If you’re not into reading others comments (which I suggest you do, because that’s one of the perks of blogging), then you won’t realize today’s post is in response to an insightful comment and inquiry I received from dedicated mom and new blogger, Deborah. I’ve included our comments in this post with her permission. I’m a little slow replying, but here’s our dialogue:
D: “Hi again. You are very passionate about your beliefs, and that is so admirable. As food for thought, how do you know that the Bible is the word of God? D.”
[WOW! I’ve not been questioned so sincerely and directly about my beliefs in a long time.. Thanks, Deb]
Me: “Thank you for asking such a terrific question which deserves a well thought-out response. Of course, there’s always the short answer and the long one! Short answer: To me, the Bible is the wisest, most intense, real, truthful, historic, meaningful, timeless, life-changing, pertinent and passionate book (actually 66 books) I’ve ever read–and I’ve read it a lot. It offers guidance, comfort, correction, insight, and shares of God’s love through Jesus Christ, and offers Hope for every day…”
D: “Thank you for your response…..I love books, but have never felt this way about one. It seems that the Bible is a friend, of sorts, for you. One that gives “comfort” as you mentioned. I wish I could say that about a book…I look forward to reading your long answer…”
How do I know that the Bible is the Word of God??
The short answer is how I know! But there’s a lot of “long answers” out, which may be more convincing than my personal thoughts, so I’ve tried to put a few together. Fyi, the word count for my original draft was over 5000 words! TMI! I only mention this because so much has been written on this subject, that I’ve tried to keep my “long answer” fairly brief. 🙂 [Internet and book resources, and suggested reading follows.]
Here are just a few things that set the Bible apart from any and every other book:
The Bible is archaeologically/historically accurate.
The Bible is unique and full of wisdom, (revealing knowledge and scientific insight beyond anything known at the time of its writing). It was written over 1600 years on three continents.
The Bible is unified. It’s composed of 66 books, written by 40 authors, from every walk of life (kings, poets, statesmen, peasants, philosophers, patriarchs, etc)
The Bible, for millenniums, has answered people’s deepest searches and questions regarding life, death, and eternity.
The Bible predicts events accurately fulfilled later in history–impacting people groups, nation formation, history.
The Bible has withstood every attempt to destroy it.
1. Archaeologically and historically proven. Josh McDowell has written numerous books, with even more resources than I could provide here, regarding every test required to certify a book as historically sound. To summarize briefly, the conclusion is that the Bible is THE most historically sound document on earth. Through both archaeological evidences and other written documents, historical accounts of the Bible have been proven throughout millenniums to be accurate and true. It’s considered the best documented book from the ancient world.
More than 5330 Greek New Testament parchment fragments are still in existence, some dating to within a century of the apostles. Over 8000 Latin parchments exist, and there are hundred more in dozens of other ancient languages. Quite impressive considering that Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered all Scriptures burned between 302-305AD. Most Christians of the day chose to die rather than surrender their Scriptures for destruction.
There’s a wealth of original Scripture documents, so scholars are certain of the exact wording of all but 400 words in the New Testament. Nearly all of these are tense issues, minor word changes and a few words that were added by transcribers to assist in clarity for that particular language.
There are more than 4500 hand-written copies of the Bible in the original languages. Some of these are complete, others are partial or fragments. Some are dated to within a few centuries of the time of the New Testament writers, others dated to within decades of the time of writing. There are many ancient translations of the Bible into other languages, and there are thousands of Scripture quotations found in ancient “non-inspired” or non-Scriptures documents. In fact, all but a few verses of the New Testament can be reproduced just from these uninspired quotations!
The Old Testament manuscripts were copied by men called “Scribes” of Jesus’ day, who were crazy precise in their work. They checked their work by counting numbers of letters and words per line, paragraph, page. No errors were tolerated. If an error was made, the whole page was destroyed, and they started over again.
2. The Bible is Unique. It was written over a period of 1600 years by more than 40 authors, in three languages, on three different continents. The Bible claims to be Gods’ Word, and claim made by very few other writings, and substantiated by none but the Bible.
Great Christian minds, such as Pascal and Schaeffer have noted that only the Bible offers an explanation for both man’s greatness and man’s wretchedness. Atheists, evolutionist, New Agers, all arrive at explanations for one of the sides–but only the Bible explains that man is great, because he is created in God’s image, and he “wretched’ because he is in a fallen state, separated from God and His original design.
More evidence of the Bible’s supernatural wisdom is noted in the realm of science. Since I’m not a physicist, I’m not writing about ones I don’t understand:
- At a time when men thought the earth was flat, the Bible taught it was a sphere (Isaiah 40:22, 700 BC).
