The Bible: Why I believe the Bible
In the first of this nine-part series, I laid out that the suggested approach would be to start our conversations with a person—at their starting point and not ours.
Our starting point is always what God’s Word says. Yet to have a successful dialog with a person, it is best to begin by listening to their point of view. Ultimately though, we want to get to Jesus and the Scriptures.
Which means, at some point, it is natural for them to ask us if we believe the Bible. As we answer “yes” then the next logical question is “why?”
My answer to that question is this, the second in our nine-part series.
So, why do I, David, believe the Bible?
As followers of Jesus, it is a most important question. You are going to hear my answer as succinctly as I can write it. However, I want to suggest that as you work through my answer, you then work out your own—in your own words and drawing on other’s ideas until those ideas become ones you that you can explain.
Note, the question is not asking me to “defend it”— it is asking why do I believe the Bible? (BTW: You don’t need to defend it, as Spurgeon says, you don’t need to defend a lion, just release him.”)
Back to our Question: Why do I believe the Bible? Let’s consider three bits.
- Answers often given that do not work
- A great resource
- David’s answer
ANSWERS OFTEN GIVEN, THAT DO NOT WORK
When people are asked why they believe the Bible, they generally give two answers:
- My experience, or
- This is how I was raised.
Neither answer holds water with someone you are trying to share your faith with.
The person you are speaking with might say, “I was not raised with it (the Bible), and / or, my experience is different”.
There are many reasons these answers fall short. We can quickly look at the answer of “experience”.
All sorts of people are using “their experience” to justify sin.
Quite simply, if experience is the arbiter of truth, a person can have a false experience – in fact isn’t this exactly what is happening around sexual relations and gender identity!
Experience as the answer won’t cut it.
Nor will, “It was how I was raised”.
A GREAT RESOURCE
A great video resource is from Voddie Bauchman. If you have a little more than one hour, you can watch it here. I would encourage you to find the time.
Here is his full answer to the question.
“I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses, they report the observance of supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin.”
His definition is really an unpacking of 2 Peter 1.
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
He does a great job in the video.
My approach is similar, but I tackle answering the question a little differently. (My doing it a little differently is an outcome of my encouragement to you above, that you work through how you answer the question—you will no doubt have a slightly different approach.)
I want to look at the hurdles any “book” seeking to assert itself as being a truthful authority must clear.
- What is its AIM? Do I know, when I am done reading it, what it was trying to accomplish?
- Is it ACCURATE in its information? Does the information it puts forward hang together, so that it consistently is moving towards its AIM?
- Is it RELIABLE, can I trust it? Let’s face it, people have used information through the ages to AIM society in the wrong direction by consistently moving people towards their AIM—but they have been wrong, even evil.
Let’s look at each of these stages.
- AIM: Any book or document saying, “follow me” needs to first tell you, its destination. Are we following it to understand and learn math? Or perhaps it proports to explain something deeper, such as love and marriage.
People often say that the Bible AIMS to answer the “WHY” question and not the “HOW” question. For example, “Why are we here, on earth?” as compared to “Exactly how did I end up here?”
I get that approach. I want to suggest something more.
The Bible has ONE Aim, and it is the deepest and highest of all aims: that we might know God, loving and glorifying Him forever.
It achieves this goal three ways:
- By God revealing Himself – who He is, what He is like, what His attitude towards us and His world is, and more. We live in a world which is offering us many different ideas about many different gods.
- By God showing us how we may truly know Him. Once we grasp an image (partial as it will be because God, in the Bible, reveals His infinite nature), how might we truly be able to know this amazing God. A person might ask, “Is this even possible?” Good question. The Bible says, He wants to know us, we can know Him, and tells us exactly how to know Him.
- Does knowing God matter for my life, on earth and in eternity? The Bible says YES! After we know of this God, and then actually know Him, His Word shows us how to live our lives in and through Him. We do this by obeying His teaching—and it leads to abundant lives.
2. ACCURACY: Accuracy simply asks the question, “How precise is the information?”
Now, here again, I don’t believe the Bible because of human proof. That is not how people of faith operate. However, what is presented below is to allow you to engage the non-believer.
Returning to the idea of accuracy, does the information in the Bible accurately deliver us to what it is AIMING for?
Let me give you a simple example.
When you are shooting an arrow at a target, are you hitting the bullseye?
Consider the bullseye that the Bible is AIMING for. Is the vast amount of material it presents hitting the target?
Let me be precise in my question. How do we know an ancient book purporting to achieve the AIM listed above is (revealing God, how we can know God, and how we are to then live) is precise? Afterall, there are a lot of ideas about “God/gods”.
We do a few things.
First, we observe that this God in the Bible is claiming to have created the world we live in. That there is no one greater than Him, and no one existed before Him. Further, that this Creator of the universe actively sustains, and even at times “breaks into” the universe He created.
God, by giving us the Bible, immediately exposes Himself to us (He is not worried). As humans we can look at our world, and look at Him and the Bible along at least two lines:
- Did God really create the universe (to be covered later), and
- Did/does God really act in our history?
It is this “historical” bit that I now turn to regards the precision and accuracy the Bible provides to achieve its AIM.
