This question is expressed in many different ways. Sometimes a person is genuinely seeking for truth and feels like the Bible we have is far removed from what was originally written. Often the person is aggressively anti-Christian and using this objection as ammunition for their skepticism.
It’s always best to ask a few questions to understand what the real issue is. Ask, “What has given you the idea that the Bible is full of errors?” Their answer gives you a lot of information about where they are coming from. Remember that your goal is not to win an argument, but to lead someone to Christ, so don’t respond argumentatively.
The reason for their doubts may be emotional, “When my husband was dying I prayed and asked God to help him get better, but he died anyway, so God is not real.” You would need to respond to this person so differently from the person who read The Da Vinci Code and answers, “The Bible is just a translation of a translation of a translation and has changed so much that you wouldn’t recognise the original version.”
Regardless of their reason for doubting the Bible, there are so many reasons to trust it. In our LifeWorks course for Christians to use with their non-Christian friends, we point out five ways that the Bible is reliable. These are simple and great to hold in your mind for conversations around the Bible.
- Reliable Manuscripts
The Bible is not a translation of a translation of a translation. Each of our English translations works from the original languages the Bible was written in—Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. We have more than 24,000 ancient copies of the original documents and can be very confident that what we have is what was originally written.
- Reliable History
The Bible claims to be made up of historical records, carefully recorded. Most of it is written by eyewitnesses of the events. For many years places referred to in the Bible were unknown to other historical records and their ruins could not be found either. But as archaeology has progressed, discovery after discovery has validated the history of the Bible. In fact, renowned Jewish archaeologist Nelson Gluek has said, “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” What’s more, every major event of Jesus’ life is also referred to by non-Christian historical sources from his same time-period in history.
- Reliable Prophecies
About 2,500 prophecies appear in the Bible, and about 2,000 of these have already been fulfilled with amazing precision. The remaining 500 have to do with the future and will continue to unfold as the days go by.
- Reliable Consistency
God used 40 different human authors to write the Bible, over a period of more than a thousand years. Why should we believe that God was behind their writing? Here is one reason:
Imagine questioning 40 different people on their religious views, especially people from every socio-economic background—ranging from extreme poverty to immense wealth. These 40 people also came from all sorts of occupations: kings, fishermen, shepherds, statesmen, poets, doctors, government workers. And they came from vastly different cultural heritages—from different continents, and speaking 3 different languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic). And they came from different periods of history. And they have to write a series of articles on religious and moral issues.
You would end up with a horrible mash of conflicting opinions and views!
And yet the Bible holds together as one book with one message. Why?
Because it is God’s book, with God’s message!
- Reliable Spiritual Truth
The best thing I can say to you on this is, read it and see for yourself! Share how the truths of the Bible led you to Jesus and how he has changed your life. That will have a powerful impact on the person you are speaking with.
It’s not necessary for you to go through all five ways the Bible is reliable. Keep it a conversation back and forth with the person. Let them see that you acknowledge their doubts and don’t dismiss them. But let them see that there are good reasons why you trust the Bible. Make sure you share how it has impacted you personally.
In the end, your conversation will be used by God in their lives, even if they are not responsive to you right now. Don’t be afraid of these conversations with people who have hard questions. Ask them further questions to understand where they are coming from and trust God to work through you!
Resource: If you would like to get hold of LifeWorks to use with your non-Christian friends, you can order it at our online store. Here’s the link: http://afci.com.au/product/lifeworks-2/