It is incredible to think that even though the Bible is the worlds number one best seller it is probably the most neglected, abused, and criticized book in history. Some see it as nothing more than a fiction or piece of fantasy. Others have tried to literally rid the world of as many Bibles as possible, such as some satanic groups, for example, who engage in "Bible burning". Others still, in the cults, twist the contents of this book for their own purposes. Despite this, the Bible remains as a remarkable book. It has changed the lives of millions throughout history.
But How do we know the Bible a reliable book? Can we examine any pointers that actually indicate that the Bible is truly what it even claims to be, the inspired Word of God? Let us take a look at the evidence:
The first fact is that the Bible itself claims to be the Word of God. Jesus Himself viewed the Old Testament as authoritative and quoted from it throughout his ministry, as did the apostles who came after Him. In 2 Peter 3:16 Peter considers all of the apostle Paul's letters as Scripture. The early Christians knew they were writing the words of God, even though they often did not fully understand what they were writing. As 2 Timothy 3:16 states, "All scripture is inspired by God." The words, "inspired by God" have the meaning of "that which is breathed out by God."
Secondly, the Bible covers hundreds of topics, yet it does not contradict itself. It remains united in its theme. "Well, what's so amazing about that?" some people may ask. Consider these facts:
If we put these factors together, the Bible was written over fifteen hundred years, by forty different authors, at different places, and under various circumstances, addressing a multitude of issues. It is amazing that with such diversity, there is so much agreement in the Bible. This unity is organised around one theme: God's redemption of humanity and all of creation. Hundreds of controversial subjects are addressed and yet the writers present a harmonious theme. It seems that the only way to explain this incredible unity of the Bible by so many different writers is that one author guided these writers through the whole process: the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21 states, "No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."
Thirdly, we have evidence concerning the transforming ability of the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 says, "The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit." The Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God actually transforms the lives of people. William Wilberforce (1759-1833) became a member of parliament in England when the country was in a state of moral and spiritual decline. People were making a mockery of marriage, the poor were abused and the slave trade was booming, and for a time Wilberforce also went along with these evils. But when he was 25, he travelled to France with one of his former teachers, Isaac Milner. During this trip Wilberforce read and studied the Bible with one of his former teachers, Isaac Milner, and before long surrendered his life over to Christ and was transformed. The things that he had previously been involved in now seemed immoral. The plight of the poor now troubled him; and he soon became the leader in the battle against slavery, which was abolished in England in 1833, primarily due to his efforts. Wilberforce was transformed because he read and then obeyed the Bible.
The Bible has changed the lives of all sorts of people. On the one hand, murderers and drug addicts; and on the other hand, top government officials, business men, and students. No other book can make such a claim. This is because the Bible is not a mere book on good living, but is literally packed with Divine power. It is the Word of God with the power to change lives (see the following link on this site for stories of changed lives: Stories of Freedom).
The Indestructibility of the Bible.
The Bible is the most well-known book in the history of the world, but its familiarity has not stopped it from being the most attacked book in the world as well. Throughout history, Bibles have been burned and torn to pieces; Communist regimes have banned it from their country's and skeptics have tried to destroy its authority.
At seventeen, Voltaire, the famous French opponent of the Bible stood in a crowded auditorium and said of Christ's first disciples, "It took twelve ignorant fishermen to build Christianity, but I will show you how one Frenchman can destroy it." He spent a lifetime trying to do just that. But what happened? Voltaire has passed into history and the Bible is more popular than ever. Interestingly, only 50 years after Voltaire's death the Geneva Bible society used his printing press and his house to produce stacks of Bibles.
The prophet Isaiah recognized the indestructibility of the Word of God when he declared: "The grass withers the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8).
Another source of evidence well worth considering comes from discoveries in the field of archaeology. A good example of the historical accuracy of the Bible is found in the person of King Solomon. For years critics of the Bible doubted the description of King Solomon's wealth as some sort of fairy tale. But between the years 1925-1943 archaeologists unearthed the remains of some of Solomon's garrisons at Megiddo, in northern Palestine. It was here that archaeologists discovered the remains of horse stables capable of holding hundreds of horses, and the remains of the barracks for Solomon's chariot riders.
A New Testament example is found in the account where Jesus was brought before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who sentenced him to death. However, the name Pontius Pilate was known only from Jewish and Christian sources; there was never any mention of him from Roman sources. This in itself did not necessarily mean that the Bible was wrong, but it did seem to appear that there was a certain lack of credibility when the Bible spoke of a Roman ruler whose name did not appear anywhere in Roman history. However, during later excavation at Caesarea archaeologists found a stone plaque (recording the dedication of a building) with a Latin inscription naming `Pontius Pilate, Praefect of Judaea.'
So here are just two examples of archaeology authenticating the historical reliability of the Bible. And what is all the more amazing is that in most cases, archaeological digs are often not sponsored by Christian groups seeking to prove the Bible. Most are sponsored by governmental agencies or educational institutions, many of them Jewish or Muslim. Critics of the Bible would be quick to publicize discrepancies if they could find any.
The final evidence for the authenticity of the Bible is from the area of prophecy. The Bible contains hundreds of prophecies which have come to pass. No book in history has even come close to the Bible when it comes to fulfillment of prophecy.
Here are just some examples: More than two centuries before it happened, the prophet Isaiah said that Babylon would be overthrown by the Medes (Isaiah 13:17) and that the conqueror's name would be Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28).
The Prophet Ezekiel said that the large Babylonian city of Tyre would be scraped away so that only bare rock would remain (Ezekiel 26:4-5). About 60 years later, Alexander the Great tore down its walls and buildings, and with the rubble built a causeway to a nearby island. The city was literally scraped away. Today fishermen dry their nets on the bare rock site of the old city, never rebuilt, exactly as the Bible foretold in the book of Bible Ezekiel (26:14).
One more brief example to illustrate prophetic accuracy in the Bible is that there are over three hundred prophecies made about Jesus in the Old Testament. Prophecies such as His place of birth, how he would die, His rejection by the nation of Israel, and so on. All these prophecies were made hundreds of years before Jesus ever came to earth, and fulfilled in His life and ministry.
This article has only scratched the surface on the subject of the Bible's reliability. For those wanting to pursue this issue further I would highly recommend the following books, some of which I have used in the writing of this article:
A General Introduction to the Bible, Norman Geisler and William E. Nix
The Bible as History, Werner Keller
The Archaeology of Palestine, W.F. Albright
The Bible Fact or Fantasy?, John Drane
Christianity: A Ready Defence, Josh McDowell
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