This was the question I asked Mary as she looked at my bible. She liked it….said it was a good choice not to get the type with the commentary on the pages. Then I would get in the habit of getting my information from the commentary instead of God’s word. I rephrased my question…
“How can you be sure what we have today is what was written down originally?”
Looking back at the bible she looked at the concordance in the back. She showed me how to use it. Thinking she did not hear me…
I asked “How do we know what was written down is true?”
Mary did not seem the least bit flustered by my questions. In fact she seemed to enjoy them. She next turned to the index….”yes, yes I know how to use the index.” Getting a little impatient. She reassured me that this page will become the most worn page in the book. “It’s ok to use this page. Everyone does when they look up various books. Don’t let them fool you.
She then asked. …”Did you ever read the Iliad?” “Yes of course, in college.” I replied. Then she asked “ How about Gallic Wars, by Julius Caesar? Do you know who Herodotus was?” “Slow down. Let me think about it”, I said. “I remember learning about this. Herodotus is like the head honcho of history….The man”.
She then asked “Why do you believe his work?” “Well, Duh. He systematically collected materials and we know their work is accurate because it is cross-checked to other manuscripts to verify their accuracy!” Feeling very confident of my education. Thinking money well spent.
Mary said, “Very good”. In her calm quiet voice she reports there are 8 copies of the historical works of Herodotus and 10 copies of Julius Caesar. She also goes on to say there are 24,633 copies of the New Testament alone! “Shut up” “For real, Mary?” “For real, Sam.” More surviving early manuscripts means more cross-checks for accuracy.
“But, how accurate is the actual account?” Feeling a little smug – thinking I stumped her.
“Good question” (Folks that only means she was anticipating the question) “Would it be reasonable to assume the closer to the actual account the book was written the more accurate it would be?” Slowly I respond “Y..e..s”. I feel a set-up. Here it comes, “Did you know that the Iliad was written some 500 years and Herodotus 1300 years after the events?” Once again I respond cautiously, “N..o”. She goes on, “But some biblical books were written within 25-30 years of the actual events and show eye witness confirmation.” I am shocked. “WOW”.
“In fact”, she replies, “the bible is made up of 66 books written by at least 40 authors, from different cultures and different backgrounds. Yet the bible is consistent throughout on thousands of highly controversial issues.” “Why do you think that is Sam?” “Why? indeed, Mary” , throwing the question back at her. “Because it had just one author Sam….God” “The Holy Spirit not only directed the lives of the writers and organizers of the bible, but the very words themselves”. “The bible is the tool God uses to communicate to his children. “ She adds, “It is the number one way He speaks to me today.”
I was a little overwhelmed with the conversation. I don’t think I did her explanation justice, but you get the jist. I can read the bible and know that it is God speaking to me. I can trust what it says. It has stood up to the evidence.
She asked me to start reading just 7 minutes a day. Since I am going to try this God’s way…..I told her I would do it. I need to find out what that “way” is. Seven minutes….who can’t fit that in? I am to report back next week- what I read and what God showed me. Oh yeah, she also told me it was ok not to understand everything I was reading. Don’t get hung up on it. Just keep going.
Let me know if you try it and what God has showed you? I will keep you posted.
And remember, Run The Race for Jesus!