It’s reasonable and compelling to conclude that the Bible is God’s book.

MATHEMATICS PROVIDES TEST FOR RELIABILITY

In our modern world, we use mathematics to test almost everything for reliability and to express degrees of confidence. A common test method is the application of probability theory. A probability, expressed as a ratio, is the likelihood of something occurring or being true. For example, when we toss a coin, the probability is .5 (one chance out of two chances) that it will land heads up.

If we toss two coins, the probability that both coins will land heads up is derived by multiplying the probability of the first circumstance (first toss) by the probability of the second circumstance (second toss), which is: .5 x .5 = .25 (one chance in four).

If we toss three coins and four dice, the probability of getting three heads on the coins and four sixes on the dice is: .5 x .5 x .5 x .167 x .167 x .167 x .167 = .0001 (one chance in a thousand).

Thus, when presented with a number of possible circumstances, and after establishing the probability of each circumstance occurring, we can calculate with mathematical precision the probability of all circumstances occurring in unison. This mathematical test can be applied to the Bible.

HOW TO TEST BIBLE IN CASE OF DOUBT

Our objective here is to calculate the probability that the Bible could be a mere human book, written without God’s direct supernatural involvement. The probability can be calculated on the worksheet at the top of the following page.

Everyone would agree that the characteristics of the Bible discussed in Topics 20-25 are truly amazing, but people differ in their opinions of the degree to which they think it’s due to chance and the degree to which they think God directed it.

Therefore, to allow for individual differences of opinion, the reader is asked to supply his own inputs to the equation (next page) as follows:

  • Probability for #20: Review Topic 20. What do you think is the probability that, without special divine involvement, there are tens of thousands of manuscripts of the Bible but no more than 20 manuscripts of other writings from the ancient world ?
  • Probability for #21: Review Topic 21. What do you think is the probability that the Bible, without benefit of divine knowledge, could be right in everything – and wrong in nothing – in its reporting of ancient history (as now revealed by archaeology)?
  • Probability for #22: Review Topic 22. What do you think is the probability that the Bible, without God’s special protection, could survive all the attempts to destroy and discredit it over the centuries and still remain the most read book in the world today?
  • Probability for #23. Review Topic 23. What do you think is the probability that, without God’s direct involvement, the Bible could be 100% accurate in all its predictions of future events? (For this one, the decimal may be so large that it won’t fit on the work sheet. For example, one mathematician calculated that for all 333 fulfilled prophesies in the Bible to the right, and none to be wrong, it would be like spreading quarters three feet deep across the entire United States, with one coin marked and all the others unmarked, and expecting someone to make a random draw anywhere in the country and come up with the marked coin!!)
  • Probability for #24: Review Topic 24. What do you think is the probability that, without God instructing them, 40 different people on three different continents spanning over 1,500 years could write 66 books which, when combined, read as a single coordinated volume and express scientific understanding far advanced for its time?
  • Probability for #25: Review Topic 25. What do you think is the probability that, if it were not God’s prescription for our needs, the Bible could have such a powerful, universal and lasting effect in changing people’s lives?

probability graphic

TEST PROVES BIBLE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT

Everyone will use different inputs for the above test, but it really doesn’t matter because even using inputs from the most skeptical person, the test will show beyond reasonable doubt that the Bible is a supernatural book (i.e., God’s book).

For example, suppose someone used these conservative probabilities in the equation: That...

#20 could happen without God: 1 chance in 2, or .5
#21 could happen without God: 1 chance in 100, or .01
#22 could happen without God: 4 chances in 5, or .8
#23 could happen without God: 1 chance in 1,000, or .001
#24 could happen without God: 1 chance in 4, or .25
#25 could happen without God: 9 chances in 10, or .9

Putting these figures in the worksheet, the answer is .000001 – or one chance in a million – that the Bible could have been written without God’s supernatural involvement. Nothing like that can be said about any other book!

In any court of law, probabilities of this magnitude would be regarded as absolute proof that the Bible IS God’s book to man­ kind! In light of all this evidence, people who don’t believe the Bible come to that decision not on the basis of investigation but simply because they choose not to believe.

CONCLUSION ABOUT BIBLE DETERMINES DECISION PATH

Because there’s such overwhelming evidence that the Bible is God’s book, we have confidence that it’s his special message to us. It surpasses anything man could write. Thus, we can rely on it for essential and accurate information about the meaning and purpose of life.

This conclusion determines what we do next!

DECISION POINT

This discovery is a decision point. If the reader con­cludes that the Bible is just another human book, there’s little value in continuing with the remaining sections of this handbook. The reader might just-as-well go to a bookstore and select any book on religion, philosophy or self­ improvement. If the Bible is not God’s book, then no book is, and thus there’s no information from God, just human opinion.

But if the reader concludes that the Bible really is God’s message to us, he’ll be eager to learn all the important things God says in it, as summarized in the following topics.

The Bible has dramatically changed lives and shaped the course of history.

BIBLE TRANSFORMS PEOPLE’S LIVES

The most compelling reason of all for believing that the Bible is God’s book is the way it transforms lives.

People with failed dreams... suffering from broken relationships... bound by fear... addicted to bad habits... embroiled in problems... wracked by pain... find new solutions and new resources through the Bible. The Bible’s message is powerful and life-changing!

Unfortunately, most people aren’t motivated to study the Bible until they’re deep in trouble. But wise people turn to the Bible even when things are going well, thus preventing future distress.

There are thousands of self-help books which come and go, moving up the best-seller lists and then falling into oblivion. These books can be help- ful for the moment, but the problem is that they tell what we must do to make our life better. (It takes a lot of work, and we may not be able to sustain the effort!) In contrast, the Bible tells what God will do to make our life better. He does the work!

Only the Bible tells how we can get rid of our sin, which is our major problem. A person may fool others, but he can’t fool himself into believing his sin is lifted if in fact it’s still weighing him down.

Even the idea of forgiveness of sin occurs only rarely outside of Christianity. Belief in self, Muhammad, Buddha, or anyone or anything else, does not give the same genuine quality and certainty of experience that we get from complete forgiveness of sin through personal faith in Jesus Christ. (See Topics 5-6 and 53-55.)

