There is no need studying the Bible if it is not true. The Bible student must be convinced that the message is trustworthy. Many have doubts and many have attacked the trustworthiness of the Bible. The study of the infallibility (without error) of the Bible is a large and complex study. There are many books, articles, and online sites that support the trustworthiness of the Bible. This falls in the area of a branch of theology called Apologetics, the defense of the reliability and truthfulness of the Bible. In order to understand all the issues of infallibility, one must master a number of important subjects such as Biblical inspiration and the formation of the Canon of Scripture (how Bible books were selected as being valid).
The Bible reader does not have to know a lot in order to trust the Bible and benefit from the study of it. I will share my approach to this important subject. Like the blind man who was healed by Jesus in John chapter 9, when I was saved I knew very little, but I knew enough. If you have doubts about the trustworthiness the Bible, what I am sharing may be of help to you.
The Starting Point:
One Friday evening on February 11, 1966, when I was in the Coast Guard, emotionally hurting, and a thousand miles from home and church, I heard a message given by Chief Les Gentry at the New London Christian Servicemen Center, in New London, Connecticut. I responded to that message and prayed, repenting of my sins and surrendering my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The following morning I awoke to the reality of a changed life. I realized that there had been a inward change and that the pain and sorrow I had experienced for so long was gone, replaced with a sense of peace and being loved by God. It was a strange thing, but a real thing. The truth of the Bible passage used by Chief Gentry in his message was verified to me. More importantly, the truth of the Gospel message concerning Christ was verified. Like the blind man who said, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25 ESV). I knew I had been lost but now I was saved.
The First Logical Step:
I figured that, since the scripture passage that I had responded to was true, then other passages must be true. But how to determine which parts of the Bible I could trust? Because I knew that Jesus Christ was real, and he was now my Lord and Savior, then what he said about the Bible must be my guide.
The Second Logical Step:
I began an earnest study of the Bible, trying to learn and understand the best I could. The Bible was a new book to me and I had a hunger to read it. I tried to benefit from any literature or person that could help me to learn and understand the Bible. So, eventually I learned what Jesus said about the Bible. That was all I really needed in order to accept all of Scripture as trustworthy and worthy of study.
- What Jesus Said About The Old Testament:
Many times Jesus quotes from the Old Testament in his teaching. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew five, contains a number of such quotes. There is one verse in particular that settled the matter for me.
For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
(Matthew 5:18 ESV)
An “iota” is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet (the language of most of the Old Testament). The “dot” is a very small mark attached to a letter that distinguishes it from a similar letter. The word “Law” used in this context includes all of the Old Testament. If the smallest letter or mark of a letter is reliable, then certainly the words must be reliable. If we add to this passage the many times Jesus referred to an Old Testament person, an account, a prophecy, or a miracle as being fact, we have a guarantee concerning the infallibility of the Old Testament.
- What Jesus Said About The New Testament:
I had already experienced the truth of at least one passage in the New Testament, but how could I know that the rest were trustworthy? A passage in John 16 gave me the answer.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
(John 16:12-14 ESV)
In this passage, Jesus is talking to his Apostles. Like the Superior Court in the United States, the Apostles were given great spiritual authority concerning the teachings of Christ. Jesus said that he still had many things to say but that would have to wait until the coming of God the Holy Spirit to indwell them—teaching, calling to remembrance, and guiding them into truth. We know that there are persons who have total recall, remembering in detail what they have seen, heard, or read. There was one such person in one of my seminary classes who did not have to take lecture notes. He remembered everything he heard. It is not illogical to believe that God could give total recall to his Apostles. The following quote is from C. I. Scofield:
Christ’s pre-authentication of the New Testament:
(1) He expressly declared that He would leave “many things” unrevealed (John_16:12).
(2) He promised that this revelation should be completed (“all things”) after the Spirit should come, and that such additional revelation should include new prophecies (John_16:12).
(3) He chose certain persons to receive such additional revelations, and to be His witnesses to them (Mat_28:19); (John_15:27); (John_16:13); (Act_1:8); (Act_9:15-17).
(4) He gave to their words when speaking for Him in the Spirit precisely the same authority as His own (Mat_10:14); (Mat_10:15); (Luke_10:16); (John 3:20); (John_17:20).
The Third Logical Step:
Since Jesus confirmed the infallibility of the Old Testament and per-authenticated the New Testament, we can rest assured that the Bible is reliable and worthy of our study. We now must spend time in the scriptures, learning, meditating, and obeying. All that we need for living a full Christian life is recorded there.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)
Since 1966, I have learned many things during all these years of Bible study. The most important thing is to trust the Bible. For fifty years, at no time and under no circumstance has it proven false. I have tested its promises many times and not one has failed. Your faith can not grow without the Bible. Your joy, hope, and peace depend upon your faith in its teachings. Your spiritual growth and ministry depend upon your growing understanding and faith. A lifetime is not enough time to fully comprehend all that the Bible teaches. So, get started and God bless you in your study.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)
If you are ready to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, do as I did and pray. A prayer something like this is all you need to do:
“Lord Jesus, I repent (turn away) from my sins and ask for forgiveness. I surrender my life to you as my Lord and Savior.”
The power for salvation is not in you or your words. Like plugging a lamp into a power outlet, your prayer plugs you into the power of the love and grace of Jesus Christ. If you have said a prayer, please contact me so that I can pray for you and answer any questions you may have.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.