The Bible is God’s revelation to us on how to have meaningful lives. How do we know that this assertion is true? For a Bible believer, the Bible’s truth and authority as God’s Word, and its meaningfulness, are self-evident and self-verifying, i.e. they are revealed by faith. As a believer reads, hears and studies the Bible, the Holy Spirit works in that person’s heart to increase their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and to accept and believe that all of the Bible is the true Word of God (Romans 10:17).
For a non-believer, the Bible teaches that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). And no human words or arguments, from this site or elsewhere, can convince a non-believer that the Bible is true (1 Corinthians 2:14). Only the Holy Spirit, working through the Word and Sacraments, can create faith in a non-believer’s heart (1 Corinthians 12:3).
So of what use are the words on this site? We hope that the evidence and arguments presented here about the truth of the Bible will encourage you to try it out and read it for yourself.
For non-believers, we encourage you to read the Bible and believe it. Find a church that believes, confesses and teaches the Bible in its truth and purity. For current believers, we hope that reading and studying the Bible will encourage you to continue in God’s Word, to understand more deeply why the Bible is true, and to continue building your faith through Word and Sacraments.
In order for the Bible to be truly God’s perfect Word, the following must be true:
o The Bible must be internally self-consistent and error-free.
o Bible accounts must be consistent with reality.
o Bible predictions and prophecies must come true.
o The books included in the Bible must be those inspired by God.
o The Bible must provide meaningfulness in a person’s life.
The following sections on this page provide evidence and arguments that these points are in fact true for the Bible.
Is the Bible Self-Consistent and Error-Free?
For a believer in God, the Bible is proven true by faith. So for that person, the Bible is self-verifying. But in addition, there is strong independent evidence that the Bible is self-consistent and error-free. To show this, we first need to define exactly what we mean by the "Bible". We consider the true writings of Bible to be the original manuscripts of the canonical Christian Bible, as written by the original authors in their original languages. Now it’s true that we don’t have access to any of the original manuscripts. But we have strong evidence that the thousands of early copies of the books of the Bible were incredibly accurate and precise, and that the copies we have now are overwhelmingly faithful to the originals. There are minor differences in some copies, but none of the differences affect the doctrines or teachings of God’s Word. So we are confident that the Bible we have now is faithful to the original manuscripts.
Now most of us use translations of the Bible in our own languages. Most of these translations are reasonably accurate, but they can contain errors and differences in shades of meaning from the originals. But this does not affect the truth and perfection of the Bible itself. When we detect differences or possible errors in translation, we defer to our best knowledge of the original manuscript words in the original language as the authoritative source of God’s Word.
What about the many books and articles written by Bible skeptics that claim to reveal errors in the Bible, or inconsistencies between books of the Bible? In all cases, these claims have been refuted by faithful Bible scholars. (e.g. here, here, here, and here). Many of the claims of errors involve errors in translations, which we have discussed above. Other claims involve evident errors by copyists (e.g. 2 Samuel 10:18 vs. 1 Chronicles 19:18). In all known cases of copyist errors, the evidence is that the original manuscripts were correct, and that none of the copyists’ errors affect our knowledge of God’s doctrines and teachings from the originals.
Many Bible skeptics claim to have found inconsistencies between facts or accounts within or between books of the Bible. If this were true, then at least one of the inconsistencies would have to be false, which would destroy the perfection of the Bible. But again in all cases, these claims of inconsistencies have been refuted by faithful Bible scholars.
In some cases, the skeptics’ claims involve accounts of events in the Bible from different points of view, much like multiple witnesses report what they’ve seen in a traffic accident or a crime scene from their own point of view. For example, Matthew 28:2-7 talks about a single angel speaking to the women on the day of Jesus’ resurrection. But Luke 24:2-8 talks about two men speaking to the women. This is not a contradiction. Matthew’s account notes only the angel spokesman, and the accompanying figure is not mentioned. Luke mentions both figures, and refers to them as “two men in dazzling clothing”. This is consistent with the appearance of angels in the form of humans.
In other cases, the skeptics’ claims are based on their own inaccurate interpretations of Scripture. These cases can be resolved and corrected by the proper interpretations. For example, some skeptics claim that the Gospel of John contradicts the other Gospels in setting the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. They claim that John 18:28 puts the day of Jesus crucifixion as before the Passover, whereas the other Gospels put it after the Passover. But this is a misinterpretation by the skeptics, who use the term “Passover” in this case to refer to a specific day and a specific meal. In fact, the term “Passover” in this context refers to the whole festival of Passover, which lasts seven days and includes a number of meals. Thus, when the correct context and interpretation are used, there is no contradiction.
Is the Bible Consistent with Reality?
The writings in the Bible include many accounts of actual world history. Are these accounts accurate? As far as we know, they are. All Biblical historical events that can be checked with secular archaeology or historical records are in fact consistent with the archaeological and historical evidence. Of course, there are some Biblical accounts that cannot be confirmed with secular evidence, because the evidence simply doesn’t exist. But we can be confident of the truthfulness of these accounts, based on the truthfulness of the accounts that can be verified.
