From the Bible study entitled, “Is the Bible Reliable?”, we discover that we can be confident our current copies of the Bible accurately record what was written 2,000 years ago.

  • E.g.  Dr. Norman Geisler and William Nix say: “The New Testament, then, has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book – a form that is 99.5% pure.” (A General Introduction to the Bible)
  • Matthew 5:17-18

Did these writers accurately record what they wrote?

  • Use of Primary Sources – Luke 1:1-3; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:3; Acts 2:22; John 19:35; Luke 3:1; Acts 26:24-26 are all claims to the writers’ being eyewitnesses or using firsthand information.  Therefore, the New Testament must be regarded by scholars today as a competent primary source document from the first century. (Montgomery, HC)
  • Non-Christian Writers’ Confirmation – Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Josephus, and other ancient non-Christian writers/historians confirm the facts of the New Testament
  • Early Creedal Confessions –  Luke 24:34; Romans 1:3,4; Romans 4:24,25; Romans 10:9,10; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5; Philippians 2:6-11; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Timothy 6:13; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 3:18; and 1 John 4:2 affirm Christian creedal confessions that “preserve some of the earliest reports concerning Jesus from about 30-50 A.D.  Therefore, in a real sense, the creeds preserve pre-New Testament material, and are our earliest sources for the life of Jesus.” (Habermas, VHCELJ)
  • Written within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses of Jesus –  “Standard scholarly dating, even in very liberal circles, is Mark in the 70s, Matthew and Luke in the 80s, John in the 90s.  But listen: that’s still within the lifetimes of various eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus, including hostile eyewitnesses who would have served as a corrective if false teachings about Jesus were going around…

“The two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch more than four hundred years after Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., yet historians consider them trustworthy.” (Blomberg as quoted by Strobel, CC)

  • Checks and Balances – Since the N.T. was written within the lifetime of many eyewitnesses, we have a double corrective to ensure reliability.  On one hand, the N.T. writers wanted to safeguard against Jews who were antagonistic to the gospel and would have gladly exposed any errors in the stories.  On the other hand, Christians, who prided themselves in honesty, would have also corrected any errors in the writings, lest they be called dishonest.
  • Variations among the Gospels – “Ironically, if the gospels had been identical to each other, word for word, this would have raised charges that the authors had conspired among themselves to coordinate their stories in advance, and that would have cast doubt on them.” (Strobel, CC)…Also, Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School says about the gospels, “There is enough of a discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them; and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction.” (Greenleaf as quoted in Strobel, CC)

What does Jesus say about the Bible?