BIBLE HAS SHAPED THE COURSE OF HISTORY

The entire world has been dramatically and positively affected by the Bible.

In America, our civil law – as well as our work ethic and social ethic – is rooted in the Bible. Our country – which we generally believe is unsurpassed by any in the world – was explicitly founded on Christian principles. Stark comparisons are evident when our society is compared with societies which don’t have Christian roots or haven’t adopted Christian principles.

The Bible sets the pattern for civilization. Even atheists acknowledge its profound effect on the course of history. No other book has influenced our world so much.

CRITICS ASK: WHAT ABOUT HYPOCRITES?

Critics of the Bible often point to people who claim to read the Bible – and live by it – but whose lives are a contradiction.

We need to remember two things: (1) Many people who say they’re Christians aren’t truly Christians, and (2) Christians aren’t perfect.

As discussed in Discovery 11, there’s a big difference between ‘cultural Christianity’ (which affects a person from the outside in) and ‘biblical Christianity’ (which affects a person from the inside out).

A true Christian – described in Topics 61-66 – has a source of inner spiritual power, providing a desire and propensity to do good, but he still has his personal will. By acts of the will, Christians can – and often do – block the power of God through their lives, with resulting behavior that is inconsistent with the ideal expressed in the Bible.

But the aberrations should not obscure the fact that, essentially, those who take the Bible seriously – and consequently accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior – enjoy and exhibit transformed lives.

ULTIMATE TEST: LIFE-CHANGE! IT WORKS!

Whenever a claim is made about the truth or power of something, it’s merely rhetoric until proven in real life. It has value only if it can make life easier or better.

The Bible, too, needs to be put to the practical test to see if it really works in real life. To learn whether or not it really works, we turn to (1) personal experience and (2) testimony of others.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. For most Christians, the convincing proof that the Bible is really God’s book is not the amazing facts reported in Topics 20-24, but rather the personal life change that comes from following what the Bible says. A person’s own experience, for him, is undeniable and irrefutable.

The Bible can easily be tested by personal experience. Topic 62 tells how to do it. A person has everything to gain and nothing to lose by studying the Bible and, with this new knowledge, placing his faith in Jesus Christ. If he doesn’t experience a transformation in his life, he can say simply that he tried it and it didn’t work. But if he experiences a transformation, he will know it came through the knowledge he received from the Bible, and thus he will have no doubt that the Bible is God’s book.

TESTIMONY OF OTHERS. The best proof of the Bible is one’s own personal experience, but the second best proof is the testimony of others.

Millions of people give clear testimony of the fact that the knowledge they’ve received from the Bible has transformed their lives. No honest investigator can dismiss the quantity and quality of this timeless and universal evidence.

The Bible is not magical, but it contains crucial information which leads to an understanding of God, and to personal faith in Jesus Christ, who can supernaturally transform a life for the better.

ILLUSTRATION:

When power chain saws were first intro­duced, a story was told about a lumberjack who bought one. He took it out of the box and started cutting. But he soon cursed the saw and put it away because it was harder and slower than his ax.

One day when a friend came to visit, the lumberjack complained about his over­rated saw. The friend examined it, then reached into the box to get the user’s manual. After reading it, he made a few adjustments and pulled the starter cord. The little engine started to roar.

‘What’s that?!’ the lumberjack exclaimed. It was then he discovered that he’d been cutting trees without using the engine! No wonder it was so hard! He didn’t know he had an unused power source for his work!

That’s incredible, and only a story, we say. But it’s not much different from the way people use their lives. There’s ample evidence that God has provided a user’s manual – the Bible – which most people don’t bother to read but without which we don’t know how to access the power.

With spiritual power, there’s wonderful and dramatic life ­change, with little self­ effort. (See Topic 53­)

Here’s a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject. 

 II Corinthians 5:17
When a person becomes a Christian, he is a new creation

Romans 6:4, Ephesians 4:22-24
A Christian lives a new life

For help, see Topic 29.

There’s amazing internal unity within the Bible.

FORTY WRITERS HARMONIZE AS ONE

Approximately 40 different people, working independently, were used by God to write the Bible (see Topic 29 for names). They came from different geographic areas, different political systems and different social situations. They came from different walks of life – including a king, farmer, shepherd, doctor, fisherman, priest, philosopher and tax collector. They ranged from educated to uneducated, from rich to poor. They lived on three different continents, spanning a period of more than 1,500 years.

Amazingly, when all of these independent writings are put together, they read as a single coordinated volume.

To get some idea of the remarkable unity of the Bible, think about what kind of a book we would get by combining the religious writings of 40 different people who, in different centuries and different countries, expressed their convictions on controversial topics. The composite of these writings would be a potpourri, and no one would regard it as a single message.

The Bible is like an orchestra playing a symphony in concert: many people playing different instruments but together producing beautiful harmony from the mind of the composer. Without the composer, who makes unity from diversity, the players would only make discordant noise.

The harmony within and among the 66 writings that comprise the Bible is evidence that the Bible is God’s book.

BIBLE REJECTED ‘SCIENTIFIC’ VIEWS OF THE DAY

Here are examples of ‘scientific’ views commonly held at the time the Bible was written:

  • EARTH PILLARS: The Egyptians, the scientists of their day, believed that the earth was supported by five giant pillars. But the Bible said God ‘suspends the earth over nothing’ (Job 26:7).
  • FLAT EARTH: Nearly everyone believed the earth was flat. But the Bible said the earth is a ‘circle’ (word then had same meaning as our ‘sphere,’ Isaiah 40:22).
  • PHYSICAL MATTER: Scientists used to believe that everything physical could be seen with the naked eye. But the Bible, recognizing molecular composition, said the ‘universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible’ (Hebrews 11:3).
  • VISUAL IMAGES: It was universally assumed that if anyone was to ‘see’ something, he had to observe it directly with his own eyes at the moment it happened. But the Bible said that when Jesus Christ returns to earth, ‘every eye will see him’ (Revelation 1:7). Until this century, critics scoffed at that statement, saying it would be impossible for people throughout the world to see a single event simultaneously, but now we know it’s possible with television.
  • GENETICS: Many – perhaps most – modern day scientists believe that man evolved as an animal over millions of years through a process of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

But the Bible said God created man and woman as a special human (not animal) creation (Genesis 1:27). Recent discoveries by scientists with newer and better instruments, through mitochondrion DNA analysis, show that all races have a common ancestor, a woman who lived thousands of years ago, leaving resilient genes carried by all of mankind. In the scientific community – as in the Bible – they call her ‘Eve.’

