The Bible is in the crosshairs at school and in the media. Can you be sure it's inspired?
Can you prove the Bible is true? If you can, it could dramatically change the outcome of your life!
Nearly 50 years ago, two out of three Americans asked by the Gallup polling organization said they believed "the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word." Then several years ago Gallup polls showed that only one in three believed the same thing—an alarming drop! And the percentage of people in other countries who believe the Bible is the Word of God is generally much lower.
What's going on? Associated Press religious writer Richard Ostling points out part of the problem: "Liberal-minded university and seminary professors have labored long to lure Americans away from reading their Bible as strictly literal history. They sometimes complain that few pay heed. But Gallup Poll data suggest the professors have indeed had an impact" (March 27, 2000).
Also, most movies and TV programs about the Bible have quite a liberal slant that casts doubt on its validity.
If someone challenged you to prove that the Bible is true, could you do it? Here's an easy way. Just use UNITY as an acronym for five clear proofs that the Bible is true (this word also serving as the first proof).
U for Unity
Jesus Christ stated this proof directly: "Scripture cannot be broken" (John:10:35). This means that what the Bible says is true and has a basic unity of thought and principles that cannot be broken or contradicted.
Although the books of the Bible were written by some 40 authors spanning some 1,500 years, they all maintain an amazing consistency. From Genesis to Revelation, the major themes never change. History progresses, but the themes of love, faith, obedience, mercy and a loving and righteous God intent on redeeming a disobedient mankind do not change. This unity of thought and principle is unique in the world's literary history.
What is the principal theme in the Bible? It's simple: God is love (1 John:4:8).
From the beginning, the Bible reveals God as creating mankind not on a capricious whim, but to be His own beloved children. God is reproducing Himself through human beings to develop a family (Genesis:1:26; 5:1-2; 2 Corinthians:6:18). He lovingly placed them in a beautiful garden paradise, instructing them to populate and to have proper care and dominion over it (Genesis:1:28; 2:8).
Yet the whole Bible shows that, as a loving parent, God also has to correct mankind when human beings veer too far off course. Nevertheless, the final chapters of Revelation show that God will ultimately triumph in bringing many children to glory and will wipe away their tears, promising there will be no more death, sorrow or crying (Revelation:21:4).
The apostle Paul sums up the underlying unity of the Bible when he says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction of righteousness" (2 Timothy:3:16, emphasis added).
N for Non-mythical
Another striking difference between the Bible and other religious works is the absence of mythical stories and legends.
Other creation accounts in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America include such mythological scenarios as gods feuding and even dismembering other gods to form the heavens and the earth. The religious works of the Greeks described the earth being held up by the god Atlas, while in India the Hindu religion pictured the earth as supported on the backs of eight huge elephants.
Yet the Bible describes God hanging the earth "on nothing" (Job:26:7). This was written millennia before Isaac Newton discovered the invisible laws of gravity that showed the earth truly is suspended "on nothing."
In contrast to every other ancient creation account, the Bible pictures the creation of the earth in a very scientific manner. In Genesis 1, the continents are lifted from the seas. Then vegetation is created and, later, animal life—all reproducing "according to its kind"—in accordance with fixed genetic laws scientists have only recently discovered. Finally we have the creation of man and woman, all done in a dignified and godly manner, without mythological adornments.
Nobel Prize winner in physics Arno Penzias remarked, "The best data we have [concerning the beginning of the universe] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole" ( The New York Times , March 12, 1978).
The biblical narratives are historical, faithfully reflecting society and culture as history and archaeology would discover them thousands of years later. Theologian Norman Geisler summarizes: "In every period of Old Testament history, we find that there is good evidence from archaeology that the Scriptures speak the truth. In many instances, the Scriptures even reflect firsthand knowledge of the times and customs it describes. While many have doubted the accuracy of the Bible, time and continued research have consistently demonstrated that the Word of God is better informed than its critics" (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics , 1998, p. 52).
I for Intact
Of all the ancient works of substantial size, only the Bible comes to us completely intact. This unique character is against all the odds. In comparison, Shakespeare's plays, written only about 400 years ago, are in much worse shape. There are numerous sections where the original words have been lost, and scholars are left to fill in the blanks as best as they can.
But the Bible's uncanny preservation has permitted it to weather thousands of years of wars, persecutions, invasions, and other local and national disasters, yet still remain intact. As author Josh McDowell notes, "Compared with other ancient writings, the Bible has more manuscript evidence to support it than any ten pieces of classical literature combined" ( The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict , 1999, p. 9).
How was this accomplished? The Old Testament text was preserved by Hebrew scribes through the centuries. Scholars unanimously praise their faithful copying and transmission of the text.