  • OLD TESTAMENT – John 10:34-35
    • “the word of God” (John 10:35)
      • What does this phrase mean?…An example:  In O.T., “Thus says the Lord” appears hundreds of times.  When prophets say this, they are claiming that their words are the absolutely authoritative words of God.  God speaks “through” prophets (1 Kings 14:18; 16:12,34; 2 Kings 9:36; 14:25; Jer. 37:2; Zech. 7:7,12) in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey these prophets is to disbelieve or disobey God himself (Deut. 18:19; 1 Sam. 10:8; 13:13-14; 15:3,19,23; 1 Kings 20:35,36).
    • “your law” (John 10:34); “the Scripture” (John 10:35)
      • Refers to Old Testament Scriptures.  Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6 and calls it “Law”, therefore, He is referring to the whole Old Testament here.
        • Luke 24:44 – O.T. Scriptures = Law + Prophets + Psalms/Writings
        • God first wrote His words on tablets given to Moses (Exodus 31:18; 32:16; 34:1,28).  Further writing was done by Moses (see Deuteronomy 31:9-13).  This book written by Moses was then deposited by the side of the ark of the covenant (Deut. 31:24-26).  Further additions were made to this book of God’s words by authors such as Joshua (Josh. 24:26), Isaiah (Isa. 30:8), Jeremiah (Jer. 30:2; 36:2-4,27-31; 51:60), and the other Old Testament writers.
      • “the Scripture cannot be broken” (v. 35)
        • “Scripture” specifically means what is written down, and here refers to the Old Testament.
        • The only unshakable thing is the Word of God
    • Examples of Jesus treating Old Testament Scripture as God’s word
      • Mathew 4:4 – “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  “In the context of Jesus’ repeated citations from Deuteronomy to answer every temptation, the words that proceed ‘from the mouth of God’ are the written Scriptures of the Old Testament.” (Grudem, Systematic Theology)
      • Matthew 19:4-5 – Jesus quotes from Genesis 2:24 by saying that “God said” this.
      • Matthew 22:29-32 – In quoting Exodus 3:6,15 (written roughly 1,500 years ago by Moses), Jesus says this text is “what was spoken to you [Jews living at the time of Jesus] by God” (Matt. 22:31).
    • Confirmation of Apostles
      • 2 Tim. 3:16 – This word “Scripture” refers to the written Scripture in every one of its 51 occurrences in the New Testament.
        • breath = Holy Spirit; Scripture has authority because it “proceeds from its author,” the Holy Spirit  
      • 2 Peter 1:20-21 – the ultimate source of every prophecy was never man’s decision about what he wanted to write, but rather it is spoken “from God”: that is, they are God’s own words.
      • PICTURE: Psalm 12:6
        • Clay furnace = human element (see 2 Cor. 4:7)
        • Silver represents the divine message which comes through the human element
        • The purifying fire is the Holy Spirit
        • 7 is the number of the Holy Spirit and also of perfection – The Word of God comes out perfect!
      • EXAMPLES:
        • Compare Hebrews 4:7 with 3:7 – God spoke through David
        • Matthew 1:22 quotes Isaiah 7:14, saying “what the Lord had spoken by the prophet.”
        • Acts 1:16 quotes Psalms 69 and 109 as the words which “the Holy Spirit spoke…by the mouth of David.”
        • Hebrews 3:7 and 4:7 show that what David wrote was really the words of the Holy Spirit.
        • Acts 2:16-17 – Peter says, “God declares,” when he quotes the words of Joel 2:28-32
        • Acts 3:18 – Indicates that God spoke through all the writers of the Old Testament.
        • Luke 1:70; 24:25; John 5:45-47; Acts 3:18,21; 4:25; 13:47; 28:25; Romans 1:2; 3:2; 9:17; 1 Corinthians 9:8-10; Hebrews 1:1-2,6-7  
  • GOSPELS – John 14:25-26
    • The Holy Spirit is the agent by which the gospel writers remember the words and deeds of Jesus.
    • The Holy Spirit unfolds all truth: past, present and future
    • The Gospels must be included in the Scriptures that are called the Word of God.
      • 1 Timothy 5:18 – Paul quotes Luke 10:7 alongside an Old Testament passage, and calls both “Scriptures”
  • REST OF NEW TESTAMENT – John 16:12-14
    • The things that Jesus was not able to teach during His earthly ministry were to be taught later by the apostles through whom the Holy Spirit would speak.
    • Jesus trusted the Holy Spirit to reveal all further truth
    • Acts 26:14-18 – Jesus Himself commissions Paul to teach what He would reveal to him.
    • Revelation 1:19; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14 – Jesus commissions John to write what He reveals to him.
    • N.T. Confirmation
      • 2 Peter 3:15-16 – Peter says that Paul’s writings have equal authority with the Old Testament Scriptures
      • 1 Timothy 5:18 – Luke’s writings are called Scriptures
      • 1 Corinthians 14:37 – Paul understood that his writings were God’s words/commands
      • 2 Peter 3:2 – The words of the apostles are put on equal status with the Old Testament writings
      • 1 Thess. 2:13 – the apostles’ words were God’s words, not man’s words
      • Acts 2:42; 1 Thess. 5:27, and related passages indicate that the apostles’ words were to be studied and spread abroad as the very commands of God.
      • See also 1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 Thess. 4:15; Revelation 22:18-19
    • Mt. 4:4,7,10
      • First temptation is to doubt
      • “It is written” means don’t argue with what the Bible says – it says so – done deal!  This needs to be the power of dictating our life 
      • If Jesus needed Scripture to combat Satan’s lies/doubts, we do too!
      • Also, Jesus used the Bible as His Authority, not his experience
      • Eph. 6:17 – The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (the only offensive weapon, all others are defensive)
    • Mt. 5:17-18
      • “Jot” = smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet
      • “Tittle” = a little distinguishing curl
      • These are referring to the written text – it is sound
      • Also, the Bible will remain until all is fulfilled (v. 18)
    • Mt. 22:29-32
      • Jesus quoted what Moses wrote as spoken from God to the people of His day 
      • God’s Word is eternal/timeless – it is not just a history book, but a present reality: “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living
      • We cannot say, “That was only for the people at the time” – it is for us too!
    • Bible says 18 times: “That the Scripture might be fulfilled…”
    • Jesus’ whole life was known and controlled by Scripture
      • Birth
      • Life
      • Death
      • Resurrection, etc.
    • Jn. 1:14 – Jesus is the Word made flesh – He fulfills the OT prophecies, and His whole life and what he said IS the Bible
    • The Bible itself claims to be the very words of God.  We can only ultimately be convinced of this fact by the work of God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts (see 1 Cor. 2:13-14).  As we read the Bible more, we should be able to recognize that it is not the words of men, but the words of God (John 10:27).
    • Though the Holy Spirit’s testimony is the only sure way to be completely convinced of the Bible being God’s word, there are still other arguments that support this claim: its historical accuracy, internal consistency, fulfillment of prophecies hundreds of years after they were written, its influence in the course of human history, its power to change lives and lead to salvation, its literary beauty, profound teachings, and so forth.
    • What does all this mean for us?
      • John 12:48; Revelation 19:11-15 (compared with Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12) – It is God’s Word that will ultimately judge us.  Therefore, the Scriptures must become our final authority and the only basis and judge by which we build upon.  Any other foundation will not measure up to God’s standard.

For further studies on this subject: 

  • Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology,
  • Josh McDowell’s New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 
  • Derek Prince’s Spirit-Filled Believer’s Handbook, 
  • and Edward J. Young’s Thy Word Is Truth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s