Christian Theology, Biblical Theology

"You are no longer under law but grace; therefore, sin shall not have dominion over you" "The grace of God has appeared teaching men to say no to sin"

Is The Bible True?

There’s not much in our world that can be proven to be 100% true. The vast majority of what we know can’t be proven by the scientific method. In our legal system, we use the rules of evidence as our standard of proof: the preponderance of evidence and whether a claim is beyond a reasonable doubt.

The truth of the Bible can’t be proven scientifically, but a compelling case can be made employing the rules of evidence, which is the method I’ll be using for this article. After the case supporting the truth of the Bible is presented, you will need to decide for yourself – does it make more sense to believe my arguments to be most likely true, or have I failed to prove my hypothesis that the Bible is true?
Keep in mind that we rely on some kind of faith for most facets of our lives – Will that chair hold me? Will my spouse be faithful? Is my worldview correct? Here’s the critical question: what kind of faith do we have?
· unreasonable faith – believing in something in spite of the evidence.
· blind faith – believing in something without any evidence.
· reasonable faith – believing in something because of the evidence.

My goal is to present evidence to make it reasonable to believe that the Bible is more likely true than not.

There are no original copies of the Bible. Today’s Bible was compiled using copies of the original text transmitted in some cases over 1,000+ years. The first tool I’ll use is the bibliographical test – how do we know that the text of the Bible has been transmitted accurately over the centuries?

The ancient scribal process was exacting. The professional scribe copied a document letter by letter. At the end of a parchment (page) he would count the number of letters and spaces. If it didn’t match the original exactly, the page was thrown away and the scribe started again. Even so, over 1,000+ years is it reasonable to assume that there must have been some textual corruption or compounded errors? In 1948, a shepherd boy accidentally discovered hundreds of ancient scrolls in the Qumran Caves near the West Bank. These scrolls contained parts of every book in our Old Testament, with the exception of the book of Esther. These scrolls date from about 250 BC – 68 AD. Prior to the discovery of these scrolls, the earliest surviving copies of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) – the Aleppo Codex – was dated to approximately 930 AD. Many of the Dead Sea Scrolls are dated nearly 1,000 years earlier. When linguistic experts compared the old scrolls with the new scrolls, there was word-for-word accuracy of +/-95% after more than 1,000 years of transmission. That makes a strong case that the Bible we have today is indeed the Bible as it was in its original form.

Another of the bibliographical tests involves the number of actual manuscripts that are currently in existence. It is sensible to think that the more manuscripts of a work of antiquity, the more likely it is to be authentic. There are more than 25,000 manuscripts for all or part of the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Let’s compare that to other writers of antiquity, such as Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, or Tacitus. No credible historian doubts that these are the works of authentic historical figures, but in contrast, the number of existing manuscripts for these well known men ranges from but 1-20. Not nearly as convincing!

Let’s move on to what is called the internal evidence test. In this test we ask, “What claims does the Bible make about itself? First, it must be said that the Bible is not a book; it is a library containing 66 books, written by 45 different authors, over a span of more than 1,500 years, on 3 different continents (Asia, Africa, Europe), and in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic). In spite of this, there are no unresolved contradictions contained in the pages of the Bible.

Some argue that using the Bible to prove the Bible is using circular reasoning. However, we are actually examining the stories and claims of all of the authors, allowing them to speak for themselves.[2] We know that the bulk of the Bible was written by people who were eyewitnesses of the events they recorded; eyewitness testimony is key to determining truth. The gospel accounts in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are filled with multiple independent attestations of the people and events surrounding the ministry of Jesus. Simply speaking, this means that there are numerous eyewitness accounts for much of what is contained in the gospels. A passage or a story that appears in two or more sources is likely to be authentic. This is yet another reason to believe the Bible to be true.

Much of the New Testament was written 25-50 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is important for a couple of reasons. Many critics claim that the early church distorted the life and ministry of Jesus. In reality, there just wasn’t enough time from the actual events to their recordings by the authors of the gospels for myths to develop. More importantly, a multitude of eyewitnesses to the events recorded in the gospels were still alive at the time of the writings, allowing for challenges to any inaccurate reports.

Let’s now take a look at the external evidence test. The external evidence test looks outside the texts themselves to ascertain the historical reliability of the historical events, geographical locations, and cultural consistency of the biblical texts. Unlike writings from other world religions which make no historical references or which fabricate histories, the Bible refers to historical events and assumes its historical accuracy. The Bible is not only the inspired Word of God, it is also a history book — and the historical assertions it makes have been proven time and again.

Many of the events, people, places, and customs in the New Testament are confirmed by secular historians who were almost contemporaries of New Testament writers. Secular historians like the Jewish Josephus (before AD 100), the Roman Tacitus (around AD 120), the Roman Suetonius (AD 110), and the Roman governor Pliny Secundus (AD 100-110) make direct reference to Jesus or affirm one or more historical New Testament references. Early church leaders such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Julius Africanus, and Clement of Rome — all writing before AD 250 — shed light on New Testament historical accuracy. Even skeptical historians agree that the New Testament is a remarkable historical document. Hence, it is clear that there is strong external evidence to support the  reliability of the Bible’s manuscript.

The Bible is filled with prophecies of people and events that would take place at some time in the future. The final test we will apply to demonstrate the trustworthiness of the Bible will be a review of fulfilled prophecy. The Bible records predictions of events that could not be known or predicted by chance or common sense. Surprisingly, the predictive nature of many Bible passages was once a popular argument (by liberals) against the reliability of the Bible. Critics argued that the prophecies actually were written after the events and that editors had merely dressed up the Bible text to look like they contained predictions made before the events. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. The many predictions of Christ’s birth, life and death (see below) were indisputably rendered more than a century before they occurred as proven by the Dead Sea Scrolls of Isaiah and other prophetic books as well as by the Septuagint translation, all dating from earlier than 100 BC. 

Here are just a few of the many examples of fulfilled prophecies. As we look at these, I will turn to science to provide the mathematical probability of the prophecy that was fulfilled. There are more than 300 prophecies that point directly to the Messiah that have already been fulfilled by Jesus. Let’s just take a look at 8 of these prophecies:

  1. The time of His birth (see the Daniel 8 & 9 timeline)
  2. He would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)
  3. He would be born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14)
  4. He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12)
  5. He would be mocked. (Psalm 22:7,8)
  6. He would be crucified. (John 3:14)
  7. He would be pierced. (Psalms 22:16)
  8. He would die with the wicked, but He would be buried with the rich. (Isaiah 53:9)
  9. Christ fulfilled 27 prophecies during His Passion alone.
The mathematical probability of just these eight prophecies being fulfilled by one man in history is 1x1028. In other words, these prophecies present a case for the trustworthiness of the Bible beyond any reasonable doubt.

I’ll provide one more incredible example of fulfilled prophecy. Some time before 500 BC, the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel’s long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26). He further predicted that the Messiah would be “cut off” and killed, and that this event would take place prior to a second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation shows that these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life (and crucifixion) of Jesus Christ. The decree regarding the restoration of Jerusalem was issued by Persia’s King Artaxerxes to the Hebrew priest Ezra in 458 BC, 483 years later the ministry of Jesus Christ began in Galilee. The destruction of Jerusalem occurred some four decades later.  What’s the probability of this occurring in history? 1x105. And the list goes on and on. Consider how one man Jesus changed the world!

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