Science is constantly changing, and each change usually brings it closer to the Bible.

BIBLE GIVES SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD

If the Bible were merely a human book, it would no doubt express the conventional understanding of the day in which it was written. It would likely say or imply, for example, that the earth is supported by giant pillars or that the earth is flat. If it were merely a human book, it would not make statements that would be regarded as ridiculous at the time it was written (like gravity, round earth, molecular composition, television, etc.).

The fact that the Bible makes statements that were out of step with the thinking of the day – even though later proved correct – reveals that the writers were given superior knowledge of the world.

The Bible would be discredited today if it said, for example, that the world was hatched from a huge flying egg. That was the latest theory of origins held by the Egyptians in Moses’ day. Since Moses was trained in the Pharaoh’s palace, we might expect him to reflect that view, but instead, as a Bible writer, he wrote that God created the world.

In 1861, the French Academy of Science listed 51 ‘incontrovertible facts’ which supposedly proved the Bible to be wrong. But today, in light of new knowledge, no scientist would believe more than a few, if any, of those 51 statements. There are now tens of thousands of obsolete books on science which reputable scientists will no longer use. The science books have changed, but the Bible is more credible than ever.

arrogance graphic

The Bible is our primary means of getting spiritual knowledge from God.

See Topic 39­.

The Bible has been completely accurate in foretelling future events.

BIBLE TELLS ABOUT EVENTS BEFORE THEY HAPPEN

A measure of one’s knowledge is the ability to accurately predict in detail what will happen in the future. If the Bible is God’s book, we would expect that in it God would make statements about the future which prove to be correct. Furthermore, we would expect that he would not make any statements about the future which prove to be incorrect. While we expect only a percentage fulfillment in man’s predictions, we expect perfect fulfillment in God’s predictions. Therefore, our confidence in the Bible depends upon the accuracy of Bible prophecy.

The word ‘prophecy’ – used throughout the Bible – means prediction of the future with divine knowledge. In Old Testament times, before Jesus, God revealed certain knowledge of the future to prophets who spoke for him in foretelling coming events, usually warnings. For example:

More than two centuries before it happened, the prophet Isaiah said that Babylon would be overthrown by the Medes (Isaiah 13:17) and that the conqueror’s name would be Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28). That’s like someone announcing in 1717 that the U.S. will fight Germany in the 1940’s, that the U.S. will win, and that the President’s name will be Roosevelt.

The Prophet Ezekiel said that the large Babylonian city of Tyre would be scraped away so that only bare rock would remain (Ezra 26:4). About 60 years later, Alexander the Great, in a famous seven-month siege of the city, tore down its walls and buildings and with the rubble built a causeway to a nearby island. The city was literally scraped away. Today fishermen dry their nets on the bare rock site of the old city, never rebuilt, exactly as foretold in the Bible (Ezra 26:14).

ISRAEL IS EXAMPLE OF PROPHECY UNFOLDING TODAY

Every day the world’s newspapers report on the conflict between Jews and Arabs, as the Bible outlined the problem thousands of years ago. The Bible said – as diagrammed in Topic 12 – that the descendants of Israel (ancestral father of Jews) and Ishmael (ancestral father of Arabs) will live in hostility to each other (Genesis 16:11-12).

The Bible said further that the Jews would be scattered throughout the earth without a homeland of their own (Hosea 9:17). Over a thousand years after this prophecy, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and the Jews lost their land and dispersed throughout the world.

But the Bible also said that the nation of Israel would be restored (Jeremiah 31). People scoffed at this prophecy, saying it would be impossible for the weak and scattered Jews to get their land back after nearly nineteen centuries. However, in one of the most amazing political phenomena of our time, Britain and the United Nations in 1948 forced the Palestinians to surrender land to a new nation – Israel! And the furor over this highly improbable turn of events – predicted thousands of year ago in the Bible – is still in the headlines today.

ONLY GOD CAN HAVE 100% ACCURACY

There are hundreds of prophesies in the Bible – written long before the actual events – which have come true exactly as predicted. What’s even more amazing is the fact that none of the prophesies has been wrong!

If a person could make an almost infinite number of predictions, he could produce an impressive list of fulfillments. The real measure of accuracy, however, is not the number of fulfillments but rather the ratio of right predictions to wrong predictions. In foretelling future events, the Bible has been 100% right – 0% wrong – a record impossible by even the best of concerted human ability. Only God can have 100% accuracy, and therefore the Bible must be his book.

Not all Bible prophecy has been fulfilled yet. There are a considerable number of future events of enormous consequence recorded in the Bible which have not yet occurred. These future events are not cited here because they cannot yet be offered as proof for the Bible’s accuracy. Only time will prove them.

Since the Bible has been completely accurate in its predictions in the past, it’s reasonable to assume that it’ll be completely accurate in its predictions for the future. Therefore, the Bible should be regarded as both a history of the past and the master plan of the future.

every detail graphic

Here’s a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject. 

Isaiah 44:28
Cyrus (identified by name even before he was born) would be used by God to guarantee Jews’ return to Jerusalem and restoration of Temple (prophesied about 688 B.C., fulfilled 539 B.C.)

Jeremiah 25:12
Babylon would be severely punished for destroying Jerusalem and exiling Jews (prophesied about 605 B.C., fulfilled when Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.)

Jeremiah 29:10
Jews would spend 70 years in Babylon, then God would bring them back to their homeland (prophesied about 594 B.C., fulfilled in 537 B.C. when Zerubbabel lead first group of captives home)

Revelation 1:3
Prophecy is a blessing from God

For help, see Topic 29.

