While in language school in Santiago, Chile, I met a young man from California who seemed curious about the gospel and what I believed. I was able to share much truth with the him as he seemed really receptive, but the conversation eventually ended with him saying, “Yeah, but I still think there are some translation issues with the Bible.” This was a bit of a balloon-popping moment for me and a wake-up call as to how important it is to trust the inspired Scriptures we hold in our hand. Having come across a bracketed passage in Mark this week, I thought I would remind us of many reasons why we can trust the Bible in this week’s devo. I want us to have a knowledgeable trust in God’s Word and not just a blind trust.
In his book The Battle for the Bible, Harold Lindsell rightly identifies Biblical trust as a watershed issue. What he means is that just as which side of the continental divide rain falls on determines whether or not it ends up in the Atlantic or Pacific, so whether or not one believes the Bible is the Word of God will determine whether we end up in apostasy & unbelief or truth & belief. It can determine destinies. As it’s been said,
"We choose what we trust."
If you believe the Bible is God’s Word, you’re more likely to study it and be made wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15)
Since almost the beginning of time (Gen. 3), Satan has been trying to get man to discredit, doubt, and distort the Word of God like he did with Eve. And it’s interesting that the Bible ends with a warning not to add to the Word of God. It’s like a capstone which says, “Remember, that’s what got you into this mess in the first place.” But to question is not the same as to doubt. The young man was doubting God’s Word but didn’t sincerely question it. It is fair to question it and study how God’s Word came to be. Personally, doing so has only strengthened my conviction that the Bible is indeed the Word of God and can be trusted.
There are many reasons why we should trust God’s Word is the Bible. It is a book that claims to be the Word of God and can back it up (2 Tim. 3:16). It has endurance like no other book. It is a living, animated book (Heb. 4:12). It is a unique book. It has wonderful knowledge from eternity past to eternity future that you can’t get anywhere else and it lines up with reality like a hand to a glove. It has the highest, logical morals and ethics in the world that if humanity applies, will flourish. Despite having 40 authors and written over the course of 1,400 years, it has continuity, consistency, and one central main theme: Jesus is coming (OT), Jesus is here (Gospels), Jesus has come and is coming again (Epistles). The literary excellence of the Bible is unmatched in all of its genres. It gives fresh insight for a lifetime of study. It has life-changing power (I am witness!).
Archaeology has only proven the Bible true. Even secular archaeologists use it to know where to dig. Lindsell said,
“The spades of a thousand diggers over the centuries have not discredited the truth of Scripture nor has the turned earth proven the Bible to be untrue.”
Science and philosophy have changed their minds countless times, while the Bible has stayed the same and proven true. When Greeks taught the world rested on Atlas’ back and Hindus taught the world rested on 4 elephants riding on a giant cosmic sea turtle, the Bible said God hangs the earth on nothing (Job. 26:7). It has never lost its integrity through such a mythical claim as other ancient books have. Most of it was compiled by eyewitness accounts, many of which were martyred for their faith. This is big: 1/3 of the Bible is detailed prophecy of which, all that was supposed to come true by now, has come true! Want to know the future?
Next, the reliability of the manuscripts. The New Testament has the most manuscript copies of any ancient writing at approximately 25,000 to date, dwarfing the numbering of any other. Homer’s Iliad is next at 1,800; Demosthenes at 258; Gallic Wars by Caesar with 10; Herodotus at 8; Thucydides at 8. The vast number of biblical manuscripts allows textual critics to determine the exact words of the original author despite minor manuscript variants which are mostly grammatical or punctuative and have no effect on faith or substance. A. T. Robertson said,
“The vast array of manuscripts has enabled textual scholars to accurately reconstruct the original text with more than 99.9 percent accuracy.”
The recent discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls affirmed the superior accuracy of the Bible.
