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Is the New Testament True?

No one piece of evidence stands alone but when numerous pieces are taken together they can be considered as giving a true account; an account that can be believed beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are seven reasons that when taken together give a sound basis for believing the New Testament is true

1. Regardless of what a person believes about the contents of the New Testament the historical authenticity of the writings themselves is indisputable. The existence of New Testament papyri dating back to the early 2nd century eliminates any doubt.

2.With the exception of one, perhaps two or three, the New Testament writers were martyred. In other words the writers were executed for what they believed to be true. Any one of them could have lived if he’d only recanted or stopped preaching in the name of Jesus; none did.

The death of Jesus Christ is an established historical fact. Whether or not his resurrection is considered an established fact is of course still debated. However, that the writers of the New Testament believed Jesus had risen from the dead cannot be disputed. Most of them died because they believed it.

The early Christian leader Papias wrote that St. Mark “took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.”

The thing is this, “a man may die for what he believes is true but he’ll certainly not die for what he knows is false.” Someone may question their beliefs but their integrity is beyond doubt.

3. The historical authenticity of places, events, and people mentioned in the New Testament has been verified by modern archaeology.

For example, a Christian man named Erastus is mentioned by Paul in the book of Romans. Paul states that Erastus is Corinth’s “director of public works” a position that would have been of some importance. In 1929 archaeologists discovered amongst the ruins of ancient Corinth a marble block inscribed with “Erastus, commissioner of public works laid this pavement at his own expense”

The Erastus named on the stone is likely the same Erastus mentioned by Paul. The inscription itself gives a clue; “at his own expense.” Why would Erastus add that last phrase? The reason seems clear. To make sure no one thought he had used misused public funds. As a believer and a friend of Paul, Erastus would have been sensitive on that point.

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A second Erastus inscribed stone was found in Corinth in 1960. Other than it being in the same ruins and of the same approximate date, there’s no evidence that the second stone refers to the same Erastus as the 1929 stone.

4. The New Testament writers distinguished their personal opinions from God’s commands and Jesus’ teachings.

For example when Paul addressed the topic of divorce in I Corinthians 7 he cited the Lord’s command on one matter…

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

and he offered his personal advice on another…

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her

That’s another example of not only the sincerity of the writers but also their truthfulness. A man with Paul’s status could have easily written everything as if it was God’s commands but he didn’t. Paul loved truth as much as he loved Jesus.

5. The New Testament writers included “dirt” about themselves and each other.

Matthew tells about an instance in which the mother of James and John approached Jesus and asked that Jesus place her boys at his side when they’re all in heaven. It was obviously embarrassing for James and John and even more so because the other 10 disciples fought out and were somewhat angry about it.

Luke tells how Peter denied Jesus three times at a time when Jesus needed someone to stand by him. In his second book, Acts, Luke shows how Jesus forgave Peter and reinstated him into his confidence. Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

Paul had perhaps the shadiest past of them all. Before his conversion to Christianity he hunted Christians and approved their executions. It’s easy to understand why, after his conversion, other Christians were reluctant to accept Paul.

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Then there’s the instance told by both Luke and Paul of the public argument that occurred between Paul and Peter; the two most prominent early Christian leaders.

Those examples and others are the types of things that followers of other religions tried (and still try) to deny, deflect, and explain away in their leaders. Not so in Christianity, all the skeletons are cast out of the closets.

6. The Four Gospels are divergent narratives. In other words, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John don’t present every story and detail in exactly the same ways. Some people claim that shows that the New Testament is erroneous but in reality it shows there was no collusion between the writers. They didn’t compare notes to make sure they all agreed on everything.

One example is the story of when Jesus went into the Jerusalem Temple and with whip in hand cleared out the merchants that were trading there. John relates the story early in his Gospel (Chapter 2) and Jesus’ ministry however in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke it occurred near the end of Jesus’ ministry and life. Did Jesus drive merchants out the temple more than once? Did John get the time out of place or did Matthew, Mark, and Luke get it wrong?

The event no doubt took place. It’s possible that John didn’t remember the exact time of the event; John was no doubt quite old when he wrote his Gospel. However, it’s also possible he inserted the story early in his Gospel in order to make a point or for effect. John wrote a different type of account of Jesus than did the other Gospel writers.

There’s nothing inherent in the divergent details of the four Gospels that should cause a thinking and unbiased person to doubt the validity and authenticity of the accounts.

Leaders and disciples of false religions go to great pains to make sure everyone says and writes only what they are told to write. They don’t want any inconsistencies or disagreements among their followers. The New Testament was inspired by God but it wasn’t dictated by him. He allows his work to be done by frail human beings.

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7. The New Testament writers invited criticism. They asked that facts to be verified and actions to be justified.

Luke recounts when Jesus asked his listeners “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?”

Peter stood up and preached in Jerusalem and said “”Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.

-And-

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Paul preached in Corinth and said “Therefore, my dear friends flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.”

Those and other examples evidence show that the New Testament writers weren’t afraid of investigation into their claims. Why? Because they knew their claims were true.

That other religious books exist and were written is of course beyond any doubt. That some of the contents of those books contain some truths is also beyond doubt. It can even be admitted that those writers were “inspired” by God because human beings are created in “God’s image.” In everyone is some semblance, remnant, or vestige of God’s inspiration.

However, Christianity and all other religions (including atheism & agnostism) are mutually exclusive; only one can be true in totality. Only the Bible, Old and New Testaments, has enough evidence pointing to its total truth that it can be believed beyond a reasonable doubt.

References:

The New International Version of the Bible

CS Lewis: Mere Christianity

Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

Early Christian Writings.com

Josh McDowell: Evidence that Demands a Verdict

Tyndale House.com