The evidence is there for those with the courage to accept and act on it. Each of us is faced with a choice. Will you accept your Creator's great gift to you?
A 2004 poll conducted by Newsweek magazine reported that just over half of Americans believe Jesus Christ will return. Fifteen percent said they thought that event would take place soon, within their lifetime. (In most other countries these percentages are smaller.)
If Christ were to return now, what would it mean to the average citizen of the world? If the Judge of all mankind called for an accounting (2 Corinthians 5:10), where would you stand? In all recorded history only one society has repented as a group when God warned of impending troubles. That was the ancient city of Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire, which repented at the warning of Jonah (Matthew 12:41).
If nations don't mend their ways, what can individuals do? In other words, what should you do with the information you have learned in this booklet? If the Bible is indeed the inspired instruction of the Creator of the universe to His created beings, what should you do?
The message is clear: No matter what others may do, you have the power and responsibility to take personal action and seek God. The Bible is a reliable guide to human conduct. It is God's Word to a spiritually bankrupt humanity. It is our Maker's instruction book, telling us how we should live.
The Scriptures have been available for millennia. People have heard the Word of God from its pages and from the prophets. They have heard God's exhortation to repent and obey. But, no matter who has brought the message, no matter the medium, the result has always been the same—only a small minority have responded.
When Christ spoke the gospel powerfully to His own people, they rejected it. He pointed out to them a shameful fact: Even though they had God's Word, they refused to believe and act on it, so God turned to others. "But I tell you truly," Jesus said, "many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian" (Luke 4:25-27).
Jesus noted a sad fact evident throughout history: Although many have had opportunity to learn of God's truth, only a relative handful have responded and allowed that understanding to change their lives (Matthew 22:14).
Faith and choice
What is different about those who respond compared with those who do not? It is usually several things. One is a conviction that the Bible is indeed the Word of God. Another is the exercise of free will. God has allowed us the right of free choice and doesn't force us to do things His way. Some people use their free will to respond positively when God calls; others reject this calling. The choice is always ours.
But there is another factor that figures heavily in how we react to the Word of God. In this booklet we have confronted the issue of whether the Bible is true and therefore a reliable guide to human behavior. We have presented solid evidence confirming that it is. Although substantial, the evidence that the Bible is true is not enough to satisfy every agnostic and atheist. If it were, no one on earth would be an atheist or an agnostic. Every rational person would exercise his free will to at least believe, if not obey. However, the Scriptures remind us that even the demons know God exists, but simply choose to disobey Him (James 2:19).
It is God's purpose to give us a choice as to whether we will exercise a measure of faith. As American statesman and orator Daniel Webster noted, the Bible is a book of faith. If we had evidence sufficient to refute every skeptic's misgivings, we would have no need for faith. This is not the way God has chosen to work. Everyone from Adam to the present has been called on to live by faith.
And what is faith? "Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not [yet] see" (Hebrews 11:1, REB). Concerning faith, the apostle Paul tells us that Abraham "praised God in the full assurance that God was able to do what he had promised" (Romans 4:21, Goodspeed). God wants us to have this same trust in Him.
The Bible and the present generation
While some insist on hard scientific evidence before they will believe, others fall into the other philosophical ditch. They are not interested in a God who meets them through scriptural revelation; rather, they desire a god who meets them where they are in their own personal view of the world. Some have termed this a quest for a designer god or boutique religion.
Author Wade Clark Roof notes that baby boomers, those born between the end of World War II and about 1964, "have grown up in a post-sixties culture that emphasizes choice, knowing and understanding one's self, the importance of personal autonomy, and fulfilling one's potential—all contributing to a highly subjective approach to religion" (A Generation of Seekers, 1993, p. 30). They tend to steer away from structured religion. They are less apt to belong to an organized church, and they are less likely to regard the Bible as objective truth. They are not sure where to turn for answers to religious questions.
