Is the Bible trustworthy? Is it a reliable source? If so, reliable for what? In today’s culture, do we really still believe this ancient book (assembled over the course of 1,500 years from dozens of different writers) is completely true?
1. The Bible claims to be perfectly authoritative.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Far too often, those making claims (for or against) about the Bible’s authority or reliability haven’t actually read much of the Bible. When we seek to answer the question of the Bible’s reliability and usefulness, the Bible’s actually a good place to start. Is the Bible perfectly true? It claims to be.
I understand the dialogue, especially with those who don’t follow Jesus, needs to be more than, “The Bible says so” BUT that does not negate the fact that within the Bible are claims about the Bible to which we must lend our serious attention.
2. The Bible claims to show the path to eternal life.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:13
Here, John clearly lays out the purpose of the Bible: that you may know you have eternal life by believing in the name of the Son of God.
The Bible does not claim to be a science textbook. The Bible does not claim to be a book of neat stories or fables filled with tidbits of morality. The Bible claims to be much more than that!
An important note: the Bible never claims to BE the path to eternal life. Jesus consistently scolds people for treating it as such (Luke 23:27, John 5:39). Rather, like John Piper notes in his book Peculiar Glory, the Bible is much more like a window than a masterpiece. The Bible is the window that points us toward the masterpiece that is Jesus!
3. The Bible is the baseline for the real Gospel.
(See: Galatians 1:6-10) – In Galatians 1, Paul is writing to a church that has quickly deserted the Gospel they received without even knowing they were doing so because they were adding to it.
The Bible serves as the baseline for the real Gospel, the real message of God toward and for humanity. Without it, we can spin off new religions, cults, spiritual ideas or revelations, etc.
4. It’s possible to know a lot of Bible and not know Jesus.
In Luke 24:13-34, Jesus is walking on the road to Emmaus post-resurrection and comes cross these two travelers. Noticing their sadness, Jesus asks them why they’re so bummed. They don’t recognize Jesus but tell them they’re sad because they were putting all their hope in this Jesus guy who just ended up getting killed by Rome like so many others before him and even two others that same day.
Jesus (whose not recognized by these guys) asks them to tell them about this Jesus fella. These two guys end up sharing all these stories and facts about Jesus to Jesus all the while never recognizing that JESUS WAS RIGHT THERE WITH THEM.
Its’ possible to know a lot of facts about the Bible but completely miss Jesus when he’s right there among you.
5. It’s impossible to take the parts of the Bible you like (salvation from sin, etc.) and ignore what you don’t (the commands on how we live).
This one is simple to understand yet difficult to live.
I would argue that it’s not hard to validate the Biblical worldview. Take sin, for example. Sin is easy to spot in our world. The fact that the world is broken and standing in need of redemption is not hard to see. And I don’t need to check the latest news cycle to confirm the Bible’s claims about sin and our need for redemption, I merely look in the mirror.
So I love the parts of the Bible that mention God’s plan for redeeming us from the brokenness of sin, even thought it meant the sacrifice of the One who never sinned.
But go back and read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the same one who saves us (Jesus) starts telling us how to live in our day-to-day life and it causes noticeable friction in my self-centered life.
It’s reasonable to not believe the Bible. It’s also reasonable to believe the Bible.
It’s not, however, reasonable to believe, and even love, certain parts of the Bible that show us how to be right with God again, and ignore or reject other passages because they point out our sin and command us to a way of life that flies in the face of our sinful desires to put self above all else.
Once a young student asked the great theologian Karl Barth if he could sum up what was most important about his life’s work and theology in just a few words. Barth just thought for a moment and then smiled,
“Yes, in the words of a song my mother used to sing me, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”