How do we know the Bible is reliable?

Why do we choose to believe the Bible? Is the Bible reliable? Is the Old Testament historically true? Does it really speak about the working of God? Can we trust the New testament to give true evidence about Jesus’ life?

We need to be able to answer these questions, because so much depends on it. In this article, I want give an overview of why we trust the bible. I hope it will boost your confidence and love for God’s word. I hope it will empower you to stand for the truth, to immerse yourself in God’s Word and powerfully speak it to others.

How do we know the Bible is true?

1. The Bible claims to be the Word of God

2 Tim 3:16 says, “All scripture is God breathed...” (also see 2 Peter 3:15-16). God is faithful and true, and what he says is trustworthy. This really is the ultimate reason we trust it, but on its own this argument is circular and not enough. What confirms this? The other points we will cover.

2. The Bible was carried along by God

2 Peter 1:21 states that “No prophecy was every produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Men wrote by inspiration of God’s Spirit.

But not only was it carried along by God when it was written, but also in how it has been kept. The Bible has often been criticized and people have tried to destroy it. It has been banned in countries, burned, battered, and brought persecution to people. Yet it is the bestseller of the world, with billions of Bibles in the world. It cannot be destroyed, not matter how hard people try because God preserves it.

3. The Bible is consistent with history

There are no historical facts that go against the things that the Bible speaks on. And the Bible is not afraid to speak of history. The people, places and events it speaks of are confirmed in history. Also, historians who aren’t Christians, confirm things in the Bible (e.g. Josephus writes about Jesus in 93-94AD and Tacitus does in 116AD).

4. The Bible is confirmed by archaeology

Many events in the Bible have archaeological finds that confirm them. A stone tablet (Tel Dan) was found in the 1990s which speaks of the wars between the Arameans and Israelites and fits with the biblical account in 2 Kings 6-8, 2 Chron 22. Also, historians use to think the Old Testament was wrong about a people group called the ‘Hittites’. But in the 1800’s they found Hittite artefacts and writings confirming the Bible.

5. The Bible is a collection of the best-preserved manuscripts

1516AD was the first printing of the New Testament. Before that, for 1500 years the Bible had been handwritten. We have many of these copies not the original letters that they wrote. And it’s incredible how well preserved the Bible is. We have around 6000 Greek copies/fragments of copies of the original that date within 50-400 years of the originals. The Illiad (an ancient Greek epic poem about the Trojan war), is the next best-preserved ancient text with approximately 1800 copies that are written 500 years or more after the original. Another example is the Works of Plato, which has around 200 copies preserved around 1300 years after the original (note: these figures always changing). Clearly, the Bible books have been accurately transmitted.

6. The Bible contains eyewitness accounts

The writers either witnessed the events or spoke to people who did. This is so important to validate truth. And it shows in the texts, where there are many details that only eyewitnesses would know or record (e.g. John 21). Also, the 4 biographies of Jesus’ life were written in the generation of Jesus. And they are consistent, but don’t contain the exact same details because they are written from different perspectives. If they were all the exact same, it would seem the authors made up the story together.

7. The Bible has correct predictions

There are about 2000 prophecies in the Bible that confirm its reliability. Predicted events, promises and prophecies made hundreds of years earlier are later fulfilled in the exact detail they were told. (e.g. Micah 5:2, Is 7:14, Is 53, Dan 9:24-27, Dan 2, 7, 8). How is this possible? Humans can’t know the future, only God could do this.

8. The Bible is a coherent group of books

The Bible is written over 1500 years, by over 40 authors (fishermen, kings, tax collectors, musicians, poets, shepherds, a doctor etc). It was written in 3 languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek), across three continents (Africa, Asia, Europe) and in various places. Also, the books are written in many different genres (songs, narrative, prophecy, biography, letters, parables, romantic poems, etc). The Bible is unique. It wasn’t written by one author, at one time like so many religious books. The Bible is diverse yet there is unity and coherence in it and between all the books.

9. The Bible couldn’t be made up

The Bible contains complex typology and is very intricate. (e.g. the connections between Eden, the temple and the new creation. Or the way Jesus fulfils the sacrificial system, priesthood and elements of the temple). No human could make up this sort of typology with no inconsistencies. Also, we saw how diverse the bible is, yet it tells one consistent story and fits together with no contradictions. People couldn’t make this up!

10. The Bible is controversial yet never contradicts

How is this proof? Well think about it, the Bible covers controversial topics like divorce, parenting, homosexuality, marriage, morality, politics, etc. Yet what is said, is consistent with no contradictions or errors. Surely 40 different people would have to differ on these things in some ways if they were writing by themselves. (No one ever completely agrees with someone else, we all differ on things). Yet these authors are in line with each other, showing that God had to be behind this. They have to be God’s words.

11. The Bible is completely honest

It includes embarrassing parts and so many details the authors wouldn’t make up. (e.g. Peters denial, women first at the tomb, the disciples fear and their many mistakes). Also, it includes high points and low points. Like Israel defeated and judged and Israel prospering. David ruling well and David in sin.

Also, the Bible is not afraid to speak of hell, sin and the corruption in us all. Why would men write about hell and condemn people to it? Why would they condemn themselves or family with what they say? The writers would make up these condemning, embarrassing aspects and things that make them look bad. God had to be at work! Only God would be so honest!

12. The Bible contains immeasurable depth

People keep studying it throughout history and still don’t fully understand it. We haven’t figured it all out. How could this be if men just wrote it? It had to be written by God to have such depth.

13. The Bible changes and captivates people

No other book has had the impact that the bible has. It has reformed societies, and brought transformation. People fall in love with it, are willing to die standing on the truth God speaks of, and go across the world to share it. People are cut to heart by God’s Word, pierced, changed, born again with new desires and captivated by God through it.

The Bible has a strange beauty that captivates people. It unveils the depths of our heart, the glory of God and wonder of salvation. Think in your life! For some of you God has given you spiritual eyes see the beauty of the gospel and God’s Word. 2 Corinthians 4:6 shows only God can do this. Only God can cause us believe with all that we are that the Bible, Jesus and the gospel are true (2 Cor 4:6, 1 Cor 2:14). No other book compels and captivates people like the Bible. The Bible is supernatural!

The reliable Word of God

Well, there are many reasons to see the Bible as reliable, and if you were to see the Bible as unreliable, you would have to get rid of all we know in ancient history as well.

So, you have the greatest resource ever, the reliable Word of God, Don’t waste them. Stop wasting them! Make sure you put them first in your life. Go into everyday strengthened and equipped by Gods word. To neglect these powerful, reliable, sufficient and trustworthy words of God is like neglecting oxygen. You won’t last and won’t continue relying on Christ without Gods word. (John 15:5-8).

Yet so many neglect the Bible. Are you like this? Why do you treat God’s Word with such little priority when you have seen why you should trust it! In the Bible we learn of Christ who has the words of eternal life. We truly live, by feasting on the bread of God’s word and by drinking the living water of salvation in Jesus which is promised in God’s Word! Don’t neglect God’s word. Eternal life is at stake!

May we say what Psalm 119:14-16 says “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”

Let’s long for God’s Word. Learn, love and live God’s Word with every breath of your life.

Article by Will AitkenFebruary 26, 2021