In a post-truth world, so many people are wondering if the Bible is still the infallible word of God? How do we know the Bible is true? What evidence is there to suggest that Scripture’s claims of who Jesus is are accurate? Was Jesus just a historical figure – or is truly the Son of God?
A significant part of the Christian faith is believing that the Bible is the Word of God, His divinely inspired message to us as followers of Jesus. The Bible was written by more than 40 different authors spanning over 1,500 years, but is it just a great collection of writings and stories – or is it truly the Word of God? Most importantly, if the Bible isn’t reliable, then what does that tell us about the Gospel and who Jesus is?
The good news is that we don’t have to rely on just hearsay or have a blind faith to know the Bible is trustworthy. The Bible is uniquely positioned to defend itself with internal and external factors that support its veracity.
The truth of the Bible can be verified with three key components that create the acronym MAP: Manuscripts, Archaeology, and Prophecies. Over these next few minutes, we will explore each of these three factors that confirm the Bible is the most reliable ancient document in history. Even more, we will help confirm that the Bible is the word of God that can actively guide our faith today and into the future.
There is more manuscript evidence to support the accuracy of the Bible’s origins than any other document in history. According to the Institute for Creation Research, “[t]here are some 25,000 early manuscripts in existence, almost 6,000 of which (many being only recognizable fragments) are Greek texts and the others being early translations of the Greek New Testament.”
The early Christian community, which we now know to be the Church, took abundant precautions when it came to copying the exact words of Scripture into future manuscripts. As the Gospel spread around the world, there was some risk of manuscript variations from community to community. Thankfully, God raised up different people throughout history to verify and preserve the accuracy of Scripture through different language translations.
The Masorite community faithfully compiled one of the largest collections of early manuscripts around the sixth century AD to recreate the entire Old and New Testament from the earliest written documents. The Masorite text accurately reflected previous completed manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch (400 B.C.), the Septuagint Greek (280 B.C.), the Dead Sea Scrolls (circa 0 A.D.), and the Latin Vulgate (400 A.D.)
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves around Qumran by a nomadic shepherd community in 1947. These are arguably the greatest evidence of fully intact manuscripts dating back to around 0 A.D. A copy of the full book of Isaiah was discovered inside the Dead Sea Scrolls along with 980 other scrolls or manuscripts in the Qumran caves. The accuracy between the Dead Sea Scrolls and our copy of the Scriptures today is impressive.
There have been several key discoveries through biblical archaeology that confirm the Bible is true and reliable. These include the Tel Dan description that confirms the Assyrian army’s invasion of the kingdom of Israel around 722 B.C. The inscription on the Tel Dan artifact references the house of David with the ancient city of Bethlehem.
Gabriel Barkay, a highly regarded Israeli archaeologist, discovered two silver scrolls now known as the Ketef Hinnom inside a burial cave southwest of Jerusalem. Barkay and his team carefully unrolled the scrolls to find that the inscriptions were of the priestly benediction in Numbers 6. The Ketef Hinnom scrolls are the earliest known records of the ancient text of Numbers 6.
These are only two of the thousands of instances where archaeological discoveries confirm the words of Scripture. As more evidence surfaces with each new dig, we can confidently conclude that the stories of Scripture are rooted in history, not fantasy. Nowhere is that more evident that in the land of Israel. If you’re planning on visiting Israel any time, one of the best resources that details archaeological findings and brings the Bible to life is “Prepare for Israel” by Josh Weidmann. You will enjoy in-depth analysis of any of the most famous and even lesser-known places around ancient Israel and their direct ties to Scripture.
The Bible contains around 2,500 different prophecies that predict future events or situations and as many as 2,000 of those prophecies are already fulfilled without error. We can trace prophecies throughout Scripture even as far back as the ninth century BC to their exact fulfillment with amazing accuracy. The likelihood Of those already fulfilled prophecies, “Bible scholars estimate that more than 350 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
When we recognize a fulfilled prophecy in Scripture, it further cements the Bible’s reliability as an accurate source of truth. The odds that 2,000 distinct prophecies were fulfilled without any errors less than one in 10 to the 2,000th power (2,000 zeroes written after the 10!)
The remaining prophecies are directly tied to the end times and focus on specific geography, such as the temple mount, and situations involving Christ’s ultimate rule and reign here on earth.
What Does Your Experience Tell You About the Bible?
Many can ignore manuscript existence or archaeological evidence. Many more are even quick to dismiss prophetic fulfillment as ‘a lucky guess’, which is staggering with how highly improbable 2,000 prophecies could be fulfilled without error. What is still undeniable is what the message of Jesus in the Gospel continues to do in our lives.
If the stories of Scripture aren’t true, then how have millions upon millions of people radically changed because of Jesus? There’s no denying that the Gospel changes lives, but ultimately, it comes down to one question: who do you believe Jesus is? And, what does the Bible tell you about what it means to follow Jesus? These are the greatest questions you will ever ask and answer. If you’re not sure how to answer those questions, we would love to start a conversation with you.
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