CORRECT IN EVERY DETAIL

The Bible consists of two parts – the Old Testament and the New Testament (see Discoveries 29, 33 and 36). The Old Testament was widely known and read by the Jewish people hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Here are some prophecies about the coming Savior

(Jesus). In each instance the prophecy was fulfilled precisely as stated in the Bible hundreds of years earlier!

Born in Bethlehem Michah 5:2 Matthew 2Z:1, Luke 2:4-7
Born to a virgin Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:18-25
Descendant of Abraham Genesis 12:1-3, 22:18 Matthew 1:1, Galatians 3:16
Descendant of Judah Genesis 49:10 Luke 3:23,33
Descendant of David II Samuel 7:12, Jeremiah 23:5 Matthew 1:1, Luke 1:32
Announced by a preacher Isaiah 40:3-5, Matthew 3:1 Matthew 3:1-3, Luke 3:3-6
Empowered by Holy Spirit Isaiah 11:12, 61:1-3 Matthew 3:16-17, Luke 4:17-21
Recognized as a prophet Deuteronomy 18:18 John 6:14, Acts 3:20-22
Healed people Isaiah 35:5-6 Matthew 9:35
Rode donkey to jubilant crowd Zechariah 9:9 John 12:12-16
Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver Zechariah 11:12-13 Matthew 26:15, 27:7-10
Silent before his accusers Isaiah 53:7 Matthew 27:12-14
Beat, mocked and spat upon Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
Hands and feet pierced Psalms 22:16 John 129:16-18, Acts 2:23
Crucified with criminals Isaiah 53:12 Mark 15:27
No bones broken Psalms 34:20 John 19:31-36
Pierced in his side Zachariah 12:10 John 19:34, 37
Lots cast for his garments Psalms 22:18 John 19:23-24
Buried among rich people Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
Resurrected Psalms 16:10, 53:10-12 Acts 2:25-29

 

The Bible has been miraculously preserved.

WITNESSES WERE KILLED FOR TELLING WHAT THEY KNEW

The New Testament writers died violent deaths for telling what they learned from Jesus. (John was the exception. He was viciously scalded with hot oil and banished to the Greek island of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation before dying of old age.)

Secular history continues beyond the Bible record and tells what happened to them: Matthew was killed with a spear. Mark was dragged to pieces before an idol. Luke was hanged from an olive tree. Paul and James were beheaded. Peter was crucified on a cross (upside down at his request because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus).

Vast numbers of Christians have been killed over the centuries in attempts to silence their testimony. Only people who are absolutely sure of the information they are giving – and the importance of that information – would sacrifice their lives to tell it. Whenever we hear someone say the Bible is only for weak people who need a crutch, we know that person doesn’t understand real Christianity.

PERSECUTION WAS SEVERE FOR EARLY CHRISTIANS

Palestine (where Jesus lived, now Israel) was a Jewish province within the Roman empire. During the first three hundred years of Christianity, Rome controlled large parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East – including present day Greece and Turkey, where the first churches were established – and the emperors severely punished people who propagated the Bible.

Ten different Roman emperors launched major attacks against the Bible and Christians. The first was under Nero in 67. In a diabolical whim, he ordered the city of Rome set on fire, and then played a musical instrument and sang while it burned for nine days. To excuse his folly, he blamed the Christians for it. He decreed extermination of the Bible and severe persecution of Christians throughout the empire. His cruelty was so great that, for public display, he burned Christians alive in wax- soaked garments on posts to light his gardens at night. And, for sport, he threw Christians to the lions in the coliseum.

There were similar persecutions by nine other Roman emperors, ending with Diocletian, who in 303 commenced to eliminate the Bible and Christians once and for all. He ordered all civil authorities to seize and destroy all Bible manuscripts and to treat all Christians as outlaws. This severe purge lasted throughout the empire for ten years. The vengeance against those known to have copies of Bible text was so great that many non-Christians had sympathy for the Christians and hatred for the emperor.

In a complete turnabout, the next emperor, Constantine, became a Christian and converted the entire Roman empire into a Christian state. The Bible flourished in this new freedom, and copies spread throughout the world.

GOVERNMENTS OFTEN FEAR BIBLE

Throughout history, rulers have frequently been afraid of the Bible, even though it teaches love of others and submission to government authority.

Fear of the Bible is not something unique to ancient history. A recent example which almost matches the Roman persecutions occurred in China during the Cultural Revolution (1966-69) when approximately 25 million Red Guards were turned loose with instructions, among other things, to rid China – a fifth of the world’s population – of all Bibles and to ‘re-educate’ all Christians, imprisoning or killing them if necessary to change their beliefs. Christians by the thousands were killed or tortured, and the Bible seemed to be essentially eradicated in China. But today the famous red book of Mao Tse-tung’s sayings – the book of the revolution – has disappeared, and the Chinese government is now printing Bibles for Christians.

And, less than a decade ago, Christians were put to death for smuggling Bibles into Russia, but today Russia is begging the Christian world to send more Bibles for use as text books in its public school systems.

In other parts of the world, however, people are still dying martyrs’ deaths for distributing the Bible and giving testimony of their Christian faith.

The Bible is still restrained to at least some degree in countries representing about one third of the world’s population. In these countries – particularly Muslim countries – the law restricts free distribution of the Bible and its message.

Restrictions usually take the form of government control over the number of Bibles that can be printed or brought into the country each year, or restrictions on who can be told the message. For example, in many countries it’s still illegal for a Christian to tell a non-Christian about his spiritual experience – regarded as ‘proselytizing’ – and those kind of conversations must be kept just within Christian families.

BIBLE HAS SURVIVED ALL ATTEMPTS TO DESTROY IT

This is a good time for the Bible because it has greater acceptance now than ever. Over the centuries, however, no book has been more hated or ridiculed than the Bible. Massive attempts have been made throughout history to destroy it.

Even time – which is usually the ultimate enemy of everything – has not destroyed the Bible, or even inflicted damage. It’s miraculous preservation is further evidence that it is God’s book.

MARTYRS

History books tell of thousands of people who have given their lives to preserve the Bible for us. The following true story helps us understand the great price they paid:

Timothy, a deacon of Mauritania, and Maura his wife, had not been united together by the bands of wedlock above three weeks, when they were separated from each other by the persecution. Timothy, being apprehended as a Christian, was carried before Arrianus, the governor of Thebais, who, knowing that he had the keeping of the Holy Scriptures, commanded him to deliver them up to be burnt; to which he answered, “Had I children, I would sooner deliver them up to be sacrificed, than part with the Word of God.”

