Young People Ask . . .
“Is the Bible Really True?”
MICHELLE was brought up as a Christian by parents who had a firm faith in the Bible. For Michelle, accepting that the Bible was true was like accepting that day followed night.
One day, though, it dawned on her—she did not know why she believed the Bible. “I guess I believed it up till then because my mother and father believed it,” she said, “but I felt that I needed more than that to be sure that the Bible was true. I had never really proved to myself that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.”
What Difference Does It Make?
You might wonder, however, ‘Is it really so important to be sure that the Bible is true?’ Indeed it is!
For one thing, the Bible claims to be God’s book. (1 Thessalonians 2:13) If this is right, your life must depend on doing what it says. “My sayings . . . are life to those finding them,” says God’s Word.—Proverbs 4:20-22.
Now if your life depended on a surgeon’s skill, would you not want to be sure he was no quack? You likewise need to be sure that the Bible is true.
Just Possessing a Bible Not Enough
This means more than just possessing a Bible. In big-city apartments, people often live right next to one another and remain strangers even though only a wall separates them. Thus, they never build confidence and trust in their neighbors. To do so, they must take the time to get to know one another. Similarly, the Bible can be within arm’s reach without your getting to know it. If you are ever going to trust the Bible, you need to test it out.
The apostle Paul’s advice to Christians was to “make sure of all things.” Or, as the paraphrase in The Living Bible expresses it, “Test everything that is said to be sure it is true.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) This expression means to examine and scrutinize something to see if it is genuine. It was done in ancient times in connection with precious metals. If you had the chance to purchase a gold ring or necklace, would you not first make sure it was real gold?
Pamela, for example, was one who had passively accepted the Bible since she was ten years old. As she grew older, though, she saw the need for a deeper study of it. “Being told that the Bible is true wasn’t enough for me,” she says. “I needed logical reasons to convince me.” (1 Peter 3:15) Her attitude was thus like that of some people who lived in the ancient city of Beroea.
About 50 C.E., the apostle Paul visited this Greek city. What Paul told those Beroean Jews made sense to them. But they wanted to make sure. (Proverbs 14:15) What did they do? After they listened to Paul, they ‘examined the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.’ (Acts 17:11) Thus they carefully tested Paul’s words against what they could find in the Scriptures. You can do the same!
How Can You Test the Bible?
How do you begin? One of the most powerful evidences that the Bible is inspired is its unerring ability to foretell the future. “Who is there among [the nations] that can tell this?” it asks. Only almighty God can without fail ‘tell from the beginning the finale.’ (Isaiah 43:9; 46:10) And he does so repeatedly in the Bible. “After examining some of its prophecies,” 14-year-old Janine says, “I was just amazed to see how it was able to foretell all that it did.”
Another field of study might be the Bible’s historical accuracy. Says Pamela: “It really helped me to see how historically authentic the Bible is. I began to realize that these were real events and real people, not just stories.”
Other rewarding fields of study and examination are the Bible’s internal harmony, its honesty and candor, and its scientific accuracy. Pages 18 and 19 give examples of information that builds confidence in the Bible.
Yet another approach to examining the Bible is pointed to by a young man named Philip. He says: “My confidence in the Bible was built up when I saw its effect on people’s lives. I saw that those who lived by the Bible were not burdened but, in fact, very much benefited.”
Would you not expect a book from God to produce good effects? And the facts show that when people follow its directions, they become better people. (See Ephesians 4:20-32.) “Seeing how applying Bible principles makes people happy,” adds 13-year-old Sarah, “really builds your confidence that the Bible is true.” (Psalm 119:1, 2; compare 1 Kings 10:6-8.) How right she is!
“Two Are Better Than One”
Of course, you may need some assistance in looking into the Bible. And the Watch Tower Society has produced publications to help.* In addition, Ecclesiastes 4:9 reminds us that “two are better than one.” Why not go to someone you trust, someone who will not minimize the problem, and ask for help?
For example, 15-year-old Walter discovered that few of his schoolmates or teachers believed the Bible. This disturbed and confused him. However, he explained his feelings to his father. They then spent many hours together in careful study of the Bible to build confidence in its truthfulness. “I was able to find good reasons for believing the Bible rather than just blindly accepting it,” he says.—Romans 12:1, 2.
