Can We Trust the Bible?
2 Timothy 3:16
Last week we began a series messages looking at questions that we must answer. Before we can begin to make our vision a reality we need to find real answers to some of the most important questions people ask about God. Last week we focused on the question, “Is God for Real?” and this morning we are going to look at another question that demands a real answer. This morning, we want to answer a question about authority, or “Can the Bible Be Trusted?”
There is no shortage of opinion when it comes to the Bible is there? I’ve had people tell me it’s just a pack of lies, other’s have told me it’s the hope of the world, and still others have said it’s full of myths and fairy tales.
A prominent psychologist wrote, “In my opinion a person who takes the Bible seriously is demonstrating a sickening form of dependency that ought to be addressed in long term therapy.” And on the other hand a federal judge once said, “Unless there is a wide spread return to belief and action consistent with the Bible, society is going to self destruct.”
As you can see there are a wide variety of opinions on the Bible. This morning I want to lay out some facts and let you draw some conclusions about the character and quality of the Bible. We will start with an easy one and move on from there. First, no matter what we think or feel about this book, we’ve got to admit that The Bible is Unique
That’s not just my opinion, the facts speak for themselves. The Bible is not a book as much as it is a library, written over a 1600 year time span by some 40 different authors. It was written by politicians, farmers, shepherds, peasants, musicians, poets, even by tax collectors. It was written by Moses in the wilderness, by Jeremiah in a dungeon, Luke while traveling, by Paul while he was in prison, and by John while he was in exile on the Isle of Patmos.
This book was written from thirteen different countries on three different continents, Asia, Africa, and Europe, and it was written in three different languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; and what’s amazing is, even though the Bible was written from people from all different walks of life over a span of hundreds of years, it has amazing accuracy and consistency when it comes to the message about the character, the nature of God and His redemptive plan for mankind.
The Bible has survived being banned and being burned, being ridiculed and criticized. Kings and rulers and dictators have tried to eliminate it. But it lives on and its influence continues to spread. It has outlived every enemy it has ever faced.
It changes lives, alters our view of the world, changes our relationships, our values, and our destiny. How many books do you know that has the same effect on people’s lives?
As you can see the Bible is unique, but there is more. The Bible is Accurate
Now I am sure you have heard some people try to dispute that, they’ll say, “Of course it’s not accurate. It’s full of mistakes. It has nothing to do with historical fact.” We need to know the truth. And the truth is it’s historically accurate.
The Bible makes hundreds of references to historical events and places and people, so there’s plenty of opportunity for mistakes and contradictions. But there is remarkable agreement between the historical record and the Bible, even in little details, such as dates and geography and who was ruling when. In the few cases where it looked like there were contradictions between the biblical account and the historical record, archeological discoveries have proven over and over that the Biblical account was accurate.
Here’s an example, the Old Testament makes frequent reference to an enemy nation of the Israelites called the Hittites. For years, historians couldn’t find any trace of evidence of the existence of a Hittite nation. And so they claimed that the Bible had it wrong, that it wasn’t credible because of this historical error. But in 1906, an archeological dig confirmed the existence of the Hittite nation, they even unearthed the Hittite capitol city and 40 other cities that made up the empire.
How about another one. In Daniel chapter 5 the Bible references a man named BelSHAZzar as being the king of Babylon in that day. The historical record has held that Nabinitis was the king of Babylon at that time. A clear cut contradiction. Historians said obviously, the Bible is wrong, an open and shut case, we have proof, Nabinitis was the king in that era. But in 1956 archeologists unearthed 3 stones that contained the inscribed information that shed some light on the problem. It seemed that Nabinitis decided to lead his armies out to a far away battle front and so he installed his son as King in his absence. And his son’s name was Belshazzar.
We could do this all morning, because every archeological find related to the Bible has confirmed the Bible to be correct, historically accurate. The Bible has no trouble passing the test of historical accuracy. And while there are still a handful of remaining conflicts between known history and Scripture, maybe the jury is still out. And given the Bible’s track record of success, I believe we can fully expect that when all the evidence is in, and when all the digs are over, the Bible will no doubt retain its historical respectability.
Not only is the Bible accurate historically, it is painfully, penetratingly accurate in what it says about me. I've never read a book that speaks so truthfully about who I really am, about what my human tendencies are, about what my nature as a man is really like. I've never read a book that cuts through the layers of my life as deeply as the Bible does, that gets at the root issues of my character and my relationships, my values, my decisions, my morality. More than once, I’ve wished that the Bible wasn't so accurate in its appraisal of me.
And it covers all of my life, in one book. I have other good books, but none of them are as complete as the BIble when it comes to how to live a fulfilled life. Up here on the pulpit this morning I have some good books with me. Everyone of these books have had an influence on the way that I live my life. The problem is that even though these books have had some good suggestions, none of them are complete. While this one talks about personal success and dedication, it doesn't talk about my relationship with Trista. So I read this book to get some advice on how to be a better husband, but it didn’t talk about how to raise my boys. So I had to go to this book, but there was no discussion on how to take personal responsibility for my life. So I needed yet another book.
I think a lot of us know just enough about the Bible to convince us to stay away. We know if we read it, it's going to speak truthfully to us about our condition. It's going to call us into account before God. It's going to bring up matters like sin and repentance and the judgment day and heaven and hell.
I think a lot of people try to cast doubt on the Bible because they don’t want to hear from God. It's easier and safer to criticize the Bible, than it is to yield ourselves to it and allow the Bible to speak to us.
