The message this past weekend examined both internal and external evidence concerning the reliability of Scripture. Although much evidence was presented, it was FAR from comprehensive due to time constraints. One could spend a lifetime examining all the evidence pointing to the trustworthy nature of the Bible.
But here are some of the high points in our notes from the message “Can I Trust the Bible?” If there is a point from your notes missing here, please refer to the video message found at: http://hillsidewired.com/message/part-2-can-i-trust-the-bible
The teaching team’s hope is that you will be able to confidently answer this very important question…Can I Trust the Bible?
Does our modern translation of the Bible accurately represent the original text?
It is important to ask this basic question to determine if we can trust the words of Scripture in our Bible. Are they actually the words of Scripture as they were originally written?
This is the process that scholars use to answer the question of whether we have the actual words written in the ancient texts that comprise the Bible. Textual criticism is the science of critically evaluating copies of a historical document to determine what the original said.
There is not one single original piece (autograph) of the Bible in existence in the world that we can find today. However, this is not a reason to question the credibility of the Bible. There are no extant autographs for other ancient writings either. The evidence for the reliability of the Bible as a historical document is greater than any other work of ancient literature that has ever been written.
Greek N.T. Manuscripts – 5,838
New Testament Early Translations -18,524
Old Testament Scrolls, Codices – 42,000
TOTAL BIBLICAL MANUSCRIPTS – 66,362
People will ask about the accuracy of these ancient texts and whether they are 100% without inconsistency. There are textual variants among the documents, and you may even notice that your Bible translation includes some of them in the footnotes. Despite these variations, scholars overwhelming agree that no major doctrine of our faith is in doubt due to these textual variants. These minor differences typically exist for these reasons:
- Extent of the content (One manuscript contained portions while another contained the whole).
- Spelling variations
- Synonyms or word order variations
- Minor copying errors
What does Scripture say about Scripture?
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.
2 Peter 1:16
For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Though the Bible is not a science book, there is scientific evidence within Scripture that measures against modern scientific discovery.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
Written some 300-400 years before Aristotle introduced the idea of a round earth.
Scripture is well ahead of the rest of the world in this major astronomical discovery.
He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth over nothing.
How did the writer know the earth was suspended in orbit? Job is the oldest book in the entire Bible. While other contemporary cultures and world religions subscribed to myths at that time, the Bible contains scientific fact.
Jeremiah 33:22 says the stars in the sky cannot be counted.
For thousands of years astronomers believed that there were a finite number of stars in the sky. They tried to count them. Once again, the Bible stands out against the cultural myths and scientific misconceptions of the times. There is ample evidence to suggest the words of the Bible are the truth.
- Gospel writers were eyewitnesses (Matthew, Luke, John)
- Mark wrote down Peter’s eyewitness account in his gospel
- Many of the New Testament eyewitnesses were martyrs
- Matthew – killed in Nadabah in A.D. 60
- Mark – murdered by the people of Alexandria
- Luke – hanged on an olive tree
- Peter (his eyewitness account of Jesus was recorded by Mark) – crucified upside down at Rome
- Paul – executed by the sword by the Roman tyrant Nero
- Jude – brother of Jesus; crucified c. A.D. 72
- James – brother of Jesus; according to Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria, he was thrown off the pinnacle of the temple, then stoned, and then finally beaten to death with a club
- John – though he was tortured and exiled, he was the only apostle who did not die a violent martyr’s death.
Historians independently corroborate the apostles’ eyewitness testimony.
- Tacitus, Roman historian
- “Christ who had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius…”
- Josephus, lived and wrote in the first century A.D., a contemporary of the apostles
- “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.” – Josephus in Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63
Are the words of the Bible the Word of God?
1 Thessalonians 2:13
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
2 Peter 1:19-21
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
- There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament, written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, about the Messiah. Every single one of them was fulfilled in Jesus.
- David prophesied about the crucifixion of Christ hundreds of years before Roman crucifixions even existed. No one had ever even heard of crucifixion and God spoke prophetically through David to show how Christ would die.
Can I? Will I?
Can I trust the Bible? YES
It boils down to “WILL I trust the Bible?”
“Nobody can prove that God exists…and nobody can prove that God doesn’t exist.” (Alvin Plantinga). Everything in life is a matter of faith. EVERYTHING.
- Driving down I-40 at 70mph, you put faith in your car.
- Sitting down in a chair
- Getting married