Summary: We all have questions. Some questions are simply curiosities. Other questions are a bit deeper and more meaningful. In this sermon, we'll explore the question "Is the Bible God's Word?" in light of the documentation, discoveries, and divination as Scripture.
Real Answers to Big Questions: Is the Bible God’s Word?
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 7/12/15 previously 1/13/2013
For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about the Big Questions of our faith—the questions that matter most about God, Jesus and the Bible. I call them the God questions:
• Is God real?
• Is Jesus God’s Son?
• Is the Bible God’s Word?
By equipping ourselves with solid, sensible answers to these three questions we build a stable foundation upon which all of our Christian beliefs can safely rest. The bottom layer of our foundation is the existence of God. If God is not real, then obviously next two questions don’t matter. If God is real, however, then we can answer the next question: Is Jesus God’s Son? Again, if the answer is no, then the next question doesn’t matter and we’re simply left with a generic sort of theism. But if Jesus is God’s Son, then we can accept Christianity and move on to the last question: Is the Bible God’s Word? If the answer is yes, the rest of our faith and beliefs can be validated so long as those beliefs are rooted in Scripture.
The Bible is the most-read, most-loved and most controversial book of all time. The Bible is unlike any other book ever published or printed because the Bible contains the very words and thoughts of God. The Bible is God’s book and God’s voice in the world. The Bible of itself “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 NIV). The question today is—how do we know that?
Just because the Bible claims to be God’s Word, doesn’t mean it is. I came across a great intragram picture on Facebook the other day with a quote that said, “That problem with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to verify their authenticity.” And this quote was attributed to none other than Abraham Lincoln.
There are a growing number of skeptics and scholars who believe the Bible is nothing more than a collection of myths and legends; that it’s no more reliable than internet quotes attributed to Abraham Lincoln.
Max Lucado has commented, “The Bible has been banned, burned, scoffed, and ridiculed. Scholars have mocked it as foolish. Kings have branded it as illegal. A thousand times over, the grave has been dug and the dirge has begun, but somehow the Bible never stays in the grave. Not only has it survived, it has thrived. It’s the single most popular book in all of history.”
So what is that’s made the Bible so enduring? Has God really spoken? And if so, how do we know that the Bible is really God’s Word. I’d like to share with you three good reasons to believe that the Bible is, in fact, the inspired Word of God. First, is documentation.
Bahrt Erdman, in his book Misquoting Jesus, claims that the process of copying and recopying the Bible over the centuries has resulted in so many mistakes and changes that we can’t even be sure that the Scriptures we have are anything like the ones originally written. Critics of Christianity claim that the transmission of the Bible over the ages is no more reliable than a two-thousand-year-old game of telephone.
Certainly we have to admit that as fallible human beings, we make mistakes. Some of the typos that have been caught in modern printings of the Bible are even kind of humorous. For example:
• In what’s become known as the “Basketball Bible” typesetters accidentally said that “hoops” were used in the construction of the Tabernacle instead of “hooks.”
• In a 1631 edition of the KJV, the seventh of the Ten Commandments was accidentally printed: “Thou shalt commit adultery!”
• A 1964 printing, known as the Fashionista Bible, said in 1 Timothy 2:9 that women were to “adorn themselves in modern apparel” instead of “modest apparel.”
• My favorite is one the Bible Society of South Africa reported. An early draft of their translation of the Bible into Southern Sotho (one of many South African dialects), the typesetter typed "jwala" (which means "beer") instead of "jwalo" (which means "so"). The resulting verse in Genesis 1:9 read, “And God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place. . . . And it was beer.”
The point is—none of these typos or mistakes diminish the reliability of the Scriptures in any way. And mistakes like these are easily caught and corrected by comparing them with the thousands of other Bible translations that don’t make these mistakes.
It works the same way with the ancient manuscripts of the Bible. While the original autographs have been lost in the sands of time, the Bible has been wonderfully preserved. The Jewish scribes were meticulous in their copying of the Old Testament Scriptures. They counted the number of letters in each line of the text and guarded it against error. We have more than 14,000 manuscript copies of the Old Testament, some dating as far back as 250 B.C., and the New Testament is better preserved. Today, we have more than 5,300 ancient manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. There are also more than 10,000 ancient Latin manuscripts and 9,300 other early copies or translations. Thus we have nearly 25,000 early sources establishing the reliability of the New Testament. And our earliest New Testament manuscripts dates from A.D. 125, which is less than 60 years after the New Testament was completed.