Many skeptics doubt the truth of some Bible accounts because modern scientific consensus seems to be in conflict with them. For example, could the Universe and the Earth actually have been created in six regular days? Or could a global flood have covered the entire Earth, prior to which representatives of all animal types marched obediently into Noah’s ark? These, and other accounts in the Bible, are not consistent with the laws of modern science. But can anyone posit that these miracles are beyond God’s abilities? On the contrary, these miracles are well within God’s capabilities, and provide evidence of God’s love and caring for His creation, and his loving intervention in the lives of His people.
Do Bible Predictions and Prophecies Come True?
Fulfillment of prophecy is one of the most well-known and well-documented lines of evidence for the Bible. In fact, God Himself cites confirmation of prophecy as a test of whether a prophet's message has been spoken by the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Many Old Testament prophecies were documented and fulfilled already in Old Testament times. Some of them are listed here. Some of the most significant and impressive of these prophecies are those of Jeremiah, in which he correctly predicts the fall of the Kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians (Jeremiah 26), the subsequent exile of the Jews into Babylonia (Jeremiah 27), and the eventual return of the Jews from Babylonia and the restoration of Judah (Jeremiah 30).
But the greatest group of Biblical prophecies are those in the Old Testament foretelling the coming of the Messiah. Hundreds of prophecies are documented about the Messiah. All of these prophecies have been (or are being) fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Some of them are listed here.
As if this weren't enough, there are several Bible prophecies that are being fulfilled in modern times. One of the most amazing predictions of Christ is that the gospel of His kingdom would be "proclaimed throughout the whole world" (Matthew 24:14). This prophecy is amazing because it was given to a small group of uneducated commoners in a small, back-roads province of the Roman Empire. But nevertheless, Christ's prophecy has been, and is being fulfilled in our time, by you and me.
There are other Bible prophecies about the still-distant future, especially about End Times, which have not yet been fulfilled. Will they be fulfilled? Given God's track record to this point, and His almighty power, we can be confident that all of his promises and prophecies will be fulfilled.
Are the Canonical Books of the Bible the Inspired Word of God?
How do we know that the books chosen to be in the Bible are those which God intended for His Word? After all, these books were written by several different people over thousands of years, and after that were chosen to be included in the Bible by other people in the early church. How do we know they chose correctly?
As discussed above for the overall truth of the Bible, the legitimacy of the books chosen for the Bible (i.e. their "canonicity") is self-verifying to anyone who believes in them. But in addition, we have the confirmation from Jesus, the Son of God Himself, that the books in the Bible are the Word of God. During His earthly ministry, Jesus verified the scriptural authority and reliability of the Old Testament (John 10:35). And when he ascended into heaven, Jesus commissioned the apostles to be His witnesses "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). All the books of the New Testament were written by apostles commissioned by Jesus (or by their close associates under their supervision). And in their writings, the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles in the New Testament testify that the words they wrote were inspired by God Himself (Jeremiah 1:4, 2 Peter 1:20-21).
So any believer in the Triune God can be confident that the Bible is the true Word of God. (For more details on how the canonicity of the Bible was established, see here.)
Does the Bible Show the Way to Meaningfulness?
One of the clearest lines of evidence that the Bible is God’s true Word is the fact that it reveals the only way for a person to have a meaningful life. To have a meaningful life, a person must be part of a lasting purpose, and the person’s role in that purpose must also be lasting. If a person plays only a temporary role in someone else’s purpose, that temporary role is tangential and not meaningful. For example, if a non-believer works at a publishing house that prints copies of the Bible, that person at that time is indeed playing a useful role in God’s plan. But that specific role is tangential and temporary, and will fade as time passes. Hence it is not meaningful.
This means that a person can have a meaningful life only if they find a way to exist forever within God’s purpose, i.e. have everlasting life with God. This knowledge is known inherently by everyone, and is a prime reason for people’s quests for eternal life. They know that a temporary life does not provide anything meaningful.
But what keeps us from having eternal lives? We all learn from early childhood that we are imperfect beings, and that our imperfections inexorably lead to our degeneration and death. This is also a clear teaching of the Bible. The Bible calls our imperfections “sins”, and clearly teaches that our sins lead to our death (Romans 6:23).
So how do we avoid the death caused by our imperfections and sins? If we live “good” lives, or do our “best”, is that enough? Unfortunately, all of our efforts at good works within our own power are tainted by our imperfections. No matter how hard we try, we can never attain perfection. So all of our efforts within our own power are useless, and lead to death.
Nor can we imagine that a perfectly holy and just God would ignore sin and its consequences. The eternally holy and perfect God demands perfection from any creature that would also strive for everlasting life (Matthew 5:48). God does not ignore sin. The penalty for sin must be met and paid for. That is why our loving God provided a perfect plan of salvation, in which Jesus Christ the Son of God came to earth, lived a perfect life in our place, and suffered the penalty of death that we deserve for our sins. Jesus took upon Himself the debts of our sins, and gave to us the credit of his holy life and righteousness (The Great Exchange). Through faith in Christ, we are able to claim the perfection that is required to live an eternal life in God’s presence. The fact that Jesus accomplished this plan of salvation for us, and that His redemption of us was accepted by God the Father, is confirmed by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15), and His ascension to the right hand of God the Father in heaven (Acts 1:1-11).
Faith in Christ is the only way to find an everlasting and meaningful life. The Bible is the only scriptural source that teaches this. This is more than strong evidence that the Bible is true. It is proof that the Bible is true, and that it is God’s Word.