There are two types of people in the world: those who believe everything is coincidental and meaningless and those who don't. There are those who believe that the universe came about literally out of nothing by complete chance. There are those who believe that our planet, with it's perfect ecosystem, perfect distance from the sun, and countless other perfect systems, aligned coincidentally such that life is not just able to exist, but to thrive. There are those who believe that we are born by complete chance; that our lives are therefore meaningless, and that what we do really means absolutely nothing. There are those who believe that the Bible is simply a collection of the writings of men that is just that: writings of men. And then there are those who don't. I am absolutely one of those who does not believe in any of the above. I believe that the universe with it's incredibly complex set of consistent laws of physics was designed by God; I believe that life with the incredible complexity of the programming language found in DNA was designed and created by God and that each of us were created and stitched together by God in our mother's womb; and I believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, written by men under the influence and guidance of God and that it has profound importance and potential in our lives. I don't believe all this without reason, but rather as a result of many years of well thought through reasons. And today I simply want to address one of these items: the Bible. Why do I believe the Bible? There are many reasons, but here are six to ponder:
The Astounding Consistency of the Bible
The Bible is completely unique among the religious books of the world - there is no comparison between the Bible and the koran or the book of Mormom or the various books of Buddhism or Hinduism or Wicca. The Bible stands alone among all religious books of the world. Actually, the Bible is not "a" book, per se, but rather a collection of 66 different books written by at least 40 different people on 3 different continents in 3 different languages over the course of 2,000 years. It was written by prisoners, shepherds, scholars, kings, prophets, a general and others. It was written for various reasons ranging from recording history to predicting future events to pronouncing judgment to providing guidance for everyday living.
And despite these incredible facts, the Bible is completely and incredibly consistent. The message is consistent throughout. Take a moment to consider this profound fact.
The Mind-Boggling Interconnections Within the Bible
Despite the fact that many of the 40+ authors who God used to write the Bible did not have access to all of the other books and scriptures, there are cross references and interconnections that simply boggle the mind. Take a look at the image at the top of the page and consider that each of these lines represents one of over 340,000 cross references between two books in the Bible. Again, many of these books were written thousands of years apart on different continents in different language by people who didn't have each others notes or books. Mind-boggling.
The Incredible Fulfillment of Predictions in the Bible
There are literally hundreds of fulfilled predictions just related to Jesus alone in the Bible, including one of the most incredible: the year of his birth was accurately predicted in Daniel Chapter 9, 483 years beforehand. Not to mention the predictions related to his birthplace, his life, his accomplishments, the way he would be treated, the way he would enter Jerusalem, the way he would die...the list goes on and on and on. Oh yeah, the cynic, of course, would say "but that's according to the Bible" - yes, but keep reading and you'll see that many of his accomplishments were "confirmed" by extra-Biblical sources as noted above. This is real and the Bible can be trusted.
One of the most amazing fulfilled prophecies in the Bible concerns a man named Cyrus. Cyrus was a king mentioned in the Bible over 30 times and is significant because it was during his reign and by his decree that the Israelites were first allowed to return to Israel after 70 years in Persian captivity. What is even more significant perhaps than his important role in freeing the Jews, at least in light of this discussion, is the fact that this decree was foretold and predicted by Isaiah about 150 years before Cyrus even lived! In Isaiah 41, the prophet says this: "“This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him...I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor though you do not acknowledge me." And in 2 Chronicles we read the fulfillment of this:
2 Chronicles 36:22-23 (NIV)
22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of theLord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”
And there are many, many more that have been fulfilled, and as many that have not yet been filled, and there have been none that have been disproved. Some predictions that were made in the Bible were so outlandish and so crazy that theologians and scholars alike went out of their way to try and work around them. One such example was the prediction made in Ezekiel 37:
Ezekiel 37:21-22 (NIV)
21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.
Prior to 1948 and since the 1st century, the Jewish people were scattered all around the world. Following the massive genocide of the Jews by the Nazis in WWII, the Allies agreed to bring the Jews together and re-establish the nation of Israel as a sort of restoration for their suffering and losses. Furthermore, the prophet Isaiah talks extensively about the re-establishment of Israel including the following which suggests that it would happen in a day:
Isaiah 66:7-8 (NIV)
7 “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. 8 Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.
And sure enough, on May 14, 1948, the bold but clear predictions of the Bible were fulfilled with the unlikely re-establishment of the nation of Israel in a single day. Also on that same day, the innumerable scholars and theologians who had twisted the word of God in an effort to remove the requirement for this unbelievable prediction to come true, were convicted and shown the great power of God to fulfill his promises despite overwhelming odds against them.
If so many of God's predictions in the Bible have been proven true, including even the most unbelievable predictions like the re-establishment of Israel, then how much more can we believe the yet unfulfilled predictions for our own lives as Christians? Jesus is coming again!
