What Is the Bible?
For many people the Bible might as well be chained up and the key thrown away, just like the picture on the front. They don’t read it, they don’t study it and they definitely don’t obey it. Some may say it is the Word of God, but they definitely don’t act like it is. It’s just another dusty old book to most people. It wouldn’t matter if you threw away their Bible, they wouldn’t even notice it was missing.
I mean, think about it: If the Bible REALLY IS the “Word of God,” then how should you treat it? You should read it and study it as often as you can. You should tell others what it says. You should treasure it above every other posession you have!
For, if it is the Word of God, it would contain many things that would benefit you. It would tell you what God is like and how He has interacted with other people down through the centuries. It would tell you what God thinks about you, how He expects you to live your life and what will happen in the future, among other things. Those seem like some pretty important things to know about! What do YOU think about the Bible? What is it TO YOU?
The Bible claims about itself, to be the very words of the living God. It claims to be “inspired by God.” The Greek word translated as “inspired” literally means that “God breathed” out the Sciptures. And He did this through the “instruments” of Holy men.
If you were to play a flute or a trumpet, you would be using those instruments to create or “author” music. You wouldn’t give credit for the creation of the music to the instruments, would you? Of course not! They are simply USED, in order to create the music. In the same way, God used Holy men to write down the Scriptures. The Scriptures say exactly what God wants them to say and He has preserved them for us to read today!
Credit for the Bible doesn’t go to man (”the instrument”), but to God (the “musician”). Unfortunately, many people don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word. They make up excuses and objections to it being called, “the Word of God.” Let’s take a look at some of them.
A Game of Telephone
Some people like to accuse the Bible of being corrupt. They’ll say that it’s not trustworthy and will liken it to a game of “telephone” or “whisper down the lane.” Are you familiar with that game? Let’s say there’s a group of 50 people in the room.
The 1st person whispers a message into the 2nd person’s ear. Then the 2nd person tries their best to whisper the same message into the 3rd person’s ear. This continues until the message goes all the way around the room to the 50th person. Chances are, you won’t have the same message by the time it reaches the 50th person.
The Old Testament was originally written around 3,000-4,000 years ago and the New Testament was originally written almost 2,000 years ago. People object because of this and basically say, “Surely men have messed things up by now, right? There’s no way it could still be accurate!”
Did you catch the problem? The assumption is that God is not involved in the preservation process. These people seem to think that the Bible MAY have been accurate sometime in the past, but now it's full of errors because men have corrupted it over time.
That’s not the way preservation works! If God inspired His Word through men and used men to write His Word, why would He then allow His Word to become corrupted? Is He unable to preserve it from the corruption of man? NO. Is He unwilling to preserve it from the corruption of man? Of course not!
Of course, the people who make these objections usually can’t give you one example of the supposed corruption of God’s Word. The fact is that God HAS perserved His Word. Discoveries have been made through Archaeology proving the Bible has been accurately preserved.
The Dead Sea Scrolls: They prove that the Old Testament we have today is the same as the Old Testament from the third century before Christ. In 1947 an Arab boy found handwritten copies of every book of the Old Testament except for Esther. Only 17 differences were found between the Hebrew Masoretic text of today, and the Dead Sea scrolls. The differences were mostly punctuation. Ten of the differences were spelling, four were conjunctions, and three were different words used for light. The Dead Sea scrolls are one of the greatest archaeological finds ever, but there are others that prove the reliability of the Bible.
King David: Until 1993 there was no evidence outside the Bible that David ever existed, then a three thousand year old inscription was found mentioning David, the king of Israel.
Pontius Pilate: In 1961 a limestone block was found that bore an inscription in Latin from the first century mentioning “Pontius Pilate Prefect of Judea.”
First Century Crucifixion: Some people say crucifixion with nails never took place in the first century. In 1968 an ancient Jewish cemetery was found in Jerusalem that contained remains of men killed in the revolt of A.D. 70. One skeleton was found who died by crucifixion with nails. He still had an iron spike driven through his heel bone. The tip had been bent back toward the head, likely the result of hitting a knot in the wood.
Number of Manuscripts
The more manuscripts there are for a certain text, the more authority and security that text has. There are over 24,000 manuscripts of the New Testament alone. That’s more than any other classical ancient literature by far. The average Greek classical writer has less than twenty copies of his work still in existence. If you stack them all up, you get a pile four feet tall compared to more than a mile high for the New Testament.