The governor being much incensed at this reply, ordered his eyes to be put out, with red-hot irons, saying, ‘The books shall at least be useless to you, for you shall not see to read them.’ His patience under the operation was so great that the governor grew more exasperated; he, therefore, in order, if possible, to overcome his fortitude, ordered him to be hung up by the feet, with a weight tied about his neck, and a gag in his mouth.

In this state, Maura, his wife, tenderly urged him for her sake to recant; but, when the gag was taken out of his mouth, instead of consenting to his wife’s entreaties, he greatly blamed her mistaken love, and declared his resolution of dying for the faith.

The consequence was, that Maura resolved to imitate his courage and fidelity and either to accompany or follow him to glory. The governor, after trying in vain to alter her resolution, ordered her to be tortured, which was executed with great severity. After this, Timothy and Maura were crucified near each other, A.D. 304.

     – Fox’s Book of Martyrs

Universal Book and Bible House, Philadelphia, 1926

Here’s a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject. 

Hebrews 11:36-38
Price some people have paid for holding to their faith

II Chronicles 24:21, Mark 6:27, Acts 7:58, Acts 12:2
Examples of people killed because of their faith

For help, see Topic 29.

Archaeological findings confirm the Bible.

ARCHAEOLOGY GIVES DOUBLE-CHECK ON BIBLE

We have two important historical records of what happened at the times and in the places where the Bible was written:

BIBLE: First, we have the Bible itself, written on papyrus and parchment but faithfully copied and recopied so that it’s still remarkably preserved for us today (see Topic 20).

ARCHAEOLOGY: Second, we have archeological findings, the wealth of materials buried in mounds that once were cities of the ancient world. Archaeology is the science of digging into these old cities to recover important remnants in order to gain knowledge of what happened there.

Because papyrus and parchment decay, and because only the very most important documents were copied and recopied over the centuries, most of the written history of antiquity has been lost. What mostly remains are physical structures and artifacts, including writings on stone, which have been preserved under layers of sand or in caves.

At first thought, it doesn’t seem like archaeology would have anything to do with our personal faith in God. But upon further thought, this line of reasoning emerges:

  • The Bible claims to be God’s book (see Discovery 18), and we want to know if external facts support this claim. If the Bible really is God’s book, there will be no errors in it.

Conversely, if it says things we can prove are wrong, then it’s obviously not God’s book.

  • We have difficulty proving or disproving the historical places, events, people and quotations in the Bible because secular historical manuscripts of that time were not preserved like the Bible, and they have since decayed.
  • Even though the historical manuscripts are gone, we can now learn about those times and places through archaeology. It’s slow and expensive, but more and more facts are being gathered each year.
  • If the archeological record contradicts the Bible, we know the Bible is not God’s book. Even one error in the Bible would discredit it. But if the archeological record completely confirms the Bible, we have compelling evidence that the Bible is God’s book.

ARCHAEOLOGY IS LIKE A CEASELESS DETECTIVE

Either the Bible is what it claims to be – the word of God – or it’s a fraud. If the Bible were a fraud, archaeology would expose it.

During the last two hundred years, over a thousand mounds – called tells – of ancient cities have been excavated in whole or in part by research teams financed by governments, universities, museums, foundations and wealthy individuals.

Archaeologists have developed special tools and methods to unlock unknown languages and to determine the time of origin for every item discovered. From the ruins, they have picked up the threads of ancient life and have woven them into a cohesive historical narrative.

If the Bible is to have credibility, it must not contradict archaeological findings. Archaeology is like a ceaseless detective, always looking for new facts to support or refute the story.

There are thousands of archaeological findings which corroborate in detail the specific places, events and persons named in the Bible. There has never been an archaeological discovery which has controverted a Bible reference!

In historical accuracy, the Bible – with its enormous proven detail – is too perfect to be merely a human book.

ARCHAEOLOGY GIVES OPPORTUNITY TO CRITICS

Typically, archaeological digs are not sponsored by Christian groups seeking to validate the Bible. Most are sponsored by governmental agencies or educational institutions, many of them Jewish or Muslim. Critics of the Bible would be quick to publicize discrepancies if they could find any.

EXAMPLES OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDINGS

Listed in the margin are some of the major excavations that have confirmed accuracy of the Bible. Following are examples of the kind of information these excavations reveal:

EXAMPLE 1. The Bible refers to a civilization of people called the Hittites, but no other literature has made reference to such a civilization. Critics used to say this was just fiction in the Bible.

However, archaeological excavations in the 1950’s found the remains of the Hittite empire in the area where the Bible said it was (Turkey/Syria), and Carbon-14 dating tests prove that it existed at the time stated in the Bible (1375-1200 B.C.).

EXAMPLE 2. The Bible says that when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to take possession of the ‘promised land,’ they marched around the city of Jericho in a certain way God prescribed to Joshua, and the walls of the city collapsed. Secular historians had come to the conclusion that the city was destroyed about 100 years before the Israelites crossed the Jordan, and therefore the Bible account could not be true.

Furthermore, they said, it’s preposterous to think the walls could fall supernaturally. However, in 1990 (and to a lesser degree in earlier years) archaeologists found artifacts (including 80 scarabs that mention various pharaohs by name) which date the fall of the city exactly in accord with Bible chronology (about 1400 B.C.), and they found that the 32-foot-high walls had fallen outward (unlike the walls of any other city, as walls usually fall inward from force of outside attackers.)

EXAMPLE 3. Between 1959 and 1963, the Department of Antiquity of Israel undertook an excavation of the city of Caesarea, the Roman capitol of Judea at the time of Christ. The city stood until A.D. 1256, when Sultan Bibars of Egypt captured the city and destroyed its walls and most of its buildings. Until the excavation began, the city lay in ruins, with only portions of granite and marble columns protruding from the sand.

