Can We Trust The Bible?

Title: Can We Trust the Bible?

Text: Matthew 4:4, John 14:26, 2 Timothy 3:16

Date: July 12th, 2009

 

I’ll be talking about the Bible for the next few weeks by asking and then answering a few common questions that people raise about the Bible. In our modern 21st century age there seems to be a great misunderstanding about what the Bible is and what it’s role should be in our lives. Not only are most people vastly ignorant about what the Bible teaches, they are also vastly confused as to its purpose. Consequently, most people do not read the Bible on a regular basis, and among those that do read it regularly, it is read in a smorgasbord way – picking and choosing, selecting passages for one reason and rejecting other passages for other reasons. For many people the Bible is simply an ancient source of religious writings upon which they may or may not draw inspiration. Yet they may also consider other writings just as inspirational, such as ancient Greek poetry or even modern day poetry. Others use the Bible along with the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or Hindu or Buddhist writings to inspire them spiritually. However, most people simply ignore or neglect the Bible altogether because they think it either doesn’t speak to them very profoundly or maybe they feel they understand it enough to respect it spiritually but not enough to read it regularly. For whatever reasons, most people do not seriously read the Bible today on a regular basis. Consequently, most people do not apply its teachings to their lives in any consistent way. Even most church people and those who would call themselves Christians don’t seriously dedicate themselves to learning and living out the teachings of God in the Bible. Some do, but this is only a small percentage. Now if we were to step back and ask the question, “Why isn’t the Bible having a more profound effect on people today in the 21st century?” — I think it would all come down to one basic issue – people don’t trust the Bible. Most people today think that the Bible contains errors and contradictions and therefore it can’t be totally trusted. Other people point to the supernatural miracles and conclude that the Bible is filled with ancient myths and fairy tales. Still others claim that modern science and modern knowledge today have proven the Bible wrong, that it can’t be trusted in presenting a true and accurate picture of the world. On and on the list could go as to why most people today don’t trust the Bible enough to read it regularly and rearrange their lives to conform to its teachings. People don’t seem to trust that the Bible is really, ultimately from God; maybe they think it’s mostly full of the thoughts of man. And so on. Today, I’d like to help people trust in the Bible as God’s Word by showing how we can know that both the Old and New Testaments are true and from God, not by going verse-by-verse through the Bible defending each teaching, but by simply asking the question, “What did Jesus think of the Bible?” — and then following Jesus. Personally, I know I can trust the Bible because Jesus himself trusted it. We can’t go wrong by following Jesus. Let me explain further.

 

First, Jesus trusted the Old Testament and we should too. Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Here we have the familiar wilderness scene where Jesus is being tempted by the Devil. It’s very interesting that after each of the three temptations Jesus states, “It is written,” and then gives a verse from the Old Testament. Jesus assumed the complete truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Old Testament. In his moment of trial, temptation and testing he turns to the Bible with complete confidence. What this verse shows – I could cite many other scenes from the life of Jesus that show the same high view of the Bible – is that Jesus trusted the Old Testament. According to Jesus, the Bible is trustworthy. Even liberal or skeptical Old Testament scholars, people who don’t necessarily believe in the Bible but who study it from a literary or theological standpoint, even they acknowledge that as far as we know about Jesus, he assumed the complete reliability of the Old Testament. I’m talking about the Old Testament, which is only the first part of the complete Bible; I’ll show later how Jesus also validated the later part of the Bible, the New Testament. But for now, my point is this – Jesus completely trusted the reliability and trustworthiness of the Old Testament, and following Jesus, so should we also. In other words, if Jesus is our Leader and Lord, then we must follow him in trusting the Old Testament. Is Jesus from heaven? Is Jesus the way, the truth, and the life? Is Jesus the greatest religious teacher of all time? If so, then let’s follow him in his understanding of the Old Testament. From every indication we have historically in the Bible and in other literature, Jesus completely trusted the Old Testament in everything it teaches. There is no instance where Jesus criticizes an Old Testament teaching as wrong or false. In fact, Jesus called the Old Testament the “Word of God.” In this passage, Jesus teaches that “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” And in every instance in this passage, Jesus quotes from the Old Testament as the Word of God with complete confidence. And here’s the strange thing, Satan or the Devil tempting Jesus, he never disputed the reliability of the Old Testament with Jesus! In fact, he even throws in a quote from the Old Testament! What we see here is Jesus uses God’s Word, the Old Testament, the first part of the Bible, as an authority. He quotes passages from the Bible as totally and reliably true. His respect for scripture is without doubt. We have our basis today for trusting in God’s Word – Jesus trusted in God’s Word. We don’t have to defend each verse, or prove each passage is true. All we have to say is, “Jesus believes the Bible is true and so do I.” Now let me show how Jesus validates the New Testament as well.

