How can we know that the Bible is true and accurate? And that it isn’t just fictional stories, myths and legends invented by people? Consider the facts: The Bible was written over a fifteen-hundred year time span in three different languages by men who lived on three different continents. It contains sixty-six individual books written by at least forty different authors, most of whom never knew each other.. The Bible is one cohesive whole that tells one story of how the world began, what the fate of mankind is and how it will all end. It is amazing, given just these facts, that many still dispute the Bible’s authenticity.
The Bible Authenticates itself No one can predict the future and yet many of those who wrote the first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, foretold what was going to happen with 100% accuracy. They wrote history in advance, predicting events hundreds of years and even a thousand years before they happened. There are at least 45 of these prophecies made about Jesus Christ in the Bible, some of which predict that he would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, that he would be a descendent of Abraham, that he would be betrayed, accused by false witnesses, horribly beaten, killed by crucifixion and then raised from the dead. Jesus fulfilled all of theses prophecies about himself. The odds of him fulfilling just these eight prophecies are one in a hundred million billion. This is so astronomical that for a mere man to fulfil these, whether coincidentally or trying to on purpose, is statistically impossible. It all had to be planned, and it was. God planned it. He knew what he had planned for the future and so he moved men to write the prophecies that described these future plans. God then sent Jesus Christ into the world to fulfill them. The contents of the Bible are irrefutable evidence that it was ultimately written by God himself. Acts 3:18 says, “But the things which God announced beforehand, by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.”
A Little Common Sense
We can also believe that the Bible is true and wasn’t concocted by people by using common sense. No human being in their right mind would have written what is in the Bible. It describes people as being fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, that they are immoral and impure, cowardly, unbelieving and abominable.* The Bible also says that people are dead in sin, without hope, helpless, condemned for their sin and in need of someone to save them.** Who would describe themselves and their fellow human beings like that? Worse than that is how the Bible describes the awful judgments that God has pronounced against those who disobey him. “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds.” (Romans 2:5-6) Then it describes the terrible end to which the world is headed, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10) Who would even want to believe things like this, let alone write a book about it?
(*1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19, Revelation 21:8; ** Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:12, Romans 5:6, Ephesians 5:6)
Take it on Faith
We believe a lot of things based on books we have read, but do we have good reason to believe that these books are accurate and true? I think we all believe that Abraham Lincoln existed and was the 16th president of the United States and that he gave a speech called the “Gettysburg Address”. But none of us witnessed it, so we have to choose to believe that those who did witness it and testified to it are telling the truth. We have to believe the books and newspaper stories that were written about it by the people who were there and witnessed it. Their accounts were accepted as fact because there were enough people there who witnessed it to know it was true. We believe the Bible the same way, that the events described in it were written by those who witnessed them.
If you have ever read Homer’s Iliad, you will know that you have not read the original work because it was written in Greek around 800 B.C. and the original writing no longer exists. What you have read is a modern printing of a translation of ancient Greek copies of the Iliad. There are at least 650 manuscript copies and fragments of copies existing. As is usual when something is copied that many times there will be slight errors made in some of the copies. With so many copies, they could be compared with each other to determine any errors (since the errors wouldn’t be in the same places in all the copies) and so come up with an accurate whole. The Bible has come to exist in the same way. The original writings no longer exist, so what we have are copies, originally written on papyrus and parchment. The earliest copies began to be written within a generation of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth and were copied from the original papyrus’s which were written by those who were eyewitnesses of Jesus. The men who wrote the New Testament books were inspired, moved and prompted by God to write what they wrote. By the end of the first century A.D., less than one hundred years after the death of Christ, these original writings were completed and preserved into the Greek New Testament. These original Greek writings were then copied hundreds of times over the centuries. There are more than 20,000 copies and fragments to compare to be sure that what we have is accurate. This is a “mountain” of copies as compared to the 650 of the Iliad or any of the other literary works of antiquity. Today there are three major collections of these Greek manuscript copies, the Codex Alexandrius and Codex Sinaiticus that are in the British Museum Library in London and the Codex Vaticanus in the Vatican. It is from these groupings of texts, with it’s multitude of copies that modern Greek scholars have translated the original Greek into the English New Testament that we have today. These Greek texts have been reproduced and are widely available in book form online and in bookstores (search for “Greek New Testament”). If you believe that the Iliad was accurately translated from Greek copies into English and is true to what Homer originally wrote, you will have no reason to doubt that the Bible is also true to the original authors. If you need more convincing, get the book “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel (Zondervan Publishing ISBN# 0-310-20930-7).