How Reliable is the Bible?

I think it is fair to say that there is a wide range of conclusions about the origin of the Christian Bible. Some have concluded that it is merely a positive moral book, or even a collection of myths. What are we to think about the Bible? How reliable is the Bible? This is what we want to answer in this brief article. The Christian Church has taught that the Bible was written by many people over many centuries; however, it also teaches so much more. Christianity says that the Creator God has spoken, and revealed Himself in His Word. Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Job said, “I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Joshua said, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night…” (Joshua 1:8). And David said, “Oh, how I love Thy Law, it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

In Psalm 19:7-9 the Psalmist helps us answer the question about the reliability of the Bible. He does this using three descriptive categories – the titles, the character, and the effects of the Scriptures. Each category has six parallel statements.

First, he gives the titles of Scripture:
The law of the Lord- these are God’s requirements.
The testimony of the Lord- this is God’s self-disclosure.
The precepts of the Lord- these are principles and doctrines.
The commandment of the Lord- signifying authority in binding mandates.
The fear of the Lord- this is the manual that teaches you to worship God in respect for who He is.
The judgments of the Lord- these are God’s verdicts on life.

Second, he gives the character of Scripture:
It is perfect- comprehensive in wisdom; and the foundation to base your life upon.
It is sure- totally reliable and trustworthy.
It is right- it establishes the right path to walk.
It is clear (or pure)- it gives understanding.
It is clean- meaning it is pure, without flaw or defilement.
It is true- totally and utterly truthful; it contains no error.

Third, he gives the effect of Scripture:
It restores the soul- it can transform your life and make you into a godly man or woman.
It makes wise the simple- it takes the simple people of the world and makes them wise (i.e. skilled in living godly lives).
It brings joy to the heart- the Word of God brings joy when you embrace its promises.
It enlightens the eyes- not only showing you the path, but also bearing light on that path.
It endures forever- it is a permanently relevant source for every generation and every culture for all time.
It is righteous altogether- it produces comprehensive righteousness when obeyed.

But from where does Scripture get its authority?

From its Inspiration.
2 Timothy 3:15, 16, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” Literally meaning “God breathed.” The origin or source is God Himself (c.f. Hebrews 1:1; 2 Peter 1: 21). Authority is inherent in Scripture because God is its source.

From its Infallibility.
Since God is its source Scripture will never fail. God is all-powerful and all-knowing, therefore, we must conclude His word will never fail. Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:18, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.” He also said in John 10:35, “…the Scripture cannot be broken.” Authority comes from the fact that Scripture will do what it says it will do.

From its Inerrancy.
Infallibility refers to the impossibility of failure and inerrancy refers to the impossibility of error. The Psalmist said, “The Words of the Lord are pure Words,” meaning without error. Jesus also spoke of Scripture in this fashion – John 17:17, “Thy Word is truth.” Since God is its origin and God is holy, His Word has no error.

From its Sufficiency.
Scripture is sufficient in that it does what it promises it will do. Peter says that God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness.” The Creator of life has spoken to all of life.

What Jesus Thought About the Old Testament
Spirit-breathed- Matthew 22:43
Reliability- Matthew 26:54
Finality- Matthew 4:4, 7, 10
Sufficiency- Luke 16:31
Indestructibility- Matthew 5:17-18
Unity- Luke 24:27, 44
Clarity- Luke 24:27
Historicity- Matthew 12:40
Facticity (scientifically)- Matthew 19:2-5
Inerrancy- Matthew 22:29; John 5:39-40, 46-47
Infallibility- John 10:35

How reliable is the Bible? The Bible contains some very audacious claims. If we are going to be intellectually honest with ourselves we must wrestle with the claims the Bible makes about itself but also Jesus’ endorsement of the Bible as well. Because at a foundational level it seems clear that the Bible is teaching more than just a good moral book filled with pious platitudes; rather it teaches that it can be trusted because it is accurate, it contains evidence of divine authorship and, as said before, it was endorsed by Jesus Christ, the most trustworthy person in history.

For further teaching on this issue, we encourage you to visit The Reason For God.