As a College-educated Young Adult, I Had a Problem with the Bible
I did not see it as relevant or reliable.
It was hard for me to accept the Bible's teachings as trustworthy when I was not sure it was God's Word.
Actually, I wasn't convinced a book that old could be relevant today… until it dawned on me the human heart had the same struggles in my generation that it had two thousand years ago.
Technology, science, medicine, and travel had improved by leaps and bounds since the Bible was written. But the human heart? Had it gotten any better?
Since the Bible addressed the issues of the heart, and everyone has issues, including me, I began to realize how the Bible was relevant in every generation.
But was it reliable?
It's Normal to Be Skeptical
Above is a brief video recorded in a Bible class. In it, I share how I was skeptical of the Bible's inspiration… until I read the New Testament for myself.
One proof of the Bible's authenticity is the effect it has on people as they read it. Scripture has the “ring of truth” and bears witness in the conscience.
God knows how to speak words that penetrate us.
Hebrews 4:12–13 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Forming an Honest Opinion
It's impossible to have an honest opinion about a book you've never read. That's like having an opinion about a movie or TV show you've never seen.
Maybe you've had people tell you how great a certain movie was. However, when you saw it, you disagreed. Others may have told you they didn't like a certain film which you loved.
Likewise, not everything you hear from others about God and the Bible is accurate. So, it's important to read the Bible for yourself and form your own opinion.
Start in the New Testament with the Book of John. It's about forty pages, and you will learn who Jesus is, what He said, and some things He did.
So, how do we know if the Bible is reliable?
1. The Bible Declares Itself Inspired by God
The Bible claims to be the reliable words of God inspired by the Holy Spirit through Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets.
John 12:46–50 "I [Jesus] have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Jesus speaking.)
2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [literally, All Scripture is God-breathed], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:20–21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
See also Numbers 23:19, Deuteronomy 8:3, 1 Samuel 15:29, 2 Samuel 23:2, 1 Kings 8:56, Psalm 12:6, 119:140, Proverbs 30:5, Isaiah 40:8, Luke 1:70, John 14:24, 17:17, Acts 1:16, 3:18, Hebrews 4:12
The Bible Contains the Breath of God
The Bible was not written with ordinary words, but with the words God spoke to holy men of God.
Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:4
The Apostle Paul wrote that all Scripture is inspired of God, or God-breathed.
Think about how a person speaks. First, they take a breath. Then, sounds are made as they exhale through their voice box, generating words.
Similarly, God breathes out words on His breath. The difference is that His breath is Spirit. (The meaning of the word "Spirit" is breath or wind.)
So, the breath (Spirit of the Lord) conveys the Word of God. In fact, each Word of God is a container of God's breath or Spirit.
Jesus declared His Words were Spirit and life. John 6:63 Why? Because the Spirit of life from God carried His Words forth.
So, to appreciate the Bible in its fullness, you must understand it as a book of reliable God-breathed Words.
Meditation on God's Word releases the Holy Spirit contained in that Word.
Turning Loose the Power of the Word
In the last century, men learned to split the atom and set free the tremendous energy stored inside it.
When we meditate on the Word of God, the same Holy Spirit that breathed the Word inspires understanding into us.
The Holy Spirit imparts to us the "Aha!" experience that unlocks the meaning of the verse with insight, joy, and wisdom.
When the good seed of the Word of God germinates (explodes with life) in our hearts, we receive the power that changes our lives.
2. Jesus Christ Accepted the Old Testament Scriptures as Inspired
Jesus trusted the Scripture as true and completely reliable.
Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
Matthew 19:4–5 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?"
Luke 18:31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.”
3. The Unity of the Bible Points to Its Inspiration
The Bible was written on three continents in three languages over a period of about fifteen hundred years.
Approximately forty authors contributed to its sixty-six books, including kings, priests, a shepherd, a herdsman, a general, a prime minister, a carpenter, a fisherman, a tentmaker, a physician, and a tax collector.
The writing of the Bible took place in the wilderness, in the city, in prison, and in exile.
These writings encompass the full range of human emotion, from joy to despair, from confusion and doubt to unshakeable faith.
In its records, the Bible is brutally honest about the triumphs of the faithful and the moral failures of individuals, cities, nations, and kings.
In some cases, the Bible reveals things people would never want known about themselves.
Its style embraces poetry, history, songs, romance, prophecy, law, and parables.
Yet, in all its diversity, the Bible is consistent in its unity of purpose, revealing the truth about God and His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
This is another sign of the Bible's reliability.
