Are there any good reasons to believe the Bible is true? Can an old book like the Bible really be trusted? There are, of course, many good reasons to believe that the Bible is indeed a trustworthy document.
We can have confidence in the Bible as God’s true and trusted speech to us. Here are ten reasons to trust the Bible.
1. The Bible is historically accurate.
The field of archaeology demonstrates that the Bible is historically accurate. Now, this does not mean that it is inherently “true.” It does mean that it is reliable in its historical details—which gives some pretty good credibility to what else it has to say. If we can trust that the Bible accurately records for us geographical places (Israel, Egypt, Babylon, etc.) and historical people (Herod or Pontius Pilate, for example), it’s very likely it has many other true things to say. One reason I could never trust the Book of Mormon, in contrast, is that most of the places listed in its geography are make-believe. It’s very difficult for me to trust a book that is claiming to be nonfiction when its geography is clearly fiction.
2. Compared to other ancient documents, there is no comparison!
The New Testament has been preserved more than any other ancient work. There are over 5,800 Greek manuscripts. The runner-up for ancient texts is Homer’s Iliad, with less than 2,000 copies. After that, the works of Aristotle, Herodotus, Tacitus, and others are even more poorly represented with only two handfuls (or less!) for each.
Now having an abundance of manuscripts doesn’t tell us whether or not the original text is true—it only tells us that we accurately have a handle on what that original text was. We have to read the New Testament itself if we want to find out how trustworthy it is. Still, we do have good reason to trust that the English printed edition we have on our bookshelf or next to our nightstand is, in fact, the very Bible that was completed in the first century. That’s another great place to start in being able to trust the Bible, and it’s more than we can say for any other ancient text in the world.
3. The New Testament manuscripts were written by eyewitnesses.
These eyewitnesses were real people who saw (and touched, see 1 John 1) firsthand the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luke does mention that he did historical research before writing his Gospel (Luke 1:1–4), but he went straight to other eyewitnesses in order to write these things down. The whole New Testament claims that Jesus Christ died on a cross and rose from the dead three days after dying.
He was seen risen from the dead by all of the original apostles (except Judas who hung himself) and by over five hundred different people (1 Cor. 15:6). There was nothing to gain but death by asserting this claim, but many of these disciples chose to die as martyrs rather than deny the truth of Christ’s resurrection. The fact that so many early disciples died as martyrs based on what they personally witnessed only bolsters the reality that it was true.
4. The Bible cared about what women thought at a time when no one else did.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1–2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) make it a point to tell us that the first people to report that the tomb of Jesus was empty were women. Not men. Women. In the first century, a woman’s opinion was not viewed as credible testimony in court. (Just read the Jewish historian, Josephus, or the Jewish Talmud to verify this fact.) A woman’s opinion didn’t matter. But the Bible says it does. The last group of people we would expect to find the empty tomb was the first group to whom God looked and used: women.
If first-century followers of Christ were going to fabricate a story about Jesus rising from the dead, they wouldn’t want to include this embarrassing detail about women finding the tomb first. They would have omitted it to make the strongest case possible for the resurrection. And yet, the Gospel writers did not omit this detail. They told the truth as it was. We can trust that the Bible is true because they included this small but magnificent detail. They recounted what happened truthfully, without bearing false witness. Other ancients might have pointed to its seeming absurdity: “You say women found the tomb? What a bunch of baloney! Never trust a woman’s testimony!” Yet, the Bible was way ahead of its time in giving honor and respect to women.
5. If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then the Bible is true.
Christianity is the only religion founded by a leader who predicted his resurrection before he died, and whose earliest followers also died confessing and believing this fact. If the tomb was empty and the resurrection makes the most sense for why Jesus’ body went missing, then Jesus is still alive today. It means that Jesus is God and is Lord of the entire cosmos. He—God—Jesus—runs the show.