The Bible says Jesus was brought before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who sentenced him to death. However, the name Pontius Pilate was known only from Jewish and Christian sources; there was never any mention of him from Roman sources. This did not invalidate the Bible, but there was a certain lack of credibility when the Bible spoke of a Roman ruler whose name did not appear anywhere in Roman history.

But in the Caesarea excavation, archaeologists found a stone plaque, apparently recording the dedication of a building, with a Latin inscription naming ‘Pontius Pilate, Praefect of Judaea.’

Besides confirming the Bible, the plaque provided some additional information about Pontius Pilate. It was previously thought that the Greek word in the Bible used in describing him – often translated ‘governor’ – had the same meaning as the Latin ‘procurator’ (a financial official), but this discovery revealed that Pilate’s title was in fact ‘praefect’ (a military official).

These are just a few examples of how thousands of fragments of information – each small, but massive in total – are being chronicled now in the world’s libraries and museums. They provide additional understanding of the Bible and, without exception, they confirm the accuracy of the Bible.

MAJOR EXCAVATIONS:

There’s not enough room on this page even to list the names of the major archaeological excavations which have verified the Bible, but following are some of the most important ones:

Absolom’s Pillar, Aczib, Adullam, Ai, Akeldama, Alexandria, Amarna, Anathoth,Antipatris, Arabah, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Asshur, Athens, Baalbek, Babylon, Bersheba, Belvoir, Bethany, Bethel, Bethesda, Bethlehem, Bethsaida, Beth Shearim, Beth Shemesh, Beth Zur, Caesarea, Caesarea Philippi, Calah, Calvary, Cana, Capernaum, Carchemish, Colosse, Corinth, Damascus, Dan, Dead Sea Scrolls, Derbe, Dibon, Dothan, Ebla, Ecbatana, Edrei, Elam, Emmaus, En Gedi, En Rogel, Ephesus, Erech, Ezion Geber, Gaza, Gerar, Gerizim, Gethsemane, Gezer, Gibeah, Gibeon, Gihon, Gilgal, Hamath, Haran, Hazor, Hermon (Mount), Jabneh, Jacob’s Well,Jericho, Jerusalem, Jezreel, Joppa, Judean Desert Caves, Kadesh Barnea, Kedesh, Khorsa­ bad, Kidron, Kiriath Jearim, Kiriath Sepher, Kish, Korazin, Lachish, Lagash, Laodicea, Lydda, Lystra, Mareshah, Mari, Masada, Medeba, Megid­ do, Meiron, Memphis, Mizpah, Nazareth, Nebo, Nineveh, Nob, Nuzi, Olives, Pergamum, Perse­ polis, Petra, Philippi, Rabbah, Ras Shamra, Rome, Safad, Samaria, Sardis, Shechem, Shiloh, Sidon, Siloam, Sodom (and Gomorrah), Susa, Taanach, Tadmor, Tahpanhes, Thebes, Thessalonica, Tirah, Troas, Tyre, Ur, Zare­ phath, Zion, Zoan, Zorah

The data from these excavations is carefully documented and catalogued in the libraries of major universities and is avail­ able for study by serious students.

Historical manuscripts validate the Bible.

BIBLE WAS WRITTEN ON PAPYRUS SCROLLS

The Old Testament (see Topics 29 and 33-34) was originally written in Hebrew on stone or clay tablets, and later copied to papyrus scrolls.

The New Testament (see Topics 29 and 36) was originally written in Greek on papyrus scrolls.

During the fourth century, scribes began copying the Bible on specially treated animal skins, bound in book form, and this continued until paper came into common use in the fourteenth century.

At the time of Jesus, Palestine (the Holy Land, now Israel) was under Roman political domination. Jews spoke Aramaic, and some Hebrew. Romans spoke Latin. But Greek was the common language of the civilized world and the language of commerce and industry. Greek is a language of great richness and flexibility, an excellent language for preserving God’s written message to us.

BIBLE IS COMPILATION OF GOD-INSPIRED WRITINGS

With normal page and type size, the Bible is typically about 1,000 pages in length, of which 770 pages are the Old Testament writings and 230 pages are the New Testament writings.

The Old Testament is important background, but all the essential things God wants us to know now are contained in the 27 writings (usually called books or letters) which comprise the New Testament.

The New Testament was started with personal letters from the Apostle Paul. As God directed, he wrote them to help the people in his new and struggling churches better understand the new life experience to which he had introduced them.

‘Apostle’ – as in Apostle Paul – is a Greek word meaning ‘one who is sent out.’ The word referred to a personal messenger or envoy, commissioned to transmit the message and/or carry out the instructions of the commissioning agent. In New Testament usage, the word refers to the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, chosen and commissioned by him to accompany him during his ministry, to receive his teachings and observe his actions, and to carry on his work by starting churches and training church leaders.

It’s unlikely that the Apostle Paul knew he was producing literature, still less holy scripture. He probably regarded his writings merely as personal or group letters to produce an immediate practical result.

After Paul was executed by the Romans in about A.D. 62, the churches began collecting, copying and distributing his letters as a means of Christian instruction. This collection of letters began to reveal the new life more clearly than ever.

Later, the notes, recollections and research of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were compiled by them into the four Gospels (life of Christ), and into Acts (history of the early church), and into Revelation (or Apocalypse, future events).

ALL AGREE ON ACTUAL WORDS IN BIBLE

There’s only one Bible. There are not different Bibles, although there are different translations of the Bible and there are some differences of opinion whether or not to include an additional 15 non-conflicting Old Testament books called the apocrypha (see Topics 29 and 30).

People disagree on how to interpret and apply some words of the Bible, but there’s no significant disagreement as to what those actual words are.

The fact that there’s universal agreement on the original text of the Bible is in itself absolutely amazing, and it’s evidence of the Bible’s divine inspiration and preservation.

BIBLE IS VALIDATED BY ACADEMIC BIBLIOGRAPHY

Because papyrus and paper decay, there are no longer any original copies (autographs) of the Bible writings, or of any perishable writings from the ancient world. Therefore, without the originals, we must rely on copies of copies (manuscripts).

It’s at this point where critics voice their view that the Bible is not reliable because what we read has been copied and recopied so many times over the centuries. Because of human error and bias, they say, our Bible today has inevitably strayed from the original autographs.

