Can the Bible be Trusted?

So often when I am sharing the gospel with people, they admit the real stumbling block for them in believing in the God of the Bible IS the Bible itself and its co-called authority as the Word of God.  Well, in the text that follows, I believe I can convince you that the Bible is, in fact, the infallible Word of God… without mistakes, without contradictions and can be entirely trusted.  This is from a teaching by Dr. Gary Hedrick of the Christian Jew Foundation.  Gary has a way of making his point with simplicity and logic so it just makes sense!  I have learned so much from Gary over the years and am blessed that he is now a personal friend of mine.  So enjoy!  Leslie

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The Bible is God’s written revelation of His will to humanity and its central theme is salvation through Jesus Christ.  The Bible presents not only history, but prophecy concerning real people, real places, and verifiable events that actually happened. Everything we need to know to understand our times we find in the Bible.

The Bible was written by about 40 men within about 1600 years dating from around 1500 B.C. to 100 A.D.  These men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21).  They wrote not in words of human wisdom but in words taught by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13).  The authors were kings and princes, poets and philosophers, prophets and statesmen.  Some were learned in all the arts of the times and others were unschooled fishermen. 

Other books are soon out of date, but this book spans the centuries.  The New Testament text that we have today is translated from Greek manuscripts.  I believe it was part of God’s plan that His word would be disseminated 2,000 years ago in the Greek language because Greek was the language of the common people all over the known world.  You could go anywhere in the Roman Empire – anywhere in the known world of that day – and you’d find some people speaking Latin (which was the language of the Romans), you’d find some people speaking Aramaic (which was the language of the Jews) and you’d find Jewish people in the synagogues speaking Hebrew (which was the language of the Bible).  But the language that everyone understood and that virtually everyone could speak was Greek!  It was the universal language.  Whether you were Jewish or Gentile – no matter where you were from – whatever your background, if you were alive in the first century, chances are you could understand the Greek language. 

And God’s priority in the first century was world evangelism.  He wanted the good news of Jesus the Messiah to be proclaimed to every nation, every tribe, and every tongue everywhere in the world.  So if you want to spread the Good News all over the known world as quickly as possible, what language do you choose if we’re talking about the first century?  Exactly!  Greek!

And Greek is one of the most expressive and beautiful languages ever devised by man.  For example, in English we have one word for “love.”  We use the same word whether we’re saying, “I love my wife” or “I love that lasagna” or “I love my cat.”  It’s the same word.  But the ancient Greeks had four different words for “love.”  Those cultured Greeks would have considered it vulgar to use the same words for your wife as the words you would use to say you love your cat, or you love lasagna.  What I’m saying is, it was the plan of God for the New Testament to be disseminated to the world.  So while the language that was actually spoken when these events were happening was Hebrew and its cousin Aramaic – they’re very close – the language that God used to spread the gospel was Greek.

You see, that’s God’s heart.  He wants all people – everywhere – to be able to hear the gospel and to understand it.  He wants everyone to be included.  No one should be left out just because they don’t speak the language.  So that’s what gave birth to the Greek New Testament.  It’s a beautiful collection of documents written in the most expressive language ever devised by man. 

Now, has the Bible been rewritten over and over? 

Many people believe the Bible has been rewritten so many times that we cannot trust it.  This is a common misconception. Some people think that the Bible was written in one language, translated to another language, then translated into yet another and so on until it was finally translated into the English.  The complaint is that since it was rewritten so many times in different languages throughout history, it must have become corrupted.  The “telephone” analogy is often used as an illustration.  The only problem with this analogy is that it doesn’t fit the Bible at all.  The fact is that the Bible has not been rewritten. 

Take the New Testament, for example.  The disciples of Jesus wrote the New Testament in Greek and though we do not have the original documents, we do have around 6,000 copies of the Greek manuscripts that were made very close to the time of the originals.  These various manuscripts, or copies, agree with each other to almost 100% accuracy.  Statistically, the text of the New Testament is 99.5% pure.  That means that there is only 1/2 of 1% of all the copies that do not agree with each other perfectly.  But, if you take that 1/2 of 1% and examine it, you find that the majority of the “problems” are nothing more than spelling errors and very minor word alterations. 

For example, instead of saying “Jesus”, a variation might be “Jesus Christ.”  So the actual amount of textual variation of any concern is extremely low.  Therefore, we can say that we have a remarkably accurate compilation of the original documents. 

Therefore, when we translate the Bible, we do not translate from a translation of a translation of a translation.  We translate from the original language into our language.  It is a one-step process and not a series of steps that can lead to corruption.  It is a one translation step from the original to the English or to whatever language a person needs to read it in. 

You can go down into the minutest detail everywhere and see that there is one great purpose moving through the ages:  The eternal design of the Almighty God to redeem a wrecked and ruined world through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

The numerous prophecies found in the Bible – in contrast to the scriptures of the world’s religions (which contain none), prove beyond question that there is one Almighty God, infinite in knowledge, wisdom, love, and holiness Who created this universe, and that the Bible is His infallible Word to mankind.  Therefore, no matter what any other book says, whether religious or scientific, if it contradicts the Bible, it is wrong. 

