How can we trust the Bible?
I think about when I first started reading my Bible over 15 years ago, and how it was tough to digest sometimes. I could read the first 2 chapters of Genesis, some of the Psalms and the Gospels, but that was about it. Parts of it just did not make any sense, and I could not fully grasp what I was reading. Let's just be honest—there is some hard stuff in the bible! There can be many objections, and questions to consider.
Is it truth? What about (fill in the blank)? Why would God allow that? It's hypocritical! But, we have science! The bible is old! Don't we know better? The list goes on and on. However, just because men wrote it years ago does not remove its validity today. There are two important things I have learned from reading the Bible.
- Most of it is true revelation is hidden until you are in Christ.
- You need to read the Bible more than listening to sermons or reading books from pastors, preachers, and evangelists. Those things can be good but they will never take the place of reading God's Word first hand.
We will never in our finite minds understand everything the Bible has to say, but through diligent study, we will know what we need to know. The more you read, the more you get to know God and understand Him. You will know what is truth and what is false.
Yet, the question remains. How can we trust the Bible? Let's take a look at 3 key areas to consider when thinking about the Bible. The Authority, Clarity, and Sufficiency of Scripture.
Authority of Scripture
It is important that the Bible be the basis for our beliefs for several reasons. If we fail to accept the authority of Scripture, then we find another source as the authority for our lives. And, those sources ultimately fail us! So, what does the Bible say about its Authority?
- In 2 Timothy 3:16 it says, "All Scripture is inspired by God or God-breathed.
- In Hebrews 1:1 we read, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways."
- In 2 Peter 1:21 it says, "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."
- Jesus said in John 17:17, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."
These verses tell us that the words of the Bible are God's words and that He spoke to the authors in different ways. Sometimes God spoke directly to the person writing that recorded what he heard. (Revelation 2:1) Other times it was based on interviews and research. (Luke 1:1-3) At times the Holy Spirit brought to the minds of people things that Jesus taught. (John 14:26). Ultimately, the writer wrote down exactly what God wanted them to write. Since God claims that the words of the Bible are His words, there is no higher authority for Scripture.
The Clarity of Scripture
Ordinary men, in ordinary language, wrote the Bible so that others could understand it. I personally believe there is no hidden code in the Bible or that it contains complex processes to unlock truths.
- Psalm 19:7 says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple."
- Psalm 119:130 says, "The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple."
God's Word was made so clear that common people can understand it. You don't need a special degree or qualification. But, if you find yourself struggling, there may be some reasons why. You may not fully understand Scripture due to your current spiritual condition or a hardened heart. That is because the things of God are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." or examined.
The Sufficiency of Scripture
- All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
This explains that Scripture is sufficient! God gives us everything in the Bible we need to equip us adequately for every good work. The Bible does not answer every question we may have, but it provides the guidance we need. Since Scripture is sufficient, we should not add to the Bible any new revelations that we believe are from God. Over the years, both Christians and churches are guilty of adding rules & regulations to the Christian life. For example, we are not allowed to say that something is sinful unless it is specifically & explicitly stated as sin in Scripture. We don't have the right to add to its commands or teachings. Are there various issues that Scripture may not address or provide precise direction about? These areas should be treated with less emphasis, and we should focus on doctrinal, ethical, and moral teachings.
A Practical Approach
The Bible is made up of 66 different books and was written over a period of more than 1500 years by over 40 different authors. The Holy Spirit guided the human writer to record what God wanted us to know. Because of this, the Bible is without any mistakes and is completely trustworthy. The Holy Spirit does not change Scripture, but the Holy Spirit does change the reader. When reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit makes you aware that the Bible is not like any other book. More importantly, since the words of the Bible are God's words, we should seek to understand them. In doing so we learn about God and have a better understanding of Him. When we trust & obey Scripture, we trust and obey God Himself. The more you read, the more you grow closer to God, and the objections you may have to trust the Bible grow smaller. Over time they may even just go away.
If something does not make sense to you, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth behind God's Word to you. In addition, get together with another person or group to read & discuss Scripture. Be like Sherlock Holmes, and make observations (Who, What, When, Why etc.) Ask, What does it say, God? What does it say about humanity? How does it point you to the Gospel? This has helped me learn and apply Scripture. Through Christ, I can say that I may not fully understand everything the Bible says. But, I have enough faith in God to trust God's Word to us. I know that the more I read the more I know His will for my life. And, the more I know about my Heavenly Father.
Lastly, if we are honest with ourselves it can be difficult to open the Scriptures on a daily basis. Even so, He is not disappointed in us when we don't read the Bible daily. In addition, we don't have to read the Bible for hours at a time or memorize entire books to earn salvation or God's approval. In fact, we can't! The good news is through the finished work on the Cross, we can walk in freedom. Free from guilt & shame when we don't read or have doubts about the Bible. In Christ, we are accepted, and approved! God’s Word will accomplish His will. So choose to believe the Bible in faith, and trust even when you may not understand fully.
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55:11
God is eager to reveal Himself to us in Scripture! I have fallen in love with God's Word, and I hope you do the same.