Can You Trust The Bible?

Reliability of the Bible

By: Cory Kilgus

Gold Bible Header

         Can the Bible be trusted? Think of the implications to the answer.  If the Bible is to be trusted then we have God speaking to man and declaring truths regarding life’s most important issues, and man will be held accountable for his response to His claims. If we can discard the Bible then truth is relative to each individual. This is the reason why the Bible has been attacked and torn down for thousands of years, yet I find it interesting the Bible is still the number one sold book in the world. John Lennon said he would see the end of Christianity before in his life time, he was assassinated shortly after. The French philosopher, Voltaire, said he would destroy Christianity, yet he has been dead for years and his house is now used to print Bibles.

The trustworthiness of the Bible is also a battleground inside the church. When the church discards the authority of the Bible they become susceptible to every kind of false doctrine. The door is flung open, and Satan can now come inside, have his way in the church, and lead it down any path he desires (Smith)[1].

The Bible is also under attack by all of the world’s false religions. Whether it be Islam, Mormonism, The New Age, or anyone else, they all declared the Bible to be corrupted and untrustworthy. We can see that the Bible is under attack from every angle imaginable. The unbeliever rejects the Bible as mythical and manmade. The cults declare it to be corrupted and in need of help from their books. The church is being pressured to back off their claims about the Bible being the Word of God and infallible, and many churches are giving in to that pressure. So, again, is the Bible trustworthy?

When I was in high-school I was as arrogant as could be. I was full-blown party animal, but I also took the advanced courses in English and History, and was a year ahead of my peers in math and foreign language. I was self-sufficient and independent to the very core. Eventually, I couldn’t keep up with my lifestyle, but I was sure of one thing: religion was for fools. I was assured that the Bible was just another religious book used to enslave the weak, and I held it in lower esteem than Harry Potter. I will never forget when years later I began to open my heart to Jesus. I remember watching a video on creation and the teacher would ask a question that seemed to disprove Christianity and I would think, “I knew I was right all along!” Then he would answer the unanswerable, and I was stunned. My world was beginning to crumble and change as I realized that not only was God real, but He was speaking to my heart and He was logical. I knew the Bible was true then because of the work God did in my heart, but I have been digging into the inner workings of God and the Bible ever since.

One thing I am passionate about is elevating the Bible from the place of fairy tales and myths to the place of a historically accurate and trustworthy document. The evidence for the Bible is absolutely amazing and sets the Bible apart from any other book in the world. God has given us so much as believers in Jesus, but some of my favorite things I have been given are a logical faith and a trustworthy revelation to man. So with that, we are going to dig into the evidences for the trustworthiness of the Bible, and I do hope you will have an open mind and heart because the facts are amazing!

There are a number of ways to examine the Bible, so we will start with the internal evidences for the trustworthiness of the Bible. What is an internal evidence? An internal evidence is something found inside the document itself that shows the document to be unique and trustworthy. I understand how someone could be skeptical that the Bible can verify itself, but just follow me on this for a minute. How many singular books are there in the world that were written over a span of thousands of years, on several different continents, in several different languages, yet have perfect unity and are perfectly in agreement? The answer is one,(:) the Bible. We are not talking about the menial and unimportant things in life either, but we are talking about life’s biggest and most controversial topics. Is there a God? What is the purpose of life? What happens when I die? Imagine grabbing someone from ancient Babylon, someone from the Mayan Empire, and someone from modern day Amsterdam and asking them these questions. The answers would be so wildly different they would be amusing. Yet, the Bible has people from completely different historical ages on three different continents writing about life’s most complex topics, and within the Bible there is perfect unity. How can that be? When the Bible states that, “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” the Bible is telling the truth.

On the other hand, you have other religious documents that were written by one author in one time period, yet have glaring contradictory statements on major issues. Take the Islamic holy book, the Quran, for instance. In one spot the Quran declares, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” yet in another section states, “Fight and slay the idolaters (non-Muslims) wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them.[2]” Which one is it Mohammed? No compulsion in religion, or fight and slay those who don’t believe? You see the Quran was written by one man in one lifetime, yet has major contradictions in the most important areas.