 

Second, Jesus trusted the New Testament and we should too. John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Jesus here is speaking to his disciples before his departure later into heaven after the resurrection. He had taught them for three years while they followed him in ministry, but now he promises through the Holy Spirit complete recall and insight into his teachings after he is gone. That means when these very disciples and their associates put pen to paper and recorded the teachings of Jesus, they would be inspired by God to preserve and present the truth accurately. The Holy Spirit will inspire them to accurately reproduce what Jesus taught them and even accurately reflect on these teachings and record these reflections also. I hear someone say once in a while, “How do we know that the disciples recorded everything down accurately? How do we know they passed on the truth without adding any errors?” Here is Christ’s guarantee – the Holy Spirit is sent to preserve and protect the truth so that later day disciples would have it without distortion. And that is exactly what happened. The truths of Jesus and the message that he brought were indeed preserved and protected from error in the form of the New Testament. The Bibles we possess today, Old and New Testament, have been miraculously preserved. For example, it was commonly thought that over the years many changes had been made to the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. But that argument can’t be made anymore. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we know have an almost complete copy of the Old Testament hundreds of years before Christ, and it’s the same as we have today. In respect to the New Testament, as more and more ancient manuscripts are found, they confirm rather than confound the accuracy of the New Testaments we have today. Now if Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will inspire the disciples and their associates to record the truth accurately, and if we now know that these truths have been accurately transmitted through the ages based on the existing manuscript evidence, then we know that the Bible we have today in our hands contains the same truths that Jesus and the disciples taught. We can trust the New Testament because Jesus trusted it, looking ahead to its creation through the power of the Holy Spirit superintending the authors. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would “teach you all things” and “remind you of everything I have said.” With that kind of guarantee, we never have to doubt the trustworthiness of the New Testament. If Jesus was confident about the teachings of the New Testament, so also should we be confident of the New Testament teachings.  Now let me explain what this means to us today.

 

Third, We can trust the complete Bible based on Jesus’ confidence in it. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Notice the Apostle Paul states in this letter to Timothy that “All Scripture is inspired by God.” That is how all the early Christians believed and lived. Shortly after the birth of the early Christian church on the Day of Pentecost, the apostles and their associates began to spread the gospel and the words of Christ. A while later, the Apostle Paul was converted and began to spread the gospel into foreign lands far away from the original disciples and those who witnessed Jesus. It soon became important that the teachings of Jesus and the reflections and inspirations of his disciples and apostles were recorded in writing. Gradually, more and more inspired writings from the disciples and their associates and the Apostle Paul were gathered and collected, read and taught in the churches. Eventually, many years after these writings had been preserved and used, they were formally recognized as the 27 books of the New Testament. Now what is important for us to recognize today is that the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are completely reliable. We can trust the books of the Bible to teach us the truth and not lead us into error. I believe many more people would read and reorder their lives by the teachings of God’s Word today if they would gain a greater trust in the Bible. There is a difference between not fully understanding the Bible and not fully trusting the Bible. Nobody fully understands everything written in the Bible, after all, it is a complex collection of prophetic writings that cover all kinds of material. It’s wrong to think that because the Bible is hard to understand in places – for example, the Book of Revelation – that it’s not trustworthy. As I hope I’ve show, we can trust the Bible because of our trust in Christ, but that doesn’t mean we will automatically understand all of its teachings. That’s why we need to study it daily and pour over its pages seriously and grow in our faith and knowledge of its truths. The greatest thing of all is that God speaks to us through the pages of the Bible. Not only does the Bible speak to us generally as Christians and to the church in general, but it also speaks to us personally because the topics it covers are usually things we deal with on a daily basis. For example, the Book of Psalm speaks to us because it deals with universal human emotions. Simply reading the Psalms we can hear the voice of God speaking to us spiritually. While not all the specific details of the Bible are things we can relate to – Jonah in the belly of the whale — the general principles drawn from the Bible can be applied to all of our lives every day. I hope you have come to trust the Bible to guide and direct your life. I hope you have found it a joy to read and study and apply to your life. I invite you to make it a greater part of your life.

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One Response to “Can We Trust The Bible?”

  1. marem Says:

    there is nothing in the world I enjoy more than learning. In fact, i’d rather be learning now!

    Nice post bro

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