The Unparalleled Historical and Geographical Accuracy of the Bible
As Dr. Nelson Glueck, possibly the greatest scholar and authority on Israeli archaeology said, "No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries."
The archaeological discoveries made just in the past century that have confirmed otherwise unconfirmed stories and places in the Bible are innumerable. The stone inscriptions recently found from the 8th and 9th century B.C. reference King David and King Solomon. These men were were prominent characters in the Bible, yet they were not "confirmed" by any secondary sources until these recent discoveries.
The five cities of the plain, including Sodom and Gomorrah, were not discovered until recent years either. In fact, many secular scholars suggested that they may not have even existed, but were simply mythological references in the Bible. Archaeology, of course, has proven these "scholars" wrong by discovering clear evidence that is consistent with the location, the names, and even the way in which they were destroyed as documented in the historically accurate scriptures of the Old Testament. Burned balls of sulfur were found embedded into the area around Sodom and Gomorrah providing ground-shaking evidence of the Biblical account that these cities were destroyed by "fiery brimstone," where "brimstone" is simply an archaic word for "sulfur."
The city of Jericho was only "confirmed" to have existed within the last century. John Garstang, a British archaeologist, was one of the first people on the scene to investigate a large mound discovered and theorized to be the remains of an ancient city, perhaps Jericho. One of the significant findings that Garstang and his team found was a toppled wall, completely consistent with the Biblical account in Joshua 6. Garstang said of his discoveries, "In a word, in all material details and in date the fall of Jericho took place as described in the Biblical narrative....the walls fell, shaken apparently by earthquake, and the city was destroyed by fire, about 1400 B.C. These are the basic facts resulting from our investigations. The link with Joshua and the Israelites is only circumstantial but it seems to be solid and without a flaw."
Despite the claims of many anti-Christian people and atheists, the evidence surrounding the life and death of Jesus Christ himself is absolutely undeniable, as is the evidence for numerous other New Testament accounts. The respected Roman historian Flavius Josephus, for example, mentions John the Baptist, Herod, Ananias the High Priest, James brother of Jesus, and Jesus Christ by their names. He writes of Jesus' "wonderful works," that he "drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles," and also about his death by crucifixion. Josephus also writes about the many "reports" of sightings of Jesus by numerous people in and around Jerusalem.
The reality that the Bible has proven to be the most accurate source of historical data from the relevant times and geographical locations is undeniable.
The Unlikely Survival of the Bible
Despite thousands of years of efforts to debunk the Bible, to destroy the Bible, and to disprove the Bible, it is still here. Starting on day 1, the Roman Empire sought to destroy this seedling movement by destroying churches, killing Christians, and burning scriptures. Even the Jews sought to do this as well, seeking to kill many early Christian leaders. All of the apostles were murdered by the enemies of Christianity - all of them.
Clement of Alexandria wrote that "Many martyrs are daily burned, crucified, and beheaded before our eyes." All of the Roman emperors up until Constantine in 300 A.D. were opposed to Christianity, and many of their efforts sought to annihilate the Bible from existence. According to the Roman historian Eusebius, Diocletian, Constantine's predecessor, "royal edicts were published everywhere, commanding that the churches be leveled to the ground and the Scriptures destroyed by fire" (Church History, Book VIII, Ch. 1). Diocletian issued an edict that stated that if anyone were to possess a Bible, or even to know of someone else with a Bible, and not turn it in to be burned or report it, they would be punished by death. Many Christians died during the next few years and many Bibles were destroyed. Diocletian was confident, in fact, that he was successful in his efforts to annihilate the Bible when he said, "I have completely exterminated the Christian writings from the face of the earth!" He was, of course, completely wrong.
In the middle ages, the Roman Catholic Church burned thousands of copies of the Bible. In the 1700's Voltaire, the liberal French secularist, sought to destroy the Bible and even predicted that it would be completely destroyed, along with Christianity, within 100 years. Voltaire, like everyone before him, failed miserably. The Bible is still here today. Not only is it here, but as of November 2014 it has been translated into at least 588 languages, and 2,833 languages have at least some portion of the Bible, and it is the most distributed book in history with at least 6 billion copies. The Bible promises on several places that the "Word of our Lord will endure forever" - indeed it has, and indeed it will.
The Undeniable Power of the Bible
Finally, the personal aspect of why I believe the Bible. In pastoral ministry, I have encountered many, many people who's lives have completely changed, including my own, after an encounter with God. Addictions are broken, habits are put to death, lifestyles are changed - even life-long addictions and habits and lifestyles. God himself gave us his word - it is reliable, it is accurate, it can be trusted, and God will use it to change your life is you let him. Open your Bible and expect God to talk to you and indeed he will.