Is the Bible Trustworthy?
- Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Do you accept the Bible as absolute truth? Do you know the peace and blessing that comes from living its supernatural, life-transforming message?
The year I left Princeton Theological Seminary to continue my studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, I had the opportunity to hear two very gifted young evangelists during our chapel program. Both believed and preached the Word of God without questioning it as God's inspired truth.
Later, however, both began to question whether or not the Bible was truly inspired in every way and in every word. One of these men rejected the integrity of God's Word. As a result, he had no moorings on which to base his life and ministry. He got a divorce, left the ministry, and eventually became an outspoken antagonist of the Christian faith. The other young man chose to believe that the Bible was truly the true Word of God. Even what he could not understand at first, he entrusted to God until he could understand it.
I won't mention the name of the first man, but the second man is my longtime friend Dr. Billy Graham, whom God has used to touch the lives of millions of people around the world. Certainly not every preacher can expect to have an impact on the world the way Billy Graham does, but embracing the Bible as perfect always goes hand in hand with dynamic and effective preaching!
Undoubtedly, the most important thing I learned throughout my long life, other than the blessing of knowing Christ personally, is that the Bible is truly God's Word. It can be trusted implicitly. In seminary I learned that I could have absolute, unshakable confidence in the authority of God's holy, inspired Word. It is the anchor of my soul. Through the years, I have observed that when people are faced with the great challenges of heartache, sorrow, testing, and trials, the only thing that provides real confidence and hope is the holy, inspired Word of God. There is no other anchor that compares to God's Word.
In this chapter and the next, we'll examine the supernatural nature of the Bible, how every word contained within its pages is Holy Spirit inspired, fully true, and worthy of your trust. God gives us many proofs that the Bible is reliable. Some come from the text of the Bible itself, others from church history, science, and archaeology.
True and Trustworthy
Inseparably linked to the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture are two other biblical doctrines: biblical inerrancy and biblical infallibility. The first teaches that the Bible is absolutely true; the second flows from this premise and affirms the Bible to be absolutely trustworthy.
You will not find the word inerrancy in the Bible. But like the doctrine of the Trinity, it is a truth nevertheless taught in Scripture. The crucial doctrine of inerrancy teaches that the Bible is absolutely true, without error. The psalmist wrote: "All Your words are true; all Your just laws will stand forever" (Psalm 119:160). In the New Testament, John writes, "Your word is truth" (John 17:17, NIV).
Jesus declares the enduring truth of biblical law when he says, "Heaven and earth will disappear, but My words will remain forever" (Luke 21:33). The writer of Hebrews affirmed the reliability of the God who is always truthful. "God has given us both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to His promise with confidence" (Hebrews 6:18). We see from these select Scriptures that every single word of the Bible is completely accurate and trustworthy.
The Proof from Prophecy
The reliability of the Bible is seen in the amazing fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the New Testament. It is one undeniable proof that the Bible can stand the test of time. It has been 100 percent accurate.
Modern clairvoyants Jeanne Dixon and Edgar Cayce have tantalized many Americans with the thought that their futures can be predicted with a large measure of accuracy. Today, psychics claiming to forecast your future and calm your fears about tomorrow are available over the phone for a mere $3.99 a minute. The problem, however, is that although psychics, mediums, and spiritists boast of remarkable predictions, they are often wrong. Jeanne Dixon predicted that Richard Nixon would win the 1960 presidential election, but John F. Kennedy did. And she also predicted that Russia would beat the United States to the moon.
According to the Old Testament, a prophet who speaks for God must be 100 percent accurate. The Bible records the acid test for a prophet: "You may wonder, 'How will we know whether the prophecy is from the Lord or not?' If the prophet predicts something in the Lord's name and it does not happen, the Lord did not give the message. That prophet has spoken on his own and need not be feared" (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). What becomes of prophets if they are ever wrong? They are to die (see Deuteronomy 18:20).
Scholars estimate we can find approximately twenty-five hundred prophecies in the Bible. Roughly two thousand of those have been fulfilled with remarkable precision. Because I believe we are living in the last days before Christ's second coming, I look forward to seeing the remaining 500 come to pass in the near future. But the odds that all two thousand prophecies could have been fulfilled by chance is less than one in 102000 (that is one with two thousand zeros after it)! Biblical scholar Dr. Charles C. Ryrie has pointed out that, by the law of chance, it would require two hundred billion earths, populated with four billion people each, to come up with one person who could achieve one hundred accurate prophecies without any errors in sequence. But the Bible records not one hundred but nearly twenty-five hundred prophecies!
Let's look at just some of the exciting Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Look up each Old Testament verse, and compare it to the New Testament fulfillment. Remember that the prophecies were written hundreds of years before their fulfillment.
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