Yet, the average Christian is not always well equipped to defend the Gospel except in one area. Every Christian ought to be able to give a personal testimony of how they have experienced the things of God in their life.
One question Christians may be asked is why they believe the Bible rather than some other holy book. Some facts about the Bible may be of interest.
What is Proof?
Let's first of all be realistic. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Some people are so stubborn and cynical that even when faced with unassailable facts they will refuse to admit the truth. Others only need to look at a blade of grass and know that there is a God and that he must be a good God. On the one hand, Jesus said that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). Ultimately, it is not we who lead people to God. We can only assist those God is already drawing to himself at this time, those who have open minds and are ready to accept the abundant proofs around them.
On the other hand, the Bible declares that there is no excuse for atheism, because the proof is clear. We can clearly see the forensic evidence of a creator and even the evidence of his great power, so we have no excuse for avoiding the obvious (Romans 1:20).
The Bible is Eye Witness Testimony
The Bible was written by eye witnesses. Many were witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. John declared that he saw him with his own eyes and touched him with his own hands (1 John 1:1). After his resurrection, Paul says that Jesus was seen by over five hundred of his followers at one time, most of whom were still alive, and that he saw him too (1 Corinthians 15:6-8). Most of those witnesses were still alive when Paul wrote this, so readers could have gone to any one to check up on his story. If this was a hoax or a myth it could have easily been disproved.
The Bible is Unique
- The Bible was written over a 1500 year period, over 40 generations, by over 40 authors from kings to peasants. It was written in 3 languages — Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
- It has been read by more people and published in more languages than any other book.
- There is more manuscript evidence for the Bible than any other 10 pieces of ancient literature combined. Even recent 200 year old Shakespeare is less certain than the 2,000 year old New Testament.
- Critics claimed that Moses did not know how to write, until the Black Stele was discovered with writing 300 years older. Critics also claimed that the Hittites were a myth until archaeology found they existed for over 1,200 years.
- The Bible is unique among ancient writings in that it does not glorify its heroes, but tells their weaknesses lending weight to its factualness.
- Jesus, without arms or money, conquered more millions than the Greeks, Romans, French, Britain or America. No other person on earth has caused so much literature to flood the world.
The Bible is Reliable
There are over 5,300 early copies of the Greek New Testament and 24,000 manuscripts which contain at least portions of it. No other ancient document has anywhere near this number.
The earliest copies of the New Testament date from about 250 years after Jesus' death. Compare that to the time span for the earliest manuscripts of Tacitus and Horace which are from 900 years after their deaths, or Sophocles and Aristotle which are from 1,400 years after their deaths. The New Testament stands unquestionably alone among ancient writings.
Corruptions creep into any document that must be hand-copied. The Bible contains the least amount of corruptions of any ancient text, about half of a percent for the New Testament overall or about 400 words, most of which are slight variations. None of them alters a single fundamental doctrine. Compare that to Homers Iliad which has about 15,600 variations, about 5% corruption, ten times that of the New Testament.
Until the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the earliest Old Testament manuscript was the Masoretic Text from about 980 AD or 1,300 years after the original was finished. The Dead Sea Scrolls however, mostly date from before Christ, and prove how utterly unique and reliable our copies of the Old Testament are.
In order to copy the Old Testament the ancient scribes counted each word using mathematical formulas and their copying was a genius unequalled in the history of writing.
The Documentary Hypothesis claimed that the early books of the Bible were only oral tradition. Then the Ebla tablets revealed literature, legislation and records in the same region a thousand years before Moses. They also confirmed that the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar existed, which skeptics claimed were fictitious.
Critics once argued that Luke's record of a census at Jesus' birth was fiction, until archaeological evidence proved it to be accurate including the manner in which a census was conducted. The once skeptical archaeologist Sir William Ramsay later ranked Luke among the greatest of historians for reliability and geographical accuracy.
Christians need to be cautious and careful with history, because there are many unanswered questions from antiquity. However, Christians do not need to apologize for their faith as if it is somehow an unintelligent or ignorant faith. Some of those who seek to discredit the Bible don't believe in God at all, which the Bible says makes them a fool (Psalm 14:1).
The forensic evidence for God is obvious and they are without excuse (Romans 1:20). Others seek to discredit the Bible because they don't want to have to obey God but want to continue in a life of immorality (Romans 1:28-32). Others say that all religions lead you to God, but that is unsatisfactory because it does not explain the often insurmountable contradictions between religions.
Some say that it is dishonest to call the Bible the Word of God, but they are unfairly applying their own narrow definition to the phrase "Word of God" as opposed to various uses of the phrase in the Bible itself, and also broader definitions that many Christians use, whereby God can speak or write through a human being.
Bigotry against the Bible is crap. It is the most important book ever written in human history. This has examined only a small fraction of the evidence for the Bible. The proof is abundant and clear. However, none of these facts is a replacement for faith, because faith is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We all must eventually come to accept God's word on faith.
[Source: Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Volumes 1 & 2, by Josh McDowell, 1972, 1993, Thomas Nelson Publishers.]