“Can We Trust the BIBLE”
A few years ago I was invited to be a guest speaker to the Youngstown District Lay Speaker’s Academy. The book everyone at the Academy was to have read was by the, now deceased, famous Scottish Bible commentator, William Barclay. In the chapter assigned to me, Barclay was trying to prove that Holy Scripture is not completely reliable because it has been written and copied by men. He acknowledged that the Bible leads us to Jesus and that it must be inspired because of its impact through the centuries on so many people.
There were about fifty lay speakers and six or eight others listening in from the kitchen. My session was right after lunch, but there were no heavy eyelids because the topic, “Can We Trust the Bible?”, was of great interest to all who were there. Like me, you may never have considered if the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, could be trusted. I just accepted that it was, until I was confronted with counter teachings when I first became a lay speaker myself in the early nineteen eighties. Also, in my studies toward ordination, I was continually challenged to question the Bible as the Word of God. Since then I’ve read many articles in major magazines, newspapers, and watched TV programs, especially on PBS and the History Channel, trying to raise doubts about the accuracy of the Holy Scriptures.
Does it make any difference? As long as you are led to Jesus by the Bible maybe it doesn’t matter. Yes it does! Some believe the Bible “is” the Word of God and another group believes it only “contains” the Word of God. If it only contains the Word of God, then you need to search and sort out those scriptures which cannot be trusted. When you discredit specific scriptures you must make those decisions for yourself or trust certain men to choose for you. That is very dangerous because all men have this tendency, called inherited or original sin, to only believe those teachings agreeing with their selected lifestyles.
You see, if we were to accept all those scriptures contradicting our lifestyles as truth, we would get guilty feelings. And, if we continued in that contradictory lifestyle anyway, we would have to give reasons for doing so to ourselves and maybe to others. Guilt steals our peace and joy, which causes us to treat others differently than God wants us to, which hurts those relationships. We can’t live rightly with guilt. It would be much easier to discount or give little credence to those uncomfortable verses by deciding to believe that “God surely didn’t say that”.
That would be making God into what we want Him to be. Do we have that kind of wisdom? Can we trust ourselves? If this were the way to find truth we would each have God saying different things about war, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, cohabitation, salvation, etc. Unity would be even more difficult to find. I’m sure God would not put us in that position. He is more than able, as the Almighty, to guard the truths in the Bible, no matter how many hands it passes through. It does matter that you believe Holy Scripture to be the final authority for all truth, that it is God’s Word. Do you trust the Bible?
“If there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.” -John Wesley,