…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
Although people focus on behavior and appearance, the Bible approaches change from the heart level. Humans want to deal with external things, but God’s way is to deal with the heart. The heart is the source of your external behaviors; it’s where your speech and actions come from (Luke 6:45). Men put emphasis on cleaning up the outward appearance, but God says clean the inside and the outside will be clean also (Matthew 23:26). If you want your external circumstances to change, you have to go to the heart and change your philosophy. The way you do that is by meditating on the Word. Religion consists of man's thoughts about God, but the Bible isn’t a compilation of men’s thoughts—it contains God’s thoughts and His philosophy for us.
Satan has been pretty successful in robbing many Christians of the blessings that God has provided. The reason he has been so successful is that our philosophy is wrong. We have developed philosophies based on our upbringing and the ungodly influences of this world rather than on the Word of God. Satan comes to steal and to deprive us of what God has given by challenging the way we think. This is evident even from his first dealings with mankind. Concerning the dangers of wrong thinking, the apostle Paul said,
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3
The way Satan came against Adam and Eve is the same way he comes against us today. The devil doesn’t have any new tricks; he’s still doing the same old thing. It’s not like he has a million different ways of tempting people. His only method always boils down to lies and deception.
Temptation falls into just three basic categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Those are the areas in which Adam and Eve were tempted (Genesis 3:6), those are the areas in which Satan tried to tempt Jesus (Luke 4:1-12), and they are the same three areas in which the enemy is trying to tempt us today. You’re being tempted in exactly the same ways that Adam and Eve were tempted. The devil just takes the same old stuff and repackages it, which is helpful in a way because we can avoid making the same mistakes Adam and Eve made by looking at the tactics Satan used against them.
The first thing we notice is that Satan is subtle. Scripture says, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1). We know that Satan was behind using the serpent to lie because the Word says that Satan is the father of all lies (John 8:44). The devil created lying, and every time someone lies they are under the influence of the devil. So this serpent came and lied to Adam and Eve.
I already pointed out that Satan didn’t use some huge animal to intimidate Eve and force her to eat the forbidden fruit. He didn’t have any power whatsoever to force Adam and Eve into disobeying God. Instead, what he did was choose the most subtle animal—the most cunning, crafty, and sly creature. Why? Because it was a battle of wits. The battle against temptation has always been in the mind.
You’ll sometimes hear people talk about “spiritual warfare” in the sense of going out and doing battle in the heavens. This is based in a misunderstanding of a verse that says we are battling evil powers in heavenly, or high, places (Ephesians 6:11-12). People have actually chartered planes so they could “take their prayers to the sky,” or they have gone to the top of skyscrapers to do battle “in heaven.” That isn’t what this scripture is talking about. The battle against the enemy isn’t somewhere out in the atmosphere; the battle is right between your ears.
Satan comes at you through your thoughts with lies and deception. It’s the same way he has always operated, and that’s the reason he chose the serpent to speak to Eve. It was the most cunning, crafty, and sly creature. It was able to twist and to deceive better than any other animal, so Satan motivated the snake to go and tempt Adam and Eve.
This is really significant. It shows how deception was Satan’s only weapon. It demonstrates that he doesn’t have the power to make people do anything. Satan can’t do anything without your consent and cooperation. You have to reject his lies. Quit consenting to his deception, quit cooperating with him, and you’ll leave him powerless. He won’t be able to steal your health, your finances, or your peace of mind.
When Satan came against Adam and Eve through the serpent, the conversation started like this:
And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Satan’s primary method of attack is to challenge the Word of God. “Did He really say that?” Satan asks, “Are you sure He didn’t mean something else?” Satan always challenges the Word, he always asks, “Is the Word really true?” The answer is YES! If Adam and Eve had responded, “Yes, God did say that, now get out of here”—that would have been the end of the story. There would have been no Fall, no sin, and suffering wouldn’t have entered the world.
This reveals a fundamental principle of establishing a Christian philosophy, or a Christian way of thinking: Never forget that God’s Word is always true. If you compromise on this point, Satan is going to rob you blind and nothing else is going to work. God’s Word is the only sure foundation upon which to build a Christian philosophy.
