Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
Today we’re going to talk about God’s word, the Bible, and why we can trust it to be the lamp and light we need today. The word “Bible” means Book. The greek word is “biblos.” But it’s not a lowercase ‘b’ book but a capital ‘B’ book because it’s a book like no other.
It’s the most read, the most translated, the most sold, most shoplifted, and the most talked about book in history. It’s actually made up of several books.
66 books, 1600 years, 3 languages, 3 continents, 40 writers — 1 Author & Message
If you step back and look at the Bible from simply a literary point of view, that is remarkable. How could you get that amount of people over that long a period of time, speaking Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek to have the exact same theme?
Group authorship normally doesn’t work out. You don’t see group authors on the best seller list. But the Bible’s author is God. It’s inspired, only God could have done it.
Man held the pen, but God wrote the Bible.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
These 66 books have two major divisions: The Old Testament and The New Testament. The books that make up the Bible are not in chronological order. They are grouped by the type of book they are.
The Old Testament
Law – 5 books – Genesis through Deuteronomy – It’s written by Moses. This has creation, the flood, Abraham, Moses, the ten commandments, and the law.
Historical – 12 books – Joshua through Esther – This has Israel’s history after Moses all the way to the temple being rebuilt in Jerusalem.
Poetical – 5 books – Job through Song of Solomon
Prophetical – 17 books – The prophets all lived in that historical section. There are five major, meaning that they’re long and twelve minor because they are smaller.
The Old Testament was put together by the Jews long before Jesus time. They had very strict criteria. We have the endorsement that they got it right because Jesus affirmed every section of the Old Testament.
Then, there was 400 years where no Biblical books were written. If you come from a Catholic background or another background you might have a Bible that includes the Apocrypha.
The Apocrypha are writings that happened between the end of the OT and the beginning of the NT. They weren’t considered scripture, but added on as an appendix. But, in the 1500s during the Protestant Reformation the Catholics decided to include the Apocrypha in the scriptures.
The problem is no apocryphal book was written by a prophet. None of these books were included in the Hebrew Scriptures or cited as authoritative by later Biblical writers. Jesus, who quoted from every section of Old Testament Scripture, never once quoted from the apocrypha. Neither did any of His disciples.
The New Testament
Gospels – 4 books – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – Four different accounts of Jesus life, death and resurrection.
Acts – historical record of the early church – After Jesus Ascended into heaven, churches were planted and letters were written to these churches.
Epistles – 21 books – Romans through Jude – They give us instruction and teach us how to be the church and how to live and spread the gospel while we wait for Jesus return.
Revelation – prophecy of the last days and eternity
Many have this picture in their mind that a bunch of guys got into a room and held a vote on which books they liked and which they didn’t and that’s how the New Testament was formed.
Different things have given us that impression, like The DaVinci Code. The DaVinci Code is a problem because it’s fiction, it was written to be fiction, but people take it like it’s not. The story he tells is that it was a political thing. How do we even know the right books got included?
What we actually have historically is lists from people who had nothing to do with each other, yet their lists for the New Testament books are the same. It was only when some other books tried to weasel their way in that church counsels made official what was already known – that there was only one set of books that everyone has agreed on for hundreds of years.
Three Criteria for the New Testament
1. New Testament books had to had to be written by an apostle or someone affirmed by an apostle.
That’s huge because Jesus had chosen the apostles and they understood that the disciples, and later The Apostle Paul were the ones to give us the faith.
2. It had to be accepted by the early church.
The early church, those first Christ followers, were able to affirm these letters. They were there when Jesus spoke and did these things. They heard Paul preach. They confirmed and accepted these writings and started sharing them.
3. It had to be in agreement with the rest of the books.
You couldn’t have one book say something different than the rest of the books.
Maybe you say, “I don’t know if I can trust the Bible.” Here are some reasons why you can trust the Bible.
1. It is historically accurate
Many will say it’s all made up, but history proves the Bible. It’s not just a book of great principles. It’s historically accurate. Now if you want to know if anything is historically accurate it has to pass some tests like:
- Eyewitness accounts.
Other religions, false religions, started with one person having a private dream about God, a private idea about God and sharing it with others.
Christianity isn’t some made up story that built momentum over time. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven were witnessed by many people. Those who witnessed it shared it and it spread like wildfire.
These are not hearsay stories that someone heard and wrote down. Almost all of scripture is written by people who were actually there or written by people who interviewed the people who were there.
