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How to Answer: "I Don't Believe the Bible is True"?

This past weekend I had the honor of teaching apologetics (defending the Gospel) in a Sunday morning class.  We covered the biggest objections to Christianity and Jesus Christ.  Maybe you have run into someone who does not believe the New Testament portion of the Bible is True.  Share this logical conclusion with them.

Big Objection #1:

“I do not believe the New Testament is true or reliable.”

To answer this objection we need to look at the Bible as any piece of written history.  We would measure whether the Bible is reliable using the same tests applied to any written book of history (Aristotle, Caesar, and Homer’s works of history would apply the same tests to see if their work is reliable or not).  What are these tests?

Bibliographic Test:

“How many copies of the original Biblical manuscripts do we have in existence today?”

Aristotle’s work includes only 49 copies (of any one work) of the original manuscripts.

Caesar’s work includes only 10 copies of the original.

The Illiad, by Homer has only 643 copies of the original manuscript.

The New Testament includes not 9 or 10, but 24,363 copies of portions of the original manuscripts in existence today.

This number of original copies of the New Testament is incredible and the message has not changed today!

*These manuscript copies are also evaluated based on when the earlier copy was written.  For example: The earliest copy of Homer’s Illiad was dated 500 years after the original was written.  Caesar’s work was dated 1,000 years after the original was written.  The New Testament’s earliest copy was written just 25 years after the original was written.

Inside-the-Bible Test (Internal):

“What does the Bible say about itself?

The Apostles in the Bible were eyewitnesses of the events that took place in the New Testament and they wrote down their accounts of what happened. 

2 Peter 1:16 – For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

1 John 1:1-3 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:1-3 – Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus.

Acts 1:1-3 – In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 15:4-9 – …that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

John 20:20,31 – After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord… But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Acts 10:39-42 – We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross,  but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.  He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.

1 Peter 5:1 – To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed…

Acts 1:9 – After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

At least 23 different times, the New Testament writers indicate they were eyewitnesses to the events of the New Testament and Jesus Christ.

Tough Crowd:

Many times these Apostles were sharing the message of Jesus to hostile listeners.

Acts 5:40-42 – His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 26:24-28 –  At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”  “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

This message of Jesus and the Apostles has lasted into this century.

Outside-the-Bible Test (External):

“What do the people who have written outside the Bible say about the Bible?

There are at least 21 widely accepted documents found by archaeologists outside the books of the Bible, which confirm the message of the New Testament.

All sorts of writers have confirmed that Jesus and the Apostles lived and that what they recorded actually occurred.  Here are some examples: Josephus (37-100 AD), Cornelius Tacitus (56-117 AD), Tertullian (160-220 AD), Polycarp (69-155 AD), Cyprian (200-251 AD), Eusebius (263-339 AD), Origen (185-254 AD) and many others.

For Example:  Iraneus (115-202 AD), Bishop of Lyons in AD 180, who was a student of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (who had been a Christian for eighty-six years and was a disciple of John the Apostle) wrote:

“Matthew published his gospel among the Jews in their own tongue, when Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel in Rome and founding the church there.  After their departure (death), Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the substance of Peter’s preaching.  Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the gospel preached by his teacher.  Then John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned on His breast (at Lord’s Supper), himself produced his gospel, while he was living at Ephesus in Asia” (McDowell, A Ready Defense, 54)

Based on the overwhelming Bibliographic, Internal and External evidence, the New Testament is a reliable piece of written history.

But, what do you think?

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jeffbaxter@churchleaders.com'
Jeff Baxter's passion for helping the next generation know and love Jesus led him to pursue his Doctorate in Youth and Family Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeff has been a frequent speaker in various settings including the National Youth Workers Convention. Jeff lives in Littleton, Colorado, with his wife, Laurie, and their three children where he is an associate pastor at Foothills Bible Church. His most recent book is Together: Adults and Teenagers Transforming the Church (Zondervan). Jeff blogs at sacredoutfitter.blogspot.com.