Over the years I have come across Christians who believe that it doesn’t matter whether we know anything about the Bible and defending our faith. “Just have faith” some would say. But, faith in what?
Because I became a follower of Jesus later in life I would have thought that the Bible would be the most important thing to know. If we are claiming to be followers of Christ (Christians) how are we going to follow someone we don’t know anything about? And if someone attacks the very thing we are following shouldn’t we be able to defend it?
Jesus directs us as His followers to go out and share the Gospel with the world (Matthew 28:18-20), and Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, teaches that we should always be able to give an answer to those who ask about our faith (1 Peter 3:15). In order to do that we need to know what the Gospel is and we need to know that what we believe is true and worth defending. The only way I see that happening is by making a lifetime commitment to learning what the Bible teaches and knowing that we can have the highest level of confidence that it is the Word of God.
So how do we know the Bible we have today is the Word of God? How do we know that it hasn’t been changed over time? How do we know we have the right books? These were some of the biggest questions I had when I began to investigate the claims of Christianity.
God gave us the ability to think, reason and make decisions, and after a long period of being skeptical I decided to use those God given abilities and investigate the Bible. One of the things I found right away is that in our culture today the Bible is on trial and therefore it makes sense to put it up against a courtroom test, like a lawyer might do. Through the course of my research I found many former atheists and skeptics of the Christian faith who did just that and they not only became convinced that Christianity is true and the Bible is reliable, but they became outspoken proponents and defenders of the Book and the faith!
Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853), phD Royale, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Law, and an “enlightened atheist” was challenged by some of his students to apply the rules of what he taught to the claims of the four Gospels of the New Testament, and he did. After careful investigation, he found that the rules of legal evidence thoroughly bared out the Gospels. The result was his conversion to Christianity and his book “The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence.”
Over the next few posts I will present some of the evidence I have found and give links to articles and videos by some of these former atheists and top Christian “Case-Makers” today. One of the best, and my all time favorite Christian Apologist, is Lee Strobel. Watch this short video clip of Lee giving his testimony of how he came from an atheist’s worldview to accepting Christianity as truth:
Keeping this theme of investigation, we will begin our ‘case-making’ for reliability of the Bible by using evidence from the following categories and the acronym MAPS-S:
Category #1 External evidence: Physical evidence outside the Bible that is confirmed in historical records.
- Manuscripts: Historical and literary facts, transmission, canonization, translation, textual criticism, eyewitness accounts, and non-Biblical sources
- Archeology: Physical evidence, geographical evidence, and historical records of people, places and events
Category #2 Internal evidence: Evidence inside the Bible that is confirmed in historical records.
- Prophecy: Historical and Messianic (fulfilled)
- Scientific authenticity: Medicine, nutrition, cosmology and biochemistry
Category #3 Additional testimony as evidence:
Saved Lives: Personal testimonies over the centuries
- MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE
Historical and Literary Facts:
The Bible meets and exceeds all historical and literary requirements for excellence based on scholarly academic standards:
- The Bible is made of 66 individual books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, written by 40 authors, living in 10 different countries, over a period of about 1,500 years.
- The Bible has a cast of 2,930 characters depicted in 1,551 places.
- The Bible’s human authors (inspired by God) came from various stations of life: Kings, peasants, poets, herdsmen, fishermen, scientists, farmers, priests, pastors, tentmakers, tax collectors, doctors and governors.
- The Bible was written in extreme places like the wilderness, dungeons, palaces, prisons, on lonely islands and in military battles.
- The authors wrote on various subjects, including the unknown future.
What would we expect to see in this type of book? A real mess of information, various views, personal beliefs? Not at all! We get a seamless story! Amazingly the books of the Bible are so united in their historical and narrative themes, and so remarkably linked to one main storyline that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation, that the Bible is considered by most scholars to be A Literary Masterpiece!
- There are more early manuscripts of the Bible available for verification than any other ancient document.
- The Bible is a primary source document and contains multiple eyewitness accounts of events.
- The New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus and the early Church were written within the lifetime of the people involved in the events (completed by the mid to late first century).
- Archeology and extra Biblical sources have confirmed over 25,000 people, places and events in the Bible.
A great example of the Bible’s historical reliability comes from Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. He is said to be one of the greatest historians to ever write. His historical accounts have always been confirmed and the details he gives allow both Biblical and non-Biblical scholars and archeologists to uncover historical truths and artifacts based on his records. Just look at the over fifteen confirmed historical, political and geographical facts in the first four verses of Luke chapter three:
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet.
Watch this 15 minute video clip called “Why I Should Trust the Bible?” by Impact Video Ministries. It gives a great visual overview of some of the best evidence for the reliability of the Bible:
Join us next week as we continue (M for manuscripts) taking a look at how we got the Bible: Transmission: God’s assurance of inspiration and transmission:
He has made His wonders to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and compassionate. –Psalm 111:4 (NASB)
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!
Join us this year as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.