When was the last time you
opened and read your Bible? Was it last week, last month, or
last year? It may come as no surprise to learn that interest
in the Bible continues to decline among Americans. Very
few people can even name the books of the Bible or remember the
names of the twelve apostles (or were there fourteen?). These
days it seems more people can give a stock quotation than a scripture
quotation. More people can give a detailed account of the adventures
of Indiana Jones than can tell you the circumstances surrounding
Paul's preaching the Gospel in Macedonia. But should we be alarmed?
Should we worry that we lack knowledge of the Bible and its teachings?
Yes! We should be alarmed and worried! Why? Well, notice what
the Lord says in Hosea 4:6 -
people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:
because thou hast rejected knowledge,
I will also reject thee...."
But is the Bible really that
important? Did it come from God or did mere men write it and
then claim it was from God? These questions must be answered.
If the Bible is myth then it needs to be exposed as such, but
if it is true, then it needs to be heeded and obeyed. The following
are some reasons to believe the Bible is God's inspired word:
of Its Writings
The oldest of the Bible books was written about 3,500 years ago.
The last book of the Bible was written about 1,900 years ago.
The 66 books that make up the Bible have descended to modern
times by means of handwritten copies. There are
more than 12,000 manuscripts that when combined produce the Bible
as we know it today. There were nearly 40 writers of the Bible.
These writers lived at different times and in different locations,
but they all wrote a unified account of God's people and the
salvation that comes through faith in God. How can the Bible's
amazing unity be explained except for the fact that it came from
the inspiration of God?
Isaiah prophecied the destruction of the Babylonian empire (Isa.
13:17-22) long before it happened. Ezekiel spoke of the decline
of the powerful nation of Egypt (Ezek. 29:13-15) before the decline
even began. Both prophecies came to pass. But, biblical prophecies
can be even more specific. In Joshua 6:26 a prophecy was made
that the man who rose up to build the city of Jericho would lose
his first born and his youngest son. Five hundred years later
the prophecy was fulfilled (See 1 Kings 16:34).
Evidence of the Bible's Inspiration
Did you know that the Bible spoke of the earth being round hundreds
of years before Columbus proved the fact (please see
Isaiah 40:21-22)? Did you know that the Bible tells us the "earth
hangs on nothing" long before man knew that to be true (see
Job 26:7)? Did you know that the "paths of the seas"
were mentioned in Psalm 8:8 long before oceanographers charted
the ocean currents? The obvious question is how could these and
other scientific facts be stated in the Bible long before man
learned of them unless the Bible were inspired of God?
You see, there are many good
reasons to believe in the Bible's inspiration. Why not take a
few minutes right now to read and contemplate its truths? Or,
how about joining us in our Bible study on Sunday morning and
again on Wednesday evening? We promise a warm welcome!
HOW WE GOT
"Bible" means "book." Actually, it is a compilation
of 66 books written by about 40 different authors scattered across
many countries during a period of 1,600 years. The story of how
this remarkable book came into being with each part fitting perfectly
into the others and with no real contradictions is most interesting.
We must conclude it could have come only from God.
BIBLE WAS WRITTEN
The Bible is divided into two great divisions known as the Old
Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is over three
times as long as the New Testament and its writing was completed
about 400 years before the birth of Christ. Originally the biblical
books were hand written on animal skins (parchment) or on paper
made from the papyrus plant. Printing was not yet invented,
so every copy of an original had to be made by hand. Therefore,
copies were rare and extremely valuable.
The 39 Old Testament books
were written in Hebrew, except for small portions in the Aramaic
language. The first five were written by Moses about 1500 years
B.C. (before Christ.) During the next thousand years the remaining
books were penned, and it appears that Ezra, the scribe, brought
them all together into a single book (Nehemiah 8:5) about 400
In the third century before
Christ the first great translation of the Old Testament from
Hebrew to Greek was made at Alexandria, Egypt. It was called
the SEPTUAGINT (meaning seventy) because it was supposedly translated
by seventy scholars. Christ often quoted this version or a Hebrew
text similar to it.
The 27 New Testament books
were written in Greek by about eight men, several of them apostles
of Christ, in the first century A.D. (since Christ.) The New
Testament covers events occurring in that century, including
the life of Christ and the establishment of his church. As is
true of the Old Testament, all original copies have been lost
or destroyed, and yet we have the writings substantially as they
were penned. Many copies have been preserved and are available
for scholars to use in translating into other languages. The
three most important are the Vatican Manuscript at the Vatican
in Rome, written in the fourth century; the Alexandrian Manuscript
in the British Museum in London, written in the fifth century;
and the Sinaitic Manuscript, also in the British Museum, written
in the fourth century. In addition there are hundreds of other
copies of less importance which are of value to translators in
making sure that we have the original New Testament writings.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, the first of which were discovered in 1947
in a cave near the Dead Sea and which date from the first or
second century before Christ, have
helped in recent translations of the Old Testament. They have
also substantiated the accuracy of the manuscripts from which
earlier translations were made so that we may be even more confident
that we have the real message of the Old Testament writers. There
are two additional sources of information about the original
New Testament books. One is the translations made soon after
the New Testament was written. The most important, written in
Latin, is called VULGATE and was completed by Jerome in 405 A.D.