Another internal evidence is one of the most powerful, fulfilled prophecy. The idea of future events being predicted and fulfilled might seem a bit mystical and outdated for the modern mind, but the facts are staggering, and if we stop and consider the facts we will be amazed. Jesus Christ Himself fulfilled over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that were written hundreds of years before He came to earth. The prophecy of the Jewish Messiah written in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 53, 600 years before Jesus came to earth is so strikingly speaking of Jesus that most Jews believe this chapter to be from the New Testament before they are shown Isaiah 53. Ezekiel 37 speaks of Israel being brought back as nation with the illustration of dry, dead bones becoming living people again. Old dry bones could only become living people again in science fiction movies or due to a miracle of God, and on May 14, 1948 when David Ben-Gurion stood up in the Tel-Aviv Museum and declared that Israel was again a sovereign state in their ancient homeland after almost 2,000 years of dispersion and persecution we witnessed exactly that: a miracle of God (Smith, The Final Act)[3]. The whole world was witness to the faithfulness of God, and the trustworthiness of the Bible. Then if we look to the book of Daniel we find a series of absolutely amazing prophecies. Daniel actually foretells the successive kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome with alarming accuracy hundreds of years before they ever existed. Alexander the Great, in all his power and greatness, bowed to the Jewish priests in Jerusalem when they showed how their scriptures had foretold of the very time when he would come conquering. One of his shocked counselors asked Alexander the Great why He was bowing to these priests. Alexander replied that he was not bowing down to those men, but to the great God they served. We could go and on about how Jeremiah named the Persian king Cyrus by name before he was ever born, how Zechariah speaks of the Jews mourning for the one who was pierced, and how the prophet Nathan told King David a man from His lineage would rule forever, but we lack the space in this paper. I do hope that this taste of prophecy will do two things: 1) Give you a deeper hunger to study prophecy for yourself, and 2) Show you the amazing trustworthiness and faithfulness of God and His Word.

Next, we come to the archaeological evidence for the trustworthiness of the Bible. If the Bible is the inspired Word of God then the people and places mentioned in the Bible must exist. Today we have verified over 60 people in the Old Testament and 30 in the New Testament to be actual people. Two of the most significant, and also most controversial, people of the Bible were Pontius Pilate and David. If these men were so important in their ages, then we should have some kind of archaeological evidence of their existence. This has been a common battle cry of Biblical critics. Fifty years ago they could point to these men, and the lack of archaeological evidence for their existence, and mock the Bible as an inventor of people that never existed. Then an ancient recording of Egyptian history was found engraved on a tablet that specifically mentioned David, King of Israel. Years later a stone was uncovered in the area that was formerly Caesarea Philippi, the seat of the government in Israel 2,000 years ago, that stated, “Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judah” (Holden, Christian Apologetics)[4] Today those so-called Bible critics have been quieted, and God has shown Himself to be all-knowing and His word to be extremely historically accurate. Hundreds of other Biblical sites have been found in recent times as archaeologists have studied the Bible and then grabbed their shovel.  In fact, secular and believing archaeologists use the Bible as their roadmap for ancient discoveries in the Middle East, and as of today not one historical place or person in the Bible has been disproven. Archaeological evidence may not cause a person to give their life over to Jesus (it could), but it immediately elevates the Bible from fairy tale or myth into the realm of a historically accurate document.

The Bible also stands alone in the area of bibliographical or manuscript evidence. Out of all the ancient documents no other manuscript has even close to the sheer number of copies made of the original document like the Bible has. Why is this important? If you only have 2 or 3 documents from an individual work, and one is different, how will you know which one is true? Historians use the amount of documents they have found and the proximity of the date of the copy to the original writing in order to decide trustworthiness. The best secular document we have in this regard is Homer’s Iliad, which we have found 643 copies of the original with the gap between original and copy being about 500 years (Tackett)[5]. This document is considered to have more than ample manuscript to evidence to make it ahistorical trustworthy document. Other works that we accept as true with no objection have less evidence like Herodotus’ historical writings and Julius Caesar’s Gallic war writings. What about the Bible? We have over 25,000 copies of the Bible in several different language with the first manuscript dating within 30-50 years of when the actual events took place. There is absolutely no other ancient document with the credentials of the Bible. If universities are going to dismiss the Bible as myth and fairy tale, then they should also discard their entire ancient library because the Bible has far and away the most manuscript evidence for its reliability.

