Rev. Jack Howell's Place

Subtitle

You Can Trust The Bible!

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 AKJV).

The Bible has come under increasing attack from its enemies and pretended friends. Perhaps you've seen programs on the television which attempt to disprove the Bible and relegate it to myth. Perhaps you've heard a professed clergyman claim that the Bible is not the inspired, written Word of God and is outdated, etc. Perhaps you've heard a teacher in class degrading the Bible in front of their students and ridiculing those who read and believe it. Perhaps you've heard someone claim that the Bible is nothing more than hate literature and ought to be banned, or that it is one of the “literary greats. Perhaps you've been told that the Bible is full of errors and cannot be trusted.

I am here to tell you that the Bible IS the inspired, written Word of God and CAN be trusted! I'm here to tell you that it is more than just one of the “literary greats!” Of all the other writings claimed as scripture by the world's religions, the Bible alone stands unique. It is different from all the other religious works, having no equal.

The Bible is unique as to its continuity. It was written over a span of 1600 years, covering roughly 40 generations and had approximately 40 human authors from virtually every walk of life who wrote under divine inspiration and in complete unity with each other when they touched on the same subject matter.

Within the pages of the Bible there is harmony and continuity. For example, the paradise lost in Genesis becomes the paradise regained in the Book of Revelation. What Daniel sealed in his Book, John reveals in the Revelation. The tree of life is closed in Genesis, but is forever opened in the Book of Revelation. Each Book of the Bible comprises a unified whole and each Book is in perfect harmony with each other. Just imagine the confusion and disharmony you would come up with if you took ten authors, one from each walk of life, one generation, one place, one continent, language, etc., and had them write on just one controversial subject! You would have varying opinions and each writer would no doubt, contradict the other, but not so with the Bible, for each author wrote under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, who gave them what to write! The word “inspiration” in our opening text is translated from the Greek word theopneustos and literally means “God-breathed” thus we can rightly refer to the Bible as the God-breathed Book. God had a direct hand in what was to be written and saw to it that His written Word was protected and not corrupted during its transmission. It correctly reflects the mind of God on diverse subjects and is a reliable guide for us to follow.

The Bible is unique in its survival. It has been viciously attacked, banned, burned, desecrated, etc., yet it survives. It was written on highly perishable materials, yet ancient copies survive to this day, either whole or in part. God declared that His Word would endure forever (1 Peter 1:25). It has survived the efforts of its enemies to destroy it and discredit it and has proven true historically and where it touches on scientific matters, it has proven true. It has been copied and recopied by hand for hundreds of years and the copies remain faithful to the originals. Its style, correctness, and existence did not diminish one iota, and compared with other ancient writings, the manuscript evidence for the Bible is far greater than any ten pieces of classical literature combined! The manuscript evidence is sufficient to ensure that we are reading the words of the original writings.

As I mentioned previously, there have been many attempts to burn the Bible, ban it, outlaw it, etc., by its enemies, many of whom have pretended to be its friend. From the days of the Roman Emperors to the present day Communist-ruled countries, there have been efforts to wipe the Bible out of existence. For example, in 303 A.D., the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict to stop Christians from worshiping, and to destroy the scriptures. But 25 years later, the Emperor Constantine called for 50 copies of the Bible to be printed at government expense! The famous French atheist Voltaire who died in 1778, predicted that Christianity would be swept from existence and pass into history within 100 years of his time, but 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used both his house and printing press to produce stacks of Bibles! Voltaire was wrong, and God was right!

The Bible has survived the criticism of infidels who for 1800 years have been trying to refute and overthrow it, yet it stands today solid as a rock and unscathed. Its circulation increases, and it is more loved, cherished, and read today than ever before! H.L. Hastings once commented that "Infidels, with all their assault make about as much impression on this book as a man with a tack hammer on the pyramids of Egypt." I am certianly not phased by, nor impressed with the fraudulent claims of the critics/enemies of the Bible! They impress me about as much as a pimple on the tip of my nose! Bernard Ramm has said, "What book on philosophy or religion or psychology ...has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line, and tenet? And yet, the Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions."

