Summary: Is the Bible reliable, or is it full of errors, contradictions, and myths?
The Bible is not just one book—it is a collection of dozens of books. Yet all these writings taken together speak with unity and proclaim unmistakably: “People matter to God!”
• It was written over 1400 years.
• It was written over 40 generations.
• It was written by over 40 authors from all walks of life (kings, peasants, philosophers, poets, fishermen, statesmen, scholars, doctors, businessmen, etc.).
• It was written on three continents (Asia, Africa, Europe) in many different places (dungeons, palaces, while traveling, the wilderness, etc.).
• It was written during a variety of moods (sorrow, joy, anger, excitement, tranquility).
• It was written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek).
TESTING THE BIBLE
Let’s subject the Bible to three reliability tests:
1. The INTERNAL Test: Do the writers of the Bible claim that their writings are true?
a. The Bible claims to be GOD-BREATHED.
None of the biblical writers claimed to be anything other than mortal men, yet they insisted that they were used by God to write His word.
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 Timothy 3:16-17).
Theopneustos – breathed out by God, given by inspiration of God.
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 (2 Peter 1:21).
The verses above speak about the OT. What about the NT?
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 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 (2 Peter 3:15-16).
b. The Bible claims to be INERRANT.
The inerrancy of Scripture means that the Bible always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about.
All Scripture is God-breathed... (2 Timothy 3:16).
All your words are true... (Psalm 119:160).
Every word of God is flawless... (Proverbs 30:5).
One of the most frequent objections is raised by those who say that the purpose of Scripture is to teach us in areas that concern faith and practice only; that is, in areas that directly relate to our religious faith or to our ethical conduct. This position would allow for the possibility of false statements in Scripture, for example, in other areas such as in minor historical details or scientific facts—these areas, it is said, do not concern the purpose of the Bible, which is to instruct us in what we should believe and how we are to live.
Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
What about contradictions in the Bible? Some people point to the inscription on the cross of Jesus as an example of how the Gospels contradict themselves. Each Gospel records the words differently:
• THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS (Matthew 27:37)
• THE KING OF THE JEWS (Mark 15:26)
• THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS (Luke 23:38)
• JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS (John 19:19)
The sign probably read, “THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” If this was the case, each writer recorded part of what the sign said.
c. The Bible claims to contain EYE WITNESS accounts.
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 (2 Peter 1:16).
2. The EXTERNAL Test: What does outside evidence say about the Bible?
a. The Bible contains accurate HISTORY.
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (Luke 1:1-4).
Sir William Ramsey, considered one of the world’s greatest archaeologists, was at one time skeptical about the history of Luke’s writings (Luke, Acts). He eventually conceded after extensive research, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy ... this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.” He added, “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness.”