Do you often find Christianity and the Bible to be confusing? Do you ask yourself why Christians seem to disagree more than they agree? Is it difficult to witness to people because those you talk to seem to know more about the history of the Bible than yourself?
It is not uncommon among Christians to say the Bible is the word of God from Genesis to Revelation, but we never actually define what we mean by the term “the word of God.” When we fail at explaining what “the word of God” means, we leave it up to our audience to interpret it for themselves. 99% of the time, most of our audience interprets “the word of God” to mean “the will of God.” If you or your audience interpret it to represent the will of God, we soon end up with a very schizophrenic God and a very confusing Bible. On the other hand, if we interpret “the word of God” to mean only God’s spoken word, the picture changes. There are only four instances in the Bible where God speaks; it is in the Old Testament when He gives the law of Moses, through the prophets in the Old Testament, in the Gospels when Jesus speaks, and the book of Revelation. If we only look at these four instances in the Bible where God speaks, we soon see no confusion in the Bible. God’s will for humanity is and will always be repent from lawlessness to the law of Moses and be reconciled to Him by the cross. So to avoid misunderstanding what the word of God refers to, it is much better to say that the Bible is the word of God + poetry + stories about people who disobeyed or obeyed the word of God acting as a warning and encouragement for us and teachings on how to obey Gods word.
We often hear it said, among Christians, the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses to the life of Christ. The truth is we dont have any scriptural evidence to back this up; we have several thousand Greek manuscripts for the New Testament, but none of them are older than 100 years CE. So we do not have any scriptural evidence from eyewitnesses to the life of Christ. What we do have, though, is a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy of a manuscript presumably written by eyewitnesses to the life of Christ. So how do we know we can trust the New Testament? Because it can easily be argued all those copies might have been changed during the centuries. We can know for sure we can trust the New Testament because of the Old Testament:
The Old Testament was canonized from 700 BCE – 200 BCE, and the New Testament was canonized in 300 CE. This shows us how the Bible Jesus and the Apostles had could not have been the New Testament; it had to be the Old. Church history confirms this when the early Christians only had the Old Testament for the first 300 years. This shows us that Jesus, the Apostles, and Paul preached the message of the Old Testament: Repentance from lawlessness to the law of Moses and reconciliation by the cross. Because we can prove this is the message being preached in the New Testament, we can verify the legitimacy of the New Testament. Without the Old Testament, we are unable to confirm the legitimacy of the New.
We all know the Bible we hold in our hands or have as an app on our phones is not the original Bible. We have a translation of a translation going back in time for several centuries. Every translation has been revised several times, but even so, we Christians often say God watches over His word so we can trust every translation no matter what. In 1633 two royal publishers of the Bible decided to do a reprint of the King James Bible. A word was accidentally left out during the process, so instead of saying “Though shall not commit adultery,” the Bible was printed saying “though shall commit adultery.” When we Christians make the mistake of saying God watches over His word, meaning God protects the translations and printing process, we fail at explaining why He allowed the wicked Bible of 1633 to be printed. The truth is: translators and publishers make conscious and unconscious mistakes. This is why we need to know the history behind the Bible and the translation. But this is also why every Christian should have more than one translation available.
We Christians often seem to disagree more than we agree because we dont pay attention to the history behind the Bible. Because we refuse to study the history of the Bible, we end up believing lies about the Bible which divides us and makes it difficult for us to witness to people. On the other hand, if we chose to study the history of the Bible, we would know the Old Testament is very relevant and necessary for our salvation. When we read the New Testament as an addition to the Old, not as a replacement for the old, the Bible becomes relevant, easy to understand, logical, and we will become truthful, credible witnesses for Christ.