Can we Rely on the Bible?

By Joseph Oyerinde | Osun, Nigeria

The Bible is a volume of writings from God written about 2000 years ago. Can we truly rely on it as the same words of God? The answer to this question is the thrust of this piece.

Alleged Adverse Criticism on the Bible Examined

One notable and widespread adverse criticism among the Bible critics to discredit the reliability of the Bible is corruption of the Bible. Patrick Cate, in his doctoral dissertation, expatiated on this allegation thus: “The corruption of the Bible takes two basic forms: corruption of the text and corruption of the interpretation of the Bible. The corruption of the text has three facets: (1) changing the text, (2) omission of part of the Bible, and (3) interpolating new material into the text” (as cited in McDowell et al., 1983, p. 36). These critics thus opine that the Bible has been changed many times over the years, altered, edited and corrected which resulted to various textual readings for different passages of the Bible.

It is important to note that the Bible scholars have critically observed that these variations are due to different English translations (not versions) of the Bible, and they in no significant way reflected on over 5,000 preserved original Greek texts from where English translations were made. Besides, throughout the translations, the variations did not alter any substantial substance or doctrine of the Bible. So, with time there will always be need for new translations of the Bible, as well as any other material in need years after, as the language advances and accommodates necessary contemporary changes. This will no doubt always show insignificant variations in former and latter English translations of the Bible. Hence, Thomas Nelson rightly prefaced that “readers may be assured that textual debate does not affect one in a thousand words of the Greek New Testament. Furthermore, no established doctrine is called in question by any doubts about the correct reading in this or that text. The Christian can approach his New Testament with confidence” (2008, p. vi). Nevertheless, Lightfoot accurately noted that “no translation is ever final. Because translators are human beings, there will always be room for improvements of translations. No translator can transcend his own time; he can only work in light of the knowledge of his day, with materials available to him, and put his translation in words spoken by his generation” (1963, p. 105)

Similarly, some critics also for years deny the credibility of the Bible in respect to the validity of Christianity. Knowing fully well that the primary purpose and essence of human existence and life is to worship the true God, one of the efforts that have been made to discredit the validity of Christianity and the Bible is on the doubt of some people that Jesus never gives the Christians any pattern of worship to serve God in the church.

Yusuf Adepoju (a Muslim and ardent propagandist of Islam in Nigeria) asked a question during his last debate with Oluleke Adebayo (a gospel preacher in the church of Christ) that “Where in the Bible did Jesus guide the Christians how to worship God in the church?” Adepoju did not accept or concede any answer of Adebayo to the question from the book of Acts to be correct because Adepoju only accepted that Jesus’ words were only recorded in the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Adepoju’s rejection of the answer is obvious because he was totally oblivious of the fact that the book of Acts written to Theophilus was a continuation (i.e. Volume 2) of the Gospel of Luke written to the same single recipient (Luke 1:1-4; cf. Acts 1:1-3). Luke affirmed to Theophilus that the book of Acts was the completion of his inspired historical records regarding the account of “all that Jesus began both to do and teach” in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 34:36-51; cf. Acts 1:1-9). In view of the foregoing, it is completely inconsistent, or perhaps a blatant ignorance, to accept the inspired record by Luke written in the Gospel of Luke, and yet in the same breathe reject the record of Acts – a continuation and the complete account of the inspired record by the same writer.

