Society teaches that there is no absolute truth. Most people have bought into this majority view rejecting the Bible as God's inerrant Word. Indeed Jesus told us that this would be the case in Matthew 7:14. But most people's knowledge of the Bible is based on second-hand or even further removed sources. Rejection of the Bible is almost always brought on by exposure to negative teaching rather than a personal investigation of its contents.
If you hunger for rock-solid truth in this changing world, test the reliability of the Bible for yourself. Before you reject the Bible, you owe it to yourself to understand its basic message first.
There are only a few ancient Old Testament documents because the Jewish scribes ceremonially buried imperfect and worn manuscripts. However, the shortage is offset by the high quality of the Hebrew manuscripts that do exist. The Jewish scribes treated the Scriptures with great reverence and exercised extreme care in making new copies. The number of letters, words, and lines were counted and if a single mistake was discovered, the entire manuscript would be destroyed.
The existing Hebrew manuscripts are supplemented by the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint (a 3rd Century B.C. Greek translation), the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Targums (ancient paraphrases), and the Talmud (ancient teachings related to the Hebrew Scriptures).
The quantity of New Testament manuscripts is unparalleled in ancient literature. There are over 5,000 manuscripts in Greek, about 8,000 in Latin, and another 1,000 in other languages. There are no more than 20 existing manuscripts for the works of Greek and Latin authors such as Plato, Aristotle, or Caesar.
Another measure of manuscript accuracy is the time span from the original documents. Apart from some fragments, the earliest Masoretic manuscript of the Old Testament is dated at A.D. 895 as would be expected due to the practice of the scribes. However, discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls dating from 200 B.C. to A.D. 68 greatly improved the time span.
The time span for most of the New Testament is less than 200 years from the date of authorship to the earliest manuscripts. This is in sharp contrast with an average gap of over 1,000 years between the composition and earliest copy of the writings of other ancient authors.
The quality of the Bible is high because most of it was written by men who were eyewitnesses of the events they recorded (1 John 1:1, 3).
Because the Scriptures continually refer to historical events, they are verifiable by external evidence. The explosion of archeological evidence in the 20th century has provided external confirmation of hundreds of Biblical statements.
The historicity of Jesus Christ is well established by early Roman, Greek, and Jewish sources. Among these are writings by the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, a letter by an imprisoned Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion, Roman historians Cornelius Tacitus and Suetonius, the Roman governor Pliny the Younger, and the Greek satirist Lucian. Jesus is also mentioned a number of times in the Jewish Talmud.
All the evidence supports the historical reliability of the Gospel accounts about Jesus. This builds a solid case for His resurrection. The Resurrection in turn authenticates Jesus' divine claims about Himself. Because Jesus is God, His testimony concerning the Scriptures is true, and He bore witness to the complete authority of the Word of God.
The Bible is a unity out of diversity presenting a harmonious message from beginning to end. Its main theme is the person and work of Jesus Christ. The scarlet thread of redemption runs from Genesis to Revelation.
There were more than 40 authors who contributed to the Bible including a king, a herdsman, a fisherman, and a tax collector. They cover the range from educated to uneducated, from rich to poor. The Bible was written in three languages on three continents under all types of conditions over a span of 1,800 years. In spite of this diversity, the Bible is consistent with itself.
The Scriptures have survived through time, persecution, and criticism. The Bible has been copied and circulated more extensively than any other book in history. It has been translated into more languages than any other literature as well, portions now exist in more than 1,700 languages.
The Bible's revelation of God as triune, infinite, and personal is unique, and so is its message about man and salvation: Originally created perfect, man became sinful at the Fall but faith in Christ, not human merit solves this problem, God became a man and died to redeem sinners. The Bible's historical and prophetic emphasis also sets it apart from the scriptures of other religions.
The message of the Bible has shaped the course of history, thought, and culture unlike any other book. Its influence on Western civilization is beyond estimation. Its redemptive message has had a phenomenal impact on the lives of millions of people. It has given help, joy, and meaning to everyone who has personally embraced it.
Have you allowed the message of the Bible to shape you? Salvation is found in God's Word: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Note: Portions of this article were taken from the book "I'm Glad You Asked" by Ken Boa and Larry Moody.