Many Christians haven’t actually read the Bible all the way through. It’s kind of puzzling. We say we believe in Jesus. Jesus is God. The Bible is literally the words of God. Why wouldn’t we want to know what God has said? Even more so, why would we blindly believe something and trust the word of others on the matter? What if the Bible says something crazy in it and everyone has been lying about it because they’re embarrassed? It seems like we wouldn’t want to just take someone’s word on matters of life and death. Some things I like to find out for myself.
The Bible is a confusing book isn’t it? First of all, it’s huge, which is why I think many people feel too intimidated to read it. I rarely read a book that big. Second, it’s old! I mean, it’s really old! Is something that old still relevant? Third, it’s confusing! There are genealogies, lots of laws, and many things that are hard to make sense of. Reading the Bible can be work.
But is it true? Because if it’s true and it’s literally the words of God then we should definitely care about what it says. If it’s literally the words of God then we should care about what He says! We should definitely want to know more.
When it comes to the existence of God and the truthfulness of the Bible, people want evidence. They want proof. The beautiful thing is that the Christian faith including belief in the God of the Bible and the Bible itself is a reasonable faith meaning there are good reasons to believe the claims made by Christianity. It’s not just a blind faith where we are expected to believe with no evidence.
Evidence can be helpful in some instances, but many times it is of no use as well. I’m going to give you four reasons we can trust the truthfulness of the Bible and then explains why evidence can be useful to us and not-so-useful to others.
It says it’s true.
If the Bible is the word of God and the words in the Bible say the Bible is true then if it’s not God is a liar and we can’t believe Him. This is self referential, but important. Many places in the Bible attest to it being God’s word and the truthfulness of it. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus says in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
I can see why you might not like that option though. Just because something says it’s true doesn’t make it true, right? You could have a book full of lies making the claim within that same book that everything in it is true and they would still be lies. I think the fact the Bible claims it’s own truthfulness is important, but ultimately not helpful in an argument. We would call this circular reasoning. Let’s look at another reason.
It’s amazingly complex, but it doesn’t contradict itself.
Think about this. The Bible is made up of 66 different documents that we call books and over 40 authors wrote those documents over a period of roughly 1500 years on three different continents in three different languages. Many of these documents talk about similar things or themes, but none of them contradict each other. That’s amazing right? This is only possibly because the Holy Spirit spoke through these different authors unifying them in their writing.
Let’s also mention that Old Testament contains countless prophecies that have been fulfilled. There are between 200 to 400 prophecies in the Old Testament that are about Jesus alone (different people have different opinions about what constitutes a prophecy). There are also countless prophecies about other things that would happen and then come true such as someone’s death or a person’s rise to power as king. This doesn’t happen anywhere but the Bible.
Archaeology has proven that many places and items written about in the Bible exist. If these were actually real places with real people who had real things then it would be highly suspect not to find some of those places and things. Archaeologists also keep finding older and older copies of parts of the Bible that almost exactly match the copies we have today. Archaeology is evidence you can touch.
Helpful, but Unhelpful
Now let’s talk about why evidence can be good and bad. Evidence is good for those of us who believe in God. It helps to give us even more reasons to believe and make us stronger in our faith. As stated earlier, Christians have good reason to believe what they believe. They don’t just believe in a fairy tale or some made up God. There is real, tangible history on our side.
Evidence is ultimately unhelpful to people who don’t believe. If you take what I just told you and shared it with your atheists friends, I’m not sure it would do much to convince them the Bible is true. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Same Evidence, Different Conclusion
The problem with evidence is that people interpret it differently. An unbeliever and I may go to a zoo together and have a great time. We look at the different animals and marvel at their uniqueness and how interesting they are. At the end of the day I exclaim, “Isn’t it amazing how God uniquely designed all of these creatures? God is the most creative being!” My atheist friend looks at me puzzled and says, “What are you talking about? What is really amazing is how all of these creatures could have evolved from the same thing over millions of years and now there is such variety. The universe is incredible!” We see the same evidence, but we arrive at different conclusions.
Many atheists and unbelievers want to explain away the Bible and are seeking to do so. They have all the same evidence we do, but arrive at different conclusions. Presenting them with evidence for God or the Bible’s truthfulness will typically do little to sway them to our side.
A Blind Eye
The Bible tells us that we all know God exists, but we have suppressed that truth and turned a blind eye. Romans 1:18-20 says:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
The world we live in is enough to prove God exists and that His word is true, but as sinners we suppress that truth. We deny God’s existence and live as though we ourselves are gods in our unrighteousness. We need God’s help to overcome our truth suppression.
We need God to step in and change us to help us believe Him and His Word. Jesus makes this clear in the book of John.
John 6:63-65 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Jesus makes clear here that God helps people come to Him. It is God’s Spirit that gives life and our sinful flesh can’t help at all. As we seek to share the good news of the gospel with our lost friends and family we must be praying for God’s help in the matter. Our flesh doesn’t have any power. God has the power.
John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus makes it clear here that it’s His voice that has the power. Not our cleverly designed proofs or arguments. I can argue with my atheist friends all day long, but ultimately my arguments aren’t powerful. I need to be praying God would help me love them well and that He would o powerful works in their lives so they would hear Jesus’ voice.
Judge and Jury
What we know is that the God who created the world is the judge and the jury. One day He will look at the evidence of our lives and decide where we will spend eternity. If there is no evidence of a relationship with Jesus then we will spend eternity apart from Him. When we present evidence to lost people for God’s existence and the Bible’s truthfulness then we essentially reverse the roles making them the judge and jury and putting God on trial. We say, “See if there is enough evidence to acquit God.” God is never on trial.
God created the world and all of us. No one can escape that. We are all made in His image. We play by His rules whether we want to or not. These things are evidence enough for those who don’t believe. They may deny them, but they can’t escape them. God has given us the Bible to help us thrive in the world He created. In it we find the gospel of life and rules for wise living. God can use evidence to draw unbelievers to Himself, but we must bold in praying that He would be active as we share because the flesh is no help at all.