“The Bible is irrelevant for two reasons: It’s inaccurate, and it’s outdated.”
Odds are, you’ve probably heard objections like this to the relevance of Scripture. We don’t want to believe such accusations, but the questions still linger in the back of our minds: Can the Bible really be trusted? Is the Bible really relevant? To answer those questions, we have to answer two other questions first…
WHAT IS THE BIBLE?
The Bible is a biography. 2 Timothy 3:15 says, “…you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation in Christ Jesus.”
o The Bible is about Jesus. All of Scripture is meant to lead us to Him.
- The Old Testament foretells and foreshadows Him.
- The Gospels tell of His birth and life, works and words, death and resurrection.
- Acts describes His continuing work through the Apostles spreading the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome.
- The Epistles display His full glory and work and apply it to the church.
- Revelation shows Him sharing God’s throne now and coming soon to complete His salvation and judgment.
The Bible is a love letter. 2 Timothy 3:16 begins, “All Scripture is God-breathed…”
o The Bible is from God. When Scripture speaks, God speaks. The Bible is a backstage pass to God’s heart. One scholar says that the Bible is, “God’s free and gracious choice to give up his privacy so that we may know him.”
The Bible is an operator’s manual. 2 Timothy 3:16 continues, “…and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
o The Bible is for us. As one scholar says, the Bible tells us “what’s right, what’s not right, how to get right, and how to stay right.” More on this later…
Perhaps by now you’re thinking, “Okay, I understand what the Bible is, but I’m still not sure if the Bible I have is accurate and trustworthy!” This leads us to our next question…
IS THE BIBLE ACCURATE?
I read a story about a little girl who once asked her mother, “Mommy, did God really write the Bible?” Her mother said, “Yes, dear. He certainly did.” The little girl looked down at her Bible for a moment and then said, “Well God has really good handwriting!”
However, God didn’t sit down at His desk, shake out His hand cramps, and scribble this all down on paper and ship it off to the copiers. Instead, God used the brains, words, styles, personalities, and experiences of normal people to produce His Word.
The Bible was written over a period of 1,500 years on 3 continents in 3 languages by 1 Divine Author through 40 human authors. It was then meticulously copied and translated down through the centuries to give us the Bibles we have today.
So if there are that many fingerprints on our Bibles, how do we know that they preserved an accurate and reliable translation? Thankfully, we have lots of evidence! Let me share two of my favorite pieces of evidence with you.
o Old Testament Authenticity – In 1947, a Middle-Eastern shepherd boy who was watching his flocks (and throwing rocks) discovered a treasure trove of ancient scrolls that had been hidden for 2,000 years. These came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. They contain ancient translations of every book of our Old Testament except Esther. These scrolls, written down before the time of Jesus, are letter-by-letter identical to our current Old Testament texts. This confirms the accuracy of our modern Old Testament translations.
o New Testament Authenticity – We have mountains of ancient New Testament manuscripts, dating back to within 30 years of the time the last New Testament book (Revelation) was written. These copies help us to understand and authenticate the translation process of our Bibles. The historical data found in our New Testament is also confirmed by other ancient historians. This means that we have more historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than we do for Alexander the Great! We also have 24,000 ancient copies of our New Testament compiled by scribes throughout the centuries to confirm that our modern texts can indeed be trusted!
Now that we understand what the Bible is and that our modern Bibles are accurate translations of true historical documents, we come to our core question…
IS THE BIBLE REALLY RELEVANT?
Although written over many centuries in many different cultures, the Bible’s message is one that transcends time and culture. Why?
Because God does not change. God’s nature is unchanging. The primary goal of the Bible is to lead us to God, who is not bound by time and who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thus, the Bible was relevant in its portrayal of God 1,000 years ago, and it will still be relevant 1,000 years from now.
Because human nature does not change. Even though the cultural distance between us and the Bible is great (we don’t have kings, armies with chariots, Greek temples around us, etc.), the underlying principle of human nature is the same: Every person was created to be like God but chose to sin instead and is now in need of rescue. While those sins, struggles, and cultural situations have taken many different forms throughout the centuries, the core issues remain constant, and the Bible remains the best source of wisdom for dealing with the problems of human existence. You will never face an issue in life that the Bible cannot give you the wisdom to face.
Thus, from a medieval castle to a modern traffic-jam, from an African village to an Asian metropolis, from 1st century Israel to 21st century Indiana…the Bible is still relevant.