Is The Bible Valid and Reliable Today?
This simple one-question test may be the most important question you will ever be asked. "Is the Bible Valid and Reliable Today?" You have free will. How do you respond?
God's Simple One-Question Test for Today
In any human relationship, there are times when we ask questions and other times when we respond. I believe our relationship with God is the same. However, until we answer His question first and respond with the only acceptable answer, we are just asking questions of the wind. So, we need to listen first to God's question.
God: "Is the Bible Valid and Reliable Today?" Yes or No (select only one).
Let's score your response from Jesus' perspective.
If you answer "Yes," you pass. God has follow-up questions in "What have you done for Me lately?"
You failed if you answered "No," or "yes, but..." or refused to answer the question. Some people fail this one-question test because they lack knowledge. Others fail because they choose to deny that the Bible is what it says it is--God's word.
If you are still reading this, I will assume that you are considering the consequences of "failure." Why not review the question again and see if your answer changes? Like the game show, "Is that your final answer?"
We form opinions about people based on their "test" performance. If they do well on the test, we think they either prepare well or are naturally gifted and talented. The point is we assume they are familiar with the material covered on the test. Therefore, to answer God's question, you need to read all 66 books of the Bible. If you haven't read the Bible, you aren't giving yourself or God a fair opportunity. Jesus wants us to get it 100 percent correct!
Your Initial Response to God's Question
If your initial response to God's question resulted in a "fail," perhaps it's because you were unfamiliar with each critically important component in the question. Specifically, what do we mean by "the Bible," "Valid," "Reliable," and "Today." Let's talk about each term to ensure we speak the same language.
Okay, we all agree that many different versions of the Bible exist today. If you want to read a mind-boggling account of just how many versions there are, Christianity Today has a good article.
But for our purposes and God's question, The Bible is defined as all 66 Books (39 Old Testament Books and 27 New Testament Books).
Let's also agree that God's Word can be presented "formally" (nearly word-for-word as in the original documents) or "functionally" (thought for thought, easier to read). The formal versions include English Standard Version (ESV), King James Version (KJV), and New American Standard Bible (NASB). The functional versions are New Living Translation (NLT) and New International Version (NIV). (See Reference).
However, to keep us focused on the question, not the Bible version, we need to agree on three characteristics of the Bible that are non-negotiable from God's perspective. Failing to agree on all three of these perspectives puts one in the "yes, but..." category of lukewarm Christian. God has good news and bad news for lukewarm Christians.
The Bible is inspired by God and written by people He selected. This means the writer's personality, experiences, and writing style come through; however, it is God's inspired words, not man's.
The Bible is Inerrant. This means the Bible is without error. It is God's error-free collection of manuscripts, written over time, using different writers, all for the good of His children.
The Bible is Infallible. The Bible is incapable of containing error because God is the ultimate author/editor.
Note: For more information about the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible, see this video by R.C. Sproul.
The Bible is Valid. The Bible has Validity.
As a retired university professor, I see the Bible as a collection of books that both "educate" and "evaluate." That is, God uses His word as a teaching guide and as an evaluation instrument. So let's look at the Bible as a valid teaching guide and reliable evaluation instrument.
The Bible is Valid. Look at the definitions of "valid" in Collins Dictionary:
A valid argument, comment, or idea is based on sensible reasoning.
Something that is valid is important or serious enough to make it worth saying or doing.
Having legal force; properly executed and binding under the law.
As a teaching guide, the Bible is God's argument, comment, and idea based on His sensible reasoning. His reasoning is sensible from His perspective, whether we see it as sensible or not.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so My thoughts are higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
The Bible is God's way of showing His love for us. Because His word is written from a higher perspective, it is well worth our careful study. The fact that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, with 5 Billion copies sold, says something about its popularity as the way to live in a fallen and distressing world.
Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
But the Bible is also valid in that it is what it says it is. It establishes God's Laws and, with it, penalties for breaking His laws. Not one of "us" can keep all of His laws. Jesus is the only ONE who was without sin. He alone paid the price for our inability to live according to God's law.
