“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
Is the Bible true? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Unfortunately, like God’s existence, it can’t be proven. If it could, there would be no place for faith. Fortunately, like God’s existence, He gives us plenty of evidence to make us confident that our belief in the Bible’s truth is completely rational and reasonable. We will discuss five reasons, though there are probably more: 1) fulfilled prophecy, 2) literary quality, 3) consistency of thought, 4) archaeological and historical evidence, and 5) the historicity of the New Testament.
First, the Bible contains hundreds and hundreds of prophesies which were fulfilled, some which were given even hundreds or thousands of years before the fact. Let’s just consider a couple. In Genesis 12:1-3 God makes a covenant with Abraham, the Father of the Jewish people: “Now the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Go forth from you country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all of the families of the earth shall be blessed.” In the book of Joshua, the Jews enter that land promised to them, and today we have had the wonder of seeing God bring them back to it once again. Jesus was Jewish and through Him all of the world can be blessed if they would only receive Him as their Savior. All of this was fulfilled through one man thousands of years ago. Isaiah chapter 53 foretells of Christ’s death for our sins, about 700 years before Christ actually came and died. Verses 4-6 say, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way, But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” This clearly portrays Christ’s passion, His suffering and death on the cross, which we know indeed happened. There are countless additional prophecies that were fulfilled, but these are the two most powerful and wonderful.
Second, the literary quality of the Bible is incredible throughout. No matter what the genre, whether poetry, history, narrative, song, or prophecy, the writing is clearly something we would expect of a God-inspired book. If anyone thinks that this is a subjective point, they ought to make it objective and read through the Bible. Then they ought to go and read a few pages of the Koran or other religious books and compare the quality. The difference will be clear.
Third, the Bible is consistent in terms of theology, doctrine, people, and plotline throughout the entire Bible. This is remarkable considering the fact that it was composed by so many human authors over such a vast period of time. People change, cultures changes, countries change, and preferences change, but the doctrinal content of the Bible never changed. God is the same in Genesis as He is in Revelation. The Messiah is foretold to come and He comes. The Old Testament books are quoted very often in the New Testament, demonstrating to us that they are meant to be joined with the New Testament as one whole Bible. The New Testament doesn’t make much sense without the Old Testament, and the Old Testament ends with unfinished business. But their connection and integration is beyond any possible fake or clever craft.
Fourth, there is a vast amount of historical and archaeological evidence. Many of the people and places in the Old Testament have been found. I just want to mention two of the most powerful testimonies. The first is Josephus. Flavius Josephus was a first century Jewish historian who wrote down a vast amount of information about Jewish history from ancient times through his lifetime, drawing on both Biblical and secular sources. All of what he writes correlates with the Scriptural account, which demonstrates that even reputable secular historical accounts support the Bible. The second is the Dead Sea Scrolls. These parcels of Old Testament Scripture and other extra-biblical documents were found in 1947 and have been dated to have been written as far back as a couple of hundred years before Christ. Since the documents’ Biblical content lines up exactly with what we have in our Bibles today, we have great confidence in the accuracy of our Bibles.
Fifth, the historicity of the New Testament is a fancy way of saying that what we have in the New Testament is authentic and unchanged over the years. The fact that there are eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are huge indicators for truth. In a court of law, one witness carries a lot of weight, and a whole case can rest on two testimonies. Jesus has four complete eyewitness testimonies. The gospels were written probably only several years after Christ ascended into heaven, with some maybe stretching out to a few decades after that time. This is good for authenticity because the gap between the actual events and the writing of the testimonies is small. In addition, the Jewish oral tradition of telling and retelling stories as a means of passing history on to future generations, giving great attention to detail, gives us no reason for panic that a few years may have passed. There is no reason to question the accuracy and validity of the eyewitness gospel accounts. In determining historicity, a bibliographical test is used. It is used to determine how far removed the earliest copy of a manuscript is from when the original was composed. It also asks how many manuscript copies exist. Of the many popular historical works of the time of Christ, most are a good five hundred years removed from the event. The manuscript copies of the New Testament, however, are only 100 to 200 years removed. The average number of copies of the secular works is typically in the single digits. The Bible has over 13,000 manuscript copies of all or part of the New Testament, all from the first several hundred years after the original writing. There really is no comparison.
There is no book in the world like the Bible. Prophecies uttered several thousand years before the fact came true. Archaeological and historical evidence supports the Bible through and through. From a literary perspective, it shines far above other religious works. Clearly, God is the author, and He has watched over His Word through the centuries and millennia. We can be sure He will continue to do so and that we can rely on what is contained therein.
For further research, I recommend The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. (see recommended reading)