The Bible is unique as to its teaching. In the first place, it is a Book of prophecy. Wilbur Smith once said, “It is the only volume ever produced in which is to be found a large body of prophecies relating to individual nations (more than ten in Isaiah alone), Israel, all the peoples of the earth, certain cities, the coming Messiah and His kingdom.” No other religious book provides so many explicit prophecies so distant in the future which came to pass! Bible prophecy has proven to be so accurate that its enemies have tried to discredit the Bible by falsely claiming the prophecies were written AFTER the events took place. Cyrus the Mede was mentioned by name in prophecy as the one who would overthrow ancient Babylon and effect the release of the captive Jews well over 150 years before he was born (Isaiah 44:26-45:7). Jeremiah also prophesied the fall of Babylon, and in this prophetic utterance, he mentioned a unique detail that play a key roll in Babylon's destruction: “A drought is on her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad on their idols” (Jeremiah 50:38). He also prophesied that “The mighty men of Babylon have declined to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might has failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwelling places; her bars are broken” (Jeremiah 51:30). The Greek historian Herodotus records that Cyrus placed a portion of his army at the point where the Euphrates river enters the city, and another body of soldiers at the back of the place where the river issues forth, with orders to march into the stream as soon as the water became shallow enough. He diverted that waters of the river into trenches, thus lowering the river to the point that it was only about thigh deep, enabling his forces to enter the city through a channel. Now, what about the part of the prophecy recorded in Jeremiah 51:30? Well, the Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon, as well as the Bible itself record that the Babylonians were actually feasting when Cyrus' forces entered the city and attacked and did not put up much of a fight. They were drunken and caught off guard. The Nabonidus Chronicle, which is an official cuneiform inscription records that Cyrus' forces entered the city “without battle” in fulfillment of Jeremiah 51:30.

The historicity of the Bible has been called into question by its enemies, but they have largely been silenced as archeology has proven the historic accuracy of the Bible. In fact, William Foxwell Albright stated, “There has been a general return to appreciation of the accuracy, both in general sweep, and in factual detail, of the religious history of Israel...To sum up, we can now again treat the Bible from beginning to end as an authentic document of religious history” (History, Archaeology, and Christian Humanism, by William Foxwell Albright, 1964, pp. 294-296). Archaeologist Nelson Glueck once commented, “...in all of my archaeological investigation, I have never found one artifact of antiquity that contradicts any statement of the Word of God.” Yes, the Bible IS a reliable historical record.

The Bible is unique in how it deals with personalities. It deals in a very frank manner with the sins of its characters. For example, it shows Adam and Eve putting off responsibility on to others. It records Noah's sin of drunkenness. It records Abraham's cowardice and lying to save his own life. It records Moses own disobedience to God. It records David's lying, murder, and adultery. It records Peter's denial of the Lord, and causing division in the young Church through his hypocrisy. It records the problems that plagued early local churches such as division, arrogance, and materialism. The Bible does not mince words and tells it like it is. It does not attempt to white-wash the faults and sins of its characters, but lays them out in the open.

The Bible is unique in its influence. The publication called The Greatest English Classic states that, "If every Bible in any considerable city were destroyed, the Book could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations on the shelves of the city public library." Why is that? Because the Bible has influenced a great many authors and they have quoted from the Bible in their own works of literature!

Enemies of the Bible and Christianity do not like it, but the Bible is the basis upon which the judicial system of the United States was founded. Our laws have their basis in the Bible. Our standards of morality are based upon the Bible. Is it any wonder why the Bible's enemies try so hard to do away with any reference to it publicly? Do away with the basis of our moral standards and our laws, and we have an "anything goes" anarchist society.

Did you know that within the characters of the Chinese alphabet are references to the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and Noah's Flood? This is a very facinating study!

What makes the Bible unique is its origin - it came from the mind of the One True God; its process of revelation - it came by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost who personally guided the many writers and sawto it that their writings were harmoneous with one another, and not contradictory.; the Bible is unique as to its central message that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God who is the only Lord and Savior of mankind and through Him alone can we have salvation (Acts 4:12).