Here’s another tip. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by not even getting into conversations with the devil. When he attacks the Word, don’t bother arguing with him, just state the truth and move on. But Eve didn’t do that; she decided to have a chat with the serpent and said,
We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
The problem with what Eve said is that God never said they couldn’t touch the fruit; He said don’t eat it. Eve added to what God had said, and she thought that if she even touched the fruit she would die. When she was enticed by the lust of her eyes and flesh to reach out and touch the fruit and nothing happened, she thought maybe nothing would happen if she ate it too. She discovered that the thoughts she added to what God had said were false—she didn’t die when she touched the fruit—and it tempted her to question all of what she believed about God’s commands.
This same thing is happening today. Religion has added to the Word of God and nullified it in order to hand down traditions. It’s exactly what Jesus accused the scribes and the Pharisees of doing (Mark 7:13). Religion is always adding rules and regulations to the Word of God. It is saying, “Don’t even touch it or you’ll die!” Religion creates manmade traditions, and when people break the manmade traditions and don’t die, they go ahead and break God’s Word also, thinking that everything was just a hoax.
For example, some religious systems today are saying women shouldn’t wear makeup or jewelry—which is a misunderstanding of the scripture that says women shouldn’t be concerned with outward adorning, but rather be concerned with the beauty of their hearts. The scripture says don’t be concerned with the “outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart…” (1 Peter 3:3-4). If you interpret this to mean that there should be no plaiting of the hair or wearing of gold, then you have to say there shouldn’t be any wearing of apparel either. Obviously, God doesn’t want you running around without any clothes on. The intent of this scripture is to encourage people to focus on the condition of their hearts instead of their outward appearance.
Preaching that women should wear their hair in a certain way and dress a certain way or God won’t love them anymore isn’t true. When a young girl who has grown up hearing those things fails to live up to the supposed dress code but doesn’t feel any different—because God does still love her—she calls into question everything she has ever learned about God. This is how religion and the traditions of men can nullify the Word of God.
Satan didn’t come right out and say, “Hey, Adam and Eve, eat this forbidden fruit.” No, he craftily attacked the Word by asking, “Did God really say…?” He cast doubt by criticizing what God had said. Similarly, Satan’s biggest triumph in recent centuries has been to make it unfashionable to believe in and trust the Word of God. The world system, inspired by the devil, has come against the Word and put doubt in people’s minds about its accuracy and relevance, so the majority of society is now off doing their own thing. But the doubt and uncertainty Satan has raised are all lies and deception.
Christians have to establish in their hearts that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. As I will show later, the Word is accurate, it is God-breathed, and it is God-inspired. If you ever start thinking the Bible is merely a book written by men about God, Satan is going to eat your lunch and pop the bag. You’ll be in serious trouble if you ever adopt the mindset that the Bible has some truth in it, but it also has all kinds of error—leading you to go through and only pull out the parts that you think are relevant. If you do that, Satan will have you as surely as he had Adam and Eve.
I think the reason Satan tempted Eve instead of Adam was that Adam heard God’s command directly. Genesis says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). The next verses describe how God decided Adam shouldn’t be alone, so He created Eve to be a companion for Adam and instituted marriage between a man and a woman. So God gave the command not to eat the forbidden fruit before Eve was even formed, which means she might never have actually heard God give the command.
Any time you have one person repeating what someone else has told them, there is the possibility that they won’t repeat it correctly. They might leave something out or add something that the first person never said. I remember playing a game like that as a kid. A bunch of people would line up in a row, and the first person would whisper a phrase to the next person in line. The message was passed down from person to person until you reached the end of the line, but each person only spoke the phrase once; you couldn’t repeat it to make sure someone heard it correctly. By the time the last person in line spoke the phrase out loud, it wouldn’t even resemble the original statement.
Similarly, Adam heard God in an audible voice tell him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Eve got her information secondhand from Adam. It would have been much harder for the serpent to convince Adam of what God did or didn’t say because Adam heard God directly. So it was easier for the devil to make Eve doubt that Adam had repeated God’s command accurately than it would have been to make Adam doubt what he had heard.
This story shows that we need to get our philosophy from God directly, and not depend upon other people to repeat it for us. You need to personalize the Word and make it real to you. It can’t be just a book written to men in general, but not necessarily to you in particular. You have to believe the Bible is God’s Word to you. The majority of people read the Bible like it’s an interesting book about God, but they don’t read it like it is God speaking to them. The Holy Spirit will use the words in the Bible to speak directly to you, and you have to read the Word with a sense of expectancy that God is going to speak to you through it.
