Day 4: The world’s most reliable ancient document – Part 2a

If the history is wrong the claim is wrong

Bible References (NIV)

Devotional

The Bible is the world’s most read, printed, stolen and attacked book. It doesn’t win these awards by a small margin. It would be fair to say its readership and influence are so significant that it belongs on a bookshelf all by itself.

The Bible is also a book of history — and this is important because, if we can accept that there is a Creator, the next question is, What is that Creator like? For example, if we take a look at the world around us, it is clearly a mix of good and bad. If the world reflects what its Creator is like, the Creator is logically also a mix of good and bad. In case the reader is not aware, this is exactly what the Eastern religions and most primitive tribal religions have recognised and believe. Christianity, however, goes the other way. It suggests God is only good. It’s a very big claim! To be true, God would logically need to explain that to us somehow — and this is exactly what Christians believe God has been doing throughout history, as recorded in the Bible.

Once we understand this, we understand why the reliability of the Bible as a book of history is so important. To state it succinctly, if the history is wrong, the claim is wrong!

This is why so much effort has been given in academia in the West to pulling the Bible down. Those who don’t want to believe in a God know that, if they can undermine the reliability of this book, they can undermine the faith.

So, is the Bible reliable as a book of history? I want to show you why a large number of people have concluded that it is. The video clip you are about to see introduces the topic.

The Bible is full of the names of people, places, dates and events that can be examined and verified through archaeology and other ancient literature.

If we take the Gospel of Luke as an example, Luke was a trusted historian. He wrote carefully of times, places and people to present ‘an orderly account’. All of these details can be tested.

Where did Luke get his information from? A significant source was the disciple Mark. Many similar stories are found in their two accounts. The rest will have come from the investigation he tells us he undertook, interviewing other eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life. For example, Luke — who was also the author of the Book of Acts, must have known Peter to write Acts chapters 1 to 12 — which are about Peter. He must also have known Paul to write Acts chapters 13 to 27 — which are about Paul. At every point in these accounts, we read about people, events, dates and places. These aren’t just religious writings. They are historical!

Christianity is therefore a historical faith. It believes in a rational God who has revealed himself within a history that can be studied. The most surprising discovery, however, isn’t in how reliable it is, but in what it suggests God is like!

Video clip: The world’s most reliable ancient document – Part 2a — 5.40mins

Reflection questions

  • Why might the trustworthiness of the Bible as a book of history be so consistently attacked by some academics — as also echoed through public media and education?
  • If the world around us were our only source of information about God, would we think God’s moral character to be good, bad or a mixture of both?
  • If God is only good, how could we know that? What would God need to do for us to discover and have a basis for believing this idea that he is good?
  • For your own clarity, in simple words, why then is the historic reliability of the Bible important?

For prayer

“Thank you, God, for ensuring that a record of some of your most important interactions in human history were written down, so we could study them to discover what you are like. Thank you also for leaving a trail of evidence within history, so we could test the reliability of this book you have given.”

related topics

coming up in our next devotion

Day 5: The world’s most reliable ancient document – Part 2b

The historical trustworthiness of the Bible is important because this book claims to be a record of the history through which the God of the universe has revealed what he is like. If our only source of information about God was from nature, we’d think God was a mix of good and bad. The most significant thing discovered from a study of this history is that he is not.

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