But Is It True?
Read John 17:17 (ESV)
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
How do we know if we can trust the Bible? How do we know it is God’s Word?
The world, especially the Internet, is rife with people who claim that Christians believe in a storybook rather than a holy book. When Christians counter secular arguments with the truth of Scripture, they often aren’t taken seriously by skeptics, atheists, and sometimes even by people who claim to be Christians.
But in today’s verse, we can see clearly that Jesus said that His Word is the truth. Not one of many different truths, but the only truth. In this verse, Jesus was praying for His disciples during the Last Supper. He prayed that they would be “sanctified” by the truth of God’s Word. To be sanctified means to be set apart, cleansed, and made holy for a sacred purpose. Jesus was praying that the truth that He had communicated to them would set them apart and make them holy because they had a high and holy calling. The apostles were going to establish His church even though they were merely men. But Jesus knew His Word had the power to change lives.
Jesus wasn’t the only one in the Bible who testified to the truth of Scripture. The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119 and the main theme of the 176 verses is the truthfulness, usefulness, goodness and beauty of the word of God. Psalm 119:160 says, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” The psalmist is saying that the entirety of the Bible is true and will never fail.
But we don’t have to believe the Bible is true just because the Bible tells us so. In fact, I believe that many young people are deconstructing their faith largely because they have no intellectual basis for believing the truths of the Bible. As soon as they go off to college or out into the world and have the truthfulness of the Bible challenged, their faith often falters and sometimes collapses completely. We need to understand that it is reasonable to believe the Bible is true.
Thankfully, we have scholars, historians, archeologists, and textual critics who can attest to the accuracy and reliability of the Bible. Did you know that it is hard to find a serious historian who denies Jesus’ existence even as they question or deny His deity? Louise Antony is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts who is an outspoken atheist. But she was quoted in the Washington Post in 2012 as saying, “I don’t personally know a single atheist who would deny that Jesus existed…”. There is too much historical evidence that the Jesus of the Bible was a real person in history.
Bart Ehrman is an agnostic who questions the Bible but even he maintains that there is historical evidence for Jesus' existence. But while he points to differences and inconsistencies in biblical manuscripts as his biggest issue, it is interesting that he and many other secular and Christian textual scholars agree that of all the variants in the manuscripts that we have, the differences are minor. Most do not impact the meaning of the text, and not one impacts the understanding of any core Christian doctrine or biblical event. Secular scholars may reject the Bible because they are biased against supernatural events but many of those same scholars will affirm that biblical manuscripts have been preserved with a degree of accuracy that is remarkable—more than any other historical document.
Further, we can believe the truth of Scripture because it was written by eyewitnesses or those closely associated with and discipled by eyewitnesses. The Bible is full of primary source documents! Detective J. Warner Wallace is a former cold-case detective who decided to investigate the claims of the New Testament Gospels. He used his skills as a detective to determine whether or not each Gospel author could be considered a reliable eyewitness. What he discovered in his research led him away from atheism into a committed relationship with Jesus Christ. He went from being an atheist cop to a Bible-believing Christian, author, and apologist solely because he studied the evidence for the truth of the Bible.
Friends, I could go on and on about the reliability of the Bible, but I am out of space. This is just a small sample of the reasons I believe that the Bible is what Jesus said it is—the Word of God. If you are interested in this topic, I encourage you to start reading some apologetics books, specifically about how the Bible was compiled. You’ll find that Scripture holds up to scrutiny. I read the Bible because I believe it and I believe it because it has proven true. “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5).
God, thank You for Your Word. I know that it is the truth and that it has the power to sanctify me. Use Your Word to set me apart for Your purposes. Amen.