We live in a time in which the accuracy of the Bible is often attacked. These attacks may cause some Christians to question their faith. I remind my fellow believers that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Many of us have heard this passage before, but do we know what it really means.
We often think of poetry, art or music as being inspired. What we normally mean by this is that the poem, or artwork or music invokes strong emotions in us. We might even mean that it motivates us to take some action. But when the word inspired is used in relation to the Bible, it means something deeper. The word inspired is the Greek word theopneustos and literally means God-breathed. God literally breathed the Bible into the hearts and minds of 40 different authors over a period of 1600 years and those authors then wrote down what the Spirit impressed upon them. Therefore, to say that the Bible is inspired means much more than when we use that word to describe an uplifting poem or masterpiece of art or powerful score of music might mean.
Because the Scripture came directly from God to those authors, the original manuscripts did not contain any historical, geographical or spiritual errors that one might expect if it had only been written by human authors. We often call this concept, inerrancy, meaning the Bible is without error. Some people have tried to say that the Bible is ONLY accurate in the spiritual realm. But notice that the first word of 2 Timothy 3:16 is ALL. ALL means ALL. All of Scripture is inspired by God.
There are some skeptics who delight in pointing out that the Bible has been used throughout history to support wrong ideas, such as the earth being flat. But that is actually an inaccurate portrayal of what the Bible teaches. For those who are willing to look, the Bible contains accurate scientific data.
For example, Isaiah 40:22 says: “It is God who sits above the circle of the earth…” This verse uses the Hebrew word khug to describe the shape of the earth. Although this word is commonly translated into the English word circle, the literal meaning of this word is a sphere. Therefore, twenty-eight centuries before science discovered that the earth was a sphere, the Bible had already declared it. There may have been a particular church that declared the earth was flat, but the Bible itself never said that. The Bible clearly referred to the earth as a sphere, which is scientifically accurate.
Archaeology also supports the Bible’s accuracy. There was a time when people said that because some of the places mentioned in the Bible had not been found in the Holy Land, the Bible must be made up. But the more they dig, the more they find! There are literally thousands of digs that prove the places in the Bible are right where they should be.
Textual criticism supports that the Bible is true. Textual criticism is the science of looking at the actual texts that survive of early copies of scripture. There are more than 5600 ancient copies of various sections of the New Testament, nearly all of which agree word for word and the words that do disagree are so minor that they do not matter. Whereas, we only have 7 ancient copies of the works of Plato. We only have 49 ancient copies of the works of Aristotle. We only have 643 ancient copies of Homer’s Iliad. Sadly, many happily accept all those other documents as legitimate while attacking the 5600 copies of the New Testament.
The accuracy of the Bible is also proven by prophecy. The Bible contains 1200 prophecies that have already come true. Most of them sounded impossible when they were made, yet they happened. No Bible prophecy has been proven false.
How does that compare to other famous prophets who were not Christians? Nostradamus is one of the best known non-Christian prophets. In discussing Nostradamus, Italian scholar Francesco Guiciardini declared, “How happy are the astrologers! Who are believed if they tell one truth to a hundred lies, while other people lose all credit if they tell one lie to a hundred truths.” In other words, Nostradamus was 1% accurate. Yet people will believe what he said while denying the authenticity of the Bible. That is just not logical.
Perhaps the greatest proof of the Bible’s accuracy is that the Bible has been, and continues to be, profitable to all cultures in all time periods. No other book has stood the test of time and still impacts as many lives around the world as the Bible. The Bible is profitable in many ways, but 2 Timothy 3:16 points out four specific areas.
The Bible is profitable for teaching. This refers to doctrine. Though many people think doctrine is too complicated to learn, doctrine simply refers to the details of what we believe about something. If we do not know what we believe then we cannot explain it to someone else. If we do not know what we believe then we can be confused, or even led astray by someone else. Doctrine is important and can learn correct doctrine from the Bible.
The Bible is profitable for rebuking. This refers to pointing out wrong in our lives. None of us like to be rebuked, but sometimes we need it. The Bible helps us see our weaknesses and that makes us better people.
The Bible is profitable for correcting. This refers to helping us know how to fix the mistakes we have made or change our current behavior so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. If all the Bible did was point out our sinful ways but offered no way to make life better, it would be a depressing book. The Bible is full of helpful advice for how to have a good marriage, be effective parents, handle our money, overcome emotional issues and resolve the pain of our past.
The Bible is profitable for training in righteousness. This refers to the good things we need to do in life. Though we all make our share of mistakes, sometimes we do good things too. The Bible helps us recognize our good deeds and helps us see the connection between right behavior and positive results. This in turn encourages us to do more good deeds.
Because the Bible is inspired, accurate and profitable, it helps us be complete people. The word complete comes from the Greek word artios and means capable or proficient. Many people live their entire lives and never feel capable or proficient at anything. The Bible can help us change that.
When we study the Bible and apply its truth to our lives, we will be equipped for doing good works. It seems that for most of us, doing bad works comes pretty easy. Doing good is a bit more challenging. Yet most of us desire to do something good that makes the world a better place.
Doing good can be challenging because there is always someone who will take advantage of a nice person. But the Bible contains helpful advice that teaches us how to do good without becoming enablers to those who want to take advantage of us. It makes us feel good when we know we are helping others and not just wasting our time.
In conclusion, I want to point out four key points. The Bible is the only book that is inspired by God. Because it is inspired by God, the entire Bible is accurate. The Bible is profitable for teaching us doctrine, pointing out bad behavior, giving us ways to correct bad behavior and encouraging us in our good deeds. The Bible helps us to be capable of making a positive difference in the world without being taken advantage of. Do not be fooled by all the rhetoric out there about the Bible being full of errors or irrelevant to modern culture. The remains the greatest book ever written. By following its teachings, our lives can be significantly better.