The Gospel accounts tell us that after his resurrection, Jesus spent some time with his disciples and then appeared to numerous others. Among those blessed ones to whom he appeared were two on the road to Emmaus. To these two, Jesus didn’t appeal to the fact that he was now resurrected. He appealed to the Bible as his source of authority. He didn’t say, “Hey, look at my glorious resurrection body!” but he directed their attention to the very Word of God (Luke 24:13–35). And then he proved he was not a ghost by eating bread and drinking wine with them—communing with them (v. 35).
If the risen Lord first appealed to the Bible to convince these disciples to believe in him, we also have a good incentive to trust the credibility of these manuscripts and scrolls that are now translated into what we know as the Bible. Jesus was willing to submit himself, even as the resurrected Lord of the universe, to the words that are revealed in this book. In doing so, he taught us something. He taught us that God’s Word is true and dependable. Again, if Jesus is God—if he is risen—that means something! It means that the Bible must be right. It must be trustworthy or else God himself is a liar. And we know that’s not true.
6. The Bible’s primary author can be trusted.
The Bible was written by many authors over more than two thousand years, and yet it has a unity to it that is unlike any other religious collection of books. This unity exists because one divine author wrote it—God. The Old Testament anticipates the New Testament, and the New Testament recasts old metaphors and imagery, showing forth the organic unity of it all!
As the early church pastor Saint Augustine expressed it, “The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.” What this means is that the Bible reads from promise (Old Testament) to fulfillment (New Testament). It moves forward, and when we read ahead, we are told to remember and look backward at what happened long ago in history.
Like any good story, the Bible has characters, plots, subplots, and different settings—yet this one, unified story is the greatest story that was ever told. It’s the greatest story ever told because not only are we told about the meaning of life, but in it, we are given the greatest Savior to behold—one who has come to save us from even death itself and has promised a new world without pain or tears! God has proved himself to be trustworthy in the words and works of Jesus.
7. The Bible is authorized by Jesus.
Because Jesus is God, if he says that he trusts something, then we have good reason to trust it too. We are clay in the hands of the potter, creatures in the hands of the Creator. When Jesus lived on this earth in the first century, he believed that the Old Testament Scriptures were authoritative (Matt. 19:4-5).
Jesus also affirmed that every prophecy in the Old Testament was being fulfilled in himself, as he taught two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 4:21), and before he ascended into heaven, Jesus also authorized his apostles to speak in his name (Matt. 18:18; 28:16-20; Romans 3:2).
This means that they had authority from God to write the rest of the New Testament, so we can trust that the Bible is God’s Word because God himself gave it to us and put his stamp of approval on it.
8. The Bible is without error.
If ultimately God wrote the entire Bible through prophets and apostles (Jeremiah 1:9), cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), and is the source of all good, then it follows that the Bible is without error, falsehood, or deceit.
“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Ps. 119:160)
If this book were full of critical errors, there would, of course, be no point in reading it, but the Bible has more credibility as a historical document.
9. The Bible is clear in its primary message.
The reformer John Calvin observed that Moses was not an astronomer, and the Bible is not a science textbook. If we go to the Bible looking for answers to questions that it never asks, we will surely misunderstand the book. As Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
The basic plotline, God saving a people for himself, runs throughout the whole Bible. This basic message is simple and clearly explained over and over again.
10. The Bible is sufficient.
The main character and center of the Bible’s plotline is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the climax of the greatest story ever told!
“Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
To believe in and to behold this Jesus of the Scriptures is the point of the whole story.
“but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
In the Bible, we learn enough about ourselves to know that we need Jesus as our Savior. In the Bible, we learn enough about a world that is sin-cursed to know that Jesus is bringing us a new world. In the Bible, we have enough to know who God is, what he has done, what he is going to do, and that he forgives and loves us right now.
The Bible is sufficient: we can trust it because the God who wrote it is trustworthy. We can trust him. We have confidence in the Bible as God’s true and trusted speech to us.
We need to be aware of what American culture has become in order to share the gospel effectively.