{5}           Scriptures (1): Reliability of the Bible

19.            Is the Bible the Word of God?

a.  Based on evidences from the Bible, the Scriptures are the Word of God:

(1)  The Bible is claimed to be the “Word of God”. The Scriptures are described as inspired by God (2Ti 3:16) and involved the activity of the Holy Spirit on the human author, so that their words are not only human words but also the words of God (2Pe 1:21; Heb 1:1; 1Co 2:13).

(2)  “God said” is used over and over again; the Bible also includes God’s stern warning that the Bible must be regarded seriously (Dt 18:20; Rev 22:18-19).

b.  Based on objective facts, the Bible is an unique book, unsurpassed by any other.

(1)  Moral superiority of teachings: The Bible contains a complete teaching on life and morality. It is ethically high and logically consistent.

(2)  Unique concept of salvation: The Bible discloses man’s nature of sin and offers a method of salvation. Other books deal only with issues not vital to life, such as suffering in Buddhist writings

(3)  Accuracy of prophecy: Many prophecies in the Bible were fulfilled. It is impossible to have all these occurrences by chance.

(4)  Unity: In the Bible, there is a unity of subject (about sin and salvation) and a total agreement in doctrine. Despite being written by over 40 authors from 1500 years apart, from different countries and different occupations, there is no contradiction and inconsistency at all.

(5)  Universality: The Bible accessible to almost all national groups, and has been translated into over 1000 languages and dialects.

(6)  Indestructibility: The Bible withstood numerous attacks (Mk 13:31; 1Pe 1:25) and is never out-of-date.

(7)  Influence on mankind: The Bible possesses the power of transformation that causes complete moral conversion of individuals as well as brings beneficial effects to human societies, eg. abolition of slavery.

20.            How reliable is the text of our present Bible?

A.  Importance of reliability: The reliability of the Bible is extremely important. Belief in the Bible as inspired revelation from God has been at the heart of historic Christianity (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:16-21; 2 Peter 3:15-16).

B.  Questions of Reliability: There are two questions:

(1)  External reliability: (consistency between the Bible and other knowledge) [1] Is what the Bible recorded being confirmed by archeology? [2] Are the prophecies in the Bible fulfilled in history? [3] Are there contradictions between the Bible and science?

(2)  Internal reliability: (consistency within the Bible) [1] Are there contradictions between different parts of the Bible? [2] Is the Bible we use today the same as the the original autographs? [3] Are the translations we use today accurately represent the original Hebrew and Greek?

21.            Are the facts in the Bible borne out by discoveries in archaeology?

a.  Limitations of archeology: Archaeological evidence is only fragmentary, not comprehensive. The conclusions based on archaeological data are mostly subjective as human interpretation.

B.  Archeology helps to authenticate the Bible:

     The Bible is not intended to be a history book. Yet, overall, archaeology has progressively affirmed the historical and geographical details of the Bible.

     Until now, archaeology has found nothing to invalidate the historical facts recorded in the Bible.

C.  Archeology validating the OT: (1) The world of the patriarchs, including the Hittites and Ur  (Gen 11:31), (2) The Jericho conquest (Jos 6:20), (3) Hezekiah’s reform and victory (2Ki 18—20; 2Ch 29—32).

D.  Archeology validating the NT: (1) Census taken at the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:1), (2) Crucifixion, (3) The reliability of Luke and Acts.

E.  Proof that NT books were written not long after the events:

     Acts says nothing about the deaths of Paul and Peter who were martyred around AD67, or the death of James, Jesus’ brother around AD62. The fall of Jerusalem in AD70 was also missing. Therefore, the book of Acts must be composed no later than AD66.

     Most scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was the first gospel written, followed by Matthew and Luke. Acts was clearly written after Luke (Ac 1:1). Therefore, the synoptic gospels were all written before AD66, no more than 35 years after the death of Jesus.

     If the history is not accurately recorded after so short a time, some people would come forward to object the historicity of the books.

22.            Are the prophecies in the Bible fulfilled in history?

A.  A full 27% of the Bible’s text is prophetic material. All prophecies (except those not yet happened) have been fulfilled.

B.  Specific fulfilment of Biblical prophecies in history:

(1)  Israel’s History: the Bible foretold that the Jewish nation would cease to exist, but yet one day they would be brought back together as a nation (Jer 30:1-11; Ezek 37:21-22; Zeph 3:19-20).

(2)  Fate of cities and nations: destruction of Edom (Oba 1:18), Babylon (Jer 51:58), and Assyrian empire (Zep 2:13), decline of the cities of Tyre (Eze 26:4-5) and Sidon (Eze 28:23)

(3)  Sequence of empires: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, Roman empires (Dan 2:37-45; 7—8).

(4)  Messiah: over 90 OT prophecies fulfilled (more on the lesson for Christ)

(5)  Last days: regathering of Israel (Isa 11:11), sign of second coming (Mt 24:3-8), corruption of morals (Lk 17:26; 2Ti 3:5; Ro 1:28-31), religious apostasy (2Pe 3:3; 2:1; 2Ti 3:7; 4:4), rapid rise of demonism (1Ti 4:1; Mt 24:24; Rev 13:4,8; 9:20). Many of these phenomena have happened today.

23.            Are there any contradictions between the Bible and science?

a.  The Bible is not a science document. The language of the Bible is intended to be understandable for common people at that time, so it is not written in scientific language.

b.  Yet, there is no definitive proof that science contradicts the Bible. Some critics object the unscientific language of the Bible, such as the motions of sun, moon, and stars (Jos 10:12; Ps 19:6), but so is our ordinary language, like sunrise.

c.  Verses in the Bible demonstrate anticipatory scientific insights: (1) innumerable number of stars (Gen 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; Ex 32:13); (2) round shape of earth (Isa 40:22), free floating of earth in space (Job 26:7); (3) gravitation (Job 26:7); (4) circulation of atmosphere (Ecc 1:6); (5) hydrologic cycle of the earth (Ecc 1:7; Isa 55:10); (6) rock erosion (Job 14:18-19)