Today we’re going to follow where the evidence leads as we ask: Is the Bible Believable? Before we look at the Christian view of scripture, whether you’re a believer or not, here are 4 observations we can all agree on concerning the Bible.
1. It’s old.
The oldest sections of scripture are from 1500 BC making it the oldest writings in existence. The most recent writings were around 100 AD. Even the newest parts are old.
2. It’s big.
The Bible is a big book. The Bibles we carry around are deceptively small, holding multiple columns with small type, printed on tissue paper. It’s about 800,000 words, while the average non-fiction book today is 50,000 words.
3. It’s popular.
Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it’s the best selling book in the world every year. No book has ever outsold the Bible in a single year.
4. It’s powerful.
It’s the most outlawed book ever and it just keeps going because it’s powerful. People’s lives are transformed from reading the Bible.
The Christian view of the Bible is, God wrote it.
If God wrote a book, you’d expect it to be a best seller. If this came from God, it explains everything listed above. It’s why the Bible is so powerful and survives so many attacks.
A Christian is one who believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God and it is the basis for our faith.
That’s not to say you can’t doubt the Bible as a Christian or have questions. To be a Christian means believing certain things that you can only believe if you accept that the Bible is supernaturally trustworthy. That’s the Christian view of scripture.
Let’s look at what Christ himself said about scripture. Let’s take a look at Jesus at one of his weakest, most human moments and how he responds.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” Matthew 4:1-11
When the Devil came gunning for Jesus, Jesus used scripture as His defense.
The Devil even tried to use scripture against Jesus and He wouldn’t have it. That’s why Paul called it the sword of the Spirit. We are in spiritual warfare because it’s a supernatural battle. The Bible wouldn’t have any power if it were just sayings of a man. But they’re the inspired words of God. Let’s jump a little bit forward in the text and continue to see what Jesus says about scripture.
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:1-2,17-20
It says every letter, the whole Bible is from God. The whole thing is supernatural. Every word is from the pen of God. That’s the Christian view of scripture.
Objections to the Christian View
- God or humans?
We say God wrote it, but we also know it was written over hundreds of years with 40 different human authors. Which is it? Did God write it or did humans write it?
We say both. This is where the Bible stands apart. For instance, the book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith and he says there were gold plates that no one has ever seen, except him and he learned to translate from those plates and learned the language for the purpose of translating, and then he forgot. Now set that next to the Bible where you have actual manuscripts from actual authors in the original language. So we have the human record, but what about God?
Think about a bridge. Specifically, the Brooklyn Bridge. A guy named Washington Roebling built the Brooklyn Bridge. His father came up with the plans and then died, so Washington carried it through but then he got sick, so his wife carried it through to the end.
Now we know the architect behind the bridge, but what about the people who laid the bricks? There were people who laid the stones, and the whole thing was completed during Washington Roebling’s lifetime. It was one plan that he oversaw. He oversaw the laying of every brick.
God is the architect, or author. He’s overseen it now for 3500 years now. We know this because there is the remarkable internal coherence of scripture that is impossible to explain otherwise.
For a book with multiple authors to stand, like the Bible has, there has to be one mastermind behind the whole thing. That’s how it was with the Brooklyn Bridge. It was built for horse-drawn carriages, but now it withstands semi trucks. That is a testament to the designer and the person who built it.
The Bible stands majestically and with power. All of these people cobbled something together that is so unified, written by different types of people, speaking different languages on different continents and countries at different times.
So, was it written by God or humans? The answer is: both. God built it with humans. So you might agree that God wrote the text, but humans put it together and the assembled the canon of which books are considered and which ones weren’t. That’s another popular objection:
2. Determining the canon.
How do we know we have the right books? If you have this objection it might have come from reading The DaVinci Code, a fiction book that some people believed like it was truth. The story he tells is that it was a political, a power play that some writings were included and some weren’t.
Only when some other books tried to weasel their way in did the church counsels say, these are the books that everyone has agreed on for hundreds of years, and all they did was make official what was already known. It’s overseen by God. If he can write the words, he can oversee the process of assembling it.
3. Copying and Translating.
Maybe you can see how God wrote the words and we have the right books, but your objection is that it has been copied and translated so many times, how do we even know if that’s what the original authors even wrote?
