Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that it contains timeless truths about God, humans, and salvation. Others, however, reject that claim and say the Bible is just an old book that is irrelevant for life today. At the core of this argument is the legitimacy of the Bible. Can the Bible be trusted? In other words, is it Legit? Although there are many avenues to go down when answering this question, this article will just cover a few.
The Bible is consistent in its message and overarching themes from beginning to end. This is amazing because the Bible is not just one book, like a novel. The Bible is more like an ancient library full of scrolls and papyri that span thousands of years and are full of different genres set in different time periods and cultures. Overall, there are 66 books in our English Bibles written by 40 different authors and brought together in this collection we call the Bible. However, unlike a normal library, these books were inspired by God, arranged in an intentional way, and have a unifying theme in Jesus the Messiah. The whole Bible, as a collection of ancient books, answers our questions about God, life, salvation, and our existence.
The legitimacy of the Bible should start with Jesus. There are certain facts about Jesus that are undeniable. He was a Jewish man born in a small town in Jerusalem during a time of Roman occupation and rule. In that context, and in just three years, without any military victory, He completely changed the world. How? His geography was limited, He had no political power, His closest disciples were a mess, and His teachings were focused on things like love, faith, humility, self-sacrifice, and the kingdom of God. He was also hated by his own religious leaders. He was accused of blasphemy, for claiming to be God, and He was crucified and buried. But the Bible claims that He rose from the dead, which caused a transformation in those who knew Him. The message of Jesus spread and changed the world. Some say He was just a great teacher, others say He was a prophet, but Christians believe what Jesus said; that He was God. This is what C.S. Lewis argues in “Mere Christianity:”
Jesus lived His life validating the claims of the Bible. The Old Testament teaches about what the Messiah, who was Jesus, would do and be. The New Testament shows the fulfillment in Jesus and how to live life experiencing forgiveness and new life in Him. The Bible is both about Jesus and verified by Jesus.
The field of textual criticism highlights the reliability and accuracy of historical documents by how close to the original we have copies, how many copies we have, and the consistency of the copies over time. Not only do more copies that are closest to the original exist from the Bible, but the care and precision that was used is proven every time new manuscripts are discovered. To put this in perspective; Tacitus is said to be one of Rome’s most important historians. Although historians rely on his annals for historical data, only 20 manuscripts exist with a 1,000-year gap between his life and the earliest copy. With Plato, we have 7 copies with a 1,200-year gap. For Aristotle, we have 49 copies but a 1,400-year gap. There are many examples like these, but to contrast these with the New Testament, scholars have over 5,800 Greek manuscripts of the NT. And that totals over 2.6 million pages. Including both the Old and New Testaments, we have more than 66,000 manuscripts and scrolls.
The Bible is also grounded in history. The Bible is not just a collection of made-up stories that take place in mysterious locations. In fact, Scripture is full of real places, people, and historical facts that have been validated through time and research. You can go to Israel and see the places and structures that are discussed in the Old Testament. You can go to Israel, Greece, and Asia Minor and trace the events in the New Testament. The Bible's historical figures, places, and kingdoms have been validated through history and archaeology. In all these areas, the more archaeology that is discovered the more it proves the accuracy of Scripture. Take Luke for example. He is commissioned to write a historical account. He gives specifics, both in Luke and in Acts about rules, dates, and places. For instance, he states, “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.”- Luke 2:1-2
Interestingly, Sir William Ramsay, who was a top archaeologist in the early 1900s, traveled throughout Asia Minor and Greece to show the inaccuracy of Luke. After years of study, he converted to Christianity and concluded, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense … in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians.”
The Bible has been changing lives for thousands of years. It is actually the best-selling book of all time, and it is the number one best-selling book of the year, every year. It has also been translated fully into 717 languages and work continues to expand this. The Bible continues to be translated and bought around the world because it is the Word of God, and it changes people’s lives. There are countless stories of this, through time and throughout the world. People who read the Bible experience God. They experience His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. They find freedom and hope. Although there are countless examples, let’s look at Earl Smith, featured in the Alpha video, “Why and How Should I Read the Bible.” He was a heavy drug user who would use pages of a New Testament to roll joints while in a hospital. When he began to read the Gospel of John, he accepted Jesus as his savior, and that transformed his life.
There are many, more areas that could be explored to show the legitimacy of the Bible. There are also great resources out there in this field of discovery. The best way to begin is to simply start reading. The Bible is the Word of God and is living and active. By reading it, your life can be changed, just like Earl Smith’s was. Start with one of the four Gospels that talk about the ministry of Jesus and who He was. Those are Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. As you read and have questions, please contact us at Sun Valley or join one of our Alpha courses.
Husband and father. Ministry Assistant to the Lead Pastor at Sun Valley. “The Professor” and teacher of Sun Valley University, and in my DMIN program. Love to read, listen to podcasts, and watch movies. I am also an associate at Rayhons Financial Solutions.