explain doctrine.
- History/Narrative – This records what did happen, not necessarily what the people should have done or what we should do.
- Prophecy – These contain information about what will happen.
- Wisdom – Proverbs/Psalms/Ecclesiastes fall into this category. These passages teach general truths.
- Parables – These are stories used to illustrate a main point or idea.
How do we know the Bible is true?
If you have come to church or attend Bible study, you know that believers area always referring to the Bible. We read it. We believe it. We try to follow it. So how do we know the Bible is true? This is a very important question. If you are still not yet a believer, you need to consider this question. And if you already believe it, you still need to know how to answer this question to others who will ask you.
Here are a few of the evidences that the Bible is true. Evidences fall into two general categories, internal and external.
Internal evidence that the Bible is true –
Consistency and authorship –
Imagine I gave each a group of forty people an assignment to write a book on the meaning of life and the history of the world. Then I ask each person to write one chapter. And I required some of these people to write at the same time without checking what other people had written first. What would the result be? It would be filled with contradictions. Naturally people would have different opinions and viewpoints. These different ideas would create problems in the text. You would have forty different mini-books, not one. But the Bible is a unified whole without contradictions. It is itself already a miracle.
2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Yes, God used about 40 people to write the Bible, but God supervised the process of the writing of Scripture so that it would tell us exactly what He wanted us to know with no mistakes.
If the Bible were God’s Word, we would expect it to be consistent and unified, and it is.
Power to change lives –
I believe that many of you have testimonies of how God has changed your lives through His Word. If God were to give us a message, would expect that it would be powerful and dynamic and life-transforming. And the Bible is. Countless millions of people have had their lives transformed by Scripture.
God is all-knowing. That means He knows and can accurately predict future events that haven’t happened yet. World experts try to predict the future, but they fail. The best weather or stock forecasts get things wrong. The Bible is written over a long period of time. In order to prove Himself, God in Scripture prophesied many different things, things that no person could know. And these things have happened over and over again.
Here are briefly three prophesies that proves the Bible’s divine origins.
A.Daniel describes in detail the future course of history in the Middle East for five centuries. He predicts the demise of the Babylonian Empire and the rise and fall of Alexander the Great. You can read about this in Daniel 7-11.
B.Many prophecies are made about the Messiah as well. It was predicted that He would be born in Bethlehem and He was (Micah 5:2. Matthew 2:1.) God even used a census to bring His parents there to make sure it would happen. There are scores of other things prophesied about the Messiah including that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:22-23).
A few other prophesies include:
- He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9, Matthew 21:1-7)
- He would take our sins. (Isaiah 53:4-6, Romans 5:8)
- He would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10, Matthew 24:30)
- He would be a light for the nations of the world (Isaiah 42:1-7, Matthew 12:15-18)
C. The regathering of Israel – Many Old Testament prophecies tell us that God would gather Israel together as a nation again once they had been scattered throughout the world (Isaiah 11:11-12, Ezek. 37:11-12, 14, 21-22, 25.) Many other Biblical teachings and prophecies require that Jews be part of a Zionist nation. This looked nearly impossible after A.D. 70 when the Jews were scattered throughout the world. Never before or since has a nation been scattered throughout the world and returned to create a nation anew. What happens without fail is that these people are then assimilated into other nations. They intermarry and slowly fade away as a distinct people group. But God gathered the Jewish nation together in 1948 just as He prophesied 2700 years before! Biblical scholars fully expected and believed this would happen. The Bible proved itself to be true once again.
Claims to absolute truth –
There are many claims to divine truth in the Bible. You don’t need to read far in the Old Testament before you read phrases like “thus says the Lord” (Exodus 4:22, Joshua 7:13, 1 Samuel 10:18.) This phrase occurs at least 427 times. There are also several famous verses which clearly claim that the Bible is God’s perfect, inspired Word.
Mark 13:31 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
This is actually another prophesy in the Bible and it is also true to this day!
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
If the Bible were true and from God, we would expect it to say so, and it does.
External evidences –
Archaeology – The Bible is a historical book. It is written about real people, real places, and real events. Therefore we would expect to find supporting evidence of the Biblical record through archaeology. And once again, we are not disappointed.
There is so much archaeology verifying the Biblical record we could spend a whole course on this alone. I will just share three here:
A.Dead Sea Scrolls – One important proof of this is the Dead Sea Scrolls which were found in 1947. A Beduin shepherd was playing throwing rocks into a cave when he heard something break. After going to investigate, he found a number of scrolls in clay pots. He and his shepherd friends sold seven of these scrolls, the first four for $150. Eventually the caves were further explored and either almost complete scrolls or thousands of fragments of ore than 900 ancient texts were discovered. Every book in the Old Testament except Esther was represented by at least a fragment. These scrolls date back as much as 2200 years old to 200 B.C. Why is this important?
Our modern Old Testament come from Hebrew copies that date back only to about 1000 AD. Now we have a reliable and objective method to compare our these Old Testament texts with a separate line of copies that is much older. So has the text changed? Has it been altered over the centuries? Has God’s truth revealed in His Word changed?
The Dead Sea scrolls verified the accuracy of our biblical texts. An Isaiah scroll was found with the same content as our 66 chapters. The text and the meaning did not change over time.
