Many people today are unsure about the reliability of scripture. Some treat the Bible as the writings of fallible men; others as the inerrant Word of God containing no human scribal errors. Many suggest it is an authority of some type for today but perhaps there is much bias in the writings since they have been brought to us by the agency of men who, as we know, are fallible.
At least, as far as the Old Testament is concerned, much of this can be settled by the way in which Christ handled the scriptures. If we believe that Christ was the Son of God incapable of lying or being self deceived, then examining what He thought about the scriptures is a worthy pursuit. But if we believe he was a fallible man like any other man, then our entire faith is in jeopardy let alone our belief in the scriptures.
Let us assume, for now, that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God and incapable of lying. We are presented from scriptures all we need to know of what he thought about the Old Testament. Here is how He handled the scriptures and what he thought of their reliability.
- Source of Authority
- “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished,” (NASB, Matt. 5:18).
- “The Scripture cannot be broken,” (NASB, Jn. 10:35).
- Source of Doctrinal Authority
- Jesus appealed to Scripture when correcting false doctrine stating, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God,” (NASB, Matt. 22:29).
- “Your word is truth,” (NASB, Jn. 17:17).
- Historical Reliability
- Jesus affirmed the historical existence of Jonah (Matt. 12:40), Noah (Matt. 24:37-38), and Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4-6).
- Scientific Reliability
- Jesus affirmed that God created the world (Mk. 13:19; cf. Matt. 19:4).
- Old Testament Canonicity1
- Jesus made reference to the Law and Prophets as a unit, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill,” (Matt. 5:17).
- Jesus explained the Scriptures, “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures,” (NASB, Luke 24:27).
- Jesus referred to the entire Canon by mentioning all the prophets from Abel (from Genesis, the first book and first martyr) to Zechariah (Chronicles, the last book, and the last martyr) (Matt. 23:35).2
If we do not hold to the same view as Jesus concerning the reliability of the Old Testament then what does that tell us about our belief in the person of Jesus Christ? Can we, on the one hand, believe in His deity and trust his character and at the same time not believe the same things as He did concerning the reliability of the Old Testament?
If, on the other hand, we acquiesce to this reality that the scriptures just might be the Word of God and that they are authoritative for all things pertaining to spiritual and moral life, then we have grounds to believe that there is a basis for an objective moral code and a basis for believing that life does, after all, have a meaning beyond what we can give it.