Billy Graham struggled with the same question. In the early part of his ministry, he doubted the accuracy of the Bible. Can the Bible be trusted? He started asking.
The Bible is full of supernatural stories and miracles. Lame men walking. Blind men seeing. Five loaves and two fish turned into a meal for over 5,000 people. Dead men rising and walking out of a tomb.
Our practical minds struggle to embrace it all as true.
How do we know it’s not just made-up folklore? How do we know it’s the infallible Word of God like it claims to be? How could these events actually have happened?
Thankfully, the Bible rises to meet every question with a glorious proclamation of truth.
1. It’s a historically accurate narrative.
The four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—are eyewitness accounts from people who walked with Jesus and saw firsthand the events written in those books.
As Billy Graham pointed out, “If [the Bible] talked about kings who never lived or battles that never took place or nations that never existed, then we’d have reason to doubt what it tells us. But this isn’t the case. When Luke wrote his Gospel, he tells us that he ‘carefully investigated everything from the beginning’—and the same was true for the Bible’s other writers.”
In history books and biographies, facts build to create a story. The Gospels do the same thing. These stories are not extravagant, descriptive accounts like one might expect to find in a fairytale or folklore. They are the detailed accounts from historians.
Take, for example, this passage in John:
“At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.” (John 10:22)
The Feast of Dedication. Winter. The colonnade of Solomon. They are all specific details that could only be included by someone who was there and knew exactly what happened.
2. It was written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses.
Historians and scholars agree that the New Testament was written between 40 and 60 years of Christ’s death and resurrection. The epistles—the letters Paul and others wrote to the church—are estimated to have been written within 15 to 25 years after Jesus’ death.
Why is this significant?
If the New Testament was written so closely to the time the events actually happened, it was within the lifetime of eyewitnesses who would have seen those events with their own eyes. If the Gospel was false, wouldn’t these individuals have spoken up about it?
Rather, the Gospel spread like fire throughout Israel and the Mediterranean. Thousands heard it and believed.
The book of Acts offers one example. Just weeks after Christ ascended into heaven, Peter stood in Jerusalem—the very city where Christ had been crucified just over a month before—and he preached the Gospel. Three thousand people came to know Jesus (Acts 2:14-41).
If the death and resurrection of Christ was a made-up story, the people in Jerusalem probably would have known it.
And they didn’t dispute it. They believed.
3. Christ’s resurrection transformed the disciple’s lives.
Furthermore, let’s look at the life of the disciples before and after Christ’s resurrection.
The evening after Christ rose from the dead, the Bible tells us that all the disciples were meeting in a room with the doors locked because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders (John 20:19).
Just weeks later, we see those same disciples—who were afraid for their lives—boldly proclaiming the Gospel on the streets of Jerusalem.
What could have created that transformation but seeing, talking and eating with the resurrected Jesus? (Check out John 20:19-29, 21:1-25 for more.)
Not only were they persecuted, but many were put to death because of their faith. James was killed with a sword (Acts 12:2). Stephen, another disciple, was stoned to death (Acts 8:57). Many were beaten and thrown in jail (Acts 8:1-3).
But they did all that with joy. The book of Acts tells us story after story of men and women who, despite persecution, continued to preach about Jesus.
These individuals’ lives were transformed by the Gospel.
4. It all rests on faith.
In 1949, Billy Graham was facing a crossroads in his ministry. If he couldn’t come to the belief that the Bible was indeed the Word of God, he believed he’d have to give up his ministry. He wrestled over the question and eventually, on a late night walk in 1949, cried out to God.
He prayed, “Oh God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution.”
Then he took a step of faith and said, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith. I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.”
Sometimes we find ourselves in the same position, doubting the truth of the Bible. But it’s in those moments when we need to cry out like Billy Graham and believe, in faith, that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God.
Still have questions about the accuracy of the Bible? Read more.