Therefore, Jesus is worthy of our praise and worship. His sacrifice is why we answer a resounding "YES!" to the question, "Is the Bible Valid and Reliable Today?" However, because we are incapable of keeping the law and living sinless lives, we are also barred from entering Heaven. That is, without Jesus interceding for us.
Jesus answered His disciples, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
The Bible is Reliable. The Bible Has Reliability
Think about things in your life that you would have a hard time living without. I would guess that a car, cell phone, laptop/tablet, microwave (especially if you are a college student), social media, and significant other are on the list.
Now, how "reliable" are those things? A gas-powered car has a useful life before it's no longer reliable. If it's a diesel, maybe a little longer. How reliable is your electric vehicle? Tell me in five years. A cell phone is only as reliable as your carrier. Same with the internet provider for your computer/laptop. Take away electricity, fuel, and money; every item is unreliable.
The Bible is Reliable. The Bible is not only what it says it is...God's word (valid), but it never fails (perfectly reliable). Look again at how reliable is defined:
Consistently good in quality or performance; able to be trusted.
suitable or fit to be relied on
giving the same results on successive trials.
The Bible Has Reliability. I want you to carefully consider the Bible's reliability as an assessment instrument.
First, think about this. We use assessment instruments daily to determine, for example, depressive symptoms. We administer an assessment instrument before we teach people how to cope with depression and then again after the intervention. Hopefully, there will be a decrease in their depression score after the intervention. The instrument we choose to measure depression must show validity (it actually measures depression, not something else) and reliability (does so consistently over time).
But here's the problem. Just like the electronic gadgets we use at home, the psychological instruments we use in social sciences can become unreliable. Why? Because people change. Their perception of what is considered mental wellness or illness changes. Thus, people and the instruments used to assess them become unreliable over time. What usually happens is that the assessment instruments need "re-norming" because they no longer reflect society's values about the condition being assessed.
But God's Word has been reliable since the beginning of His creation.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." John 1:1-2
As you know, Jesus is the Word! And Jesus and the Word do not change.
This is a critically important point. Unlike the world, the Word does not change. Although people in the world have grown accustomed to changing things that no longer serve their needs or beliefs, the Bible--God's Word--transcends the whims of humanity!
Just because some people see no validity or reliability in the Bible doesn't negate its authority. The Bible has stood the test of time. Its validity and reliability as both a guide for living and an instrument for assessment are without question. So the only question you are being asked is, do you agree? Is the Bible Valid and Reliable Today?
The Bible Today
The last component is about time; it's about today! And your today is relative to someone else's tomorrow. So it's comparable to another person's yesterday.
But I want you to think of "today" as a moment in time, like individual grains of sand falling from the hourglass of your life. "Today" is like the heartbeats God has measured for you. How many heartbeats are left? How many grains of sand remain before your time runs out? Only God knows.
Now is the time; today is the day to say YES to God's question. Make no mistake, God has provided a way to Heaven for every sinner. Jesus is the Word and the Way. The Bible is Valid and Reliable Today! Because
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8
If you wonder where this article originated, you can read it in "Lord, Do You Know What Time It Is?" I hope you will join me in answering YES to God's question! If not, perhaps tomorrow will present another opportunity unless the last grain of sand falls and it's too late.
With every heartbeat, God is asking you and me the same question, "Is the Bible Valid and Reliable Today?" There is only one acceptable answer. Yes. Suppose we say no, ignore His question, or try to redefine His Word to become more socially acceptable. In that case, we deny Jesus' gift of salvation and descend into lukewarm faith. It doesn't have to be this way. God's Word is valid for developing wisdom and understanding. It never fails to save in the most extreme circumstances or with the most hopeless sinners. Jesus has been reliably saving the souls of the repentant for over 2000 years. Can we say the same about the reliability of the world? We like to use "look at the data" today. Well, I've looked at the data, and the probability of success in this life (and beyond) is 100% if we say yes to Jesus. I know my answer. What is yours?