No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: reliability of the bible

Is the Bible Relevant for Today?


On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach in the senior pastor’s absence (to hear the sermon CLICK HERE).  The topic God laid on my heart to speak on was His Word.  I didn’t produce a manuscript of this sermon, and I’m going to mostly give you the basic bullet points with some explanatory material, but I encourage you to study this out for yourself and see what God reveals to you about the importance of His Word.

As Christians, we need to come to grips with the fact that the Word of God is Amazingly Wonderful and a Priceless Gift.  It is worthy of our time, study, reverence and effort to defend it.  Many people would like to dismiss the Bible as culturally irrelevant or antiquated… they’d like you to believe that there are errors or unresolvable difficulties or perceived contradictions.  But our view of Scripture is a pretty good indication of our spiritual health… You see there are a few truths about God’s Word that we need to let sink in… Understanding and believing these truths is fairly essential to the Christian life.

  • Scripture is The Word of God and because Jesus is called the Word in John 1 it can be thought of as synonymous with God.  In other Words, you cannot separate God from His Word or His Word from God… It is the primary method He has chosen to reveal His character to us (as well as all the truth we know about Him). – John 1
  • It is Beneficial and Useful to us to show us how to live life correctly. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • The Word of God is Trustworthy and Permanent – Psalm 119:89, 160
  • The Word of God brings Blessing, Joy, Peace and Fellowship with God – Psalm 119:1-8, 165

You see, God’s word is SO wonderful it cannot be summed up by calling it just a good book nor can we describe it with just one analogy.  In fact the Bible uses at least 14 different metaphors to describe Itself and each one of these tells us a little more about its benefits and uses in our lives.  Let’s briefly look at each of these… As you do, ask God to open your heart and mind to just how awesome His Word is and to reveal to you how you might better let it revolutionize your life!

The Word of God is Like:

  • A Lamp and a Light – It leads us to Christ (Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim 3:15); It reveals God’s will (Romans 12:2); It directs us in the way we should go (Psalm 119:105).
  • Bedrock – It is solid ground upon which to build our lives (Psalm 19:9, 119:98-102; Luke 6:46-48)
  • Water – It refreshes us (Psalm 19:7); It cleanses us (Eph 5:25-27); It helps us grow (Psalm 1:1-3)
  • A Warning – It reveals the consequences of sin and benefits of obedience (Psalm 19:11)
  • A Fire – It refines us by burning away unnecessary impurities (Psalm 119:9-11, 36-37; Jeremiah 23:29; 1 Peter 1:22)
  • A Hammer – It breaks the hardness of our hearts and shapes our lives (Psalm 119:75; Jeremiah 23:29)… I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that the metaphors of fire and a hammer are used in the same verse.  Think of a Blacksmith here and how he would heat up metal and then beat it into shape so that it will be more useful and valuable… God often uses affliction to do that to us, but in the end we are much shinier and more useful, are we not?
  • A Sword – It convicts us and frees us of sin  (Psalm 19:13, 119:45, 133; Hebrews 4:12); It is mighty in spiritual warfare and defending the faith (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:17).
  • A Mirror – It reveals the things in our lives that are incompatible with God’s Holiness (Psalm 19:12, 119:59; James 1:22-25)… Nobody looks in an actual mirror and sees that they are a terrible mess (hair, clothes, teeth, make-up, etc.) and then just goes on as if everything is fine!  Instead they fix what’s messed up before going to out or to work or school.
  • A Shield – It is a refuge in times of trouble that protects our lives and integrity… About 25% of the verses in Psalm 119 have to do w/ affliction and/or persecution. In fact, throughout the Bible we are told that following God will result in persecution and other troubles (cf. Rev. 1:9, 6:9, 20:4)… But where we turn for help and refuge in times of trouble reveals a lot about our character… Psalm 119:114 tells us that God (and His Word) should be our refuge and shield; and we should put our hope in His Word. (see also Psalm 119:39, 67, 71)
  • A Companion/Counselor – It gives comfort in times of need and provides wisdom, training and understanding, training (Psalm 19:7, 119:24, 92, 156; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • A Song – It permeates our hearts and minds with Joy (Psalm 119:54)… Have you ever had a great song stuck in your head and it just made your day???  This is the idea here – Get God’s Word stuck in your head!
  • Honey – It is so sweet we begin to crave it and it makes sin repugnant and bitter by comparison (Psalm 19:10, 119:103-104)
  • A Heritage – It is a valuable sign of son-ship and it is worthy to be passed on (Psalm 119:111; 2 Timothy 3:14-17)
  • A Treasure/Gold – People chase after money and what it provides with extreme intensity… In comparing His Word favorably against money, treasure, plunder and Gold, God is saying it is to be pursued and valued over everything else (Psalm 19:10, 119:72, 127, 162)

Psalm 119 is the central and longest chapter in the Bible… and it is appropriate that it is dedicated to God’s word… Perhaps this is a little symbolic of the fact that it should take a central role in our lives as well… Indeed, the Psalmist loved God’s Word so much that he took the painstaking effort to write a poem dedicated to God’s Word where he took all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and wrote eight line sections for each where each line started with that section’s letter… Okay, so, how do we know we really treasure God’s Word like the Psalmist did? By getting a tight 5-Finger grasp on it:

  • Finger 1:  Hear It – Psalm 122:1; Romans 10:17; James 1:22
  • Finger 2:  Reading and Studying It – Psalm 119:82; Acts 17:11
  • Finger 3:  Memorizing and Meditating upon It – Psalm 119:11, 15, 97-99, 148
  • Finger 4:  Obeying, Sharing and Defending It – Psalm 19:11-14, 119:13, 139; Romans 10:14-15; James 1:22; 1 Peter 3:15
  • Thumb:  Desiring it and Delighting in It – Psalm 19:8, 119… As we put fingers 1-4 into practice then the thumb should naturally follow.

