Jul8WedJuly 8, 2020
I have a drawer in my office which is full of special notes from people throughout my years in full-time ministry. There are also visible sticky notes and cards scattered throughout my office which contain special messages from either my wife or my children. Their specific written words always bring a smile to my face, especially in moments when I am tempted to be emotionally worn down. For me, it’s not so much the sentiment of these notes which lightens my spirit, but rather the actual words written by those dear to my heart.
When we pick up the Bible, it is important for us to remember that it contains God’s own words written down by real, historical people. However, we live at a time when textual criticism is taught in the universities, when documentaries on ancient texts abound and when truth is considered to be ‘in the eye of the beholder.’ These strong cultural forces may leave some Christians wondering if the Bible actually contains God’s words or if it is just full of sentiments which may or may not reflect God’s actual commands.
Fortunately, we don’t have to be left wondering about the reliability of Scripture. There are many reasons to be confident that the Bible really is from God. Here are two of them.
Between 1446 and 400 BC, the Hebrew Scriptures were written down by at least twenty-seven known authors. These were people who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). They recorded, in their cultural language, what God wanted preserved for all time. Then, scribes were tasked with being human ‘copy machines’ and historical ‘librarians’ of these precious documents. Special scribal rules made sure that God’s words were copied accurately from their original manuscripts.
For example, scribes were required to bathe entirely and wear special garments before beginning work for the day. They were required to copy from an authentic original and say each word aloud as they wrote. If any human error was found on a sheet of transcribed Scripture, they were required to throw out the entire sheet and start over again. Such diligent efforts were maintained as the Scriptures were later translated into Koine Greek for the first time by Jewish scribes.
Other diligent measures are used today for translating Scripture into other languages. Consider reading the ‘Introduction’ of your Bible.
As wonderful as it is to know how diligent scribes were, and are, with protecting the words of God, Jesus himself gives us even greater confidence to trust the Bible. In Matthew 5, he reminded his disciples that even the smallest marks would have significance for as long as heaven and earth exist. By saying this, Jesus was affirming the actual words recorded by scribes and prophets.
If we trust Jesus, then we can trust that we are reading the words of God.
Lord, help us to receive the Bible as it truly is in order that we may understand your ways, know your heart and grow close to the Author of Life. Amen!