4. The Bible Is the Most Influential Book in History
More copies of the Bible have been printed than any other book, and it has been translated into more of the world's languages.
Men have banned, burned, hated, and criticized the Bible, yet it has survived all attacks.
This book stands alone as having the most influence on Western civilization and culture.
This alone should cause every questioning person to read the Bible for themselves and find out why so many people consider it true and reliable.
5. The Historical, Geographical, and Archaeological Evidence Support the Bible
Do you know the Bible is the best authenticated book of ancient times?
Vast amounts of historical, geographical, and archaeological evidence support its integrity and accuracy. Why is this important?
Imagine that archaeologists discovered an unknown book from Bible times.
To establish its reliability, historians would compare the archaeological, geographical, and historical references in the book to what we know is true. If the references correspond, then the book is credible in those areas.
The book of Acts, for example, describes Paul's missionary journeys through dozens of cities listed in traveling order, many of which exist presently or their ruins have been located. Acts 16:7-12
The Bible's geography is so accurate that most Bibles contain a section of maps which pinpoints for you the cities and locations referred to.
Hundreds of Geographical References and Descriptions Have Verified the Bible
The Bible has proven to be so reliable that archaeologists use it to guide their digging expeditions in the holy land.
What's more, no archaeological discovery has proven the Bible to be false.
God's written Word is a book of history describing the kingdoms of Israel, Judah, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, their rulers, and the rise and fall of nations and empires.
The Proof of Jesus' Existence
The 27 books of the New Testament are the greatest proofs of Jesus’ historical existence, and scholars have established their authenticity.
Plus, the writings of the Apostolic Fathers of the first and second centuries AD confirm and frequently quote the New Testament Scriptures.
The secular writings of Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Lucian of Samosata, and Flavius Josephus refer to a historical Jesus, as do the Dead Sea Scrolls.
If a book's historical and geographical references are accurate, then a reasonable person would assume the rest of the book is just as reliable.
6. The Manuscript Evidence for the Bible Is Overwhelming
In the above video, I compare the vast manuscript support for the Bible to the meager evidence for the writings of Plato, the accuracy of which is rarely, if ever, challenged.
There are over 25,000 complete and partial manuscripts of the New Testament, documenting the life and teachings of Jesus and His apostles.
By comparison, Wikipedia cites only four copies of Plato's works, the earliest dating to 895 A.D. (over 1200 years after he died), as well as a couple of hundred papyrus fragments.
The Old Testament Copyists Were Meticulous
The Jewish copyists who preserved the Old Testament were unbelievably accurate. When Bedouin shepherds discovered the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah the prophet in 1947, it had lain untouched in a cave for close to 2000 years.
The experts compared that scroll to the next oldest manuscript of Isaiah, which was dated to 1000 A. D. Amazingly, the two manuscripts were in remarkable agreement—after 1000 years of hand copying!
This find verified the incredible accuracy of the Jewish scribes, who counted all the letters as they made copies to make sure they didn't add to or subtract even one letter from the original.
The Bible we have received is the best documented book of ancient times, and we have every reason to believe that the copies we have today accurately and reliably reflect the original text .
Did Anyone Rewrite the Bible in the Dark Ages?
When I was a teenager, some of my friends discredited the Bible by stating (without proof) that men rewrote it in the dark ages.
Not knowing what might have happened centuries ago, these rumors made me question the Bible's truthfulness.
However, when I did a little research, I found those notions completely false.
Consider the enormity of the problem of rewriting any passage of the Bible at any point in history.
First, whoever wished to make the changes would have to recall all the existing manuscripts from around the world, rewrite the passages in several languages, and redistribute the changed versions with no one knowing or objecting.
Clearly, this would be impossible.
And if those doing the rewriting did not change all the manuscripts, they would create glaring discrepancies between the changed copies and the older copies.
Instead of disparities, the evidence reveals that the manuscripts of the Bible, whether complete or partial, are in overwhelming agreement.
What About All These Translations?
Originally, the Bible existed as the thoughts and words of God in His native language, if He has one. (He speaks all languages and could have His own.)
Then, He spoke to men inspired by the Holy Spirit in Hebrew and Greek, the two major languages of the original Bible manuscripts. (There is a small portion in Aramaic.)
Finally, the Bible has been translated from Hebrew and Greek into many of the languages of the world.
In English, for example, there are multiple translations called "versions" of the Bible. We have, for example, The New King James Version, The New International Version, or The New Living Version.
Think about this. You are the same person inside, even though you may wear different clothes every day. It's the same with translations of the Bible. Each version dresses the same content in slightly different words.