- At a time when men thought the earth rested on the back of a giant turtle, the Bible taught it was suspended in space (Job 26:7, 2000 BC)
- When Ptolemy taught in 150 AD that there were 1056 stars, the Bible already recorded that the number of stars were beyond count (Genesis 15:5)
3. The Bible is Unified. It never contradicts itself. If 10 people observe a crime, there will be 10 different accounts of what happened. However, the Bible was written by 40 authors who, most, were not contemporaries of each other, not friends, and without collaboration. They wrote from different cultural backgrounds, with one message, Salvation through God’s Son. The writers provide a constant message, shared in terms of their own personalities and historical circumstances.
The Bible presents a unity of theme and purpose, pointing to One Creator, One Author, and One way to God—Salvation through Jesus Christ, who is the central theme of the whole Bible. Jesus Himself said:
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me . . .” (John 5:39).
After Jesus rose from the dead, He walked with two of his disciples, and gave them a brief history of His life, death and resurrection:
“And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27). [I wish I could have been there!]
4. Throughout mankind’s long history, people have searched the Bible for answers to any and all of their questions. And the Bible doesn’t disappoint…many believed in Jesus Christ, determined to trust their Bibles and read them frequently and carefully, and saw their lives changed in ways they could never have imagined possible otherwise.
People also died for their faith (often painful, excruciating deaths). The writers of the New Testament and others, went from hiding in fear (John 20:19), to proclaiming openly and ultimately dying, for the message revealed to them through the Bible and Jesus Christ. Their lives and deaths speak of the transforming and dynamic power of God’s word. [I realize that belief in other documents have effected lives, but those books don’t stand up to the other tests I mention in this article.] The Bible has a unique authority unlike any other book.
5. The Bible contains hundreds of prophesies that have come true, prophesies relating to the future nations such as Israel, to cities, mankind, and the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Unlike prophesies found online, in other books, or those by Nostradamus, Biblical prophecies are extremely detailed and never failed to come true. There are over 300 prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament alone. The OT foretold where Jesus would be born, what His lineage would be, how he would die, and that he’d rise again after 3 days.
Here’s a few Old Testament prophecies concerning cities and nations:
Around 590-570BC, the prophet Ezekiel predicted that the city of Tyre would be destroyed and never rebuilt, and that it would become a place where fishermen would mend their nets. (Ezekiel 26:4, 5,14). Though Tyre was destroyed and rebuilt many times, it was ultimately devastated in 1291 AD by Muslim invaders. Today, all that’s left is a small fishing community using barren ground to dry their nets!
Ezekiel also predicted that the city of Sidon would suffer much violence, however it would remain in existence (Ezekiel 28:23). The city still exists today.
- The prophet Obadiah lived sometime between 840-586 BC, and he prophesied the extinction of the Edomites, descendants of Esau, enemies of the Jews (Obadiah 18). When the Romans devastated Jerusalem in 70AD, they defeated the remnants of Edom, and all traces of the Edomites disappeared.
- In 1410BC, Moses predicted that Israel would be scattered among the nations of the world. This was also predicted by Hosea in 710 BC (Hosea 9:17). History records that after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the Jews were scattered throughout the world.
- Both Isaiah and Ezekiel prophesied that Israel would be regathered in her land in the last days (Isaiah 11:11-12, Ezekial 37:21). This happened in 1948AD when the nation of Israel was reestablished. No other person, no other book has made such accurate predictions as the Bible. Period.
6. The Bible is indestructible. It’s suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. In spite of Roman Emperors, the Dark Ages, communist dictators, and modern day societies, the Bible withstood and outlasted all of its attackers–and is still the most widely published book in the world.
The Bible continues to be mocked and scorned by science, psychology, and political movements, yet their arguments don’t change its truth, its message, its impact, or its Author. The Bible remains as true and relevant as when it was first written. It has transformed lives and cultures for millenniums.
The accuracy preserved, its unique authorship, the unified message, the prophesies fulfilled and ones yet to come, lives that have been changed (including mine!), all serve as a testimony to the fact that the Bible is God’s Word. Jesus supported this when He said,
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will be no means pass away.” Mark 13:31
Thank you again, Deb, for asking this, and allowing me to dig in, learn, and reinforce my beliefs that, all too often, I take for granted. They deserve 2000 words (and more!) to illustrate their importance.
When I review the evidence, I say without doubt or reservation, the Bible is God’s Word. Yet, my “short answer” still more adequately expresses the heart of why I believe: “To me, the Bible is the wisest, most intense, real, truthful, historic, meaningful, timeless, life-changing, pertinent and passionate book I’ve ever read–and I’ve read it a lot. It offers guidance, comfort, correction, insight, and shares of God’s love through Jesus Christ, and offers Hope for every day.”
I can say that of no other Book, no other God, no other Faith.
Resources and/or Recommended Reading:
Geek-Proof Your Faith, Greg Johnson and Michael Ross, Zondervan Publishing House, 1995.
The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism, Tom Keller, Penguin Group, 2008.
Books by Ravi Zacharias: The Real Face of Atheism and The End of Reason: A Response to New Atheists
Books by Lee Strobel: The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for the Creator
Books by Josh McDowell: Evidence that Demands a Verdict, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and More than a Carpenter