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The Bible is one of the most influential books in history. Millions of people believe it is the Word of God, and many try to use it as the foundation for their lives. And yet many biblical critics label it as a work of fiction. How do we know the Bible is true?
Contrary to what some assume, the Bible is not a collection of made-up stories about people who never existed. Archaeological evidence has repeatedly disproved the notion that all the people, places and events in the Bible were simply fabricated.
Consider just a few of the discoveries that have confirmed biblical accounts:
The above discoveries are just a small sampling of many archaeological confirmations that help us know the Bible is true.
Although archaeology has verified many biblical accounts, the Bible does not claim to be a history book. The apostle Paul wrote that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek word theopneustos literally means “God-breathed,” indicating that all Scripture is literally the Word of God! Although God has used human beings to convey His words (Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:21), those words still originate from Him.
The term “Scripture” includes what we call the Old Testament—which is what was available when Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16—and also what we call the New Testament—which was assembled later and includes Paul’s epistles (2 Peter 3:16) and other books. In other words, the whole Bible is the Word of God.
Jesus Christ Himself stated that God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17). In fact, “the entirety of [God’s] word is truth” (Psalm 119:160), because “God … cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). The implication is that if Scripture contains errors originating from God, we can no longer trust the Bible as a basis for belief.
After all, if the Bible falsely claims to be true in its entirety, then why would any of its other claims be true? How could we believe the passages stating that God is an all-powerful Being who wants to give us eternal life if other sections of the Bible contain falsehoods? The only way we can trust the validity of the Bible’s message is if Christ’s statement is true: that “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
There is perhaps no more compelling evidence that the Bible is the true Word of God than fulfilled prophecy. When you consider how difficult it can be to predict what will happen tomorrow, let alone centuries from now, it becomes apparent that of all biblical content, prophecy would be the most likely category to contain false statements. And yet despite the fact that a large percentage of the Bible is prophecy, not a single prophetic statement has been proven wrong—and while many statements have a future fulfillment, a large number of detailed prophecies have already been fulfilled.
One of the incredible prophecies is of Cyrus, the first ruler of the Persian Empire. In Isaiah 44:28, God stated that Cyrus would order the building of the temple in Jerusalem. This verse was written before Cyrus was even born, and before the temple had been destroyed!
Two centuries later, this prophecy came to pass when Cyrus issued a decree sending the Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-4). Biblical critics are left with only two options: either admit that the Bible is the Word of God, as He alone could have foretold the future with such accuracy; or argue that the prophecy in Isaiah was actually written after Cyrus’ decree. Many people choose the second option, refusing to believe that the first is possible.
However, it is not just a single prophecy that must be discredited by arguing that it was written after the fact. For example, through God’s inspiration, Daniel accurately foretold the succession of powerful empires that would be dominant over the next several centuries. The record of history validated Daniel’s statements: the Babylonian Empire was conquered by the Medo-Persian Empire, which was supplanted by the Greco-Macedonian Empire, which was eventually replaced by the Roman Empire.
Another prophecy is found in Daniel 9:24-27, known as the “70 weeks” prophecy, which points to the precise year when Jesus Christ would begin His ministry on this earth—almost 500 years after the verses were written.
When presented with such detailed prophecies that have been accurately fulfilled, biblical critics assert that the prophecies were written after the events they foretold. However, their claims are not made based on any definitive supporting evidence, but rather stem from the argument that there cannot be any other reasonable explanation.
However, there is an explanation that many people refuse to accept: Biblical prophecy has been proven time and time again to be unfailingly accurate because it comes from God. As God stated: “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:9-10). Only God can precisely foretell the future, which is why fulfilled prophecy is part of how we know the Bible is true.
With the rapid pace of scientific advancements, many of the details contained in the Bible have come under attack. One well-known controversy centers on the age of the earth, which scientists estimate to be billions of years old. However, based on biblical chronologies, there have only been about 6,000 years of human history since the creation account in Genesis 1.
So is the Bible in error? No! Genesis 1:1 states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” However, Genesis 1:2 states that “the earth was without form, and void”—the Hebrew word for “without form” is tohu. But according to Isaiah 45:18, God “did not create [the earth] in vain”; the Hebrew word for “in vain” is tohu, the same word found in Genesis 1:2.
So if God did not originally create the earth “in vain” or “without form,” then it must have become that way! A more accurate translation of Genesis 1:2 is that “the earth became without form, and void.”
The implication is that unstated events occurred between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 that laid waste to the earth, events that took place over time—even billions of years. Therefore, the Bible does not contradict science with respect to the age of the earth.
In fact, science is actually in harmony with the Bible. After all, God is the One who created the various physical laws that scientists try to uncover! Multiple biblical accounts demonstrate advanced knowledge that was only “discovered” in recent centuries.
Consider a few examples:
Although the Bible is not primarily a scientific work, it contains many true scientific facts—which should be expected from the Word of God, as He created the whole universe!
Incredibly, although the Bible has been proven true time and time again in “difficult” areas such as prophecy or science, it seems to run into a roadblock in what might arguably be the easiest area to avoid problems—not contradicting itself.
Many critics point to the fact that certain biblical passages seem to conflict. For example, in John’s account of Christ’s crucifixion, “about the sixth hour … [Pilate] said to the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’” (John 19:14)—before Christ was crucified. However, the other Gospel accounts state that “there was darkness over all the land” beginning “from the sixth hour” (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44)—after Christ had been crucified!
Is John’s account in conflict with the other three? No. Because the Jewish state was under Roman control, John used the Roman method of counting time—in which the first hour began at midnight, and so the end of his “sixth hour” was at 6 a.m. By contrast, the other three Gospel writers used the Jewish method of counting time—in which the first hour began at 6 a.m., and so their “sixth hour” ended at noon. There is no conflict.
Every supposed contradiction in the Bible has a reasonable explanation, such as a mistake in copying manuscripts. Critics argue that these explanations are “convenient” ways of ignoring biblical errors, and yet when confronted with fulfilled prophecy, they fall back on one explanation: the prophecies were written after the events.
Ironically, according to that criticism, biblical writers supposedly succeeded in creating an elaborate hoax to make prophecy appear legitimate and yet failed to achieve the simple task of making sure that different biblical accounts matched each other! However, when we consider the alternative—that the Bible truly does come from God, and He inspired different writers with unique personalities and perspectives to write His words—then apparent discrepancies in the Bible do make sense and can be resolved with enough research.
At the heart of many people’s resistance to believing in the truth of the Bible is an unwillingness to obey what it says. After all, if the Bible is God’s Word and human beings are to live “by every word of God” (Luke 4:4), then that means we must strive to shape our thoughts and behavior to conform to its instructions! Unfortunately, our “advanced” society often portrays the Bible as a restrictive, outdated text with little application to today’s world. But Isaiah 40:8 states that “the word of … God stands forever”—it never goes out-of-date!
So how do we know the Bible is true? Try putting it to the test! If it truly is the Word of God, then following His instructions will lead to blessings (Deuteronomy 5:32-33), with the ultimate blessing being eternal life in God’s family! That is God’s purpose for every human being; He only wants what is best for us, which is why the Bible should be more than just an academic curiosity—it should govern everything we do.
Prove the truth of the Bible for yourself, and allow God to change your life.