Then we have transmission precision. Because Hebrews and Christians believed they were copying God’s Word, scribes transmitted with extraordinary care, sometimes one letter at a time with a bath in-between! Lastly, we consider the time gap interval between the original autographs and the manuscripts. The shorter the gap, the better. The closest time gap for the Iliad is 350-400 years, while Gallic Wars, Herodotus, and most others are between 1,000-1,300 years apart. The earliest NT fragment (John Rylands) is between 27-48 years from the original. Many others are between 100-150 years, with Codex Sinaiticus & Codex Vaticus at about a 250 time interval. Dr. Norman Geisler writes,
“The New Testament documents are copied accurately – the New Testament has more manuscripts, earlier manuscripts, and more accurately copied manuscripts than any other book from the ancient world.”
Like the young man from language school, most people tend to give the credibility of the Bible too little thought. In reality, they are the most trusted documents in the ancient world. Let’s receive the Word like the Thessalonians who accepted it,
“not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which also does its work in you who believe.”
It really is a God-breathed book (2 Tim. 3:16)!
We were made for relationships. Period. How can that be said so confidently? Because deep down, we all desire close relationships. The majority of secular songs being written about relationships that are sweet or have gone wrong reveals the human heart’s desire for them. But more concrete than that, Genesis 1:27 says we’re made in God’s image and God is by his very nature, a relational being. Since before the creation of man and angels or any other created thing, God has always been existing in 3 Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all existing in perfect fellowship, harmony, and community with one another. On top of that, as believers in Christ, we’re all interdependently connected to one another in Christ’s body (Eph. 4:16).
As image bearers and members of Christ’s body, we are to reflect that same Triune harmony and oneness of Christ’s body in our relationships. We are to put into practice the theology we believe about God and Christ. But how? Well, one of the ways given in the New Testament is through godly communication. Relationships require good communication. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul emphasizes unity, saying,
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
This is a critical word of wisdom as we don’t often think about how important godly communication is to a relationship. Without what Paul calls wholesome words, our relationships will suffer. Unwholesome is a word that is used in relation to fruit (Mt. 12:33; Heb. 13:15) and can mean rotten or harmful. Our unthoughtful, harsh, degrading, slanderous, and other heartless words cause relationships to rot and remain unhealthy. But without intentionality inthe use of our tongues, this tends to be our natural bent. We find it so much easier to criticize than to commend and to put down than to praise. A young lady once told John Wesley that she thought her talent was to speak her mind. Wesley replied, “I do not think God would mind if you buried that talent.”1 Sometimes it’s better to bite the tongue until it bleeds than ruin the relationship and the testimony of Christ you carry. Human relationships are difficult in a fallen world and require effort – thinking before we speak.1
Now in contrast to the word rotten is the word edification. It is a construction term that means to build up or to strengthen. Our minds can rightly think of construction workers who are framing a house. We can build others up, like a house being built up, by the use of our words. Words that build are words of grace. Another great passage for the tongue is Colossians 4:6. It says our speech should be seasoned with salt, meaning it should have a preservative effect on relationships, preventing them from rottenness and decay.
In 1994, Thomas Thurman, running back for the Buffalo Bills, sat with his face in his hands on the bench after his team had just lost its 4th straight Super Bowl loss. Thomas’ 3 fumbles had helped seal the loss. Suddenly coming up to Thomas was Emmitt Smith, the Dallas Cowboys running back who had been voted MVP. Smith turned to his goddaughter in his arms and said to her, “I want you to meet the greatest running back in the NFL, Mr. Thurman Thomas.”2 Don’t you love it when speech is gracious like that, intentionally aimed at building someone else up? It stands out in a world when there’s so many heartless comments are spoken or typed to tear others down?
I can remember an occasion in my life years ago when someone graced me with their speech. I was grilling some brats and hotdogs for friends & family, but let them cook a little too long! As everyone was filling their plates and scraping the char off, I started to apologize when someone interrupted me, saying gently with a smile, “They’re perfect. Thank you so much for cooking!” The food didn’t taste the best, but I never forgot that taste of grace!
How can you build someone up with gracious words? Think outside the box! People are used to happy birthday’s and congrats. How about thanking others for doing the simplest, taken-for-granted tasks like washing the dished or taking out the trash? Writing a note of encouragement or pointing something out about them that makes them a unique blessing? Speech that builds up like that honors Christ and the Triune nature of God (Jas. 3:9).
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