Saying that the Bible is God’s Word is a lot like saying the United States is one nation. The US is, in fact, fifty separate states that joined the union over a period of 150-plus years. Similarly, the Bible is a collection of sixty-six books, penned by forty human authors over a period of thousands of years.
In many regards, given this scope, it’s a miracle that even one person, let alone centuries of Christians, believes the Bible is true. Clearly there has to be a reason.
For someone who believes in an omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign God, belief in the veracity of the Bible isn’t hard. God chose to reveal Himself, His plan, His purpose, His work. The greatest evidence that the Bible is that revelation is the Bible’s interpretation of itself.
It claims, for example, to be God-breathed, or inspired. Prophets quoted God as if He had dictated to them. Jesus repeated numerous scriptures as if they were authoritative. So the first point is this: if God is true, and if He gave the Bible, then the Bible is true.
Of course, many come to the Bible looking for evidence of God’s existence, not having already believed in Him. How can they know the Bible is true?
There are several evidences. One is fulfilled prophecy. The Bible is full of prophecy, as a Wikipedia article notes. Of course, a school of critics question when the original texts were written, claiming that the prophecies came after the fact. An example of this would be Jesus saying He would be put to death and rise the third day. The gospels containing His prophecies were written decades after the fact, so, the reasoning goes, the men who wrote them simply added the prophecy to enhance Jesus’s stature.
This line of reasoning, even if it were true, which I do not believe, cannot explain the prophecies about the Messiah contained in the Old Testament, which Jesus fulfilled. One Bible scholar says there are over 400 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in His life and death. Isaiah 53 alone says He would be despised (the Pharisees handed Him over to be killed) and forsaken (His disciples ran away). That he would be scourged (the Roman guards beat Him), pierced (and ran a spear into His side), would not open His mouth to defend Himself (stood before the chief priests, the Sanhedrin, Pilate and Herod without defending Himself), would be numbered with the transgressors (killed between two thieves), but would be with a rich man in His death (buried in a rich man’s tomb).
I’ve heard some argue that Jesus purposefully went about to fulfill these prophecies so He could claim Messiah-ship. But of the ones I listed, only His not opening His mouth to defend Himself was something within His human control.
Another scholar, to illustrate the probability of one man, by happenstance, fulfilling all these prophecies, said the chance would be like spreading silver dollars a foot high across the state of Texas, then picking up one you were looking for on the first try.
People examining the Bible closely will find that fulfilled prophecy gives evidence that Scripture is what it claims to be. The reasoning goes like this: If the Bible accurately predicted past events throughout the Old and New Testaments, then it is a reliable source of revelation.
This post, with some minor revisions, originally appeared here in April 2009.