November 2012 – My dad was a United Methodist pastor when I was young. Like many of you reading this, I learned many Bible stories as a child. Many nights Dad would read to his four children about Daniel, Moses, David, Peter and Jesus. I still have all those Bible story books, which contain individual stories and sketches.
I went to Sunday School every week, Camp Lake Stephens church camp and vacation Bible school in the summer and home Bible studies weekly as a teen. My lovely and talented wife Alison and I have always had as a priority for a church we attend that it stresses the teaching of God’s Word. In short, the Bible has been a big part of my life for nearly five decades now.
When you grow up steeped in something, you just naturally assume it to be true. Whatever it is. It wasn’t until my college years that I began to hear some people openly challenge the veracity of the Bible.
I remember my anatomy and physiology professor at Mississippi State University speaking of Darwinian evolution as a fact, not a theory. That had such an impression on me that I remember it like it was yesterday.
Then I met some fellow students who would openly question the Bible. When they would do so, I would stand back and wait for the lightning bolt to strike them dead. It never did. Looking back, that was good for me. It’s good to have your assumptions about anything challenged. It makes you examine what you believe.
Since those college years, I’ve read many books on what is called biblical apologetics. There is a lot you can say about the Bible that is logical, understandable, historical and verifiable. But then there is a lot that is mysterious and unexplained – sometimes even seemingly cruel or contradictory; although most of these “contradictions” can be explained with a closer study of the text. The Bible is both simple and complex.
One of the most compelling reasons to believe the Bible is true is the fact that we still have an ethnic group of people called Jews. And many places mentioned in the Scriptures are still in existence today. Jerusalem and Egypt, for example. In the Bible, the Jews are also referred to as Hebrews or Israelites.
There are many groups of people also mentioned in the Bible that have long since passed from the face of the Earth. But the Jews have remained. God selected the Jews to be His “chosen people” beginning with Abraham. In other words, God discriminated in favor of the Jews. Why? Because He wanted to, and God can do whatever He wants.
When Jesus Christ came to earth, he opened up God’s favor to anyone who would follow Him, not just the Jews. There is a reason John 3:16 is the most well known verse in the Bible. It expresses this idea of a universal invitation for salvation perhaps better than any other verse: “For God so loved the world, that He sent His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life.”
I believe it takes great faith to believe that the Bible was written solely by mere men. The chance of 66 books penned over a 1,600 year period by 40 men in the ancient world all coming together into one volume is remarkable in itself … even if you believe in chance.
But more amazing is the majesty, scope and consistency of all parts of the Bible. A fair reading has to suggest to any reasonable person that it’s more than just a book. And it is. For it showed me my sin and the glorious God who, at great cost to Himself, provided a remedy for it. And for that, I am eternally grateful.