IS THE BIBLE REALLY RELIABLE FOR THE TIMES WE LIVE IN?
The Bible is unarguably an incredible book. It is the best-selling, most quoted, most published, most circulated, most translated, most influential book in the history of mankind. There is no close second.
- How can we know that the Bible isn’t just an ancient book of fiction and folklore?
• Haven’t the contents of the Bible been tampered with down through the centuries?
• Isn’t the Bible out-of-sync with scientific discoveries?
• What makes the Bible any different than other religious books like the Quran or the Book of Mormon?
Those are questions that intelligent, critical thinking people are asking today and those are questions they have a right to ask. I think they should be asking those questions. And God’s heart for His people is that we be able to provide answers to people.
So, let’s consider some of the evidences why the Bible is indeed what it claims to be: the trustworthy Word of God—written by men yes—but men who were guided by God as they penned its words.
Over and over, the authors of the Bible rightly foretold future events (often times, hundreds of years in advance). The Bible is literally filled with hundreds of specific, detailed prophecies about persons, places, and events—many of which have already come to pass.
Consider a few of the prophecies made regarding Jesus. Long before Jesus was born, the Old Testament prophets told us a Savior was coming who would make a way for humanity to be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God.
The Old Testament prophesied this Savior would:
- be born of the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3,22:18)
• be born into the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10)
• be born into the lineage of David (2 Samuel 7:12)
• be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
• be born to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
• come while the temple was still standing Malachi 3:1
• open the eyes of the blind, unstop the ears of the deaf, and cause the lame to walk (Isaiah 35:5-6)
• be rejected by His own people (Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:7)
The Scriptures also foretold the precise time in history when He would die (Daniel 9:24-26, how He would die (Psalm 22:16-18; Isaiah 53; Zechariah 12:10), and that He would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10-12; Acts 2:27-32. These are just a few of the prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus’ life.
The Old Testament, completed 400 years before Jesus’ birth, contains more than 300 references to the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus’ life. Calculations using the science of probability on just 8 of these prophecies, have shown that the chance someone could have fulfilled them to be:
1 in 1017 – Or put another way, that is…1 in 100 Quadrillion! I’ll give you one more…
Many people who think the Bible is just a compilation of folklore and legends, overlook the fact that thousands of archaeological discoveries over the past century have verified the historical reliability of the Bible. Here are a few examples:
Until 1993, not a shred of evidence could be found anywhere outside the Bible that David, the king of Israel, ever existed and so it had become fashionable in some academic circles to dismiss the David stories as mere invention. The critics’ verdict was that David was “nothing more than a figure of religious and political mythology.” [Jeffrey Sheler, Is the Bible True? (1999), 95–96.
Well, their skepticism regarding David collapsed overnight in 1993 when a nearly 3000-year-old inscription was unearthed in Israel mentioning David the king of Israel. This was a tremendous discovery and helped to verify for the first time outside the Bible that David was an actual historical figure. In light of this discovery, Time magazine stated: The skeptics’ claim that King David never existed is now hard to defend. [Michael D. Lemonick, “Are the Bible’s Stories True? Archaeology’s Evidence,” Time Magazine, December 18, 1995] Indeed it is.
- PONTIUS PILATE – The New Testament tells us that Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea at the time of Jesus who oversaw Jesus’ trial and then sentenced Him to death by crucifixion (Matthew 27:2; Luke 3:1). Was Pilate a legendary figure? No.
In 1961, a team of Italian archaeologists were digging in Caesarea, on the shore of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea in Israel. While clearing away the sand and overgrowth from the jumbled ruins of a Roman theater, these archaeologists made an astonishing find. They uncovered a limestone block that bore an inscription in Latin dating to the early part of the first century that mentioned “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.” This inscription verifies that Pontius Pilate was an actual historical person, that he reigned in the very position ascribed to him by the Gospels, and as prefect he would have had the authority to condemn or pardon Jesus, just as the Gospel accounts report.
- FIRST-CENTURY CRUCIFIXION – Another discovery helped to verify the reality of crucifixion in Israel in the first century. According to the Bible, Jesus’ hands or wrists were nailed to the cross (John 20:25). But at one time, critics said crucifixions with nails never took place in Israel in the first century. No evidence of any crucified victim had ever been uncovered in Israel—so skeptics and scholars dismissed the Gospels’ accounts as either imagined or inaccurate. Well, critics of the Bible were shown to be wrong again in 1968. It was then that a crew of builders from the Israel Ministry of Housing working in Jerusalem accidentally discovered an ancient Jewish cemetery that contained the remains of several men who were killed during the Jewish revolt against Rome in approximately AD 70. One of the bone ossuaries contained the skeleton of a young man and an inscription of the man’s name (Yohanan Ben Ha’galgol).
What stunned the archaeologists most though was how this man died. He was put to death by crucifixion with nails. How was that determined? He still had an iron spike driven through his heel bone. The Romans typically removed the nails from their victims—iron was expensive—but apparently this nail was too difficult to remove. The tip of the nail had been bent back toward the head, likely the result of hitting a knot in the wood. And so, the soldiers left it there. And now we have solid archaeological evidence that the Romans did crucify people in Israel, in the first century, with nails—just as the Bible said.
We’re talking about an amazing book here, and yet it appears to be waning among Christians. I’ll tell you more about it this Sunday as we wrap up our series on Navigating Life. I can’t wait to see you. Don’t miss this Sunday, or you’ll miss out on an amazing Baptism service and so much more.
By His Grace,