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How Do We Know: The Bible  - Scott Richardson

By Faith Barak  - Scott Richardson


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                                                                                                        May 10, 2015

How Do We Know: The Bible?

How Do We know: The Bible?  - Scott Richardson

Those who wish to deny Jesus as the Son of God, have a problem—the evidence for Jesus as the Son of God is overwhelming. Their next step would be to get rid of the primary witness—God, the Father. The problem continues to be overwhelming evidence for the existence of God. Now then, they must discredit and deny what He has said. They will continue to face the same problem—overwhelming evidence that the Bible is God’s word for mankind. The honest person will consider the evidence to answer the question, “How do we know that the Bible is from God?”

The Bible claims for itself to be the inspired word of God. Paul states that all Scripture is from God (2Timothy 3:16). He also explains that the Spirit had revealed what he said: “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1Corinthians 2:10-13). Peter also makes clear that it was the Spirit who moved men to speak His word: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2Peter 1:20-21).

Some will say that man just “made it up”—men from later years “put the words into the mouths” of Paul, Peter, and others. There are only two possibilities for the origin of the Bible: 1) God or 2) man. As evidence is examined, we need to ask, “Which is more reasonable to believe, the Bible is from God or the Bible is from man?” If man is responsible, the Bible should look like a work of man. If God is responsible, it would look like His work—far different than the work of man.

The United Whole

The Bible contains 66 individual books that make up a continuous whole. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it? However, notice some facts about the books making the whole: 1) written over a span of 40 generations [about 1500-1600 years], 2) written by more than 40 men from all walks of life and educational backgrounds, 3) written in different circumstances [imprisonment, peace-time, war-time, etc.] and moods [compassion, happiness, etc.], 4) written from three continents [Asia, Africa, Europe], 5) written in different styles [poetry, treatises, biographies, personal correspondences, etc.], 6) written on may topics [faith, works, righteousness, judgement, etc.], and 7) written in at least three distinct languages [Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek].

In all of this, there is no contradiction and no error. Would these things be true if the Bible were from man? Is it reasonable to believe that only man is responsible? I challenge you to assemble forty people of the same background, of the same generation, of the same language, and of the same supposed faith, in a room at the same time, and not have forty different opinions on a subject dear to their hearts!

The Living and Enduring Word

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you” (1Peter 1:22-25).

The Bible survives. Even though it was written on perishable material and had to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years by hand, before the invention of the printing press, it survives. It has been said that the Bible has more manuscript evidence than any ten pieces of classical literature combined. Do people doubt the writings of Homer, Aristotle, or Plato? God promised that His word would endure forever.

It has survived persecution and criticism. It has been banned and burned. The Bible has faced opposition like no other book. It still stands.

The Test for Yourself

For a moment, set aside that the Bible claims to be from God and examine it as any other piece of old literature. There are some basic tests that are used to use in determining how reliable the literature is.

How reliable are our copies? Most “originals” of past generations are missing. Did you know that no one has seen an “original” of Romeo and Juliet? Did you know that no ancient literature even has copies that are any closer than 500 years removed from the original? Homer’s work has 500 years between the original and copies. Aristotle’s works have 1,400 between originals and copies. There are fragmentary copies of the Bible only 25-50 years removed from the originals! Known to exist are over 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the new Testament. Homer’s Illiad? 643. Aristotle? 49. Not only are the numbers for Homer and Aristotle lower, but the copies differ over 5% in content. Variations of the manuscripts of the Bible account for only about one-thousandth of the entire text!

Is what it says true? The New Testament accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus were recorded by men who had been eyewitnesses themselves or who related the accounts of eyewitnesses. Not only did they say, “We saw” or “We heard,” but they also appealed to common knowledge of others, including critics, by saying, “You know this,” and “You saw this and know about it” (Acts 2:22; 26:24-28). There is no reason to think that the writers were fabricating myths. There were plenty of people around that had set themselves up as enemies of Jesus and His eyewitnesses, yet none of them contradicted the things that were stated as having been seen and heard.

Some people claim that the Bible is filled with contradictions. A contradiction exists only where there is no way to reconcile the statements. If an explanation exists, there is no contradiction. The alleged discrepancies have been identified for centuries and have been effectively answered. The critics have failed in their attempts, and the Bible still stands as being credible.

Do other materials confirm or deny the documents themselves? External evidence support the Bible. Ancient historians confirm it (Josephus, Tacitus, et al.) and archeological evidence has shown the veracity of Biblical accounts.

Archaeologist William F. Albright pointed out: “The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history.”

Early writings also can help show the accuracy of the Bible. Even if we did not have full copies of New Testament documents, the text of the New Testament could be reproduced almost entirely through the quotes of early church leaders. It has been pointed out that there are at least thirty-two thousand citations in the writings of the “church fathers” before the Council of Nicea in 325.

So, how can we know that the Bible is the word of God? Not one “discovery” or opinion of man has ever disproved a single Biblical statement. The Bible has been more closely scrutinized than any other book, but it stands as a completely trustworthy document of the highest historical value. Since it passes all of the tests for ancient literature, it should be accepted as reliable and also as the primary source of information about Jesus.

We need to decide what we are going to do. Will you believe it or reject it? Will you follow it or neglect it?

S. Scott Richardson Sr.

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