It’s an embarrassment of riches with the New Testament. If someone is skeptical of the New Testament, they should be one thousand times more skeptical of any other ancient literature, but most people aren’t. Why is that?
Maybe Julius Caesar or Alexander The Great never existed. Not only does the New Testament have the most manuscripts, but it also has the earliest manuscripts. It took only decades at most for the first copy of the New Testament. Compared with hundreds (500 at least) of years for the first copy of any other classical ancient literature.
Aristotle = 5 copies/1,400 yrs.
Herodotus = 8 copies/1,300 yrs.
Thucydides = 8 copies/1,300 yrs.
Plato = 7copies/1,200yrs.
Caesar's Gallic = 9-10 copies/1,000 yrs.
Livy’s Roman History = 20 copies/1,000 yrs.
Tacitus Annals = 2 copies/1,000 yrs.
Josephus = 133 copies/800 yrs.
Pliny = 7 copies/700 yrs.
Euripides = 9 copies/500 yrs.
Homers Iliad = 643 copies/500 yrs.
New Testament = 24,000 Copies/Less than 100 yrs! The oldest and earliest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament are: Magdalen Papyrus P64 (66A.D.) and Paris Papyrus P4 (66A.D.)
What’s In & What’s Out?
Early church leaders from the first three centuries quoted the New Testament alone, more than eighty six thousand times! We could reconstruct almost the whole New Testament today just from their writings. Since the books of the Bible were written by the inspiration of God, they were “canonical” the moment they were written. God determines the canon. God’s people simply discover the canon.
Contrary to popular opinion, no book of the Bible became canonized by a church council. Church leaders weren’t “randomly picking” which books would be in the Bible and which ones wouldn’t. The church only tested the books to recognize those that were part of the canon already.
Tests of Canonicity:
- Was the book authoritative? Was the author a spokesperson for God? Did they recognize God’s voice in it?
- Was the book in conflict with the scripture already revealed in the Old or New Testament?
- Did the book lack the Prophetic element or did it have Historical inaccuracies?
- Was the book accurate in its facts, dates, and persons from its own current time?
- Was it written by a spokesperson for God, who was confirmed by an act of God, who told the truth in the power of God, and was accepted by the people of God?
Canon Key: In the same way we test the book of Mormon or the Quran today and reject them as false (1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1-3), the early church tested and rejected the many false books and forgeries that began to circulate in the second century. By the council of Carthage in 397, there was general recognition of all canonical books. The books of the Bible have passed the test, while all other “holy books” have failed the test and have therefore been rejected.
What’s REALLY Going On?
With all of this evidence for the Bible, why is the Bible still scrutinized so much? Why do so many people still distrust the Bible and reject it as unreliable? Why won't they receive the Bible as God's Word? The short answer is one word: SIN.
People love their sin! That’s the REAL reason why people scrutinize the Bible, put down the Bible, don’t read the Bible and say it’s not God’s Word. The Bible says that sin is wrong and that sinners will go to Hell if they don’t Forsake their sins, Trust in Jesus Christ and Live Holy lives.
The Bible is the TRUTH and people are not lovers of the truth. The truth exposes the lies they are believing in and walking in. John 3:20-21 says, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Do you object to the Bible, let it collect dust on your bookshelf and say it isn’t God’s Word? Have you even read the whole Bible? BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF: Isn’t the REAL REASON you don’t like the Bible because it condemns your favorite sin: having sex outside of marriage, looking at pornography, getting drunk, doing drugs, lying, stealing, homosexuality, covetousness, other religions, atheism, and idolatry (Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:8)?
Ignoring the Bible and what it says doesn't change the facts. It won’t make God go away. It won’t make Judgment Day a figment of someone’s imagination. It won’t deter God from sending sinners to Hell for all eternity.
It seems that people who want to tear apart the Bible and/or ignore the Bible are doing so because of all of the “negative” things contained in it. They seem to forget about the “good news”! Sure, God will send sinners to Hell for all eternity (see the list above), because they deserve it. Sure, God is angry with the wicked everyday (Psalm 7:11).
YET, God is also abundant in mercy! God is patient and kind toward sinners! Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” God is willing to abundantly pardon you of all your sins, if you will forsake your sins!
The Lord Jesus Christ was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life. For three years, He healed the sick, cast out demons, made the blind see, raised the dead and preached the truth to thousands of people. He laid down His life, was crucified, died, and was buried. He rose on the 3rd day, but will return to this Earth someday to judge the living and the dead. James 1:21-22 says, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Pick up the Bible today! Start reading and obeying it! www.RepentOrPerish.org