IF you are an intelligent person and are searching for the truth, you will read the one Book that has drawn more attention than any other, and that Book is the Bible, but even this is not enough! Reading the Bible is of little value unless we receive its message into our hearts and live it in our lives (James 1:21-25).

Because of its uniquesness, you can trust the Bible! It has withstood the test of time. It has withstood all attempts to destroy, ban, or discredit it. It has changed the lives of those who have received its message and acted upon it. The Bible is truly a life-changing Book that can be trusted.

Does the Bible contradict itself? It is often claimed that the Bible contradicts itself, but when challenged to provide one legitimate contradiction, no legitimate contradiction can be shown. Supposed contradictions result when verses are taken out of context or when a mistranslation occurs, or when a copyist's error creeps into the text. In truth, there are no real contradictions in the Bible. The Bible does have some difficulties for which there are honest, legitimate explanations to reconcile the difficulties. See the book Bible Difficulties by Gleason L. Archer for example on those difficulties and their reconciliation with the rest of scripture.

We need to remember that the Bible was written by 40 human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. These men come from different backgrounds, have different writing styles, and gifts, all of which are reflected in their writings. Each writes from their own perspective. We also need to remember that each writer presents the subject matter in different ways. For example, one might present the subject in a chronological order, whereas another might present it in a different fashion. It should also be pointed out that two or more authors writing on the same subject might add details that are important to him that the others have left out. We find this to be the case in the Gospels. This does not mean they are contradictory. It merely reflects the writing style of each. Often we find that the copyists made mistakes in copying texts due to the conditions they were writing under, as well as the condition of the manuscript they were copying from. Such copyist errors are traceable and are known to us. The Bible is trustworthy and is valid for today. It offers viable solutions to the problems we face, and more importantly, it reflects the mind of God, and is His letter to us, and we ought to pay heed to it and follow it.

Let's take a look at an example of the supposed “contradictions” that some have put forward as their “proof” that the Bible contradicts itself.

It is often claimed that there are two contradictory accounts of the death of Goliath. Enemies of the Bible often point to 1 Samuel 17:50 which points out that David beheaded Goliath after felling him with a stone from his sling, then they will point to 2 Samuel 21:19 which, in the Hebrew Masoretic text states that Elhanan the son of Yaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, and they claim we have a contradiction. Now, at first glance this certainly does appear to be the case, but we have a parallel verse in 1 Chronicles 20:5 that helps to clear this up for us, for this parallel passage states that “And Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, and as Gleason L. Archer points out, this is obviously the true reading for the Chronicles passage as well as for 2 Samuel 21:19. This is an example of an earlier manuscript being damaged or blurred and the copyist who copied a new manuscript from the damaged or blurred one made an error in copying it. Manuscripts were copied by hand, often in very poor lighting and as a result, it was not unusual for mistakes to sometimes creep into the text of the Bible. This is but one of the known copyist mistakes, and not a real contradiction at all. What apparently happened is the following:

The sign of the direct object, which in 1 Chronicles comes just before “Lahmi,” was '-t and the copyist mistook it for b-t or b-y-t which is the word “Beth” and thus got Bet hal-Lahmi (the Bethlehemite) out of it.

The copyist misread the word for “brother” as the sign of the direct object right before g-l-y-t (Goliath) and made Goliath the object of the word “killed” (wayyak), instead of the brother of Goliath.

The copyist misplaced the word for “weavers” right after “Elhanan” as his patronymic (ben Y-'-r-y'-r—g-ym, or ben ya'rey 'or-gim - “the son of the forest of weavers”) which again as Archer points out is a most unlikely name for anyone's father. In the Chronicles account, the 'or gim (weavers) comes right after me nor (“a beam of”) making good sense.

So what we actually have is that 2 Samuel 21 is a traceable corruption of the original wording, which was correctly preserved in 1 Chronicles 20:5 and not a real contradiction at all. By comparing the ancient manuscripts we can detect and trace such mistakes made by the copyists and correct them in our translations of the Bible. The copyists themselves looked for copying errors and when they found one, the new manuscript was destroyed and the copyist started over, but mistakes did manage to creep into the text undetected at times, and the above is but one known example of this happening. It does not in any way detract from the reliability of the Bible as the written Word of God. You can trust the Bible!

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