Meanwhile, contrary to the practice of Judaism, Jesus directly taught His early disciples of how to worship God in the church in the first four books of the New Testament. He taught them how to pray in Christianity with a pattern different and contrary to the pattern of prayer in Judaism (Matt. 6:9-13; Acts 4:23-30). He instituted the memorial meal to commemorate His death as an act of Christian worship in the church (Mark 14:22-25; Acts 20:7). He guided them on how to give to God liberally to receive divine blessing in contrast to payment of tithe (Luke 6:38; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). He instructed them to teach the new converts all other things He taught (Matt. 28:28). All these and other acts of Christian worship these writers and other inspired writers further expatiated in the remaining books of the New Testament. For instance, Luke, as well as other writers of the Bible, recorded the pattern the Holy Spirit (sent by Jesus, John 14:26; 15:26; 16:12-15) gave to worship God and examples of how the primitive Christians (the church) followed the pattern of the worship (Acts 2:42; 20:7; cf. 1 Cor. 11:23-30; 16:1-2). Hence, it is completely fallacious for Yusuf Adepoju to thus posit in the edited video record of the debate (as published on YouTube by ACADIP Nigeria) that “no specified Christian mode of worship in the Bible,” if he is aware and accept that the Bible is a volume of 66 harmonious books written by inspired men (Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).

Evidences for Reliability of the Bible

The Bible presents certain reasons for reliability and credibility of the Bible that command due trust of sincere and right thinking people everywhere and every time. These reasons show that only insincere men can doubt the credibility of the Bible as the word of God today. We can rely on the Bible because:

1. The Bible is inspired of God (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). The Bible does not literally claim to be from God as some books falsely feign inspiration; there are couple of both external and internal evidences that support honest claim of the Bible. Two outstanding of those internal evidences are scientific proofs of the Bible and miraculous prophecies of the Bible. Among others, the Bible has declared hundreds of years ago the spherical shape of the earth and the paths of the seas before they were ever discovered by the scientists centuries later (Isaiah 40:22; Psalms 8:8). These were not just coincidences because it was formerly for long widely believed among the scientists that the earth was flat; and no one among the living ever has any clue of paths of the seas for donkey of centuries. Similarly, by prophet Isaiah, the birth of Jesus through a virgin has been said more than 700 years ago before it was exactly fulfilled (Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25). Pronouncement of a virgin to conceive and give birth to a baby (without the involvement of any masculine) in the next hundreds of years is beyond a mere prediction of men based on certain experience. Only a book with divine origin could manifest such evidence of miraculous prophesy.

2. The Bible is the complete and final will of God (2 Tim. 3:16; Rev. 22:18-19). The Bible did not claim to be inspired only; it claims to be the complete and final will of God for mankind. It needs no addition, subtraction or modification whatsoever. It has been once and for all time delivered to man (Jude 3). In fact, it is the standard of judgment on the last day (John 12:48; Rev. 20:12). Only a book with divine origin could manifest such characteristic.

3. There are reliable quantity and quality of ancient materials on the Bible text. History has recorded vast numbers of materials that show the authenticity of the Bible beyond reasonable doubt. Invention of Bible archaeology has tremendously supplied much credence to the validity of the Bible such as in discovery of older manuscripts with which to establish the text of both the Old and New Testaments. Sir Frederic Kenyon said, “The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world” (as cited in Lightfoot, 1963, p. 120).

Conclusion: Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). Trust in the Bible as the word of God is not a mental reservation out of unverified belief. It is a conviction out of undeniable pieces of evidence from inspiration of the Bible, complete and final nature of the Bible, and attestation of quantity and quality materials available on Bible text. So you can trust the Bible as guide for salvation of your souls. The Bible guides that you have to believe in Christ (Mark 16:16), repent of your sins (Acts 17:30), confess Jesus’ Lordship (Rom. 10:9-10), and be immersed in water into the church of Christ (Acts 2:38, 41, 47) in order to be saved. “Now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized” today (Acts 22:16). Today is the day of your salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).


Lightfoot, Neil R. (1963), How We Got the Bible (Michigan, USA: Baker Book House)

McDowell, Josh and Gilchrist, John (1983), The Islam Debate (San Bernardino, USA: Here’s Life Publishers)

Nelson, Thomas (2008), The Holy Bible, Smallest Bible Edition (Republic of Korea: Thomas Nelson Publishers)


Joseph Oyerinde is a minister of the Word. He works with the church of Christ at Olomilagbala, Ilesa, Osun State.

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