Not many people base their whole lives and belief systems on an extremely old book that was written over 2000 years ago in a region thousands of miles away from where we live! So why do Christians value the Bible so much? The answer, in short, is because we find it both relevant and reliable. Let me tell you why…
We read the Bible because it is intensely relevant
The Bible may seem at first glance like a disjointed collection of different pieces of literature collected over a couple of thousand years. But the more we read it, the more we see that it is actually one big story. It’s the story of how God made the world and us; how we all turned away from that God and put ourselves as kings and queens of our lives; how instead of simply letting us go He pursued us in love, sending His Son Jesus to rescue us from ourselves; and how He is planning an eternal, perfect life for us, His beloved people.
In other words, the Bible is a book that deals with some incredibly vital issues: whether there is a God and who He is, who we are, the meaning of life and why we were created, and how to live life to the full as it was intended. Along the way we discover that God is a perfect being who cannot tolerate the presence of evil, and must act in judgement against our rebellion against Him. And so we then discover that the Bible holds the vital key to knowing how we can be saved: who Jesus is, why He came, and how His seemingly untimely death on the cross is actually the greatest act of rescue the world has ever known. In the Bible we find a God Who chooses to know and be known by us, and Who goes to incredible lengths to save us and bring us into an eternal loving relationship with Himself.
That is why Paul says to Timothy, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: preach the word.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
When we see what the Bible is about, we realise how necessary it is for us to hear and read and think about what it says.
We read the Bible because it is completely reliable
There are all sorts of reasons to trust the reliability of the Bible. For example, we could turn to archaeology. Despite some claims in the popular press, there have been many hundreds of archaeological findings that accord precisely with the details the Bible gives about ancient cultures, kings, places and events. For more information, why not read the following articles?
For a list of archaeological finds that support what the Old Testament says:
For a list of archaeological finds that tally up with the New Testament:
Next, we could look outside the Bible to other historical references to Jesus and Christians. A variety of other famous historical figures make reference to Jesus including Jewish historian Josephus and Roman officials Tacitus and Pliny the Younger. For more information and other references, check out this article:
We could also do some historical text-criticism to find out if the books of the Bible have the ring of authenticity about them. If we look at Mark’s Gospel, we can find all sorts of features that mark it out as a genuine first-century document, and when we study the earliest copies we have, there are more (and more precise, and more complete) copies of Mark than of pretty much any other historical document. For example, the document “Caesar’s Gallic Wars”, from which we get much of what we know about Julius Caesar, is significantly less likely to be genuine than Mark’s Gospel, when we apply the standard rules of historical text-criticism! For more information, read this article:
But despite the helpfulness of all the above, it’s what the Bible says about itself that really clinches the matter. Paul reminds Timothy what the Bible is with these words: “All Scripture is God-breathed…” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible, he claims, isn’t just human words but the very words of God! Peter says much the same: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
This may sound like a circular argument, but the Bible claims for itself the highest possible authority, so there is no higher authority to appeal to! But there is a very simple test we can take: we can read the Bible as if it is God speaking to us, and see what happens. You may well find that the more you read the Bible the more it becomes plain that it really is from God, that it really is both relevant and reliable. That’s certainly what happened to Oxford-based pastor Vaughan Roberts. Check out the video below to hear about his experiences.
The question, then, is this: what about you? What will you make of the Bible?