A Christian Teen’s Guide to the Bible: Fact or Fiction?
If the Bible is actually true, that changes everything for your life, your friends and the world.
The Bible is the most significant text in history. It has changed the lives of billions of people who believe it.
But is it true? That’s a really important question to ask before you put your faith in something!
So in this Christian Teen’s Guide we’re going to answer the question, Bible: Fact or Fiction?
What the Bible says about the trustworthiness of Scripture
Let’s start by taking a look at what the Bible says about itself.
Who wrote the Bible?
Whenever you’re trying to work out whether something is real or not, it’s important to consider who the author is!
1 Timothy 3:16-17 is one of the most important verses to understand who wrote the Bible:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This verse tells us that the Bible is ultimately from God – or “God breathed”.
But God has used humans to put his Word into words! This article from Josh Waltman explains this clearly:
There are several theories that try to explain how humans and God worked together to write the Bible:
- Dictation: This theory says that the authors wrote down the words from God without Him using any of their own thoughts, words, or styles. On this view, they simply sat and wrote God’s words down as if they were writing down notes from a biology lecture. Here’s the biggest issue with this view: While there are some examples of this happening in Scripture, this is not what happened for most of it.
- Limited: This theory says that the parts about who God is are true, but many of the historical and scientific details come from the human authors and may be inaccurate. The problem with this theory is that it does not take 2 Timothy 3:16 seriously. It also assumes that God could not or did not reveal His message in a way that is reliable.
- Verbal, Plenary: This theory uses two words that are very important. It says that when God gave His message to the human authors, He made sure every individual word written (verbal) was accurate and the message of the big picture seen across the entire Bible (plenary) is true. He also used their words, their thoughts, their creativity, their life experiences, and their stories to get His message across. This third theory is the best way to understand how God used the human authors.”
Does the Bible claim to be fact?
Yes! In fact it does.
1 Peter 2:19-21 is a helpful verse here:
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 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.
Peter says that nothing in the Scriptures – that refers to the Old Testament specifically – was made up or written by people, but instead was inspired by God, just as the 1 Timothy verse says. Peter wants his readers to know that people didn’t just imagine or invent different ideas and he’s very sure of that – He says it is “completely reliable”.
Let’s get practical
So, the Bible claims to be fact. Now, let’s dig into some of the practical ways we can answer this question of whether the Bible is actually delivering on its claim!
Are there mistakes in the Bible?
Some people question whether the Bible could possibly still be true as the original text doesn’t exist. But as Sean McDowell explains, “our wealth of ancient manuscript evidence allows us to accurately reconstruct with near certainty what the originals said by cross-checking the copies against one another. As a result, we have great assurance that our Bibles accurately reflect the original writings.
We must admit that textual variants (differences in wording among manuscripts) have been found in copies of NT (New Testament) books, but before you freak out, know that most variants have to do with spelling and have no impact on meaning. For example, sometimes the name John is spelled with one “n” and other times it is spelled with two. Each instance of this kind of thing is reported as a textual variant, even though it’s referring to the same person and is translated as “John” every time.
Most textual variants refer to things like this and only about one percent of all NT variants are considered meaningful. An example of a meaningful variant is found in Mark 16. Some manuscripts have a long ending to Mark whereas others have a short ending. This variant is considered meaningful because the subject matter has to do with a central doctrine of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus. But even in the shorter ending there is still a resurrection – it is prophesied, an angel attests to it, and the tomb is empty. No central doctrine is gained or lost by adding or eliminating the long version (verses 9-20).
The neat thing is that all these variants are clearly noted in the margins and footnotes of our Bibles. No one is trying to hide them. Remember, most variations are minor, and even in the more major ones, no core teaching of the church is affected. The New Testament is actually the best-attested historical document from the ancient world. Jesus affirmed the accuracy of the Old Testament, whose manuscripts have also come down to us with incredible accuracy from scribes who reverently followed very intricate rules."
Is there external proof for the Bible being true?
Yes, there is! There’s lots of historical fact that lines up thoroughly with the history of the Old Testament.
But to test this question properly, let’s consider one of the most important parts of the Bible: Jesus! If Jesus is real and actually did what the Bible claims he did, then we can logically assume that Jesus was God and therefore nothing in the Bible – even the most incredible miracles – is unbelievable!
Trish Koutrodimos highlights two main sources that externally verify the existence of Jesus:
“Our two top sources are:
- Tacitus – our best source for Roman antiquity. In 60 AD, Tacitus recorded that a major fire broke out in Rome. Christians were blamed for starting the fire (even though no one believed the Christians actually did it) so he tells his readers where Christians come from. “Christians derived their name from a man called Christ, who, during the reign of Emperor Tiberius had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate. The deadly superstition, thus checked for the moment, broke out afresh not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but also in the City of Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world meet and become popular.” (Annals 15.44).
- Josephus – A highly educated Roman aristocrat, general and priest. He references Jesus twice in his manuscript which is now titled Jewish Antiquities (90AD).”
There is also plenty of archaeological evidence for Jesus:
- Limestone bowls, ritual baths, tomb burial techniques and the lack of pig bones in the rubbish dumps proved that Galilee was inhabited by Jews.
- A synagogue was found at Magdala, Galilee (dated first century) – “Magdala” as in Mary “Magdalene” means that this was the synagogue that Mary Magdalene attended.
- A pool that has the remains of five colonnades by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem was uncovered that matches the description of the pool of Bethesda mentioned in John 5.
- Steps and beautiful stones that belonged to a pool that matches the description of the pool of Siloam mentioned in John 9.
- Mosaic inscription stating “God Jesus Christ” at Megiddo, Israel.
If it’s fact… What does this mean?
So, there aren’t mistakes in the Bible and there’s external proof for Jesus Christ. What does this mean for us?
Well, it means we need to take the instruction of the Bible seriously. We need to heed God’s warnings about our just punishment for sin, and accept the gracious sacrifice of Jesus in our place. And then we need to live to honour God, seeking to always better understand his will for us as it is written in the Bible.
The Bible is fact, and that should change your life!
Questions to think about
- Have you ever doubted that the Bible is true? When? Why?
- Do you believe that there are no mistakes in the Bible? If not, why not?
- If Jesus rose from the dead, that verifies the rest of the Bible. Do you believe that Jesus really came back to life?
- Has the fact that the Bible is true changed your life?
- How could you help your friends understand that the Bible is true?