Unsure of what truth is or whether it even exists, such people tend to look for a church that meets their personal preference rather than a place where objective biblical truth is to be found. It is more important for them to feel comfortable with their church or congregation than to participate in a church whose teachings and practices are firmly anchored in the Bible. Experience in their formative and young-adult years has contributed to a feeling of alienation from societal institutions, including religious institutions.
As members of the first television generation, baby boomers were conditioned for what Roof calls the "mentalizing" of salvation. Their parents gained most of their view of the world through reading. Boomers were largely educated through the use of images on television. "In a print culture, priority was given to the objective, to the rational use of the mind, which encouraged religious discourse with logically ordered content. Doctrinal debate and theological reflection flourished under these conditions...But in an image culture the subjective takes precedence over the objective" (ibid., p. 135, emphasis added).
The result? Recent generations have taken a different philosophical attitude toward God, churches, religious experience and the Bible. Whether the Bible is true apparently isn't that important to them.
This view is held by some professionals as well. "There is no lack of scholars—among them historians, theologians, philologists, and archaeologists—who...have come to the conclusion that fundamentally it is of secondary importance whether the facts reported in the Bible are correct or not" (Werner Keller, The Bible as History, 1982, p. 433).
But it does matter. Biblical archaeologist George Ernest Wright expressed the opinion that "in Biblical belief everything depends on whether the main events actually took place" (quoted by Keller, p. 434). If the main events of the Bible didn't take place, then how can we believe anything it says?
The life stories of the Old Testament patriarchs are the foundation on which the historical record of the Bible is based. If the God who claims to have inspired the Bible gave us a collection of myths and legends, then how could we have confidence in anything He says?
According to the New Testament, the patriarchs and prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures were real people. Consider Abraham as an example. He is listed in the ancestry of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1). In a discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus referred to Abraham as a real historical figure (John 8:56-58). If Christ were mistaken, then He was nothing but a man and a rather uninformed one at that. In that case He could not be our Savior, and our faith would be in vain. So the accuracy of the Bible does matter!
If Abraham were not a historical figure, millions of Jews and Arabs who claim to be of his lineage hold to mythical traditions and spurious accounts of millennia of history. Jesus said Abraham would rise in the resurrection (Matthew 8:11). To deny the historical reality of Abraham is to deny Jesus Christ's words as well as records and traditions going back thousands of years. Archaeology offers support of the biblical record in this regard, as we've seen. But in the end, the issue comes down to a matter of faith. Do we believe the Bible is truly God's Word? Do we believe God?
God encourages faith
In spite of mountains of evidence that can be amassed in favor of the truthfulness of the Bible, having believing faith comes through developing a personal relationship with God. (To learn more, download or request our free booklet You Can Have Living Faith.)
Doubt and disbelief are not insurmountable hurdles. Even some people who encountered Jesus Christ in the flesh stumbled at times. "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" pleaded a man who struggled with his faith (Mark 9:24). Jesus was sympathetic and helped the troubled man, healing his son (Mark 9:25-27).
God is understanding in His approach to struggling humanity: "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14). God will help people who diligently seek Him.
One way of seeking God is through careful study of the Bible. "It is no accident that the Bible came down to us through so many centuries with such accuracy and power. God intended us to live our lives by this book, and many people dedicated themselves to the preservation of its sacred text" (Paul Wegner, The Journey From Texts to Translations, 1999, p. 24).
A continuing, earnest investigation of Scripture will promote the faith you need (Romans 10:17). You will find that your faith will grow. You will be amazed at what the Scriptures proclaim. As you learn basic truths, you will want to study more and more.
You will find that the Scriptures contain the answers to the colossal problems that confront mankind. This in itself will build your faith in God. You will have confidence that He is fulfilling His plan not only in the world, but in your personal life as well.
Accept the evidence that the Bible is true and that it is your Creator's gift to you—His guide for the fruitful, productive and abundant life (John 10:10) that He wants you to enjoy!