I can’t tell you how many people I have dealt with over the years who knew what God’s Word says, but they were leaning on their own wisdom. They thought their opinion was better than God’s, and they were doing things their own way. Some of those people had to crash and burn before they recognized that God was right, but you don’t have to learn by the school of hard knocks. You can just believe the Word of God. The Bible says,
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
God has spoken to me through thousands of scriptures as I have prayed and asked Him for wisdom. He has used what is written in the Bible to speak directly to me. For instance, God has shown me how Moses’ desire to accomplish God’s plan in his own strength cost him forty years in the wilderness, and the nation of Israel spent an extra thirty years in bondage. Those things happened to Moses, but God has taken the scriptures and spoken them to me; He brought the words alive and gave me revelation knowledge that impacted my heart and shaped part of my Christian philosophy. The Bible is a book from God, He speaks to me through it, and I believe in the inspiration of Scripture with all of my heart.
God’s Word will change you to the degree that you let it dominate your thoughts and life. I certainly haven’t renewed my mind perfectly, but I’m also a long way from where I started. God’s Word is working in my life. It has changed me, and I see the supernatural power of God as a result of believing what the Word says. God has been speaking to me through His Word for more than forty years—ever since He told me that the way to find His perfect will for my life was to make myself a living sacrifice and to renew my mind by conforming it to the truths in His Word (Romans 12:1-2).
The easiest way to prove to yourself that the Bible is God’s Word and that He will speak to you through it, is just to read it. Begin by reading the entire New Testament. You might not understand everything the first time, but the Bible is its own commentary and the more you read, the more you will understand. Approach it with a sincere heart and say, “God, if this is really inspired by You and it isn’t just the thoughts of men about You, then speak to me through it.” If you pray in that way and remain open to the possibility that God will speak to you, I guarantee you will be inspired by God. The author of Hebrews wrote,
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The Word of God is alive, and it will come alive for you if you read it expectantly. Eve was the focus of Satan’s temptation because God’s command was secondhand to her. But we shouldn’t be too hard on Eve for falling into temptation because she didn’t really understand Satan or evil. She didn’t know what was at stake. She didn’t know what dying was, or what the effects of sin would be. In a sense, we can give her a pass because she was innocent and didn’t realize what was happening when she succumbed to the lies of the devil.
But you and I don’t get a pass. We live in a fallen world. We have all experienced failure, hurt, pain, and death. We understand the reality of evil. It doesn’t make sense for us to bury our head in the sand and say, “Well, you know, I’m just not sure God speaks to me through the Bible. I’m not sure I can really trust this.” You need to come to the resolution that God’s Word is alive, and that He speaks to you personally through it. You can’t get your knowledge secondhand from me or another preacher. You need to go to the Word and hear God speak to you directly, and then you’ll have enough firsthand knowledge to be safe from the deception of false doctrines, traditions of men, and wrong philosophies.
Some Christians are relying on bits and pieces of Scripture that they heard decades ago as children in Sunday school. They are relying on the pastor of their church or another teacher to tell them what the Word says, but they aren’t reading it for themselves. Those people are prime targets for the devil. The devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking people to devour, and just like a lion, he looks for the weak (1 Peter 5:8). He looks for people who don’t have the armor and protection of knowing God’s Word. This is one reason it is so important to know what God’s Word says firsthand.
I’m not saying you can’t learn from other people, but it shouldn’t be the foundation of your relationship with God. A baby begins by being dependent upon his mother to feed him, but he doesn’t stay that way. A baby can’t grow up to be a fully functioning adult if he stays dependent upon other people to feed him. In the same way, all Christians need to learn how to feed themselves from the Word of God. You can’t remain dependent upon your pastor to feed you revelation. I know that the cares of this life keep people busy, but if you understand how vital it is to study the Word, you’ll find the time to do it.
