Adult Education Minister
Tonganoxie Christian Church
When we look at the Bible, we know the books and letters of the New Testament were written between 50-100 AD. Our earliest copies date back to 130 AD. The gap is less than 100 years. On top of the number of complete copies that we have to cross check, there are also over 24,000 copies or fragments of copies that we have in which we can cross-check as well. That is pretty cool! That is pretty good.
With evidence like that, it leaves me no doubt that what we have in the Bible has stayed intact. The source itself has remained intact over these hundreds of years. That gives me hope that helps me understand that I can trust the Bible as THE source.
Test #1: Do I trust the source?
B) The Sources Are Consistent
Not only do I know the source has remained intact over the years, but I also find out that the sources are consistent.
If the Bible were a lie, I'd expect less congruency. After all, the source is a group of 40 different authors who wrote 66 books over a span of 1500 years on three continents in three different languages and in multiple genres. Such a book, such a collection, should have multiple discrepancies and should have a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions along the way. And yet, when I look at the Bible and as I read through it, there are no such problems.
Consider this, look back at the Old Testament. You see the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles. You read through them and you see them talking about the same time period. You see them talking about the same people. The stories that I see in Kings match up with what I see in Chronicles. Both tell the story of the nation of Judah and its rulers. They match — same kings, same events!
I go to the New Testament and I see four separate accounts of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I see fours copies here that we call the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I read through them, and yes, some of them provide some different perspectives. But, just like any group of eyewitness, they have different perspectives. They might share different details, but they all come together. They all harmonize.
We even find consistency between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The principles that we find in the Old Testament line up with what we see in the New Testament. The description of God that we find back there, this holy and just and loving and merciful God from the Old Testament, is still the holy and just and loving and merciful God that we find in the New Testament.
The sources are consistent, and the more that I read the Bible, the more amazed I am at how consistent those teachings are. The sources seem trustworthy.
Test #1: Do I trust the source?
C) The Sources Don't Benefit
I also look at the Bible and realize the sources don't benefit. If I am trying to decide if I trust a source, I want to look and ask if these sources are benefiting from their messages. Do they have anything personal to gain from it?
If the books of the Bible were a lie, I would expect the Bible would be a whole lot more self-serving to its authors. Instead, I find the biblical accounts to be very unflattering to its authors. Paul as he is writing some letters says that he is "the chief of sinners." Whoa! That is great when you are trying to write to a church crowd, right? The chief of sinners.
Matthew, one of the disciples, records how when he was talking about his experiences with Jesus how he and the other disciples were clueless. Jesus is teaching and they are just sitting there like, "Um, could you explain that?" That's not very flattering. I would like to at least make myself sound a little better, but they are not trying to do that at all.
I find that the authors for the most part are anonymous. They write these books and they are not trying to get any credit for themselves. Tradition tells us who a lot of the authors were, but some of them like with the book of Hebrews, we still don't even know who wrote it.
The authors are not trying to gain anything from writing these books. They are not trying to gain credit.
I also find that the authors suffered as they were writing these materials. It is one things to be skewered by critics, but it is another to experience what it says in Hebrews 11, that they experienced mocking and scourgings, as wells as bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, and they died by the sword. Paul himself describes his experiences in 2 Corinthians, saying how he was beaten, lashed, stoned, and shipwrecked because of this message that he had written down and that he has preached. You don't face that kind of persecution unless you are really convinced of your message.
The sources are not benefiting from the abuse, and based on that their accounts seems trustworthy to me.
Do I trust the source? Yes! The source seems trustworthy. This is an everyday test of truth that we see here that proves the Bible and its past truth is correct for us today.