The Reliability of the Bible (Part 6)

1) There is no book in history that has been more reliably preserved and translated than the Bible; 2) There is no book in history that has more power to change the human condition than the Bible; 3) There is no book in history that is more important for knowing The God Who Is There than the Bible.

I have been discussing for several blogs the authority of the Bible based on its reliability.  Now let me enter some dangerous theological ground.  Believing the Bible is the Word of God is not necessary for salvation.  In fact, a LOT of what Christ-followers believe is not necessary for salvation, but complementary to it.  Do you believe He was born from a woman who did not have sex?  Do you believe He was the agency of creation?  Do you believe in the Triune character of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, ever existent as the Trinity, One True God in three persons?  Do you believe Jesus is coming again at the end of this age and will judge the living as well as those who have already died?

Each of these are solid Biblical teachings, and for the Christ-follower, will become part of the belief system you will claim as you study the Bible and “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 3:18)

Crucifixion 1But consider the thief on the cross next to Jesus who asked Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)  He did not know any of these things we have just listed, yet Jesus personally assured him they would be together in Paradise that day!  Here was arguably “the first Christian” and he never attended a Bible study and may not have known anything about his Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible of the day).  So what was the source of Jesus’ promise?  It was the man’s faith that Jesus was the sinless Messiah, the Son of God.  That was the sum total of his “theology” and it gained him Jesus’ assurance of salvation.  He argued with the other thief on the other cross, We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. (Luke 23:41)  He saw what was written above Jesus head as an accusation, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS,  but he believed that Jesus would “come into [His] kingdom.”

So how does this relate to the Reliability of the Bible?  Go back to Calvary and the Empty Tomb of Jesus.  This is what it is all about.  If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we who follow Him are the most miserable of all people, because we are placing our hope in a Savior who cannot save from sin’s penalty; in a Deliverer who cannot free us from the chains of sin; in a King without a kingdom, no authority, no power, no promise of eternal life.  We give our money, our time and energy to helping people come out of false teaching; we forgo many of the world’s pleasures to gain eternal life; we spend hours reading, studying (and writing blogs 😉 ), and for what?  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-18)

Early in His career, Jesus said “Study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me.” (John 5:39)  Jesus validated the Scriptures as the Word of God, and the subsequent reports of His life, death and resurrection are the historically validated and reliably transcribed teachings that we have in the New Testament.  I hinted in The Reliability of the Bible (Part 1) [May 17, 2015], that doubt is not the opposite of faith.  Unbelief is.  That is, God is never annoyed by honest doubts and does not condemn us for them.  Unbelief, on the other hand, is a choice, to refuse to believe no matter what evidence is presented.

If Jesus is who He said He was, then we must study the Bible, not just the Old Testament, but the New Testament as well, provided by the Holy Spirit through the apostles and others chosen to record the lessons we are to learn.  And we will discover as we study the truths we laid out in our first blog about the Bible: 1) There is no book in history that has been more reliably preserved and translated than the Bible; 2) There is no book in history that has more power to change the human condition than the Bible; 3) There is no book in history that is more important for knowing The God Who Is There than the Bible.

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Let me conclude with a quote from C.S.Lewis in Mere Christianity:  “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” 

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