When the apostle Peter was getting toward the end of his life, he wrote a letter to believers in which he stressed the inspiration of Scripture and the confidence we can have that God is speaking to us through it. Peter knew that he was going to die shortly, and he was giving final encouragement to the believers. He said,
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
2 Peter 1:16-18
Peter was saying, “I’m about to die, but I’m going to write these things down so you can always have this to remember.” He was making known that the account he gave of Jesus wasn’t something he devised on his own. He wasn’t just telling stories. The words he had written down were inspired by God, and they told of Peter’s experiences. Peter was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and heard the audible voice of God say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He saw Jesus radiate light that no earthly power could produce. Peter was there! But then Peter writes,
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2 Peter 1:19-21
Peter saw Moses and Elijah talk with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. He saw Jesus radiate light, and he heard God speak with an audible voice from heaven and confirm that Jesus was His Son, but he says we have something even better than that—better than seeing with our eyes or hearing with our ears—we have the written Word of God!
Most people would rather see what Peter saw and hear what he heard than read the Bible. Large crowds will turn out to hear you speak if you advertise that you had a vision and heard the voice of God. People come in droves to hear that sort of thing, but far fewer people show up when you advertise that you’re going to be sharing what Scripture says. The reason is that our culture puts more emphasis on what we can perceive with our senses than on the Word of God. Peter said we should be doing just the opposite.
Peter clearly states that the Word of God was not written by men—it was not of “any private interpretation.” The Holy Spirit inspired men to write the scriptures. The apostle Paul made the same point in his letter to Timothy when he said,
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Greek word for “given by inspiration of God” is literally translated “divinely breathed.” This clearly states that the Word of God didn’t come from the thoughts of men. God breathed His thoughts into men, who then put them in writing. The Bible is not a human book; it’s God’s book written for men.
I believe Scripture, and I’ve studied it enough to verify for myself that it is the Word of God. I don’t need any further proof, but plenty of scholars have also authenticated the Bible from a historical and scientific view. Many books have been written about the accuracy and inspiration of the Bible. I can’t cover all of the evidence here, but I want to share a few facts that will give you confidence in the accuracy and inspiration of Scripture.
To begin with, the manuscript evidence supporting the New Testament far outstrips any evidence for secular writings of ancient times. One researcher has said, “The New Testament documents have more manuscripts, earlier manuscripts, and more abundantly supported manuscripts than the best ten pieces of classical literature combined.”
For example, Caesar’s Gallic War was written between 58 and 50 BC. Ten copies of that original work remain, and the earliest was written 900 years after Caesar’s day. Livy wrote a 142 volume Roman History sometime between 59 BC and 17 AD, but only 35 volumes survived, in not more than 20 different manuscripts. The text of Tacitus’ 14 volume Histories and 16 volume Annals survives in only two manuscripts written 900 and 1,100 years after the original works. The earliest manuscripts of renowned Greek historians Thucydides and Herodotus that are complete enough to be of use to scholars were written more than 1,300 years after the originals.
Homer’s Iliad is the secular work that has the most supporting evidence, with 643 surviving copies (the earliest being written around 500 years after the original), but it doesn’t even compare to the New Testament evidence we have. The number of differences between the copies of the Iliad is also greater—even though there are more than 20 times as many New Testament manuscripts being studied and compared.
In contrast to the copies of secular histories given above, more than 5,600 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament have survived in whole or in part. Those manuscripts vary in age, the more complete having been written within 150 years of the original, with the earliest manuscript portion written within 30 years of the original. (Keep in mind that the New Testament wasn’t written as a single book, but is composed of many letters written by multiple authors at different times.) The fact that so many copies of the New Testament scriptures have survived, combined with the fact that they were written so closely to the originals, firmly establishes the historical accuracy of the scriptures we have today.
From a purely human perspective, the chance for error is increased when a document is copied over and over again thousands of times. The more times something is copied, the more errors you should see. This is true in the case of secular works, but not with the Bible. The abundance of ancient New Testament manuscripts have been compared and there are very few differences—and they contain no differences whatsoever that contradict the Gospel message of Jesus or the historical facts of Christian faith. Scholars have placed the comparative accuracy between the more than 5,600 manuscripts at 99.5%! This is astounding, and it shows how God has supernaturally preserved the integrity of the Bible through time.
