Recently, at a Bible study, one of the men mentioned that his eight-year-old son asked him the question, “How do we know the Bible is true?” When my friend raised that question at the Bible study, I had to stop and think, “How would I answer that question?” If I had opportunity to respond to that eight year old boy, what would I say? Here is what I might say:
You have asked a very important question. The Bible is the foundation of the Christian life. Without confidence in the words of the Bible we cannot live the life that God intends. So keep asking questions.
So, how do we know the Bible is true?
We know that the Bible is true the same way we know most things in life are true, someone who is supposed to know (we call them authorities) tells us they are true. We have faith in them. In my college science class I learned things about the world. I believed them, not because I knew how to run the scientific experiments that prove them true, but because the best scientific authorities said they were true. And I believed them. When my children were young, like you, they believed in the truth of the Bible because we, their parents, told them it was true. They trusted us. That was good for a while. But we all need an authority greater than our parents to tell us about the Bible. Don’t tell your parents I said this, but once in a great while parents are wrong! Who can we trust to tell us about the Bible? What authority can tell us whether the Bible is true? No one knows more than God. God is the greatest authority. And God tells us that the Bible is true. But how does he do that?
Begin with what the Bible says about itself
Let’s start with what the Bible has to say about itself. If the Bible doesn’t claim to be true, it is hard to see why we should claim it is true. So, what does the Bible say about itself? Here are a few passages:
• 2 Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is God breathed… This verse tells us that all Scripture, not just some, comes from God, is breathed out by God.
• 2 Peter 1:21 says, …no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. This verse tells us that, though the Bible has many human authors, the ultimate author is the Holy Spirit.
• Matthew 5:18 says, For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Here Jesus says that what the Bible says in the Old Testament is true.
• Proverbs 30:5 says, Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. The Bible is the words of God. And because God is true, His words are true.
• John 17:17 says, … your word is truth … Here Jesus is praying to the Father and says that the words of God are true. So, the Bible says it is from God and because it is from God it is true.
How God shows us the truth of the Bible
But, you might ask, “Aren’t there are other religious books that claim to be from God and true? Why should we believe what the Bible says?” That is a great question. We don’t believe the Bible is true just because the Bible claims to be true. We believe the Bible is true because God shows us that what the Bible says about itself is true. Here are some ways God does that.
God shows us the truth of the Bible through Jesus.
How is that? First, the Bible accurately predicts Jesus. In the Old Testament, the Bible said that the Messiah would come. The Messiah was the one specially chosen by God to rescue His people. In the New Testament of the Bible, the word for Messiah is Christ. The Old Testament made predictions about the Messiah. The Bible predicted that the Messiah would be from the city of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); that He would suffer for the sins of His people (Isaiah 53); that He would preach good news to the poor and oppressed; and that He would come to His people “humble and mounted on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9), and that He would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10). All of these and more Jesus fulfilled. Ultimately the whole Bible is about Jesus. Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Second, there has never been anyone like Jesus. Even those who do not believe in Him often recognize the greatness of His character. Third, and here is the most amazing thing, Jesus rose from the dead! The Bible tells us about many people who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead. My older brother once said that whether we believe Christianity is true (or the Bible) rests on whether we believe Jesus rose from the dead. Those who were there and saw Him say He did. The most important reason we believe in the Bible is Jesus. The Old Testament predictions of Jesus, the character of Jesus, and His resurrection all tell us that Jesus can be trusted. And Jesus said that the Bible is true. So, God says that the Bible is true through Jesus. One of the best things a person can do to discover whether the Bible is true is read about Jesus in the part of the Bible we call the gospels and ask “Is Jesus someone I trust?”
God shows us the truth of the Bible by the answers the Bible gives to the most important questions of life.
When I was older than you, a freshman in college (17 years old), I began to ask the most important questions: Is there a God? Where did we come from? Is life meaningful? How do we know what is right and wrong? Why do bad things happen? What happens when I die? Those are the most important questions, the “big” questions of life. The Bible is one story that gives us the answers to the big questions. You will discover, as you get older, that the Bible’s answers to those questions are the best answers to those questions. No other view about life will give you the answers the Bible gives!
God shows us the truth of the Bible by the Holy Spirit.
When we come to believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. As we read the Bible the Holy Spirit helps us to understand the Bible and to know that the Bible is true. Many people have come to the conclusion that the Bible is the true simply by reading it. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and the Holy Spirit lets us know that the Bible comes from God as we read. One of the best ways to know that the Bible is true, then, is just to read it and ask God to show you that it is true as you read.
God shows us that the Bible is true by transforming (changing) us.
I believe that the Bible is true, not because I have answered every question, but because I experience the power of the Bible every day. An important way of knowing the Bible is true is to experience its power in our own lives.
Objections to the truthfulness of the Bible
Someday, when you are older, someone will point out various problems (sometimes these are called contradictions) in the Bible and tell you the Bible can’t be true. It might be a friend or a teacher or someone else. It is important that you know that we know good answers to most of those problems. But there are some problems we don’t know how to answer, at least not completely. We can have some ideas, but we don’t always know the full answer. But most of the things we say are true in life have some kind of problems. The best scientific theories often have problems that scientists don’t know how to answer, at least not yet. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those theories are untrue. We just may not know enough yet. The scientists do not get rid of their theories just because there are some things they do not understand yet. The same is true of the Bible. There are some problems we don’t know how to answer, at least not yet. And that is okay.
I believe that the moon is over 200,000 miles away not because I have measured the distance, but because I have faith in those who are supposed to know (authorities). Most of what we know is because we believe (have faith in) certain authorities who give us good reasons to believe them. We believe the Bible because we have faith in God who has given us good reasons to believe in the truth of the Bible.
You have asked a very important question. Keep asking important and hard questions like that. Here is why your question is so important. If the Bible is true it points us to Jesus. If the Bible is true then Jesus is both Savior and He is Lord. And if the Bible is true then you and I need to say “Yes” to Jesus. That is another way of saying that we need to put our faith in Him. To say “Yes” to Jesus is both simple and difficult. It is simple because all we have to do is believe. It is difficult because believing in Jesus means giving up our own plans for life and following His. It is difficult 2 3 4 1 because it means giving Him control of our lives. It is difficult because it means trusting Him and not ourselves. John 20:31 …but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. Saying “Yes” to Jesus is how we begin the Christian life. It is also how we are to live the Christian life every day. Saying “Yes” to Jesus is risky and yet it is the way into life as it ought to be. It is my hope that as you keep on reading the Bible, seeking to live the Bible, and keep asking hard questions, that the truth of the Bible will become more and more clear to you and you will keep saying “Yes” to Jesus.