Is the Bible Fact or Fiction?

Is the Bible Fact or Fiction?

The Bible has been under attack for centuries. Every generation thinks of it as an old book, not relevant for today. While it is easy to understand why unbelievers think this way, some of the Bible’s most damaging critics are those in seminaries and churches, who preach that the Bible or parts of it are no longer useful or are in error because It conflicts with man’s “superior wisdom.” What are we to believe? Is the Bible fact or fiction? To know the answer, one must believe that the author of the Bible, Jesus Christ, is Lord. Therefore, He overrules man’s opinions.

1 Pet 3:15-16  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

This verse speaks to our responsibility to be able to defend what we say we believe, but to do it in a Christ-like manner. The key to defending the Bible is to first settle in our heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no matter what man’s wisdom says.

Anyone can accuse the Bible of being inaccurate, but can they prove it. When you are asked, “Isn’t the Bible full of errors?”, respond by asking, “Which error bothers you the most?” Most likely they won’t have an answer, or the “error” will be about something taken out of context. Most likely, they have not studied the Bible. The “error” is just something they have been told or a deception they have chosen to believe. For this reason, we must study the Bible.

Mark Twain said, “Most people are bothered by those passages of the Bible they don’t understand, but the passages that bother me most are those I do understand.”

Perhaps that is why people say the Bible contains errors. They are bothered by what it is says and they don’t want to believe it is true. In fact, some people have made it their life’s ambition to destroy and discredit the validity of the Bible. Yet all have failed. Their lives have come and gone, yet the Bible remains as influential and true as ever.

The concept of Biblical inerrancy is an extremely important doctrine because the truth does matter. This issue reflects on the character of God and is foundational to our understanding of everything else the Bible teaches. Here are some reasons why we should absolutely believe in Biblical inerrancy:

1. The Bible claims to be perfect. “And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6). “The law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalm 19:7). “Every word of God is flawless” (Proverbs 30:5). These claims of perfection are absolute statements. It’s not “God’s Word is mostly perfect” or “scripture is nearly perfect.” The Bible argues for complete perfection, leaving no room for “partial perfection” theories.

2. The Bible stands or falls as a whole. If a major newspaper were routinely discovered to contain errors, it would be quickly discredited. It would make no difference to say, “All the errors are confined to page 3”. For a paper to be reliable in any of its parts, it must be factual throughout.

If the Bible is wrong about hell, then who’s to say it’s right about heaven—or about anything else? If the Bible can’t get the details right about creation, then maybe the details about salvation can’t be trusted, either. If part of it was for back then, then what part is for today? It’s either a trustworthy document, or it’s not.

3. The Bible is a reflection of its Author. The Bible was written by God Himself as He worked through human writers in a process called “inspiration” (God-breathed).

2 Tim 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Pet 1:20-21  Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

We believe that the God Who created the universe is capable of writing a book. Moreover, the God, Who is perfect, is capable of writing a perfect book. The issue is not simply “Does the Bible have a mistake?” but “Can God make a mistake?”

If the Bible contains factual errors, then God is not all-knowing and is capable of making errors Himself. If the Bible contains misinformation, then God is not truthful but is a liar. If the Bible contains contradictions, then God is the author of confusion. If parts of the Bible are not for today, then the Bible lies when It declares God does not change, and Heb 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” is false.

In other words, if Biblical inerrancy is not true, then God is not God, and the Bible becomes a fabrication of man. It cannot be trusted and we are wasting our lives by believing any of it. Many people have come to this conclusion.

Unbelievers spend a great deal of effort trying to prove the Bible contains errors by taking things out of context and twisting them. They do the same as Satan did in the Garden of Eden by taking what God says and twisting it to create doubt.

Gen 3:3-5 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Being our own god and setting our own rules has always appealed to man.

4. The Bible’s message must be taken as a whole. It is not a mixture of doctrine that we are free to select from. Many people like the verses that say God loves them, but they dislike the verses that say God will judge sinners. We simply can’t “pick and choose” what we like about the Bible and throw the rest away. God has said what He’s said, and the Bible presents us a full picture of Who God is. “For ever, O LORD, Thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

5. The Bible is our only rule for faith and practice. If it is not reliable, then on what do we base our beliefs—our own opinions? If so, then we become our own god. Jesus demands our trust, and that includes trust in what He says in His Word.

We recognize that there are difficult passages in the Bible, as well as sincere disagreements among men over interpretation, but those are the faults of man, not God. Our goal is to approach Scripture reverently and prayerfully, and when we find something we don’t understand, we pray longer, study more. Then—if the answer still eludes us—we humbly acknowledge our own limitations in the face of the perfect Word of God and wait patiently for His revelation.

The Bible is our source of authority. Although it took 1500 years to write, It is consistent throughout. It is a library of books written by 30 different authors, giving us the full interpretation of the Truth. To consider the Bible apart from that one supreme purpose, the Truth, is to have a book and nothing more.