|Work||Time Written||Earliest Copies||Time Span between original and copy||Number of Copies|
|Plato||427-347 BC||900 AD||1,200 years||7|
|Thucydides||460-400 BC||900 AD||1,300 years||8|
|Herodotus||488-428 BC||900 AD||1,300 years||8|
|Caesar||58-50 BC||900 AD||900 years||10|
|Livy||59 BC – 17 AD||?||?||20|
|Tacitus||100 AD||1,100 AD||1,000||20|
|Aristotle||384-322 BC||1100 AD||1,400 years||49|
|Homer (Iliad)||900 BC||400 B||500 years||643|
|Greek copies of the New Testament||50-100 AD||300 AD and earlier||150||5,686|
The nearer in time to the original writing a copy is made, the more likely, in a purely natural sense, the work is to be correct. Also, the greater number of copies in existence, the easier it is to compare for accuracy. (It should be noted that, in addition to the Greek copies of the New Testament, there are thousands more copies of New Testament books produced in other languages during the same time frame. In fact, researchers have discovered more than 9,000 copies of New Testament manuscripts in other languages—bringing the total number of manuscripts to well over 14,000). The abundance of ancient manuscripts and the nearness of their composition to the actual events, makes the New Testament the most verifiable document of antiquity.
Not only do we have copies of the scriptures themselves, but leaders in the early Christian church (often called the Church Fathers) wrote prolifically between 90 and 160 A.D. Their familiarity with the New Testament scriptures we still read today is proven by the fact that all but 11 verses from the New Testament are quoted in their writings!
Non-Christians have also given evidence of Jesus as a historical figure in their writings. In 93 A.D., the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
Josephus also wrote about the persecution and death of James. He said that the Sanhedrin “…brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.”
The Roman historian Tacitus described how the emperor Nero set fire to Rome, and in an effort to deflect the wrath of its citizens, he blamed the fire on the Christians. Tacitus said:
“Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”
Without taking into account the evidence contained in the New Testament, we can still show from non-Christian writers that Jesus was a historical figure who lived in Palestine in the early years of the first century, that He gathered followers, and that He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. In fact, within 150 years of Jesus’ life, ten non-Christian writers mentioned Jesus. Over that same time span, only nine mention the Roman emperor who ruled during Jesus’ life—Tiberius Caesar. Not even considering Christian authors, Jesus is more documented than the Roman emperor! It is undeniable that Jesus was a man who lived and walked the earth precisely when Scripture says He did.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1946 and 1957 in several caves on the shores of the Dead Sea has given us further evidence of the accuracy of the Scriptures that have been handed down to us. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls was an intact copy of the entire book of Isaiah (known as the Great Isaiah Scroll). It is dated at 100 B.C. and is 1000 years older than the copies that were used to compose the book of Isaiah we read in our Bibles today. After 1,000 years of being copied and recopied by hand, the number of differences between the Great Isaiah Scroll and our book of Isaiah is miniscule, with the variations consisting mostly of spelling mistakes and simple copying errors. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls also proves that the Messianic prophecies we read in Isaiah were definitely written prior to the birth of Jesus, which reinforces the case that Scripture makes for Jesus as the Messiah.
The bottom line is that the Bible has been handed down through the ages with such accuracy that it can’t be just a human book. The different copies we have of ancient secular writings have significant differences in them because they were simply copied by men—they weren’t inspired and preserved by God. The Bible, on the other hand, has been supernaturally preserved by God and all of the evidence we have supports that it was written by the inspiration of God. The last words of David, king of Israel and author of the Messianic prophecies in Psalm 22, reveal how the Holy Spirit inspired the men who wrote Scripture:
The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
2 Samuel 23:2
“We still can’t trust the Bible,” some will argue, “because it’s only a translation, and translations aren’t inspired.” Well, Jesus didn’t share that opinion. Jesus quoted from the Septuagint, which was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, and He equated Scripture with words proceeding from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Jesus’ use of Scripture throughout the Gospels also shows that He believed it was the final authority; particularly when the devil was challenging God’s commands.
Additionally, the apostle Paul hinged the thrust of his letter to the Galatians on the fact that God made His promise to the seed (singular) of Abraham, instead of to his seeds (plural) (Galatians 3:16). Paul made an argument for Jesus as the promised seed of Abraham based on the singular form of one word from a translation of the original Old Testament scripture—which shows that God is well able to preserve the truth in His Word for us, even through translations.