Ok we have one more piece of the puzzle. The Bible is unique and accurate, and The Bible is Inspired. By that I mean the Bible is more than a collection of religious stories written by men. It’s God’s book, He wrote it, and it’s His word to us.
Without apology the Bible claims to be inspired. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God." The word inspired literally means, “God breathed”. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “You must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” Men moved by the Holy Spirit recorded God's word.
Then we can find over 3,000 times in the Bible where the various writers use some form of the expression, this is what the Lord says or listen to what God says. You can’t mistake what the Bible says about itself. The Bible boldly declares that God guided the thoughts and hearts of the writers to record, through their individual personalities and styles, exactly what He wanted to communicate in written form.
One of the greatest proofs of the Bible’s inspiration can be found through fulfilled prophecy. Let me show you what I mean. Remember, the Bible was written over a 1600 year period, and many of the earlier writers went out on a limb and, under the inspiration of God, said, “God has told us what's going to happen in about 100 years or so. Here’s the prediction of what’s going to happen.” And those predictions came true.
For example, in the fifth century B. C., there was a big, strong city on the Mediterranean Coast named Tyre. It was called the “Queen of the Sea”. And was a growing metropolitan city. Then in Ezekiel 26 we see that the prophet says that there would be a time when: Many nations would come against Tyre. The walls of Tyre would be broken down. Dust would be scraped from her, and she would be left like a bare rock. The stones, timber and soil of Tyre would be cast into the sea. And the city would never be rebuilt.
People in that day looked at Ezekiel like he had lost his mind. It would be like me announcing today that Houston was living on borrowed time. That there would be a time when Houston would be completely destroyed never to be rebuilt. You’d wonder if I’d lost my mind.
But what do you know, history tells us that in 332 B.C. Alexander the Great seized the city and totally destroyed it. Ezekiel’s prophecy about the city of Tyre was fulfilled in amazing detail 200 years later. And even today there is no city built on the foundation of the city of Tyre.
But it’s not just cities, the Old Testament is filled with incredibly detailed predictions about Jesus. Like what family tree he would descend from, what city he would be born in, the circumstance surrounding his birth, what His ministry would be like, how He would live, how He would die and rise again.
A mathematician by the name of Dr. J. P. Free has concluded that Jesus fulfilled all 332 Old Testament predictions made about Him. He said that the odds of all of those predictions being fulfilled in the life of a single person is 1 in 840,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000. That’s ninety-seven zero’s.
How do we account for these prophecies being fulfilled to the letter, hundreds of years later, without admitting that God must have had a part in it? We have to weigh fulfilled prophecy as evidence for the inspiration of the Bible.
The reason that this question must be answered is because if the Bible is the word of God then we need to find out what He's trying to communicate to us. If this book is true, it says some crucial, need-to-know stuff about our lives and our eternity.
For starters it says we have a destructive force in our lives called sin. And it says if we don't do something about it, it's going to plague us and wreak havoc in our life. The Bible goes into great detail describing how horrendous, how powerful, how sinister the force of sin really is.
And the Bible goes on to say that we can try for a lifetime to clean up our act, to handle this self destructive force on our own, but in the end we're going to realize it was all for nothing. In spite of great intentions, and our best efforts, we will discover that we can't overpower or outsmart or mature beyond this disease in our life.
The only way we're ever going to be able to overpower the force of sin in our life is to turn our back on it and to turn toward Jesus, to receive Salvation as a gift, receive the work of the Holy Spirit that enables us and empowers us, by the strength of God, to live in victory over sin. And the Bible is where we go to read about that, be convinced about it in our own mind and heart. And then take the appropriate action, which is come to Jesus Christ for salvation, and to trust him to be our strength and our hope.
Can the Bible be trusted? For what it's worth, I’m completely convinced of it. Not as a preacher but as a fellow human struggler, I'm convinced totally, completely, of the truth and trustworthiness of this book. I have submitted my whole life to its authority. I have spent most of my life attempting to follow its instructions. I will tell you I have mountains of regret for the times that I have disobeyed this book and I’ve paid the price for those times. But I have no regrets about building my life on the teachings of this book.
This book led me to a relationship with Christ, where I know my sins are forgiven, and the destructive force of sin has been broken in my life. This book has shown me how to build a marriage and raise my children, how to build friendships that last, and how to reconcile relationships that have been damaged.
This book has comforted me when I grieved, strengthened me when I was weak, corrected me when I was wrong, and confirmed when I've been on the right track. This book has helped me understand my past, given me a proper perspective on the present, and hope for the future. And this book tells me where I'm going to spend eternity.
But you are going to have to decide what are you going to do with it? It's unique, it's accurate, and it's inspired. There's the evidence, you're the jury. What will you decide? Almost every week I have to deal with people whose lives are messed up because they disregarded this book, because they said, “I'm gonna do things my way; I’m not going the way of the Bible. I know what God's Word says, but I think I'm smarter.” I’ve seen too many people wreck their lives because they don't live by this book.
Questions To Consider
This morning we said that we can believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God because 1) The Bible is unique, 2) The Bible is accurate, and 3) The fulfilled prophecies. Which of these areas is the most important to you?
What claims does the Bible make about itself in 2 Timothy 3:16-17?
Look at the of the prophecy made in Joshua 6:26 and the fulfillment in 1 Kings 16:34. What does this say about the accuracy of the Bible?
Why must the Bible be historically accurate before we can believe that it is inspired?
Discuss the Bible’s power to change a man’s heart and life.
What is the Bible’s primary message?
If someone asserts that the bIble is the inspired word of God and rarely studies the Book, then what does that say about that person?