The Credibility of Its Authors
The Bible is no ordinary book. It claims to be nothing less than the inspired Word of God. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . ." (II Tim. 3:16; NKJV). ". . . holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Pet. 1:21).
But, it will be objected, other religions make similar claims for their sacred texts as well. How do we know that the Bible's claims for itself are true and that the others are false?
First of all, it should be noted that the Bible itself acknowledges that there have been and continue to be competing voices. Right from the very beginning there were false prophets and false teachers, all saying different things. In this cacophony of conflicting claims, how can we tell who is telling the truth?
At the time that the biblical prophecies were originally received there were a variety of ways to authenticate the message. Could the prophet perform miracles? Did the prophecy come true? Was it consistent with earlier, known prophecies from God? The nation of Israel had witnessed the dramatic events of the Exodus, and had every reason to believe that Moses had received his message from God. Likewise Elijah, centuries later, could demonstrate through the miracles that he performed that he was an authentic prophet from God, and his prophecies came true.
But what of us today? We can know these things only from the Bible itself. How can we know whether or not this testimony is true?
If we were jurors in a court trial, and the witnesses were giving conflicting testimony, how could we tell which ones were telling the truth? We would undoubtedly look for clues about the witnesses' character, we would look for internal consistency in their testimony, and we would look for corroborating evidence. And so it is with our evaluation of Scripture.
First of all, what may we gather about the character of its human authors? While we obviously cannot know them personally, what we can know about them leads us to believe that they were honest and sincere people. They were earnest preachers of righteousness -- we would hope that they practiced what they preached. Moreover their ministries often came at a great cost to themselves. Their message was not always well received. Elijah, Jeremiah, and Paul, not to mention Jesus Himself, put their very lives on the line. Would they have done so if they had not felt a higher accountability to God? It seems unlikely.
But secondly, we want to look at the consistency of their testimony. They were united in preaching the true religion of the God of Israel as it had originally given to Moses, and they continued to do this even when it was unpopular and the tide of history was running against them. What is especially striking about this phenomenon is the sheer number and diversity of the human authors involved. Unlike the Koran or the Book of Mormon, which were both written by solitary individuals, the Bible was composed by at least 25 different authors writing in three different languages over a span of more than a thousand years. The possibility of that that many different people could have conspired together to produce an elaborate forgery is zero. What it does suggest, however, is that they had a common underlying source of inspiration, and they themselves identified that source as the Spirit of God illuminating their minds and speaking through them.
We should also note the consistency of the Bible with the known facts of history. The biblical writers were insistent that they were reporting real history and not mere myths, and that the Lord could be recognized as the true and living God precisely because He actually did things in space and time. The available archaeological evidence bears out the historicity of the narrative. The authors were indeed describing real places and people that actually existed in history.
The biblical writers, then, were honest and truthful witnesses.