Professor Bernard Ramm explains: "Jews preserved it as no other manuscript has ever been preserved. With their [scribes] they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph. They had special classes of men within their culture whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity. Who ever counted the letters and syllables and words of Plato or Aristotle or Seneca?" ( Protestant Christian Evidences , 1953, pp. 230-231).
What about the New Testament? Here the actual number of preserved manuscripts is so great that it becomes overwhelming.
McDowell writes: "There are more than 5,686 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Add over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9,300 other early versions, and we have close to, if not more than, 25,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence today. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers and attestation. In comparison, Homer's Illiad is second, with only 643 manuscripts that still survive. The first complete preserved text of Homer dates from the thirteenth century" (p. 34, emphasis added).
Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (Matthew:24:35). His words have become a prophecy that is still rock-solid today. With billions of Bibles in more than 2,000 languages now distributed around the world, God's Word will by no means pass away.
T for Time revealed in advance
Fulfilled prophecy is the fourth proof of the inspiration of the Bible—accurately foretelling what will happen ahead of time. The Bible is unique in boldly proclaiming many specific events to come. No other religious book dares to lay out the future in this way.
As the book A General Introduction to the Bible says: "No unconditional prophecy of the Bible about events to the present day has gone unfulfilled . . . Other books claim divine inspiration, such as the Koran, the Book of Mormon, and parts of the [Hindu] Veda. But none of those books contains predictive prophecy. As a result, fulfilled prophecy is a strong indication of the unique, divine authority of the Bible" (Norman Geisler and William Nix, 1986, p. 13).
One incredible example of prophecy is found in the book of Isaiah. The date of the book is fixed by its first verse: "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." Through history and archaeology, the dates of these kings are well known—from 767 to 686 B.C. Yet, in Isaiah 44, God revealed to Isaiah a coming conqueror who would permit Jerusalem to be rebuilt after its destruction—although in Isaiah's day Jerusalem was still standing! So here is a prophecy so ahead of its time that only future generations in Jerusalem would first witness the city's destruction and then its rebuilding!
Jerusalem was destroyed around 587 B.C. by the Babylonians some 100 years after Isaiah's day. And work was not begun to reconstruct it until 539 B.C., when the prophesied king conquered Babylon and decreed that the captive Jews be freed and allowed to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple.
In Isaiah 44, God reveals to Isaiah the actual name of the coming conqueror who would allow Jerusalem to be rebuilt—Cyrus, known in history as Cyrus the Great. "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer . . . : 'I am the Lord, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone . . . who frustrates the signs of the babblers, and drives diviners mad . . . who says to Jerusalem, "You shall be inhabited," . . . who says of Cyrus, "He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, 'You shall be built,' and to the temple, 'Your foundation shall be laid'"'" (Isaiah:44:24-28).
This is only one of the hundreds of Bible prophecies that have been confirmed. Dozens of specific prophecies deal with Jesus Christ and were fulfilled in precise detail. Again, no other ancient and supposedly sacred book even dares to present predictive prophecy—making the Bible unique. Its prophetic foretelling proves it is not the work of mere men.
Y for Yield
The Bible produces results! It has yielded fantastic outcomes in the lives of so many, and it can do the same for you. It is a practical book, explaining God's will in virtually every facet of life and how to achieve true success. As U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt remarked, "A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education."
However, reaping its blessings does take faith—an active belief that God's Word is true and that applying it will yield positive results. The Bible puts it this way: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews:11:6). Thankfully, studying the Bible is itself a way to increase faith (Romans:10:17).
The Bible has had a positive influence on society. Modern science owes much to it. Philosopher Francis Schaeffer explains: "The rise of modern science did not conflict with what the Bible teaches; indeed, at a crucial point the Scientific Revolution rested upon what the Bible teaches. Both Alfred North Whitehead and J. Robert Oppenheimer have stressed that modern science was born out of the Christian world view . . .
"As far as I know, neither of the two men were Christians or claimed to be Christians, yet both were straightforward in acknowledging that modern science was born out of the Christian world view . . . In other words, because the early scientists believed that the world was created by a reasonable God, they were not surprised to discover that people could find out something true about nature and the universe on the basis of reason" (How Should We Then Live? 1976, pp. 132-133).
Personally, you will experience many great benefits from following the teachings of God's Word. "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him" (Psalm:34:8).
Yes, the bottom line of proving the Bible is true and should be taken at face value is—it works!
So when anyone asks you for proofs that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, just remember the first key word of the first proof, UNITY, because each of its letters contains the first letter of the rest of the proofs. Now you have five simple keys at hand to prove the Bible is true.