The gospels for instance were written by people who lived and walked with Jesus. Or, in the case of the gospel of Luke, he went to investigate and interview Jesus followers. They saw and heard these things for themselves.
So that’s why the gospels align the way they do. However, they don’t say word-for-word the same thing. If they did, that would mean they weren’t true.
If you were to take four different witnesses one-by-one into a room and ask for their side of the story and all four said word-for-word the same thing you would know instantly that they had all gotten together beforehand and corroborated the story. But if you talk to each one and they all saw the same thing but maybe a different part of the event stuck out to them from their point-of-view, you would know it’s true.
The second test for historical accuracy:
- It has to be recorded and copied with extreme care.
The Jewish scribes had a standard that no one else ever has ever had to record history. They didn’t even copy word-for-word. They did it letter to letter. They had systems to make sure it was copied correctly and they weren’t afraid to throw out the whole thing if it didn’t line up.
Maybe you ask, How do we even know if that’s what the original authors even wrote?
People think that it’s a giant game of telephone. But, when a committee goes to create a Bible translation, it’s translated from the original language to the language you speak. It doesn’t get translated from Greek to Latin to German to English.
We don’t have Paul’s piece of papyri that was touched by Paul’s hand. So, how do we know the copies we have accurately reflect what the original author wrote? There’s a science to this. This is an academic field called textual criticism. These scientists study and compare the ancient manuscripts that have been copied from the original.
You might say, well people can make copying errors. Yes, they can, but 24,000 people don’t make the same error. That’s how many ancient manuscripts we have.
- The third historical test that something has to pass is archaeological confirmation.
Sites, events, people, places, and names have been found where we have dug in the Bible lands. King David’s palace. Luke will talk about a governor, we have his name. Pilot, we have an inscription with is name on it.
There are some things in scripture of a historical nature that haven’t been verified archaeologically. But there are more and more discoveries made that don’t disprove the veracity of scripture archaeologically, but bear out the veracity of scripture.
For instance, they’re still excavating areas where Biblical events happened. The Old Testament talks about a Hittite empire and many have said the Bible writers just made them up because it wasn’t anywhere else. And that was the only empire they couldn’t prove. But, in the early 1900s they dug around in Turkey and found 10,000 tablets and a 1,200 year civilization. What they found was the Hittite capitol and all their records.
It was said that the Bible can’t be true because of the sophistication with which Moses writes in the Pentateuch. Then they discovered the code of Hammurabi which was written 300 years before Moses writings and it’s one of the most sophisticated levels of writing that people didn’t believe existed.
You have Solomon who supposedly had the stables of a thousand Arabian horses and skeptics said, we’ve been digging for a lot of years, if that’s true that should be found somewhere. Then a number of years ago in Megiddo they found 1,000 plus stalls where all these horses were.
We don’t have time to go through many of the archaeological discoveries. There are over 25,000 specific places in the Old Testament alone that are verified in history.
2. The second reason it can be trusted is because it is scientifically accurate
The Bible has an answer for origin. It has an answer for how the first cell began. When Hubble discovered the universe had a beginning that of course lined up with scripture.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NIV
What we see is that creation is ordered. It’s designed. What we’ve learned about our world and living organisms at the DNA level is incredible. The complexity of living organisms doesn’t just happen by chance. There is an intelligent designer.
3. It is prophetically accurate
The Bible is predicated on a setup and a payoff. If man wrote the Bible it’s a great risk for them to fill it with things that are foretold and then have to come true. Because if anyone of the prophecies doesn’t happen it’s not reliable.
There are over 1,000 specific prophecies in scripture. They’re not generic prophecies like a team with red on its jersey will win the Super Bowl. There are over 300 specific prophecies for Jesus alone. How would the prophets know all that?
“For Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21 NIV
It takes more faith to believe the prophecies of the Bible are coincidence than to believe that God planned them.
4. It is thematically unified
There is a 1600 year span that somehow hangs together as one book. The first page and the last page use the same image as bookends.
Well couldn’t the people who wrote the later stuff read the early stuff and made it fit? In some cases no, they didn’t even have access. But even if they did have access, some of the stuff that was written doesn’t even make sense until you bring in the other parts of scripture.
If it were only one person who wrote it, that would make sense. The Quran was written by one person. The writings of Buddha. One person. As you look around at all the sacred texts from other religions, most of them are written by one person.