Not only do we have a sea of overwhelming original manuscript evidence, but we have both Christians and Non-Christians in history writing of the events that took place in the Bible.The early church fathers, or the leaders of the church in the first and second century, were one generation removed from the actual events, and continually wrote of the Bible to one another. Obviously they believed the Bible to be literal, factual, and the Word of God. Even more so if we did not possess all the copies of the Bible we could use their letters to reconstruct nearly the entire Bible. In fact, if we pooled the letters of the early church fathers there are over 36,000 quotes of the New Testament and we could reconstruct all but 11 verses from the New Testament[6] (Holden, Christian Apologetics). With 25,000 copies of the Bible in circulation and 36,000 quotations of the Bible from the church fathers we have a document that was easily comparable and extremely safeguarded from errors, making it more than trustworthy.

Many people today deny the very existence of Jesus, or deny many of the events recorded in the Bible. Even with all the evidence for the Bible, anything that comes from a Christian source is deemed as tainted. Did anyone who was not a believer in Christ record the events of Jesus? The answer is yes. Most notably we have the Jewish historian Josephus who was hired by Rome to make a vast chronicle of the age he lived in. He wrote that Jesus was a good and virtuous man, a miracle worker, and that He was crucified. We also have reports from historians such Tacitus and Suetonius that plainly declare Jesus to be a real person, not to mention the fact that the reigns of Tiberius Caesar and Pontius Pilate have been verified as accurate in relationship to the time the Bible writes about Jesus’ life and ministry.

In our last topic we come to my favorite proof for the reliability of the Bible, the Christian Faith, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The question I want to propose is: do people die for something they know to be a lie? Think about this for a minute. Why do people lie? People lie to get out of trouble and to avoid pain and punishment. The only reason I can think of to lie, knowing it will bring trouble, is to protect a loved one. I cannot think of an instance in my personal life or in history where a person was given the choice of life or death, pain or freedom, and that person choose to stick to a lie and suffer horrible consequences because of that lie. It simply does not happen. It goes against the grain of simple logic and self-preservation. This brings me to my next question, why then did every single one of Jesus’ closest followers, the 12 apostles, choose to endure gruesome suffering for the sake of Jesus? Eleven of the twelve (including the apostle Paul) were brutally martyred for their faith, and many of them had traveled to far off countries to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The question is: why?

Some of you may be thinking that many people today are willing to die for what they believe in, and that is very true. We have examples of kamikaze pilots of Japan torpedoing their planes into enemy bases for the sake of their country, and more recently we hear of Islamic extremists strapping explosives to their bodies and detonating the bombs while on busses and other public areas. What is the difference between modern Muslims and the 12 apostles? It is not uncommon for someone to die for what they believe to be true as Muslims do, but what is completely unheard of is a person dying for what they know to be a lie. Muslims today die because they believe certain things to have taken place in 7th century, yet the apostles had walked with Jesus for 3 years, and they were in a unique position to know for certain if the claims of Jesus were true or a lie.

These 11 men were originally terrified for their lives, hiding in a dark room from the Jewish leaders fearing they would be crucified next. Then a report came that the tomb that held Jesus was empty. Peter and John rushed to the tomb and found the giant stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and the burial garments neatly folded inside without the body. The Bible then goes on to tell of how Jesus appeared resurrected to these men. The apostle Thomas was not present during the first appearance and staunchly stated he would not believe unless he could see Jesus and put his fingers in the wounds. Jesus then came to Thomas, and said go ahead Thomas put your hands in here in my wounds, do not be unbelieving, but believe. Thomas responded, “My Lord, and My God.” Was all of this made up by clever men, and just a big farce? What happened to these men who knew Jesus best, and knew for certain whether Jesus was a liar or truly the Son of God?

