One of the games my family enjoys is Jenga. It is a tower of blocks, three in a row, with the direction of the blocks changing every row. It starts as a solid block, and each person removes a block and moves it to the top. With each block that gets removed, the tower becomes weaker until the building falls.
As we look at the authority of scripture, we can view it as a giant Jenga game. As people choose to not believe in something that is found in scripture, a block is removed. It doesn’t take long before the faith structure becomes wobbly and fails.
On February 5th, our message was focused on the authority of scripture. I want to share with you a few points to help you understand why you can trust the Bible as the infallible word of God.
First we need to understand why holding the authority of scripture is important. The following thought is from Gleason L. Archer’s article “Alleged Errors and Discrepancies” from the book Inerrancy that is edited by Norman Geisler:
So here are just a few of the reasons we trust the authority of the Bible (listen to the message for more detailed explanation)…
The Old Testament (OT) is historically accurate.
Archaeology continues to confirm what is written in the OT. The Gordon-Conwell Archaeology Bible is one tool we can use to see how archaeology and history point to the accuracy of the Bible.
Names of kings and adversaries, places, and animals are in line with other historical documents and ancient writings, as well as what we see today. Prophecies came true – perfect example – all the prophecies about the coming Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus (except for those yet to come). Born in Bethlehem, of a virgin, from the line of David, came out of Egypt, was from Galilee, lots cast for His garments, 30 pieces of silver, beaten beyond recognition, died for our sins, etc., etc.
And Jesus and New Testament (NT) writers took the OT to be inspired, and referenced and quoted from it. Jesus quoted the OT (as when He was in the desert with Satan). He clarifies the OT (like in the Sermon on the Mount). “You have heard it said… but I tell you…” (Matt. 5-7).
With regard to dating the writings, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain a copy of the 12 Minor prophets dated back to the 7-8th century BC, which agrees with traditional Hebrew text. The OT is consistent and has been used for thousands of years, and nothing has been able to credibly discredit it.
What about the NT writings?
We see the New Testament writings were understood by the early church to be the inspired Word of God. The church did not create the Bible, it acknowledged the books that were to be included.
The church selected books that were attached to an Apostle. They picked books that were known to be authentic. And they made sure that none of the books contradicted other sections of scripture.
And the consensus in the early church regarding what books should be included in the New Testament was amazing. Eusebius acknowledged in his book Ecclesiastical History (written in the 300’s AD) the books that are universally acknowledged, those which were still being disputed, and those which were removed from consideration as authentic and authoritative.
Only 5 of the 27 books of the NT were considered to be disputed, until the research could be done. Those were finalized by 397 AD. With the amount of personalities involved, you would think that there would have been more trouble. The Third Council of Carthage (397) is where the church determined the 27 books which are now in the NT. Imagine trying to do this without a printing press. No transportation beyond boats and animals. No faxes, telephones, computers.
We need to remember also that these documents were being destroyed under the many persecutions the early church suffered. And they were addressing the issue at Carthage because there were some who were trying to add books that clearly shouldn’t be there.
There are also an amazing amount of ancient translations that have survived. This is incredible when we think about the number of manuscripts that were destroyed during the persecutions. Josh McDowell, author of New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, reminds us that:
“the New Testament has currently 24,970 manuscript copies, completely towering over all other works of antiquity. In addition, we have one fragment of the New Testament (NT) with only a 50-year gap from the original, whole books with only a 100-year gap, and the whole NT with only a 225-250-year gap. I don’t think there is any question from all of these early copies that we know exactly what the original documents said.” (https://www.leaderu.com/theology/mcdowell_davinci.html)
Some great references, besides Josh McDowell’s book, are Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, Norman Geisler’s Inerrancy, and FF Bruce’s Canon of Scripture to name a few. If you do your research, you will find the Bible to be authentic and accurate.
And this brings us to Scripture’s description of itself:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV
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