Monday, September 21, 2015

Why I trust the Bible


First, let me open by saying I cannot “prove” to you that the bible can be trusted. However, I am going to show you some evidence of why I believe the bible to be the true, inspired word of God, and why I trust it. I am going to start off with going over a little bit of the history and the transmission of the bible and how closely it has been copied over the years; then I will discuss the inspiration of the Bible from God, and lastly touch on the fact that the bible is historically accurate as far as what is mentioned in it. I will wrap all of this up by saying just how this collection of writings should impact our lives, if we believe it to be truth.

The Old Testament was written by 30 different men over a period of about 1,700 years (2100 BC – 400 BC). Now, we no longer have any of the original autographs from these men, but through looking at the old manuscript copies of these books, we can see the consistencies, and piece together what the originals most likely said.
Now, for many years the complete Old Testaments we had were based off of copies of manuscripts known as the Masoretic Texts, which were copied around A.D. 900. That means that the closest copies we had were separated by approximately 1,300 years, if not closer to 3,000 years! These manuscripts were the best witness we had of the OT until 1947 when a shepherd boy stumbled upon what we now call the Dead Sea Scrolls. Over the next 9 years the Dead Sea Scrolls were slowly discovered in 11 different caves near the Dead Sea. 200 manuscripts (in part and whole) of the Old Testament were discovered, and in those were parts of every book from the OT with the exception of Esther. The manuscripts from this discovery pushed the date of the earliest discovered manuscripts back by 1,000 years (A.D. 900-125 B.C.)! When someone compared a scroll of Isaiah for the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Masoretic Isaiah scroll (separated by a gap of 1,000 years), there was only found a 5% difference (which mostly consisted of spelling differences and clear slips of the pen). So, if manuscripts could be copied so perfectly over a 1,000 year period between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic texts, then it is probably fairly safe to assume that the Dead sea scrolls where fairly accurate copies of the originals.
So far I have only touched on the Old Testament, but now we will shift our attention to the New Testament. The New Testament was written by 10 men over about a 50 year time span (A.D. 40’s-90’s). The closest copies we have today of these 27 books have been dated to about 100-125 years after the originals were written. So, the opportunity for the copies to be messed up through years of copying is reduced tremendously by having such a small gap. In fact, some of the New Testament manuscripts copies we have may, in fact, be copies of copies of the originals! We have many more copies of the NT than we do of the OT. We currently have discovered about 5,746 manuscripts (fragments, portions, complete books and a few almost entire copies of the New Testament.  Whereas the Iliad, by Homer, only has about 643 copies, with a time gap of about 400 years.
I feel as though I have covered my first point fairly well, but what good does having accurate copies do, if the originals are not inspired by God? This then brings me to point number two: The inspiration of the Bible.
           Inspiration of the Bible means that God was responsible for overseeing the communication His Word to us, to make sure it wasn’t touched by man’s imperfections.  The Orthodox view of this is – The Bible IS the Word of God. Now, this does not apply to the copies, but rather ONLY to the originals. As for the copies, they are inspired only in as much as they perfectly mimic the originals. Many of the writers of the Bible claim the inspiration from God (2 Sam 23:2, Rev 22:18-19). “Thus says the Lord” is quoted by the Prophets over 400 times in the Old Testament alone! Not only do these men claim inspiration for themselves, but they also refer to each other’s words as “of God” (2 Peter 3:15, 1 Kings 2:3, Zech 7:12, John 10:34-35). Jesus even quotes the Old Testament as though it is from God (Matt 4:4 & 7, Acts 1:16, Matt 19:4-5, Acts 3:18 & 21, Matt 5:17-18). In 2 Peter 1:20 (NIV) it says, 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.” Peter understood that the words of the prophets were not merely their own interpretation of what God had said, but rather it was the actual Word of God.  Even Josephus, who was from Bible times and who was not inspired, saw that those who wrote the Bible was esteemed with authority,

It is true, our history has been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but
            Has not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers,
            because there has not been an exact succession of prophets since that time;


I don’t know about you, but personally if someone who lived shortly after the prophets saw that they had something different about them, then I am going to have to say that I agree.

           If I left us there, with the bible manuscripts we have today being fairly accurate to the original inspired Word of God, then what? What about physical evidence? Well, there is some of that. Historically the Bible has so much backing it up.
In Genesis 6, the Bible talks about God sending a flood on the earth, but the Bible is not the only thing that records a story of a flood. In almost every culture and country the world people have some version of a flood story. To name a few places, West Asia and Europe, Sumerian, Babylonian, Irish, Finnish, Africa, India, Central Asia/Turkestan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Polynesia, Hawaii, North America, Canari, Inca, Mapuche, and many more.
For many years people believed that the Hittites mentioned in the Bible (Gen 15:20, Exodus 3:8 & 17, Numbers 13:29…) were merely a made up people group. Yet, towards the end of the 19th century, many Hittite monuments were uncovered in Syria on the Euphrates river, proving the Bible right. 

             While working on a sewage-pipe break, some workers uncovered the Pool of  Siloam in Old Jerusalem. This is central to the account of Jesus healing a blind man from birth (John 9:1-7). And many more Archaeological finds like this have happened that    perfectly align with the Bible, making it one of the most historically accurate ancient collection of writings.

            All of these facts and evidence are merely just a portion of why I think the Bible is truth. None of these would completely convince me if it were not for the fact that God is a personal God who has given me the faith to believe that the Bible is truth. In believing the Bible is true, there are some things that I must apply to my life, and some things I must strive for.

             The first, and most obvious, is realizing that I am a sinner, and that God sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for my sins, thus making him Lord of my life; which means dying to my selfish desires, the wants of this world that do not align with the desires of God. The two main principles that come to mind are found in Matthew 22:37-40, loving God first and foremost with all you are, and loving others as yourself. Now, to keep these two, easily summed up, commands can be way harder than one might   expect. Why? Because we are naturally selfish people. James 2:10 (NIV) says, “For whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” So, we see that if we put anything in our lives above God, we are breaking what God has told us to do. But that does not mean we should not try and keep that which we have been told to do. In Ephesians 4 we are told to “put off” our old self, and old way of doing things and to “put on” the new self, which is created to be like God in holiness and    righteousness. We are told all throughout scripture to love, for “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV). We are told to in Philippians 4:8 to think on “whatever is pure, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…”. Over and over we are told things we should practice in our lives, and if I believe that the Bible is true and is from God, I am going to try and live these principles out in my life. But, I know I cannot do any of this on my own, it is only through God that I can do anything right, and I constantly mess, up, but “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV).   

            So, in short, I believe the Bible to be true because it is historically accurate, it is the inspired Word of God, and we have more historical manuscripts of it than any other book. But ultimately, it is because God has given me the faith to believe it, and so I have chosen to accept what it says and apply it to my life.