How Does One Test the Bible?

Does God want man to examine and see for himself if the Bible is the word of God?  How might one go about testing the validity of the claims of the Bible?  We have been examining over the last few weeks ways to examine the Bible.  One can examine the Bible from many angles: forensic, historical, legal, scientific, archeological, and mathematical or logically and philosophically.  If the Bible is inspired and the word of God it would pass with flying colors in these areas.

One might be encouraged to know that God encourages the examination of His identity and the truthfulness of his word (Mark 1:22, John 3:2, Acts 17:27). The Bible says “test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).  Making informed decision as one handles this evidences is paramount.  Testing everything would include examining and verifying the validity of God’s identity and his word.  As one considers the evidence and moves toward making an informed decision, one will be faced with an either or option.  Either God exists or he doesn’t.  Either the Bible is the word of God or it isn’t.  Joshua who became the valiant leader of Israel pushed Israel to make a decision.  He urged them to choose either the gods of their fathers, the gods of the Amorites or the Lord (Josh. 24:15).  They proclaimed “No, but we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:20).

Consider the nature of truth and how that applies to the Bible.  When something is false it dies off and comes to nothing.  What is false is fruitless, of little merit, of no help and of no value in advancing virtue for the human race.  If the testimony in the Bible concerning Christ was false it would be expected to die off and come to nothing.  That’s what happens to lies.  They get exposed.  Gamaliel pointed this out in Acts 5.  If the Apostle’s actions and teachings were false their teaching would be exposed as false, be fruitless and misleading.  Their teaching would come to nothing.  However, if it is true and from God, there is nothing that man could do to overturn it (Acts 5:34-39).  In fact, the resistant Jews would be found to be opposing God (Acts 5:39).

In arguing a case for the Bible, Dick Sztanyo goes through several proofs.  First, one must establish a clear definition of the Bible.  Second, one must prove that God exists.  Third, one must understand that there are necessary conditions for the truthfulness that are distinguished from sufficient conditions for truth.  Necessary conditions are negative tests for truthfulness.  Consider archeology, history or the preservation of scripture.  Because something is proven to come down to us historically intact, does not necessarily prove it be true or Divine.  Necessary conditions are minimal requirements for accuracy.  Sztanyo points out that this information “can disprove, but not prove”; they “can corroborate, but not confirm” (215).  One would expect, at least, the Bible to prove reliable when it comes to history or archeology. Many necessary conditions of truth are external to the Bible text itself. Sufficient conditions, on the other hand, are positive tests for truth.  These largely deal with evidence internal to the text.  Conditions that are both necessary and sufficient include miracles and “predictive prophecy, unity of theme and purpose beyond human explanation, and scientific foreknowledge”(222).  One could travel down a delightful path examining all the evidence that proves the Bible to be inspired. 

An honest mind also wants to consider the implications if the Bible is false.  Paul was a balanced thinker and entertained this possibility in 1 Cor. 15.  If Christ isn’t raised from the dead, then: (1) Paul’s preaching and faith was vain, (2) he was misrepresenting God, (3) his faith was futile and he was still in his sins, (4) his hope in Christ was only in this life, (5) Christians are most to be pitied, and (6) let man eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow he dies (1 Cor. 15:14-32).  However, since Christ is Risen man’s faith is solidified.  His hope is maintained.  Abundant life and salvation are in full view. 

Can man know if the Bible is divine?  Certainly.  One is free to examine the Bible for all its worth.  The Bible proves itself to be a book of Divine origin.   All of the evidence collected together make a solid case.  First Thessalonians 2:13 states “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”   You can confidently reach the same conclusion.

Sztanyo, Dick. Graceful Reason. Vienna: Warren Christian Apologetics Center, 2012. Print.