The Bible claims that “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), but what’s in a claim? How do Christians know the Bible is God’s Word?
The Bible was written over a period of 1,600 years by approximately 40 people from several different walks of life. They wrote to different audiences, under different circumstances and for different reasons. They wrote in different languages, on different continents, and most of them never met. When all of their writings were assembled together, we would expect the final product to be a confusing disaster. Amazingly, the Bible is one consistent, unfolding record of God’s dealings with the human race, without a single contradiction. Pretty extraordinary, no?
The Bible is brutally honest. Are humans basically good? That’d be a big no. The Bible says the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and the people recorded in the Bible demonstrate this time and time again. King David was a murderer and an adulterer (2 Samuel 11), Jacob was a liar (Genesis 27) and Moses was a murderer (Exodus 2:11-15). Why would a group of guys, often writing about people they admired, include all of these details? Some of the writers wrote about their own shortcomings. Why didn’t they lie, or neglect to mention their mistakes? Besides, why would a group of men write a book that repeatedly shows the ugliness of the human condition? Simply put, it’s because the Bible doesn’t honor humans. The Bible points to God’s holiness. It also points to His love for mankind, although we clearly don’t deserve it.
When it comes to predicting the future, the Bible is unmatched. The Bible contains a large number of fulfilled prophecies, and some of them have been fulfilled recently. How likely is it that a bunch of guys made hundreds of successful, highly specific predictions about the distant future? I’m going with not likely.
Archaeology is the scientific study of ancient peoples, through artifacts, fossils and other remains, to understand how these ancient civilizations lived. Overall, archaeologists have a very favorable view of the Bible. Archaeologist William Albright noted “Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history” (Albright, W., The Archaeology of Palestine, rev. edition, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Pelican Books, 1960, pp.127-128). For instance, many people used to doubt Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea at the time of Jesus, ever existed. When archaeologists discovered the Pilate Stone, that all changed. The limestone block mentions the dedication of a building in honor of Tiberius Caesar Augustus by “Pontius Pilate prefect of Judea.” That said, the Bible mentions several people and events. Surely, there must be at least one definite contradiction between the Bible and archaeological finds, right? Wrong. Like professor of Hebrew and Semitic studies Keith Schoville observed “Thus far, no historical statement in the Bible has been proven false on the basis of evidence retrieved through archaeological research” (Schoville, Keith., Biblical Archaeology in Focus, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1978, p. 156). Not bad.
Curiously, most people think experimental science and the Bible aren’t compatible. This simply isn’t the case. Quite the opposite, thousands of years before the rest of the world caught on, the Bible accurately described rock erosion (Job 14:18-19), the hydrologic cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:6-7), hydrothermal vents (Job 38:16), the critical importance of blood (Leviticus 17:11), sea currents (Psalm 8:8), and living things reproducing after their kind (Genesis 1:11). On top of that, the Bible has numerous health regulations about burying the dead (Leviticus 11:24-28), quarantining (Leviticus 13:1-14:57), waste disposal (Leviticus 13:47-58) and care for wounds and bodily discharges (Leviticus 15). It takes more faith to believe the writers of the Bible knew more about medicine and science than everybody else, for thousands of years, than it does to believe the Bible is God-given.
The Bible’s consistency is unmatched, its power unrivaled and its indestructability an uncomfortable reminder for its enemies. Although it has been banned and burned, it’s by far the most well-known and widely-read book in human history. Given their persecution of Christians, if the writings of the New Testament were false, the Roman government would’ve produced the evidence. They never did. Instead, they just killed Christians. Why would those Christians die for something they made up? They wouldn’t. They died for their faith in Jesus, but why? Simply put, the message of the Bible has life-changing power, because the Bible is truly God’s Word. With this in mind, you might ask, “What’s the overall message of the Bible?”