Recently, a reader asked me to explain why I believe the Bible to be accurate and trustworthy. He (or she) wanted to know whether I believed the Bible simply because it claimed to be accurate and reliable.
Twenty-five years ago, I began to understand my need for God. My good friend, Sandra Snow, had drowned in Tulsa's Memorial Day flood of 1984, just days before her sixteenth birthday. She and I had become good friends a few years earlier because we had shared several classes together, a similar religious background, and the experience of parents who were divorcing at roughly the same time. At her death, I realized the need to deal with important questions in life: Does God exist? Is the Bible true? What would happen to me when I died? Could I be forgiven of all I had done wrong against God and others?
I did not want to get the wrong answers to such important questions, so I spent much of my spare time at libraries and bookstores devouring as much information as possible on spiritual and religious topics. I read the works of atheists, New Agers, Christians, and many others.
Of course, I read the Bible, too. At some point along the way, I came across these words:
"See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
Just as there were many who were appalled at him--
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness--
so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
"Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
"Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
"He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
"Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
I recognized immediately that Isaiah was describing Jesus Christ. I had read the Gospels and had seen the movies depicting the life of Christ. Isaiah was describing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
But I was confused. The book of Isaiah was in the Old Testament, a portion of the Scriptures written before the birth of Christ. How could he have described those events in the life of Christ so clearly? Adding to my surprise, I soon discovered that the book of Isaiah had been written approximately seven centuries before Jesus' birth.
At that point, I knew that the Bible was a book of substance. I saw that it was almost unbelievably accurate and reliable. And I understood that the God to whom it pointed could be trusted. At that moment, genuine faith was sparked within me. Soon, because of the Bible's accuracy and trustworthiness, I would place my trust in Jesus Christ, and he would change the course of my life.
There is more to the story, but believing the Bible was absolutely crucial to bringing me to faith in Christ.