And there are reasons for the differences based on the editorial guidelines for the translation.
Some write in formal English and others in an informal style. There are versions that employ a strict word-for-word translation, and others that use a freer, more paraphrased translation.
The important thing is for you to find a Bible that you can understand and read from it consistently.
7. The Precise Accuracy of Bible Predictions Could Only Come from an All-Knowing God
Woven throughout Scripture are many predictions of future events given by God through the prophets. Only an all-knowing God could predict the things that were fulfilled with such precision.
No holy book except the Bible has this reliable track record of predicting the future, and no human "prophet" has ever come close.
Two Examples of Amazing Predictions
For example, in 586 BC, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar captured and destroyed Jerusalem and took Israel into captivity.
However, some 100 years before this happened, Isaiah prophesied that a Persian king named Cyrus would permit Israel to return from captivity to rebuild their temple.
God identified this king as Cyrus before he was born, before the Babylonians had taken Israel captive, and before the Persians conquered Babylon. Isaiah 44:28-45:7
In another example, Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and of the state of Israel, which came to pass in 70 AD when the Roman general Titus took the city. Matthew 24:2
But 700 years before Jesus lived, the prophet Isaiah recorded that the nation of Israel would be reborn in a day.
That prophecy came to pass on May 14, 1948, when Prime Minister David Ben Gurion proclaimed the re-establishment of the state of Israel, and U. S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation. Amazing! Isaiah 66:8
The Bible is reliable.
God's Predictions Regarding the Messiah Jesus
Even more astonishing are the predictions God made about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Bible scholars have counted 48 details about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that were reliably foretold in the Old Testament.
The probability of just 17 of these prophecies coming to pass is astronomically high.
Calculating the Odds
One determines probability by multiplying the odds.
For example, suppose a prediction has a 1 in 2 chance of coming to pass and another prediction has the same 1 in 2 chance.
To calculate the probability of both happening, we multiply 1/2 times 1/2. That gives us a probability of 1/4, or a 1 in 4 chance.
The probability of flipping a coin twice in a row and getting heads both times is the same 1 in 4 chance.
How do we calculate the probability when there are 17 predictions? We multiply the odds times each other.
All Things Must Be Fulfilled
During His lifetime, Jesus knew that everything written about Him would come to pass because God's Word is reliable and cannot fail.
Luke 18:31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished."
Luke 24:25–27 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
Amazing Predictions of Jesus' Sufferings
The following material has been summarized from the book, The Signature of God, by Grant R. Jeffrey, Frontier Research Publications, Inc., Copyright 1996, pp. 163-175.
- Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem, belonging to the tribe of Judah.
Odds of being fulfilled by chance. 1 chance in 2400.
Micah 5:2, Genesis 49:10, Matthew 2:1
This is a conservative estimate, since there were over 2400 villages in Israel.
- A messenger would precede Jesus (John the Baptist).
Odds: 1 chance in 20
Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1, Matthew 3:1-2
- Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey's colt.
Odds: 1 chance in 50
Zechariah 9:9, Luke 19:35-37
- A friend would betray Jesus.
Odds: 1 chance in 10
Psalm 41:9, Matthew 26:47-48
- The hands and feet of Jesus would be pierced.
Odds: 1 chance in 100
Psalm 22:16, Luke 23:33
- His enemies would wound Jesus.
Odds: 1 chance in 10
Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 27:26
- He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.
Odds: 1 chance in 50
Zechariah 11:12, Matthew 26:15
- Jesus would be beaten and spit upon.
Odds: 1 chance in 10
Isaiah 50:6, Matthew 26:67
- The money of Jesus' betrayal would be thrown down in the Temple and used to buy a potter's field.
Odds: 1 chance in 200
Zechariah 11:13, Matthew 27:5-7
- Jesus would be silent before His accusers.
Odds: 1 chance in 100
Isaiah 53:7, Matthew 27:12-14
- Jesus would be punished and die with thieves.
Odds: 1 chance in 100
Isaiah 53:12, Matthew 27:38
- People would cast lots (gamble) for His clothing.
Odds: 1 chance in 100
Psalm 22:18, John 19:23-24
- Jesus' side would be pierced.
Odds: 1 chance in 100
Zechariah 12:10, John 19:34
- Not one of Jesus' bones would be broken.
Odds: 1 chance in 20
Psalm 34:20, John 19:33
- Jesus' body would not decay.
Odds: 1 chance in 10,000
Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:31
- They would bury Jesus in a rich man's tomb.