So, you don’t have a 5-finger grasp on God’s Word?  Maybe you don’t desire and delight in it as much as you’d like… Well, Psalm 119 may be informative on this as well.  See, this is amazing poem is not just a pneumonic device for learning stuff about God’s Word – it is a prayer for a deeper love and appreciation of Scripture, and it’s a prayer we could all stand to pray on a more regular basis.

The Bible… Is it Historically Reliable?


For years and years skeptics have desperately attempted to disprove the Bible. Their attempts, however, have been just that: desperate… And when a person gets desperate they start throwing out a bunch of garbage hoping that something will stick… Some examples of what they claim:  The New Testament was written hundreds of years after the death of Jesus based on corrupted oral traditions and not by any eyewitnesses of the crucifixion/resurrection, there are Discrepancies in the text…from one book to another… On and on they go, but they are far from the truth.  They have so many outlandish claims against the Word of God there is no way anyone could cover them all in just one blog… so we won’t even attempt… However, from time to time we will try to give a high level response to some of the more common “claims” against the Bible.

A while back Robert posted our first piece on this topic. In this post he briefly mentioned verses where the biblical authors affirmed the authority of and usefulness of scripture… Granted, that piece necessarily contained a large amount of what could rightly be called circular logic (using what the Bible says to claim that the Bible is accurate) – we did that on purpose – If the Bible claims to be perfect and then is proven to be false, then you can chuck the whole thing out the window and every Christian should disavow their faith.

In fact, I will go so far as to say that if the Bible is definitively proven false, I will be the first in line to bail on Christianity – I am not willing to live or die for a lie!

Before any of you skeptics get all twitterpated thinking I’m fixing to have to eat my words, rest assured that I am 100% confident that I will never have to recant my faith in Jesus or the Bible that has told me about Him.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of the things that have me so securely certain of the Bible.

One of the miracles Christians point to in the confirmation of the scripture is the consistency/preservation of the message of the original texts… The Bible goes far beyond being just a theological book, it is a historical document (i.e. it is a history book)… And it is absolutely the most reliable historical document in every way that historicity of ancient documents are measured.  In other words, there is better support for the accuracy of the Bible than there is for any other ancient historical document upon which modern history books rely to inform us of antiquity.

The reliability of manuscripts are evaluated by the abundance, dating and accuracy – so let’s look at how the Bible stacks up against other ancient writings and histories!

Number of ancient manuscripts: Compare the NT and the OT manuscripts in terms of their number of surviving ancient manuscripts to other ancient works… Plato has 7, 10 copies of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, 643 copies of Homer’s works have survived… Comparatively, over 10,000 manuscripts of various OT books have been preserved… over 5,700 full ancient copies of the NT…  

Date of the manuscripts: The Dead Sea Scrolls (OT) have been dated from the 3rd century BC to the end of the 1st Century AD… the earliest NT manuscripts are dated at about 117 to 138 AD. These dates (especially for the NT) are VERY close to the events they have recorded – and the original texts from which these manuscripts were copied were first written between 50 A.D. and 90 A.D. at the latest. Specifically, the Gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which recount the historical story of Jesus) were written within 15 to 40 years of the crucifixion.  It would be no different than a veteran of WWII writing a letter or book about his experience in the war, or of a personal friend or assistant  of Ronald Reagan writing a biography about him today…  Simply put, there is reliability because the manuscripts and the actual letters themselves were written and widely circulated within one generation of Christ – had the claims been false they would have been disproven and rejected by eyewitnesses who were still living then.

How do other ancient writings compare? Other notable documents accepted as historically reliable, in comparison to the NT, have a much wider gap between their origin and the earliest surviving manuscript (i.e. there is a 734 year gap for Tacitus; 900-1100 year gap for various copies of Josephus’ histories; 1000+ year gap for Caesar’s Gallic wars; Aristotle’s works have a 1,434 year difference between their originals and the earliest manuscripts). Again, the evidence for the accuracy of the biblical texts far exceeds that of other ancient documents which are widely accepted as accurate and reliable by scholars world-wide.

Reliability of the manuscripts: For the OT manuscripts (whose extremity of ages span over nearly 1000 years) the texts compare exactly (word for word) in 95% of the verbiage… the only changes can be accounted for as spelling errors and/or pen slips. Of all the variants between the manuscripts there were only a few changes in actual words, but absolutely no changes in meaning. For the NT there is 99.9% agreement between the various manuscripts (again, this is between the thousands of various manuscripts). By way of comparison, the Iliad and the Mahbarata each have 90-95% of agreement between their small number surviving ancient transcripts (The question of textual criticism – i.e. the so-called redactions and/or changes over time to the text will be more fully explored in a later post).

In light of the overwhelming evidence in support of the accuracy and unadulterated transmissions of the original Biblical texts, I don’t plan on abandoning or doubting the biblical record any more than I plan on rejecting the majority of information I learned in my High School and Collegiate history courses (and I had A LOT of them since my second degree was a BA in secondary ed. with an emphasis in Social Studies).

Note:  For more details on the reliability of the Biblical texts, check out Josh and Sean McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter (specifically chapter 6). For one honestly trying to find answers to their general skepticism about God another good place to look is Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God.

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