Question One: How do we know the Bible is true? (Hebrews 4:12)
According to the Bible, all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Peter confirmed this when he said that those who wrote the Bible were not speaking on their own but spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Many parts of Scripture are directly attributed to God through use of phrases like This is what the Lord says (e.g., Exodus 4:22). Finally, Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament and affirmed it as being God’s Word.
Prophecies that were later fulfilled are corroboration of the accuracy of the Bible’s claim to be God’s Word. For example, the vision recorded in Daniel 7 correctly predicted the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, and the Roman Empire.
Archaeological discoveries are also important evidence of the Bible’s accuracy. For example, for many years King David was believed by some to be a fictional character. But recently a composition from a king of Syria referring to the “house of David” was discovered at Tel Dan. This writing provides tangible evidence that ancient rulers indeed recognized the dynasty of David in Judah.
Another reason for confidence in the Bible’s authenticity is its internal consistency. The Bible is actually a compilation of 66 books written over a period of 2,000 years by more than 40 different authors, and yet there is a unified message and a striking theological coherence — something that clearly speaks of God’s guidance throughout the process of writing, transmitting and assembling the biblical texts.
It is important to remember that the original Biblical documents no longer exist. We are dependent on copies, and copyists can make mistakes. However, scholars have carefully tracked the accuracy of ancient manuscripts from different centuries, and their consistency gives us good reason to be confident in the Bibles we read today. Furthermore, rigorous standards were applied to determine the canon — both by the Jews, who determined the collection of books that make up the Old Testament Scriptures, and by the early church, which decided the books to be included in the New Testament.
Question Two: Is there any “secular” evidence to support the Bible’s claims? (Psalm 119:160)
Although the Bible is not an ancient history textbook, it does report events that have been confirmed by other historical works. Consider the following examples:
- Archeological digs and ancient Assyrian records confirm the Bible’s portrayal of King Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah (2 Kings 18:13–19:37).
- Until recent excavations at Tell Mardikh uncovered tablets mentioning Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1–29), scholars dismissed the existence of both cities as a biblical legend.
- The Hittites were also considered a biblical legend until their capital and records were discovered in modern-day Turkey.
- The palace of King Sargon, an Assyrian ruler mentioned in Isaiah, was uncovered in Iraq. The events recorded in Isaiah 20 were even recorded on the palace walls.
- In 1947, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which are copies of almost the entire Old Testament) confirmed how accurately the Bible was copied from 200 BC to AD 1200.
- Greek and Jewish writers (e.g., Pliny, Tacitus and Josephus) supported the Bible’s claims that Jesus really lived, that he was executed between AD 26 and AD 36 and that he was worshiped as God.
- Many of the details of the New Testament — including facts about Pontius Pilate, the census recorded in Luke 2, the death of Agrippa I, the execution of Ananias the high priest, and the crucifixion of Jesus are also mentioned in other historical works.
Question Three: Who is God, what does he value, and how can we approach him? (Exodus 3:13–14)
The Bible doesn’t explain who God is or try to prove his divine existence. It assumes God is eternally present (Genesis 1:1) and depicts creation as a result of his divine thought and action (Genesis 1:1–2:25). God has, however, offered us a glimpse of who he is through creation (Psalm 19:1–6), his Word (Psalm 18:30–31), and especially through the incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus demonstrated God’s compassion, grace, and glory in his life, death, and resurrection. From this and from the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1–13), our awareness of God as Trinity (one God in three persons) was formed.
In addition, God revealed what he values through the Sinai covenant (Exodus 20:1–24:18). The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2–17; Deuteronomy 5:6–21) were affirmed by Jesus as a faithful summary of God’s moral values (Matthew 5:17–47), and they continue to shape social values and legal systems today. God also revealed what he values through the dietary regulations (Leviticus 11:1–47) and worship regulations (Leviticus 1:1–9:24; 16:1–34; 21:1–25:55) that were given to the ancient Israelites. Those regulations emphasized God’s holiness and his desire for his people to be holy (Leviticus 11:44). When Jesus came to earth, he taught that while actions are important, God is more concerned with the heart (Matthew 5:17–47; 15:18–20). God desires that we love him, trust him, obey him and imitate his character in our interactions with others by being compassionate, loving and forgiving.
So how can we approach such a holy God? Access to God is only through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Romans 5:1–2; Ephesians 2:13–18; 3:12). Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring [us] to God (1 Peter 3:18). Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Question Four: Why does God allow bad things to happen? (Deuteronomy 31:16–21)
No one knows the mind of God, except for God himself. He is infinite; we are finite. We are not entirely clueless about his character, however, because God speaks to us through his Word. According to the Bible, one reason bad things happen is because the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19). That’s why Jesus taught us to ask God to deliver us from the evil one when we pray (Matthew 6:13). Even in the Garden of Eden — in paradise, before Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit — Satan was already there, waiting to tempt them to disobey God (Genesis 3:1–6).
Another reason bad things happen is because people sin. The reason why God allows people to sin and be tempted to sin is not for us to know — at least for now (Deuteronomy 29:29). What we do know is that when bad things happen, we should not rage against God. To revolt against God is to fall prey to the devil. The devil is a liar (John 8:44) and wants us to believe that God is blameworthy. But the Bible says that God is light; in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). God is not the enemy; Satan is the enemy. Through his Spirit God empowers us to war against the enemy by following Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior — during good times and bad times.
Question #5 coming soon – 9/23/2019
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