One of the main questions Christians face is based on the reliability of the Bible.  How do you know the Bible is true?  Why do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?  On what grounds do we embrace the Bible?  The Bible is a unique book to say the least.  It was compiled over a period of 1,500 years by forty different authors from various different geographic locations.  These authors were all different in many ways.  For instance, there were two kings, one tax collector, and a lowly goat farmer who make up the diverse list of human authors of the Bible.  Yet, the question remains, how do you know the Bible is true?

First, we should avoid the really poor reasons that many people give to this question.  It doesn’t matter if your pastor said it’s the Word of God, that’s not a good enough answer.  If a skeptic asks you to give an answer to why you believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, the fact that your parents raised you in such a way doesn’t hold much credibility.  So, why should we believe the Bible?  This ancient book has been around for a long time, so how do you know the Bible is true?

The Jesus Answer

When answering the question – “How do you know the Bible is true?” – Jesus really is the answer.  I realize that “Jesus” is often the answer to most questions during Bible study time for children.  However, don’t overlook the child’s answer too quickly.  If you examine the majority of the nonChristian religions, their major similarities are often their attack on the deity of Jesus Christ.  The Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Muslims all three assault the deity of Jesus.  However, Jesus has proven that He and the Father are one (John 10:30) and that He is indeed God who came to us in human flesh (John 1:14).  What’s the proof?  The resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  B.B. Warfield writes:

A dozen ignorant peasants proclaiming a crucified Jew as the founder of a new faith; bearing as the symbol of their worship an instrument which was the sign of ignominy, slavery and crime; preaching what must have seemed an absurd doctrine of humility, patient suffering and love to enemies – graces undreamed of before; demanding what must have seemed an absurd worship for one who had died like a malefactor and a slave, and making what must have seemed an absurd promise of everlasting life through one who had himself died, and that between two thieves. [1]

Christianity would have been nothing more than a strange man proclaiming a strange message, and the Bible would be nothing more than a strange book in a long line of strange writings from ancient religious history without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  The resurrection changed everything.  In fact, the resurrection of Jesus validated the Bible.

The way in which Jesus used the Bible matters.  Did He embrace it as reliable?  Did Jesus approach the writings of the Bible as authoritative?  Read through the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7 and see how Jesus preached the Word, interpreted the Word, and embraced the Word as divine in nature.  Jesus used Jonah as an illustration of His resurrection in Matthew 12:38-40.  Not only did Jesus predict His own resurrection, but He used an Old Testament text to illustrate it.  In doing so, we get a peek into the way Jesus approached Jonah.  Apparently Jesus, who was raised from the dead, believed in a literal interpretation of the fish swallowing the prophet Jonah and spitting him up three days later.  Jesus approached the Scriptures with respect and dignity, and embraced them as God’s Word (Matthew 22:41-45).

The Self Authentication of the Bible

How do you know the Bible is true?  The Bible is unlike any other book.  It has the tone of authority that vastly supersedes other books.  In 2 Timothy 3:16, we see the internal claim of the Bible to have God as its source.  Tatian, a second century disciple of Justin Martyr, took time to examine the writings of pagan religions.  Tatian was a man who had a brilliant mind and it was through this God given ability that he looked at the world of religious writings.  Notice what he says about the Bible in his work titled, Oration to the Greeks (c.165):

I was led to put my faith in these by the unpretending cast of the language, the inartificial character of the writers, the foreknowledge displayed of future events, the excellent quality of the precepts, and the declaration of the government of the universe as centered on one Being. And my soul being taught of God, I discern that the former class of [pagan] writings lead to condemnation, but that these [Scriptures] put an end to the slavery that is in the world (29). [2]

Interestingly Tatian was captivated by the fact that the Bible itself bears the mark of heavenliness.  In other words, the Bible has the mark of divinity, holiness, and authority in ways that cannot happen through the mere hand of a human author.  As Tatian speaks of being taught of God, we are reminded of the words found in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Unity of the Parts

How can one book written over a period of 1,500 years, by forty different human authors, in three different original languages, from three different continents, with many different genres possess such a unified message?  As we read the Bible, the unity is apparent from the beginning.  From Genesis to Revelation, there is one unified voice, one unified purpose, and one unified mission.  The totality of the Bible is centered upon Jesus Christ.  Jonathan Edwards once said, “Go often to your Bible to hear the great God Himself speak to you. There you may hear Christ speak.” [3]

What scheme of humanity could span such vast time periods, geographic locations, and linguistic barriers to come together in a cohesive unity that points to Jesus Christ as the savior of the world (John 4:42)?  Sure, when one person writes a book and makes claims of divinity, it’s easy to remain unified, but when a book spans such a vast time period and possesses shared human authorship while remaining unified is abnormal to say the least.

The Preservation of the Bible

I was recently talking with a man from our church, and he was telling me about his conversations with a co-worker who refuses to believe the Bible.  The skeptic was trying to throw off my friend by talking about discoveries through archeology and science.  My friend said, “The more they discover as they continue to dig and explore, the bigger my God becomes with each new discovery.”  That is a very true statement indeed.

If a person is on trial for breaking into his neighbor’s home and stealing jewelry, before the individual can be prosecuted and convicted of the crime, the jury will need some tangible evidence to prove he committed the crime.  For instance, they will need some form of evidence such as finger prints, DNA, or perhaps pictures from a security camera.  When it comes to the Bible, people ask for proof that it’s reliable and can be trusted.  The good news is that we have proof in the manuscript evidence.  The manner in which the Bible has been preserved over time validates its reliability.

If you take the other writings from history that predate the printing press, you will find that they too have manuscripts.  Just like the Bible, they were copied down by scribes.  For instance, we have 7 copies of Plato’s historical writings.  We have 2,400 copies of the historical writings of Homer.  When compared to the manuscript evidence of the New Testament, we have over 5,800 manuscripts.  This dwarfs the other writings from other authors from ancient history.  In fact, we have copies dating back to within a couple of hundred years of the original author for the New Testament Bible while manuscript evidence of the average classical author are no earlier than 500 years after his original autograph.  The point is clear, the Bible has been preserved well over time without the printing press, without the Internet, without high definition copying systems, and the sheer manuscript evidence alone speaks volumes about the reliability and veracity of Scripture.

In the mid 1940s, a little shepherd boy was walking alongside the desert, and like little boys often do, he started throwing rocks.  He aimed into a cave as he passed by, and when he heard a strange noise, he entered the cave to see what his rock had hit.  What he discovered in that cave has become known to us as the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Those manuscripts provided additional clarity and support to the already vast manuscript evidence of the Bible.

The 1689 London Baptist Confession, in Article 1.4 on the Scriptures states, “The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, depends not on the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God its Author (Who is Truth itself). Therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.”  Throughout time, earthly kings have assaulted the Bible, skeptics have attacked the Bible, nations have rejected the Bible, heretics have perverted the Bible, atheists have ignored the Bible, and agnostics have avoided the Bible.  However, the Bible remains true, trustworthy, and authoritative.  The Bible reigns as king in the library of human history.  From internal and intrinsic evidences to archeological discoveries and tangible manuscripts, the Bible continues to be validated as the Word of the living God.  The prophet Isaiah was right when he wrote these famous words, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

  1. The Divine Origin of the Bible, Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1991, I.432.
  2. How Do You Know the Scriptures are from God? One Testimony in the Early Church
  3. Selections from the Unpublished Writings of Jonathan Edwards, Ballantyne and Company, 195.
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Author How Do You Know the Bible Is True?

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.