But let me tell you what makes the Bible so amazing. 

The Bible is amazing first of all because there was never any committee appointed to write it.  It just happened!  No one ever sat down with a group of scribes and said, “Okay you guys.  We’re going to put together the greatest book the world has ever seen.  It will include the most profound statements in the fields of philosophy and science.  It will include the most sublime poetry ever penned.  It will provide invaluable data for historians describing events that span thousands of years.  We’re going to use 40 different writers – most of whom never knew each other – and they’re going to write 66 different books.  And when we put them all together, everything will fit perfectly.  The teachings will be consistent and there will be no contradictions.” 

You see, no one ever set out to do that!  And yet that’s exactly what happened!  The Bible was written on two continents in countries hundreds of miles apart.  One man wrote one part of the Bible in Syria.  Another man wrote a part in Arabia.  A third man wrote another portion in Italy and in Greece.  They wrote in the desert of Sinai, in the wilderness of Judea, in the cave of Adulam, in the public prison in Rome, on the Island of Patmos, and by the rivers of Babylon.  The Bible was written in 3 languages:  Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  Some biblical writers wrote hundreds of years before or after other writers.  The first part of the Bible was written 1500 years before the man who wrote the last part was even born. 

And yet, when it’s all put together, we have the greatest Book ever known to mankind!

Now here’s what you can do as an experiment.  Enlist 40 different writers from all over the world to help you.  Make sure they live in different countries and different cultures and know different languages.  Make sure most of them don’t even know each other.  Then tell each one of those 40 writers to write a short book.  It can be about anything.  It can be an allegory, it can be proverbs or a story.  Or it can be letters written to someone else.  Or it can be history or philosophy or apocalyptic literature.  Whatever!  And then turn them loose for about a year and let them do their work and then at the end of the year have everyone send in their manuscript.  Put those 40 manuscripts together, bind them together in one big book and then just sit down and read that book.  See if it makes any sense.  See if there’s any continuity… any logical progression of thought.  See if any specific themes are developed throughout the book.  You know what you’ll find?  You have a royal mess!  You’ll have a book that doesn’t make any sense!

And then compare that to the Bible with its 66 books that reads like one book.  Here you have these 66 books written by 40 different men who lived 100’s of miles apart,  spoke different languages,  lived over a period of some 1500 years and yet when you put them all together and bind all of these 66 books into one volume, which we call the Bible,  it reads like one unified book.  I mean, it makes sense!

In fact, there are certain themes that bind the whole thing together.  One unifying theme that starts in the Book of Genesis and weaves its way through the fabric of the entire Bible all the way to the Book of Revelation and that is the theme of redemption.  And that one unifying theme centers around the person and work of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ!

More proof of the Bible’s authenticity, is its invincibility.  No other book in the history of the world has had so many powerful enemies who have unleashed so many attacks on it.  In the days of the Roman Empire, the Emperor Dioclesan burned so many Bibles and killed so many Christians he actually thought he had succeeded in wiping out the Christian faith.  He had a marker erected in Rome with a Latin inscription: 
Extinte Nomine Cristiorium” which means, “The name of the Christian has been destroyed”.  But guess what!  Dioclesan was wrong!  That was almost 2000 years ago and there are more followers of the Jesus today than ever before in history. 

But the final characteristic of the Bible that makes it unique and sets it apart from all other books is probably the most amazing characteristic of all.  Not its history, its unity or its invincibility but the final characteristic is the one that shows how we can make sense out of events that are happening in our world today through Bible prophecy. 

Now, if you’re one of those people who say, “Oh, I’m just not into prophecy,” well, you’ve got to rip out 2/3 of the pages in your Bible.  Just get rid of two-thirds of your Bible.  And I don’t think you want to do that, because if God put the Bible together – and we believe He did – there must be a reason why two-thirds of it is prophetic.  So if we ignore prophecy, we are defeating ourselves because only when we understand God’s prophetic plan, can we begin to make sense out of the things that are happening around us.  Why?  Because it’s all part of the plan.

What plan?  Well, it’s a plan designed to make everything right that went wrong in the Garden of Eden.  It’s a plan designed to fix what’s wrong with our world.  And the first step toward fixing what’s wrong is for the Messiah to come and take charge.  When He comes He will establish His millennial kingdom and then after 1000 years there’s a transition into something the Bible calls, “the new heaven and the new earth.”  It will be a place unlike anything this world has ever known.  It will be a world of peace, plenty and prosperity.  There will be no war, no more death, no more disease, no more suffering, and no more crying.  You see, that’s the objective.  That’s where all of this is going.  Yes, the process is painful.  Yes, it’s difficult.  But when we come out on the other side, this will be a new world under the rulership of Jesus.  [Excerpt from a teaching by Dr. Gary Hedrick, President of the Christian Jew Foundation (www.cjfm.org)]

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