Some have the contributing factors of several different people. But as you read the Bible you get the symmetry of one powerful story and that is how Jesus is creating and restoring all things, from people who never met each other dealing with different issues under the influence of one God.
Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27
5. It has survived all attacks
There have been people and governments who have tried to burn Bibles and persecute and kill Bible translators. It’s supernatural work that it’s here. It’s still changing lives. No one has been able stop it. And it will change your life in Jesus name.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:24-25
6. It has transforming power
There is no cause that has done more good for the human race as a whole, in tangible ways, than God’s church following God’s word. There’s a lot of misinformation on this point. Sometimes people get away with making the absurd claim that the Church has done more harm than good.
This is laughable statement. Because where Jesus is exalted and the Church flourishes, there is inherent value of human life and caring for the handicapped and the sick and dying… Slavery and racism are intolerable… Women and children are defended and cared for… There is justice and legal systems…
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV
If you go all in on the Bible it will transform your life for the Good. Many think that the principles in this book will ruin your life. That God is out to steal the fun out of your life. Wrong. The Bible will set you free.
7. It is trusted by Jesus
Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the very words of God and predicted the New Testament to be likewise. Some Christians claim that, “The Bible contains the word of God, but it is not all the word of God.” They say, “We believe the words of Jesus, but everything else we’re not sure about…” They’ll say things like, “The Apostle Paul was writing to the cultural backdrop of his day. His words aren’t for us.”
But Jesus handpicked Matthew, Peter, Mark, John, and Paul. He inspired them to write the New Testament. Jesus believes it all. God inspired it all. The whole thing is the word of God, not just the red letters. For those who don’t trust the bible its not usually due to one of these seven reasons.
What actually happens is our feelings tell us there are things that contradict our basic values, beliefs and culture. We get offended. So, we couldn’t possibly believe it all. But, If the Bible is really God’s book and written by Him, then its not a product of any one culture. It would contradict every culture on some point. Different cultures — different points.
The fact that the Bible contradicts your personal feelings or cultural values, that doesn’t cut against it being the word of God, that proves even more so that it is indeed the word of God. If you have a God that agrees with you on everything, never agues with you, always does what you want him to do, and perfectly fits your image of what you want a God to be, you know one thing for sure… you don’t have the real God. You have a product of your imagination.
The only way to get the real God, the God who is sometimes hard to understand or sometimes calls you out is to take the Bible as it is and don’t edit. Because, if you don’t believe the parts you don’t like, how can you really believe the parts you do like?
Some people struggle to believe that God is gracious and that we can be forgiven. We want to believe we are children of God. The Bible says these things but we may struggle to believe them. This happens when people choose part of the text and slash out the rest.
This does violence to God himself, just like we did with Jesus. He came, people followed him by the thousands because he said all these wonderful things. Then he started saying some hard teachings and things that were difficult to understand, and we fell away and eventually killed him.
We have the option to do the same thing today – kill the real God and invent a God of our imaginations. If you do that, initially at least, 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. But you will miss so much if you do that. You will miss the warmth, love, relationship, and grace of the true God. You miss salvation.
The only way you get those things, is if you take Him as He is. Because, that’s what He does with you. He takes you as you are. Or at least, that’s what the Bible says.
Check back on your discussion from last week, “It’s Time To Get Together?” How do you think the challenge to, call out the best in each other, call out to God for each other and call out the truth to each other might impact your group this semester?
Hear the Word
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
Almost all Christians believe this verse is true, but were never taught the fundamentals of the Bible. How did this sermon help you in your basic understanding of the Bible?
Which of the seven reasons why the Bible can be trusted stood out to you the most?
- It is historically accurate.
- It is scientifically accurate.
- It is prophetically accurate.
- It is thematically unified.
- It has survived all attacks.
- It has transforming power.
- It is trusted by Jesus.
- What stood out to you in this message?
- Which of the seven reasons stands out to you the most?
- Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NIV) Could you point to a verse, Biblical principle or sermon that had transforming power in your life?
- The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
- Have you ever been in a discussion or argument with someone about the validity of the Bible? Was it productive? Why or why not?
- Which version of the Bible is your most favorite? Is there a study Bible or a Bible study tool that has been helpful for you that you would recommend to your group.
Tell Someone Else
With whom could you share this message? How might this change your defense of the scriptures?