Every Bible that you have, has been translated exactly one time. It’s been translated from the original language to the language you speak. It wasn’t translated from Greek to Latin to German to English.
It has been copied. No one is claiming we have the original manuscript that each author wrote. What you have in your Bible is the same text as the page of the person who wrote it. There were 24,000 copies of this text preserved. The Bible has a paper trail unlike any kind of ancient document. How does that happen unless God is at work?
4. Parts I don’t like.
Maybe you read the Bible and there are things that contradict your basic values. So, you can’t possibly believe it’s the word of God because it says things you don’t agree with or you find offensive. The logic of this objection is, because it upsets you, it can’t possibly be true.
If the Bible really is a supernatural book, it’s not a product of any culture. It will have to contradict every culture at some point. The fact that it contradicts your cultural values doesn’t cut against it being the word of God, that proves even more so that it is in fact the word of God.
In 2004, there was a remake of a 1975 movie that was a book before that, called the Stepford Wives. It’s about these husbands that got tired of their wives arguing with them and not doing what they say, so they put chips in the back of their heads to make them perfectly sweet all the time.
People want to do that with God. People want a Stepford God.
They want him to stop saying stuff they don’t like and only say things they agree with. If you have a God that agrees with you on everything and never agues with you, you know one thing for sure, you don’t have a real God. Your god is a product of your imagination.
If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself. — Tim Keller
If you don’t believe the parts you don’t like, how can you really believe the parts you do like? The Bible says some amazing things like “you are fully forgiven, completely loved and a child of God.” But because you don’t believe the Bible as a whole, you can’t fully believe those things are true about you.
In the original version of the Stepford Wives, it was more of like a horror story. They didn’t put a chip in their heads, the husbands actually murdered their wives and made robots, instead. The husbands didn’t like their real wives so they killed them to make one that was better.
What’s the point of this gruesome illustration? It’s remarkably similar to what we and did with Jesus. We were waiting for a savior. Then, the real Savior shows up and at first we’re so excited, but then he does all this stuff that we don’t like and says all these things that make us angry. We feel cheated. This isn’t the God we signed up for. Let’s kill this Savior and maybe we can make up a better one for ourselves. That’s what happened with Jesus.
We do that today. We have the option to kill the real God and invent a God of our imaginations. If you do that, initially, this new God you make up for yourself, will have a lot more in common with you and be a lot easier to get along with than the real God. What you miss when you do that is warmth, love, relationship and salvation. The only way you get those things, is if you take Him as He is. That’s what God does with you, He takes you as you are. That’s what the Bible says, anyway.
So what do we do now? We can be under the Bible’s authority.
In the book of Nehemiah we see that the wall of the city of Jerusalem was in ruins. Their city was in ruins, their faith was in ruins and the people of God were in ruins. Nehemiah had a vision to rebuild the people of God and he knew that it started with rebuilding the wall. So he rebuilt the wall against great opposition and regathered the people. Once the people were regathered a tower was built in their midst and a scribe by the name of Ezra went up to the top of the tower.
“Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” Nehemiah 8:5-6 NIV
Now think about that for a moment. God is resurrecting the hope of his people. It would be like if the gospels were taken away from our city and all the churches were shut down and rotting and then the gospels were opened after a generation of being kept from us.
When this happened, all the people who could see Ezra stood up in honor of the word of God and then everyone praised God and there wasn’t even a message yet. It was just an honor and respect for the word of God.
When we take the Bible in our hands we don’t have to physically stand up, but we have to stand up in our hearts and recognize that it is above us and we are under its authority.
Does anyone have any thoughts from their daily devotions or from reflecting more on the message on life after death? Did anyone pick up the book “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn?
Hear the Word
Look over the message outline together.
Take some time to dig into God’s word. Read Matthew 4 & 5.
- What do you believe Jesus believed about scripture after reading those two chapters?
- Growing up, what was your family’s belief about the Bible?
- What stood out to you from the message?
- What kind of Bible do you read? (What translation? Do you read it on an app, online or a printed Bible? Is it a Study Bible? A red letter Bible?)
- Of the four objections to the Christian view of the bible, which one have you wrestled with the most, personally? Which objection do your unbelieving friends or family hold?
Tell Someone Else
Who do you need to share this message with? Is there someone you’re better equipped to have a conversation with because of this message?
Do you consider your life being under the authority of God’s word? What would that look like?