Odds: 1 chance in 100
Isaiah 53:9, Matthew 27:57-60
- Darkness would cover the earth at noon.
Odds: 1 chance in 1000
Amos 8:9, Matthew 27:45
The Odds Are Off the Chart
So, what is the probability of these things happening by chance?
For the first four, the probability is 1 chance in 24 million (effectively zero). After the first eight, it is 1 chance in 12 trillion.
The probability of all seventeen coming to pass is 1 chance in 480 billion x 1 billion x 1 trillion, or zero!
These things came to pass by the foreknowledge of God, not by chance.
God predicted Christ's death on the cross a thousand years before it happened (Psalm 22:14-18), before the Roman empire existed and before the Romans had adopted crucifixion as a means of punishment for criminals.
If God can know all these things in advance, He surely knows your future and can prepare you for it. Psalm 139:16
8. The Creation Story in Genesis Makes More Sense than Darwin's Theory of Evolution
The word evolution means different things to different people. Usually, it refers to change within a species (microevolution), the results of which are tested in the environment by natural selection. Observational science has abundantly confirmed this.
But molecules-to-man evolution (macroevolution) theorizes that life arose from a pond full of chemicals, something that has never been observed and has zero chance of happening.
It's easier to trust the reliability of the Bible than to believe the improbable tales of how soulless life began in a pond of chemicals.
You were made in the image of God, not in the image of a bacteria.
Click for my article on the two major flaws in the theory of evolution.
9. Millions of Changed Lives Point to the Truth of Scripture
Christianity is not the belief of a few hundred people but of billions who are convinced of God's existence and the Bible's truth and reliability.
They can each testify to how Jesus and the Bible's teachings have revolutionized their lives.
But I’ve Got Lots of Questions
Personally, I did not accept the Bible as true just because somebody else told me it was. I had to figure it out for myself.
I am more convinced today than ever that God's Word is trustworthy and true.
Many people who think for themselves are initially skeptical of the truth of Scripture. I had as many questions as anyone, maybe more than most.
While some of my searching was for the facts about the Bible, most of it centered on what would happen when I obeyed the teachings of the Bible.
In my pre-Christian life, my behavior was predictably self-centered, though I had rationalizations for what I did.
But honestly, my actions left my conscience uneasy, if not guilty and defensive.
Obeying God's Word Brought Me Peace
Later, as a Christian, I discovered that the decisions I made in obedience to the words of Jesus and the apostles brought peace to my conscience.
These new decisions were challenging because they were not the path of least resistance, but I knew I could live in peace with the consequences.
With each successive right decision, I sensed I was laying a solid foundation for a successful future, just as the man in Jesus' parable laid the foundation of his house on a rock. Matthew 7:24-27
What he built was solid enough to withstand the storm. A life of obedience to God's Word is a life without regrets that will weather adversity.
The peaceful fruit of experience points to the Bible's reliability.
So, I encourage you to ask your questions. Do the research. Follow the wisdom of the New Testament. As you do, I know you will discover in your experience, as I did, that you can trust the Bible to guide your life.
The Case for Christ
In his book, The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel details his journey from skeptic to believer. As the former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, he used his keen mind and investigative skills to sift through the evidence and get to the truth about the existence of Jesus and the reliability of the Bible. His book has become a full-length movie by the same name that you can find online.
The Bible Is Your Solid Rock Foundation
When you apply the wisdom of the Word of God to your daily life, you lay the foundation for a powerful walk with the Lord.
Guiding your life by His Word works, and it leads to blessing, growth, and increase.
Further, as you read and meditate in the Bible, you build a relationship with your heavenly Father, the most incredible personality in the universe (along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit).
Jesus wanted us to know His Father and said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3
When you experience for yourself the presence and power of God, you know beyond doubt the Bible is reliable.
Establish a Daily Bible Reading Habit
The more you expose yourself to God's Word, the more you will know in yourself that it is reliable.
May I suggest you establish a New Testament reading plan? The benefits of having a daily devotional time, if only for a few minutes, is life changing.
Paul said our lives are transformed as we renew our minds in God's Word.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
According to Peter, grace and peace are not just added but multiplied to us through the knowledge of God, including all things that pertain to life and godliness.
2 Peter 1:2–3 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
Paul taught that the way of life and peace is to become spiritually minded.
Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
You will bring a blessing on yourself as you spend time getting to know your heavenly Father through His Word.
If you are not reconciled to God as your heavenly Father and have not accepted Christ as your Savior, please see my article, Spiritually Connecting to God. You may also enjoy my candid story of encountering God as a young teenager, My First Encounter with God.