How do we evaluate if an ancient document is accurate?
- By comparing the historical events it reports to other documents and research.
- By comparing it to itself. This is a unique aspect of the Bible. Because it is made up of 66 books, written across 3 continents, by over 40 human co-authors, all spanning some 1,400 years—we can observe how wonderfully accurate it is within this diversity.
- By comparing it to its copies. For older books that are purporting historical facts, people look to see how many copies are in circulation, how close in time those copies were written as to the actual events, and if they agree.
- Beyond historical events, the Bible tells us much about humanity. We can simply compare what it says about human beings to what we observe about ourselves in the history of human experience. When we do this, we will find a refreshing presentation of humanity. There is no sugarcoating of the heroes. In fact, if you were writing propaganda, you would never portray the Bible’s main characters in the manner Scripture presents these people—they are terribly human, complete with issues and shortcomings.
Among these criteria, the Bible surpasses any other ancient text for accuracy.
3. RELIABILITY: Reliability asks two questions. Not merely if the information is accurate, it asks if it is correct. Can it be trusted? In science and engineering tests are run over and over to see if the answer comes out the same. In the world we want the bridge we drive over to work not simply once, buy for decades.
Returning to the AIM of the Bible, can I trust that it tells me about the True God? Can I trust that it tells me that this God really wants a relationship with me, and how I can have that relationship? Can I trust that this relationship has any bearing on my life and how I live it?
Can I trust it not just for one season of my life, but can I trust it for eternity?
These are huge questions.
What is the difference between accuracy and reliability? Simply, information can be accurate within its little world/sphere. We can find books that agree and are consistent.
This is what a cult does. It creates a closed world, and the controls all the information in an extremely effective and accurate manner—it just is not true.
Think of societies that have gone to the trouble of even re-writing history to convince their people of their narrative (such as Nazi Germany, or some communist countries). What they rewrite, is very consistent, very “accurate” within their view of the world.
The question is can I trust the information to be universally true?
The great news about the Bible is that it simply “puts itself out into the world” for all to see and judge. It does not live in some closed world.
Returning to the question, can I trust my life with the Bible?
Two factors bear directly on this question: physical evidence and eyewitness accounts.
Here is where the Bible offers something that very few ancient books offer.
The Bible tells the story of God engaging His world. A large part of the Bible is where God is engaging His world through a people group that He has selected to be His people – the Jewish people.
By doing so, the Bible gives us centuries of history.
Since the onset of archeology, people have been asking, “Can we find any physical evidence of these Bible stories?”
The answer is a resounding YES!
Let’s just be clear, the high bar that archeologists are looking for is evidence of those Bible stories when God, supernaturally, broke into human history, such as the Battle of Jericho.
Here is an archeological find regards this event. The article notes that at first, in the 1950’s, archeologists thought their information disproved the Bible, but after further study, in fact their work substantiated the fall of Jericho.
Have we found evidence for all the Bible? Not yet. However, time and again, new discoveries validate the Bible.
The central figure of the Bible is Jesus.
The Bible’s New Testament reports of Jesus. We have accounts, written and published by eyewitnesses, of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension—God in the flesh, Jesus, breaking into His world.
This is huge. Eyewitnesses of Jesus wrote about him during a time when other eyewitnesses lived. During this period not everyone was a follower of Jesus. There were people staunchly opposed to him.
Look at that statement again and think about our world. If you or I publish something and say, “This factually took place, if it did not, or if there were people staunchly opposed, the world would erupt.
In our own day we see this happen. Regrettably, some people are saying the Holocaust did not happen. In history that horrific chapter took place not very long ago, some 80 years. Thankfully many are speaking up to ensure we do not forget this atrocity.
The point is that there is chatter back and forth—and there was during Jesus’ day—just not about Him!
The Gospels, in their day, were not refuted. Not only were they not refuted, Jesus is reported in non-biblical historical documents, as the Jewish Messiah!
The Bible, in all its manuscripts, is a wildly reliable ancient document.
The Bible, more than any book in the history of the world, delivers on its AIM by providing an ACCURATE and RELIABLE account – with God revealing himself, communicating His love for us, providing a way for us to not only connect to Him, but have Him indwell us, all the while as we live in and through Him.
As you read this you might be thinking, “But David, you just scratched the surface, what about the Inspiration of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and more…”
You, my fellow brother and sister, are absolutely right—the is so much more. And I would love to write more, yet I am concerned that would dilute my aim.
I have tried to take an approach that I use to engage a non-believer on their ground (by the way, God owns all the ground).
Imagine if you start your conversation with them beginning first the AIM of the Bible and got them to at least acknowledge that is how you understand the Bible’s purpose.
Then you go to its historical accuracy (you could even show them archeological links).
Then you go to its reliability.
You have avoided all the current social issues of the day, and simply begun to de-construct the lies they have been told about “this book”.
You’ve gained an entrance in to simply ask, “Would you like to read the Bible together?”
That would be huge.
History is replete with people who read the Bible to prove it wrong, only to be won to Christ.
All of what I wrote above was aimed at winning the opportunity for them to read God’s Word.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.