We also have numerous Bible quotations from the writings of the
early church fathers. By comparing the Greek manuscripts, the
early translations, and the quotations of the church fathers,
Bible scholars have been able to determine with great accuracy
what the New Testament authors wrote. In fact, so sure are we
that we have the Bible almost as it was given that we can positively
say that no major Bible doctrine is in any way affected by minor
errors of copying through the centuries.
The first major English translation of the New Testament was
completed by John Wyclif in 1382 after 22 years of hard work.
In 1456 printing was invented by Johanne Gutenberg, making it
possible to publish Bibles much faster and virtually eliminating
typographical errors so common in hand copies. In fact, the first
printed English Bible was the New Testament as translated by
WILLIAM TYNDALE in 1525. He was strongly opposed in this by the
Catholic Church and he found it necessary to have his Bibles
printed on the continent and smuggled into England. Most were
publicly burned in London. He was betrayed, and burned at the
stake for giving the Bible to the people. His final words were,
"Lord, open the King of England's eyes." The first
complete English Bible was the work of MILES COVERDALE. Other
versions soon followed and by 1604 the King of England's eyes
were opened. He authorized the translation of a new version,
the work of 54 scholars. It was completed in 1611 and is know
as the KING JAMES VERSION after the monarch who authorized it.
Although it was tranlated over 350 years ago, it is still one
of the most widely used English versions.
In 1982 the NEW KING JAMES
revision was published. It follows the same basic text as the
King James, but updates much of the archaic speech to make it
more readable. The discovery of additional Bible manuscripts
not available to King James translators and the inevitable change
of the English language prompted the publication of other versions
that would be more readable and accurate. An 1885 revision of
the King James by 84 British and American scholars was called
the ENGLISH REVISED VERSION, and was followed in 1901 by an American
edition called the AMERICAN STANDARD, a highly literal rendering
of the scriptures. Other revisions of the King James and American
Standard followed: the REVISED STANDARD VERSION in 1952 and the
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD in 1970. These translations were intended
to combine the finer characteristics of their predecessors with
improved readability and increased accuracy based on recent manuscript
The NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
(1978) is comparable in its approach to translation with the
Revised Standard and New American Standard, but unlike these
is a completely new translation rather than a revision of its
The NEW ENGLISH BIBLE and the
GOOD NEWS BIBLE (or TODAY'S ENGLISH VERSION) are typical of recent
free translations that are less literal and concentrate on capturing
the sense of the original. THE LIVING BIBLE of Kenneth Taylor
is a paraphrase rather than a translation and reworks the original
in an effort to capture the intent of the original writers.
The Roman Catholic Church has
produced its own translations. The RHEIMS-DOUAI BIBLE appeared
in 1582. It has been replaced by the NEW AMERICAN BIBLE of 1970.
Catholic versions include the same books found in other versions
(sometimes under a different name) plus fourteen more in the
Old Testament usually call the Apocrypha. This word means "hidden"
and is applied to these books because of their doubtful origin.
They are found only in the Greek, not the Hebrew canon of the
Old Testament, and have been rejected by the Jews and most non-Catholics
as not belonging in the Old Testament. However, their exclusion
from the Old Testament does not materially affect any Bible doctrine.
IS GOD'S WORD
The Bible claims to be inspired. Peter said, "Holy men of God spake as they
were moved by the Holy Ghost."
(2 Peter 1:21.) The Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) so guided the writers
of the Bible that they could not make mistakes. "Which things
also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth,
but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." (1 Cor. 2:13.) Because of this there are no
real contradictions in the Bible. Those things which appear to
be contradictions disappear under close investigation. That the
Bible is true may be shown by several of its characteristics.
It's SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE, even though it
is not a book of science.
It's HISTORICALLY ACCURATE. attempts to prove
it wrong have failed.
It's PROPHETICALLY CORRECT its prophecies have
It's IMPARTIAL, presenting both good and bad
of all men.
It presents the world's HIGHEST STANDARD of MORALITY.
IT HAS NEVER BEEN DESTROYED despite attempts
to eliminate it.