They raise a powerful argument, but upon investigation the argument only helps prove the divine character of the Bible. Their presumption happens with human books, but the amazing fact is that it doesn’t happen with the Bible.

There’s a field of academic study – called bibliography – which applies scientific techniques and procedures to determine the authenticity and reliability of manuscripts. Thousands of manuscripts from the ancient world have been studied and analyzed by bibliographers and paleographers and now constitute our knowledge of the past, carefully guarded in the libraries and museums of the world. These manuscripts are accepted with varying degrees of confidence, depending upon how many manuscripts have been found, how they correspond with each other, how they correspond with history and archaeology, what effect they had on the people of their day, etc.

Among all the world’s time-honored manuscripts, the Bible has the most substantiating evidence and universal recognition of any writings known to man. There’s so much proof for the authenticity and reliability of the Bible text that, except for some minor passages, the text is virtually undisputed in the academic community, Christian and non-Christian alike.

THOUSANDS OF BIBLE MANUSCRIPTS STILL EXIST

The quality and quantity of the Bible manuscripts surpasses all other ancient manuscripts. Just for the New Testament alone, there are now in existence over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, over 8,000 Latin manuscripts, and over 1,000 manuscripts in other languages.

To put those numbers in perspective, the next most authenticated writing from the ancient world is by Homer (Illiad and Odyssey, written in the 9th or 8th century B.C., the two greatest epic poems of ancient Greece), of which there are less than 700 manuscripts. The next highest numbers are for Plato, Aristotle, Caesar and Tacitus, of which there are less than 20 manuscripts each.

Not only is there an astonishing number of Bible manuscripts still in existence – and even some recent finds, like the Dead Sea Scrolls – but there are over 36,000 manuscripts of ancient literature which quote the Bible, and these extra- biblical quotations are so thorough and extensive that the entire Bible could be reconstructed from them alone.

It’s astonishing that so many Bible manuscripts have been preserved, but it’s even more astonish- ing that there’s practically no text corruption in them. In other words, after all these centuries of copying, there are hardly any reproduction errors. They all say the exact same thing! A major reason, of course, is that the scribes (and monks) regarded these manuscripts as the precise words of God and copied them with fastidious care.

Scholars conclude that the Bible (in its Greek form) is 99.5% accurate, Homer is 95% accurate, and the other writings have varying degrees of lower accuracy. The passages in the Bible with the

.5% reproduction error are known to biblographers, but only a small number of the variances have any significant bearing on the meaning of the text and none affect doctrine.

Here’s a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject. 

Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:13-16, Acts 1:13, I Corinthians 15:9
Names of the apostles

Matthew 24:35
God’s words will never pass away

For help, see Topic 29.

Christians believe the Bible was written at God’s direction.

BIBLE IS DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER BOOK

There are three things about the Bible that make it different from any other book. In theological terms, these unique differences are called revelation, inspiration and illumination. As shown in the diagram above, God revealed himself and his plan to specially chosen writers, and they recorded his message for all mankind.

To be more precise, the spirit of God (Holy Spirit, see Topics 39 and 44) communicated with the spirit of the writers (human spirit, see Discoveries 7 and 8) and guided their minds and hands to compose God’s message into human words. For convenience, these words have been collected into a single volume called the Bible. The Bible is a spiritual book – a primary resource God uses to get his thoughts and purposes into us – and it needs to be read not only with the mind but also with the spirit. If a person’s spirit is closed, most of the meaning of the Bible will not get through.

REVELATION. This term means that the Bible reveals truth about God, by God. It’s a revelation of himself (what kind of God he is) and a revelation of his plan and purpose for us (the reason for our existence). The Bible provides a reliable record of

important events that have already taken place and important events that lie ahead, and it gives an authoritative interpretation of those events. (For example, if we’d been present at the crucifixion of Jesus, we’d have thought it was just another public execution of a failed revolutionary. We probably wouldn’t have recognized, as stated in II Corinthians 5:19, ‘that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.’)

INSPIRATION. Unlike all other books, the Bible didn’t originate in the mind of man but rather in the mind of God. But God had to simplify his thoughts for us and reduce them to words we can under- stand. So he selected some writers – over 30 of them, from three different continents, writing in three different languages, over a period of more than 1,500 years – and he directed them to write exactly what he wants us to know. (See Topic 29 for names of the Bible writers.)

ILLUMINATION. A person must be in an intimate relationship with God before he can expect to understand much of what he reads in the Bible. The same Holy Spirit who revealed God to the writers and supernaturally inspired their writings in the Bible also illuminates (makes understandable, literally turns on the lights!) the Bible to us today when our spirit is opened to God’s spirit.

GOD’S MESSAGE COMES TO US IN HUMAN WORDS

Through the centuries, Christians have held that the Bible is the one and only book authored by God himself. The theological expression ‘inspired word of God’ is used to denote how God worked in a supernatural way to make the written words of the Bible writers become God’s own verbal expression.

The Bible word for this communication – ‘theopneustos’ (Greek) – literally means ‘God- breathed.’ The Bible says of itself (II Timothy 3:16-17):

‘All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’

The Bible is, at the same time, words of man and words of God. Each part of the Bible was written by a special person chosen by God, using his human mind, personality and pen. But the message came from God, and the transmission was superintended by God, so that what we read are the words of God in the language of men. The Bible is both human and divine, like Jesus was both human and divine.

Some people question how God could use fallible people to write an infallible book. It’s true that human beings make mistakes, but they don’t have to make mistakes. It’s not impossible for a person to perform a mistake-free act, such as a writer who quotes a speaker precisely and spells every word correctly. It wouldn’t be difficult for God to dictate to certain people of his choice exactly what he wanted to be said at that time and then to arrange for their writings to be collected for use by later generations. Even from human perspective, this seems like the best way to document truth.

ENTIRE BIBLE IS THE TRUE WORD OF GOD

Some people say it’s too simplistic to believe that the Bible is the word of God. Instead, they say, the Bible contains the word of God. With that view, however, we’d be left in uncertainty to pick and choose the portions that please us. If we believe only what we like, and reject what we don’t like, it wouldn’t be the Bible we trust, but ourselves. In effect, we’d be setting ourselves up as God. A partially reliable Bible is inconsistent with the character of God portrayed in the Bible. An inspired Bible, by definition, is a completely reliable Bible.