These men went on to be the leaders of the Christian Church, and some traveled far and wide spreading the gospel message of God’s love and Jesus’ death and resurrection. They then sealed and confirmed the truth with their own blood as they were tortured and killed, and every single one of these men refused to deny Jesus Christ. The apostle James was beheaded by order of King Herod the Great, and so courageously went to his death that one of his executioners fell on his knees, asked for forgiveness, and said James should not die alone. Matthew traveled to Ethiopia to spread the gospel message where he was  pinned to the ground and beheaded with a halberd. Peter’s brother, Andrew, traveled to Asian countries preaching the gospel and was crucified on an X-Shaped Cross. Mark was drug through streets of Alexandria until he was dead because he spoke against idols. Peter was persecuted by Roman Emperor Nero, and crucified upside down. Paul was imprisoned in Rome for years before he was beheaded at the command of Nero. Thomas, called doubting Thomas because of his initial unbelief, was inspired to go to India and other eastern countries sharing the gospel and making disciples until he was tortured by angry pagans, thrust through with spears, and thrown into a fiery oven. An interesting side note is the story of noted missionary worker K.P. Yohannon (President of Gospel for Asia). K.P. came to the Lord in India, and his home church clearly and distinctly traces its beginning to the work of Thomas the apostle as he started a church just 10 miles from K.P.’s home. Time does not permit of many similar stories like those of the deacon Stephen, the doctor Luke, the last apostle John, and those of the early church fathers. I gathered much of my information from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and I strongly recommend it for anyone, believer and non-believer alike (Foxe)[7].

These men did what they knew to be right, refused to deny what they knew to be true, and gave one of the most powerful testimonies for the truth of the Bible imaginable. If we just stop and think about what these men did I hope it will deeply impact both the believer and unbeliever. As A Christian when I read this I find my heart leaping for joy as the certainty of what is written in the Bible is again proved to be beyond true, and something I can base my entire life on. I hope we all begin to feel the weight of what these men did, and that we would be inspired to take the same approach of utter devotion to the cause of Jesus Christ and reaching the world with the Gospel message. Also, I hope that those who have rejected the Bible as myth and the work of fraudulent men will take a fresh, open-minded look at the Bible and see the amazing evidence that stands behind it. Then realize that Jesus is truly the Son of God, that He truly does love you so much that he went to the Cross to pay for your sins, and that He truly did rise from the grave and put the stamp of truth on everything He said and did.

What more can be said about the truth of the Bible? The evidence is overwhelming for its trustworthiness from every different angle. We have a book that is God’s revelation to mankind, and answers all the deepest questions of life. So what now? The same apostle James that so courageously went to his death for the truth of Jesus Christ wrote this, “be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this one will be blessed in what he does.”[8] For the unbeliever the Word simply says turn from your sins and believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you do this you will be beyond blessed. For the believer the Bible says to abide in Christ, keep His commandments, love God, and love people. If we do this we also will surely be blessed.

Works Cited

Foxe, John. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Gainesville, FL, USA: Bridge-Logos, 2001. Book.

Holden, Joseph. “Christian Apologetics.” CC Bible College, Murrieta, CA: Portable Seminary, 2010. DVD.

How We Got Our English Bible. Dir. Joseph Holden. Perf. Joseph Holden. 2010. DVD.

Smith, Chuck. “2012 Northern California Pastor’s Conference.” Mt. Hermon, CA: Calvary Chapel, 2012. mp3.

—. The Final Act. Costa Mesa, CA, USA: The Word For Today, 2007. Book.

SourceFlix. “The Bible vs Joseph SM(m)ith.” Brigham City, Utah: Living Hope Ministries, 2008.

The Case For A Creator. Dir. Lee Strobel. Perf. Lee Strobel. 2006. DVD.

The Truth Project. Dir. Focus on the Family. Perf. Dr. Dell Tackett. 2010. DVD.

 

[1] Smith, Chuck. Untitled. Northern California Pastor’s Conference 2012

[2] Quran, Surah 2:256, Surah 9:5

[3] Smith, Chuck. The Final Act (2007, Costa Mesa, CA, USA. The Word For Today) Pg. 15

[4] Holden, Joseph. “Class on Apologetics” (2010, Murrieta, CA, USA. Portable Seminary) DVD

[5] Dr. Dell Tackett, “The Truth Project”  © 2004-2009 Focus on the Family. Lesson 10 http://www.thetruthproject.com

[6] Holden, Joseph. “Class on Apologetics” (2010, Murrieta, CA, USA. Portable Seminary) DVD

[7] Foxe, John. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. (2001, Gainesville, FL. USA. Bridge-Logos) Pg. 5-9

[8] James 1:22,25 NKJV

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