The Bible is the product of the ancient nation of Israel. This collection of documents has stood the test of time. As the United States of America has its Declaration of Independence and Constitution with amendments, so Israel’s national documents began with what Moses wrote and was appended with what its subsequent prophets wrote over the ensuing centuries. What we call the Bible constituted the most treasured documents in ancient Israel’s national archives. When a nation treasures documents, what those documents mean may be debated – even hotly debated – but there is no doubt about what the documents say.
Even in America today, all the debates are about what the Declaration of Independence and Constitution mean. No one is arguing about what they say. Nations are capable of safeguarding their treasured documents in ways that go beyond what individuals and families can do. Not only do they keep the documents, but the fact that they are national treasures causes them to be read, quoted, and remembered frequently. Because knowledge about them becomes so widespread, it’s practically impossible for someone to come along and change what they say. Who’s going to believe someone who produces a version of the Declaration of Independence that begins, “When in the course of human events, it becomes desirable for a new nation to invent itself?”
Someone may object and say, “Yes, but what you’ve said so far applies only to the Old Testament documents.” Yet even the New Testamnt documents were written about a Jew, by Jews, and in fulfillment of all that had been written by Jews to that point in time. Jesus Christ was Israel’s last and greatest prophet, and apostles (simply meaning “sent ones” or “messengers”) were sent out by Him with the message of salvation for the world. This all happened when Jews were dispersed throughout and beyond the Mediterranean world. Since the apostles were traveling with their message, the documents they wrote went from one part of the known world to the other. Moreover, they were copied everywhere they went. By the time someone got around to collecting all the documents and calling them the New Testament – which was well after the apostles had passed the scene – there were copies all over the Mediterraneans world which could be compared for accuracy. Even today we have signficantly more ancient manuscripts for the New Testament documents than we do for any other ancient documents. People may debate – even hotly debate – what the Bible’s documents mean, but there’s no valid reason to doubt what they say. As ancient documents go, you don’t get more reliable than the Bible.
Recognize also that the apostles were not preaching that New Testament documents were superseding Old Testament documents. On the contrary, they weren’t even promoting a New Testment. They were simply bearing witness to a fulfillment of the Old Testament. That is, when the apostles quoted Scripture, they were quoting the Old Testament – not the New Testament. The life, death,and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth had given new meaning to the Old Testament Scriptures. This was an extremely powerful message precisely because it gave a new and fuller understanding to words that had not changed in centuries. Jesus did not abrogate the writings of Moses and the Prophets – He fulfilled them!
What kind of people were these prophets and apostles who wrote the Bible? They were people “of whom the world was not worthy” (to quote a biblical phrase). They typically suffered persecution for speaking in the name of the Lord. In the case of the apostles, history tells us that all but one died as martyrs – and in several cases by torture. Think about this: Here are people speaking and writing to us on behalf of the Lord. They are not doing it for money. They are not even doing it merely for people they know and love. They are doing it even for their persecutors. That is, with their dying breaths they testified that God loved even those who were killing them for saying so. What possible reason would the apostles have for acting this way unless they had actually seen a resurrected Man whom they were determined to not disappoint?
Some will protest that all sorts of religious fanatics, even today, are willing to die for what they believe. Such an objection overlooks two distinguishing facts about the apostles. First, the apostles were willing to die for their faith but were unwilling to kill for it. By contrast, today’s suicide bombers are murderers, and their willingness to murder themselves in the process of murdering others in no way exonerates them. The apostles did not kill themselves and they did not kill others. Second, compare the testimony of the apostles to that of religious fanatics and see that the apostles spoke as sane men, deeply in love with the human race as well as with God. Religious fanatics, by contrast, seldom demonstrate either sanity or love – and certainly not both – in their speech. Read the words of the apostles (in what we call the New Testament) and see that they are a breed apart – indeed, they truly are those “of whom the world is still not worthy.”
Since the apostles are entirely credible, what of their specific testimony about Jesus? Did these eyewitnesses say things impossible to believe? Hardly. Their testimony says God raised a man from the dead. If God can raise spring from winter every year, what is so hard for Him in raising a dead man? Moreover, their message is that we have sinned and need a Savior. That shouldn’t be hard to believe at all. Have you sinned? Why should you find it strange that the Bible says you have sinned?
The Bible says that if you confess your sins to Jesus Christ, He will forgive you. More than that, however, He will give you the power to stop sinning. He will give you His Holy Spirit who will lead and guide you through your conscience to live a better – that is, a more moral – life. Surely you can trust the Bible because it accurately describes our problem with sin and provides the prescription to deal with it. There’s no other text or authority on earth that has answers that ring so true. If we are willing to do God’s will, He will bear witness to our hearts that the Bible is true.
For more context, see this overview.
See also: Everyone Is Going to Heaven
The purpose of this blog is to provide information about Jesus to those who want to hear about Him without having to join something.