Why Should We Trust the Bible?
I once asked Spanish pastor and theologian JosÃ© de Segovia what he would say to someone who wanted to start reading the Bible. There are many things he might have said, but he said this, and I’ll never forget it:
“The Bible is a book whose reading never leaves us indifferent. It will disquiet us. It will make us restless because it’s a book unlike any other book. It is the Book of Books.”
Has the Bible ever disquieted you? Maybe you would just as soon remain indifferent to the Bible, but you feel an unsettling restlessness as you read it. You wonder, “Can I really trust this book?”
There are four main reasons why I believe we should trust the Bible.
1. The Bible claims to be inspired by God.
“Wait a minute,” you say, “That’s circular reasoning and it doesn’t prove anything!” Maybe, but it’s important to start here. Whatever we think about the Bible, we must acknowledge what the Bible claims for itself.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:15 that “all Scripture is breathed out by God.” The Bible itself claims to be God’s inspired word, down to the very last word. Furthermore, the Old Testament prophets cite the pronouncements of earlier prophets as God-inspired and thus authoritative (Zech. 7:7). The Apostle Peter says Paul’s writings are hard to understand, but that they’re to be regarded as Scripture (2 Pet. 3:16). Jesus himself during his wilderness temptation regards Old Testament commands as divinely given and thus to be obeyed (Matt. 4), and he cites Old Testament writings as authoritative support for his own teaching (Matt. 5).
So, the Bible itself claims to be God’s inspired word. That forces us to make a decision–the Bible’s claims about itself disallow indifference. This Book will only allow us to accept it as either the final authority for our lives, or else insidiously misleading. But you can’t just go on thinking it’s a book with some good things to say. You must make your choice.
2. The Bible has a shockingly coherent message.
There is something majestic and pure about this book. “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6). The Bible’s majesty and purity are most apparent in the coherence of its one, magnificent message: God’s glory in the redemption of sinners through faith in Jesus (Luke 24:37; John 5:39).
The Bible’s composition spanned millennia and involved many people with varying levels of education and life-experiences from a variety of geographical locations and cultures. Yet its message is thoroughly coherent (1 Pet. 1:10-12). It’s shocking, really! All of the many parts and various points of Scripture cohere like a beautifully-woven tapestry revealing God’s amazing grace to sinners.
Only God could bring about a book like the Bible, revealing through so many different human authors one coherent message of grace for sinners by faith in Jesus.
3. The Bible has the power to change us.
We can trust the Bible because it has the power to change us. It converts sinners and continues working in believing hearts. Again, the Bible is a book about Jesus. It’s by hearing this word of Christ that sinners come to faith in him (Rom. 10:7). This book “has the power to make us wise unto salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15).
Paul observed this life-changing power of the word. Writing to the church at Thessalonica, he says: “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God.”
That’s the Bible’s power to convert the unbelieving heart, but its power to change doesn’t stop there. Paul goes on to say this is the word of God “which is at work in you believers” (1 Thess. 2:13).
4. The Holy Spirit convinces us that the Bible is true.
This final reason why we can trust the Bible is unavoidably subjective yet, at the same time, the most powerful reason to believe the Bible. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit “bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.” The Bible’s message of grace is foolish to sin-hardened hearts. Only the Holy Spirit working in our hearts through the Scripture can overcome our indifference and disbelief, opening our eyes to see and believe that the Bible is true (2 Cor. 2:14).
At the end of the day, there is only one way these reasons (and others we could add) will compel us to trust the Bible and believe that, as de Segovia said, it is a book unlike any other book–the Book of Books. We have to read it and allow it to make us restless, to disquiet us as the Holy Spirit puts the word to work in us, changing our hearts by its coherent message of grace for sinners in Christ. Only then can we believe that it is indeed what it claims to be: the life-changing word of God.
 This is a conscious riff on C.S. Lewis’ “Liar, Lunatic, Lord” argument for the deity of Christ. See C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001), 51-52
 Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 4. Reasons 2-4 of this article track with the argument of this catechism question and answer.