There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. The word “testament” means “covenant,” God’s contract with man. Jesus quoted the Old Testament. After all, He wrote it through His prophets.

However, the New Testament, referring to the covenant that Jesus established with His own Blood, takes precedent over the Old Testament. We trust in Jesus’ atonement (his blood) and are saved. The Old Testament is not binding on us, but it is a school master, useful for training and revealing to us the nature and character of God.

Col 2:13-14 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

Jesus established the New Testament (covenant) when He took the cup in Luke 22:20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

The New Testament was written by one of the apostles or close associates, who either witnessed what they wrote or were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Their writings were recognized by the early church as to their authenticity. Their doctrine is consistent with earlier writing and prophesies of the Old Testament. One of the writers was the apostle Peter, who had this to say.

2 Pet 1:16-21 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

After thousands years, how do we know the Bible we have today is still accurate? What evidence do we have?

  1. Manuscript evidence, there are many copies in the original language. The Dead Sea Scrolls, written 200 BC, show no inconsistency with later copies.
  2. Internal tests
    1. Its prophesies are fulfilled. vs. man’s predictions.(weather) There are more than 3,200 verses of fulfilled prophecy either within the Bible itself or since the Bible was written. And there are still more prophecies to be fulfilled.
    2. Eccl 8:7 Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?

Isa 46:9-11 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.

The Bible judges us, not vice versa. Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Notice the relationship between “the heart” and “the Word.” To question and doubt parts of the Word for any reason is to turn this verse on its head. We become the examiners, and we make the Word submit to our “superior insight,” or we dismiss it as irrelevant.

  1. Its purpose is accomplished. Isa 55:10-11 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

The Word is powerful. Not only does it not return void, It accomplishes Its purpose. However, The Word changes hearts, minds, and lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb 11:1)

  1. External tests. The Bible’s facts are accurate.
    1. Historical verification—There were several secular historians who wrote about the events of the New Testament at the same time the Bible was being written. Josephus is the most well known of them. He was a Jewish historian. Tacitus was a Roman historian. Both these men, as well as others, can be used to back up the historical accuracy of the Bible. There are historical discoveries regularly coming to light that continue to support the accuracy of the Bible. Merrill Unger, who compiled a Bible dictionary wrote, “Old Testament archeology has rediscovered whole nations, resurrected important peoples, and in a most astonishing manner filled in historical gaps, adding immeasurably to the knowledge of Biblical backgrounds.”
    2. Archeological verification—It is interesting that before the 20th century, many critics of the Bible discredited it, due to lack of evidence for certain biblical claims. Yet, in the 20th century, archaeology exploded, and all such claims have been reversed. Archaeology cannot prove the Bible, but every new find gives more weight to the historical accuracy of the Bible.
    3. Astronomical evidence—The Bible is far ahead of science. At one time, the prevailing wisdom of man thought the world was flat until Ferdinand Magellan sailed around the world in the early 1500’s proving the world is round. Yet, thousands of years before Magellan sailed around the earth God inspired Isaiah to write this:

Is 40:21-26 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

One issue that makes people wonder about the reliability of the Bible is the number of versions available. Which version is correct? Not all versions of the Bible are translations, some are paraphrases, which are useful, but a user must keep in mind that they are man’s explanation of Scripture and not a pure translation.

A translator of English, Spanish, or any other language must consider the original Hebrew or Greek as his source and be completely objective in translating. This is accomplished by a panel of Hebrew and Greek scholars to eliminate bias, ensure clarification, accuracy, beauty, and understanding. Translations from the original language are our best resource for Biblical accuracy. Contrary to what some preach, there is no version that is mandatory for your salvation and sanctification.

John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

The Bible has something to say about everything pertaining to life. We will not know if it is really factual until we do what it says and persist in doing it. That is called living by faith.

Prov 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

So here is what people do. Either they live according to the Bible, or they try to ignore it--or parts of it, or they attempt to discredit it. Most people will not even read it to find out what it says. Some try reading it but do not understand it because they lack spiritual discernment. This has been happening for centuries and Peter warned us about it.

2 Peter 3:15-18 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Therefore, it is our responsibility as Christians to grow into living testaments of what the Bible says. Not only should we be able to answer people’s questions about the Bible, our lives should be a demonstration that the Bible is true and does work for those who live according to it. After all, our actions speak louder than our words and carry more validity.

So, how does one follow a Book that is over a thousand pages long? It is easy if we are following the Author of the Book and are filled with His Spirit. What we don’t understand today, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us in the future if we will only walk in the understanding have now.

First, “set apart Christ as Lord.” Come to Jesus Christ, the Author, confessing that He is the Son of God and the Savior of your sinful soul. Believe in His redemptive work on the Cross and die to yourself in baptism, which will allow Christ to raise you up unto a new life and fill you with the Holy Spirit, who will lead you into all the truth of the Bible.