I spend nearly all of my time studying the Word. Scripture says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). We're not told to hide historical information about New Testament manuscripts in our hearts. Nevertheless, scholarship and historical inquiry do support the claims of Christianity; ancient manuscript discoveries show that the Scriptures we read today are the same as the original inspired writings, and further research shows that the New Testament is completely unique among the books of antiquity. No other book in history is as verifiable as the Bible—which is exactly what you would expect from a book given to us by God.
But even if there was no evidence outside the Bible that the Word of God is inspired, I would still be fully convinced. I don’t have enough space to tell you every way that the Word of God has been proven true in my life. It has shown me how to deal with sickness, problems, and rejection. The Word showed me how to find a wife, and how to stay married after I found her! I couldn’t tell you how many times I have applied the truths from God’s Word in my life and watched God’s promises come to pass. I have verified for myself beyond all doubt that Scripture is the inspired Word of God, and it is accurate in all of its detail.
People sometimes don’t understand how the Bible can say things in different books that seem to be in opposition to one another. Atheists love to pick out scriptures meant to balance one another and pretend that the statements are mutually exclusive, and therefore—they say—the Bible is flawed and can’t be from God. But that isn’t true. Certain passages in the Bible might appear to be contradictions, but opposite statements are sometimes intentional. The Bible is its own commentary, and separate—apparently opposing—scriptures can hold a single truth in balance by presenting it in different ways.
For example, one scripture says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Another says, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20). Both statements are true, and each is a commentary on the other; they describe the balance of grace and faith.
Every Christian needs to come to the conclusion that the Word of God is accurate and inspired. The Word has to be the foundation of your worldview, or Satan is going to steal from you. The devil is roaming about looking to devour people who doubt God’s Word—just as he was able to spoil Eve because she wasn’t absolutely convinced that God’s command was true. The Word of God is 100% trustworthy. Personally, I doubt my little peanut brain before I question the accuracy of the Word. I haven’t figured everything out, but I know the problem isn’t with the Word—it’s with my inability to interpret and comprehend the depths of God.
Accepting God’s Word as being absolute truth and authority goes against cultural norms today. In most Western nations, the majority of people who say they believe the Bible is God’s Word do not seem to believe that it is accurate and trustworthy enough to base their lives upon it. The majority of believers are getting their philosophy elsewhere, and that’s why their worldview doesn’t line up with God’s perspective.
You will not prosper in the Lord unless you accept the Bible as God’s Word. You may have periods in your life where it looks like you are doing fine, but deviating from the Word of God leads to wrong ways of thinking and, eventually, those wrong thought patterns are going to cause you trouble. Eve was fine for a while too—until she began to question God’s Word, and then Satan gained a foothold into her life and plunged the entire human race into the destruction we see today.
The best thing you can do for yourself and for your relationship with God is trust that His Word is inspired and accurate in all of its detail. If the Word of God says something is okay, then it’s okay. And when His Word says something is wrong, then it’s wrong. Basing your worldview on the Bible will lead you to respond to life in a positive way and put you on the path to prosperity. It will also prevent the devil from gaining access to you through wrong philosophies, the traditions of men, or the wisdom and principles of this world. The Word of God is the only sure foundation to build your philosophy on, and it is your ticket to the blessed life.
8James Strong, The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Nelson Publishers, 2001), 114. G2315, theopneustos.
9Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 225
10F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are they reliable? 5th ed. rev. (Grand Rapids: The Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 16.
11Bruce, New Testament, 20.
12Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 532.
13The information in this chart is from: Bruce, New Testament, 16-20; Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia, 527-538; and The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry online at http://carm.org/manuscript-evidence
14One small fragment of papyrus that has been discovered, known as the John Rylands papyri, was written only 30 years after the original Gospel of John.
15Geisler, Enough Faith, 229.
16Flavius Josephus, The Works of Flavius Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Buffalo: John E. Beardsley, 1895), 18.3.3 online at www.perseus.tufts.edu
17Josephus, Works of, 20.9.1.
18Cornelius Tacitus, Complete Works of Tacitus, ed. Alfred John Church et. al. (New York: Perseus, Random House, 1942), 15.44 online at www.perseus.tufts.edu
19Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament: its background, growth, and content, 15th ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1980), 78.
20Geisler, Enough Faith, 222.
21Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia, 187-189.