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How do you know the bible is true?

Everything that a Christian believes, and much of how a Christian lives, is based on the assumption that the bible is true. But how do we really know that it is? How do we know that it wasn’t just made up?

Below are some reason why billions of people throughout history have believed in the truth and accuracy of the bible:

Nobody’s been able to succesfully oppose it

Not only is the bible the most famous book in history, it is also the most attacked.  Right from the Roman emperor Diocletian in AD300 to Communist Russia and Fundamentalist Islamic states today, the bible has in every age been the focus of extreme aggression, with numerous attempts to destroy it and wipe out every trace of its existence. Millions of Christians have been imprisoned or executed for merely owning a bible.

And yet, despite all the attempts to silence the bible, not only has it remained the world’s number-one bestseller, but we still possess more surviving ancient copies of the bible than any other ancient documents, by far. In fact, we possess such a great number of ancient copies that any inconsistencies between the copies over the years can easily be picked up and removed, giving us one of the most accurate and faithfully-transmitted historical documents the world has ever seen. In fact, the bible’s survival and transmission over the ages can be described as none other than miraculous.

In addition to the physical attacks on the bible, many have tried to discredit it historically – trying to show up inconsistencies or inaccuracies. But even after thousands of years of trying, no-one has been able to show up one valid inaccuracy.

One of the best attempts was made by Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, a skeptic and one of the foremost archaeologists of the 20th Century. He set out for Asia Minor to disprove the historical accuracy of the book of Acts, only to return having converted to Christianity. In the process of trying to disprove the bible, he discovered how incredibly true and accurate it actually is.

The bible is internally consistent

Along with much more external evidence for the truth of scripture (we haven’t even gone into the validation of ancient secular historians)… it’s also worth considering the internal blocks of evidence for the truth of the bible.

The bible was written over a period of about 1700 years by more than 40 different authors, mostly who never knew each other, and who were from a variety of places and cultures. Yet throughout, it has one single message of God’s unfolding salvation plan and everything its various books and letters say about things like God and humanity are totally in agreement. This kind of internal consistency is unparalleled in any other writings in all of history, and just another clue as to it’s divine origin.

More than this, though, the bible contains thousands of prophecies. About three hundred of these were fulfilled in the life of Jesus alone, with the rest either having been fulfilled to the letter, or still to be fulfilled in the future.

This sets the bible completely apart from any other religious texts. No other texts claiming divine inspiration contain accurate predictions of future events. That would too easily show them up to be false. However, the bible does this all the time and not one of it’s thousands of prophecies have proven to be false.

Evidence is not enough

The bible is both externally and internally consistent, and yet people still don’t believe it. What we find, however, is that people’s lack of belief in the bible is not actually a matter of evidence, but a matter of the heart. People choose not to believe the bible because they actually don’t want to. Jesus warned us of this time and again, and all the hostility that the bible has faced over the ages is exactly what you’d expect of a book that challenges us to change our lives and surrender to God’s rule.

But even more than believing the bible is factually true, how do we know that it is what it claims to be, that is, the word of God?

For that, the following words of Paul are helpful, from 1 Corinthians 2…

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

What Paul is saying is that the same Spirit that inspired him and the other writers to record words from God in history, is the Spirit who, today, inspires readers to accept those words as God’s. Therefore, without a person first coming into contact with God himself, they will never recognize the bible as God’s word to them. The way that a person comes into contact with God is through his ultimate revelation, his son Jesus Christ. This is who the whole bible is in fact talking about, and all who come to trust and follow Jesus throughout history have recognized the bible we have today to be the true word of God.

So, how will you know whether God is in the bible or not? Well, how do you know that I live in the house that I claim to live in? The only way is to come visit, and see for yourself. Likewise, the only way you will know for sure that the bible is truly your Creator’s word to you is if you open it and read it for yourself. For help in this, see Discover God’s Word.

Categories: Tough Questions...

About Nick

Nick is the Pastor of St Mark's church in Plumstead, a suburb of Cape Town.