“Be honest with your parents if you have any problems in this regard,” suggests Janel, a young woman. “Ask questions if there is something you find difficult to believe.” (Proverbs 15:22) Dennis learned the hard way. He went through a painful period of being rebellious before proving to himself that the Bible is true. His experience taught him the need for deep personal interest and effort to build trust in the Bible. “It can lead to real problems later,” he says, “if you just passively accept what your parents tell you without thinking about it yourself.”—1 Timothy 4:15.
Another great source of help in this matter is association with others whose faith in the Bible is strong. (Proverbs 27:17) “Ask others what convinced them,” says Dennis. And when you are meeting with fellow believers, make it your practice to be a good listener. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) “I just used to sit there and not take much in at the meetings,” says 21-year-old Kimberley. “Then I realized that if I was ever going to have real faith in the Bible, I had to do much more.” She followed the advice of Proverbs 1:5. She ‘listened better and took in more instruction.’
Finally, there is the need to have the right attitude. (Psalm 25:4, 5, 9) If you are to have trust in the Bible, “it is really important to pray to God for help,” emphasizes Sarah. After all, it is his book. We need to follow a principle Jesus stated: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find.” (Matthew 7:7) In this way you can build confidence in the Bible.
The apostle Paul said to Timothy: “You, however, continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe,” or, as The New Testament in Modern English puts it, “those things that you have learned and which you know are true.” (2 Timothy 3:14) Timothy was persuaded to believe the things he learned because he was given adequate proof. So was Michelle, mentioned at the beginning of this article. She examined the evidence carefully and is now able to say, “I am sure that the Bible is true.”
On the fulfillment of prophecy, you might read Our Incoming World Government—God’s Kingdom or chapter 7 of “Let Your Kingdom Come,” which deals with prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus Christ. Other helpful information can be found in Is the Bible Really the Word of God?, “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial,” and chapters 17 and 18 of Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?
[Box/Picture on page 18, 19]
Bible Prophecy and Fulfillment
Read the prophecies recorded in Luke 19:41-44; 21:20, 21. Shortly before his death in 33 C.E., Jesus wept over Jerusalem because he knew what was going to happen to it. He foretold how the Romans would come and build a “fortification with pointed stakes” around Jerusalem and how they would devastate the city, causing great distress. Then he warned his disciples to ‘flee to the mountains’ when they saw the Romans coming against the city and thus save their lives.
If you examine history, you will find that this all came true. In 66 C.E., 33 years later, the Roman armies attacked Jerusalem. Then, according to Jewish historian Josephus, the Roman commander “suddenly called off his men, abandoned hope though he had suffered no reverse, and flying in the face of all reason retired from the City.” This allowed the Christians who remembered Jesus’ prophecy to escape. In 70 C.E. the Romans returned, built an encircling fence 4.5 miles (7.2 km) long and trapped everyone inside the city. “Jerusalem itself was systematically destroyed and the Temple left in ruins,” says The Bible and Archaeology.
The Bible’s Historical Authenticity
The book A Lawyer Examines the Bible highlights the historical accuracy of the Bible this way: “While romances, legends and false testimony are careful to place the events related in some distant place and some indefinite time, thereby violating the first rules we lawyers learn of good pleading, that ‘the declaration must give time and place,’ the Bible narratives give us the date and place of the things related with the utmost precision.”
The New Bible Dictionary comments: “[The writer of Acts] sets his narrative in the framework of contemporary history; his pages are full of references to city magistrates, provincial governors, client kings, and the like, and these references time after time prove to be just right for the place and time in question.”
The Bible’s Internal Harmony and Candor
Imagine if a book began to be written during the time of the Roman Empire, continued down through the Middle Ages, and was completed in this 20th century. What would you expect if the writers’ occupations were as different as soldiers, kings, priests, fishermen, herdsmen, and doctors? Would you expect it to be harmonious or coherent? ‘Impossible!’ you say. The Bible was written under these circumstances—yet it is harmonious throughout! The Bible is a collection of 66 books written over a period of 1,600 years by some 40 different writers.
While most ancient writers reported only their successes and virtues, the Bible writers openly admitted their mistakes as well as the failings of their kings and leaders. Read some examples of this in Numbers 20:1-13 and Deuteronomy 32:50-52 regarding Moses, who wrote those books; Jonah 1:1-3 and Jonah 4:1 regarding Jonah’s own failings; Matthew 17:18-20, Mt 18:1-6, Mt 20:20-28, and Mt 26:56 regarding the poor qualities shown by Jesus’ disciples. The honesty and candor of the Bible writers give support to their claim of being inspired by God.
[Picture on page 17]
Before buying a gold ornament, you make sure it is genuine