B.King Hezekiah’s Seal –
2 Kings 20:20 “As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city…”
2 Chr 32:30 “It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David.”
A tunnel, which most believe to be the very one Hezekiah had dug, was discovered by Sir Charles Warren in 1867. This is a very popular tourist destination and many go to walk in the tunnel, which is a vital part of Jerusalem’s water supply. It is a tunnel through solid rock 41 meters long. The water supplied from this allowed Jerusalem residents to get water without going outside the walls.
Even more specific and impressive is the discovery of a seal imprint with Hezekiah’s name on it:
“In the rubbish heap outside a royal building in Jerusalem, a tiny seal impression, called a “bulla,” was discovered. Barely half an inch wide, this seal reads, “Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.” Eilat Mazar, a third-generation archaeologist who directed the dig, says, “The seal of the king was so important. It could have been a matter of life or death, so it’s hard to believe that anyone else had the permission to use the seal. Therefore, it’s very reasonable to assume we are talking about an impression made by the King himself, using his own ring.” This is the first seal bearing King Hezekiah’s name ever discovered by an archaeologist.”
C.Pilate Stone – Many Bible critics claimed that Pilate was a fictional character. They said that there was no evidence in other books for his existence as an important governor in Judah. In 1961 a team led by Dr. Frova discovered an important inscription on a stone in Caesarea. It has since been dubbed as the “Pilate Stone.” It dates to the time of Jesus and translated from Latin reads:
To the Divine Augusti [this] Tiberieum
…prefect of Judea
…has dedicated [this]
Pilate was not only proved to be a person. But he was proved to be a prefect/governor in Judea at the same time as Jesus. Another important piece of the Bible was authenticated, providing more evidence of its ultimate truth.
It has withstood every attack to wipe it out –
Far more copies have been printed and spread than any other book. It has had a massive influence in the world. Though many have attacked it and even tried to wipe it out. One such case was in A.D. 303 when the Emperor Diocletian tried to wipe out Christianity. The appointed day was February 23rd. All Christians books and Bibles were ordered destroyed and Christians were to be executed. This persecution lasted ten years and many believers gave their lives. A long story short, Christianity was not wiped out. Bibles were not all destroyed. And more people believed ever than before. Similar attempts would be repeated, but all failed.
How did we get the Bible that we have today and can we be sure it hasn’t changed?
The Bible was written thousands of years ago and mostly in Hebrew and Greek. So how can we be sure that what we have today is the same? In comparison with other classic books from history, there are far more manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments than any other book (over five thousand early copies of all or part of the New Testament and over five hundred. In some cases these manuscripts were copied very soon after the original writings were written. The Jews had a very strict system for copying sacred writings. It was so strict that many copies were burned by the scribes because they weren’t copied accurately enough. The ones that are left are extremely accurate.
These early copies are then used by textual critics and compared to each other in order to get as close to the original text as possible. It is a science and it can be done with an extremely high degree of accuracy. For example, if nine out of ten manuscripts have one spelling and the other manuscript is missing a letter then the majority of manuscripts would likely be followed.
Next teams of experts translated them into native languages of countries all over the world. Thus every new version is not a new Bible. Nothing has changed in the early manuscripts, which are still available. Instead it may be an updated translation using more modern language.
Since it is best when teams of experts translate together (thus ensuring no one has an agenda to twist the meaning), be wary of translations by one single person, especially ones that are significantly different than mainstream translations.
The Power of the Bible
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The Bible is a historical book, but it is not out-dated. It was written in another part of the world, but it was inspired by the God of the world for all people. Yes, it was written in a time when there were no computers, cars, airplanes, or cell phones. Times and cultures have definitely changed. However, people are basically the same. People who lived two thousand years ago have basically the same needs and problems as people do today. They ask the same basic questions.
People want to know how to treat parents, relatives, and spouses, and what they should do in their jobs. They ask where they come from and what the end of life will hold. They wonder what meaning can be found in life and what goals they should pursue. The Bible has answers to all of life’s important and practical issues.
God’s Word is living and active. It speaks to real people in real situations. The Bible is the most profound book in the world, but it is also the most practical.
What is one way that God’s Word has transformed your life?
Questions for Self-Study
1. How do the following verses describe God’s Word? (Matthew 24:35, 1 Peter 1:24-25.) How should this affect what you should pursue in your life? Why?
2.How can you begin to have faith or strengthen your faith in God (Romans 10:17)?
3. What is God’s Word comparable to (Matthew 4:4, 1 Peter 2:2)? What must you do if you want to grow spiritually?
4. How often did this group of New Testament believers study the Scriptures (Acts 17:11)? What was their goal in studying the Scriptures?
5. After reading or listening to the Bible, then what should we do (Luke 6:47- 49, James 2:22-25)? What are we compared to if we don’t act on what we learn?
6.How will God treat us if we are ashamed of Him and of His Words in the Bible (Luke 9:26)?
7.How will God view us if we follow His words (John 8:31-32)? How will the Bible impact our lives?
8.Contrast the differences between the wisdom we learn in the world from the wisdom we learn from God in His Word (James 3:13-17).
9.Explain how deeply God’s Word should influence your life and what kind of effects it should have in you (Colossians 3:16).
10．What weapons do Christians have to fight with in the world (Ephesians 6:17)? How can we use this as a weapon?
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