Some people say there may be error in the Bible. But it’s nonsense to say that the Bible – in original manuscript – is inspired by God but has substantive error. That would be just another way of saying that he gave us God-inspired error, to deliberately mislead us.

However, there’s the possibility of either real error or apparent error arising from poor translation between languages, from cultural misunderstanding, and from wrong interpretation. For example, many problems arise through failing to distinguish between the many literary styles in the Bible – such as poetry, proverbs and warnings which make appeal directly to the imagination, heart and conscience – because the content and impact of those kind of writings is quite different from matter-of-fact reporting. Also, many problems arise through failing to understand cultural differences and failing to see principles rather than just words or events.

God’s truth is conveyed by what the Bible writers set down, in the meaning they originally intended and in the way their readers understood it. Our understanding of that meaning may be faulty, especially without help from Bible scholars and historians, and therefore error sometimes attributed to the Bible really lies with us.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

Hebrews 4:12
Word of God is living and active

John 16:13
Holy Spirit guides us to the truth

Luke 24:45
God opens our minds so we can understand his written word

For help, see Topic 29.

The Bible’s credentials support its claim of being a communication from God.

WE SEARCH FOR TRUTH BY INVESTIGATING CLAIMS

Because we’re rational beings, we have an instinctive desire to know truth, and we use a common process in searching for truth. That process involves investigating claims (things being said) about the subject of our inquiry.

For example, if we were to search for the best tax attorney in town, we wouldn’t start by going out in the street and asking people at random if they practice tax law. A more practical approach would be to open the telephone book and get the names of all the people in the area who claim to be tax attorneys. Thus, we quickly narrow the field by considering only claimants.

Just because someone says he’s a tax attorney doesn’t necessarily mean he is one, or that he is the best one. Therefore, to determine the truth about his ability, we’d have to investigate his licensing, certifications and other credentials, plus we’d have to do some extensive reference checking and have personal experience with him. Only then can we really know the truth about him.

In various ways like this, we investigate claims every day. We can use this same kind of claim- checking process to develop our spiritual faith.

We start by asking two big questions: What books CLAIM to be written by God? What persons CLAIM to be God? If a book doesn’t claim to be written by God, it probably isn’t. If a person doesn’t claim to be God, he probably isn’t. And thus we quickly narrow the field to the Bible and to Jesus Christ.

As shown in Discoveries 12-14, founders of the other major religions – Muhammad, Buddha, etc. – did NOT claim to be God. Such a claim is so vulnerable that it cannot survive scrutiny unless it’s really true.

BIBLE AND JESUS MAKE UNIQUE CLAIMS

If God is personally knowable, it’s logical to assume that he would reveal himself to mankind in some way.

Therefore, early in our search for God, we should do the most reasonable and obvious thing: We should look around to see if God has made himself known in the manner people normally communicate:

by Written Word

and

by Spoken Word

When we investigate, we find that there’s a book (the Bible) which claims to be the word of God, and a man (Jesus Christ) who claims to be God.

No honest investigator can deny that the clarity of these claims, the credibility backing these claims and the testimony of those who have relied upon these claims, are extraordinary by every measure. In each category – written word of God and spoken word of God – there’s not even a close second to confuse us.

These twin claims are unique and clearly evident. The only question is whether or not these claims are true. Topics 20-26 give reasons why Christians believe they are true.

RELIGIONS ARE NOT JUST DIFFERENT PATHS TO GOD

All five major blocks of religious thought – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and atheist – claim to have the correct perspective on God and man. (See Topics 11-15.)

But since these beliefs contradict each other (except perhaps Hinduism), and since each religion claims exclusivity in the correctness of belief, only one can be right. To say that more than one is right would violate a fundamental law of logic (the law of non-contradiction) which says that if two statements about a subject contradict each other, then only one can be true, or both must be false.

Logically, then, it’s not an informed and intelligent position to say that all religions are merely different paths to God. Therefore, we must decide whether to believe that Christianity (defined by the Bible) is true or to believe that it is false.

BIBLE IS THE MOST AMAZING OF ALL BOOKS

‘Bible’ is a Greek word meaning ‘book.’ The earliest parts of the Bible are written in Hebrew, and the latest parts are written in Greek. What we read today are translations of the original Hebrew and Greek into English.

Universally, it’s called ‘The Bible,’ not just ‘bible.’ It’s The Book, not just a book.

The Bible is the most read book in the world. Over six billion copies have been printed in over 1,700 languages. It’s amazing how this single book has been able to explain life and meet the needs of people in all countries... in all cultures... in all periods of time. No other book has come close to having such universal and timeless appeal.

It has withstood all attempts through the centuries to have it destroyed, banned and discredited. Those who read and understand it say it’s still fresh and relevant. Unlike any other book, readership of the Bible keeps increasing with time as more and more people become familiar with it.

The Bible claims to be a user’s manual, given by God to his human creation to explain the meaning and purpose of life and to show how we can have a personal relationship with him.

Because of its unique claims and outstanding credentials, anyone sincerely desiring to know God and to experience his love and power will certainly want to carefully examine the Bible.

BIBLE HAS ASTOUNDING CREDENTIALS

Here are some of the Bible's credentials:

  • The Bible claims to be God's message to us. It’s a credible claim because the Bible is in fact the most read and most respected book in the world.
  • The Bible has been authenticated by bibliographers. People disagree on how to interpret some words of the Bible, but there's no significant disagreement as to what those actual words are.
  • The Bible has been confirmed by archaeological findings.
  • The Bible has been miraculously preserved, despite all attempts to destroy and discredit it.
  • The Bible has been completely accurate in foretelling future events.
  • The Bible has amazing internal unity, revealing super-human knowledge.
  • The Bible has dramatically changed lives and shaped the course of history.
  • These points are expanded and documented in order in the next seven Topics.

Here's a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.

II Timothy 3:16
Bible claims to be from God

John 10:30
Jesus says he’s God

For help, see Topic 29.