Often when people are asked to give proof that the Bible is God's word they give evidence such as archeology or historical documentation. I have heard talks on that kind of thing, but I'm no expert in them. Those things are external evidence for the authenticity of the Bible. I'm not going to talk about them now. I'd like to talk about the internal evidence of the Bible itself, because when I asked myself the question, 'how do I know the Bible is the word of God?' the answer is by reading it. When I was a student, and for some years following, I read the Bible all the way through every year. I've struggled to keep that up in more recent years, but I've really missed it, so I'm doing it again this year. I'm fully convinced the Bible is God's word because I've read it.
The Bible is an amazing book. It was written over a period of about 1300 years by at least 40 people, including shepherds, kings, doctors and fishermen. They came from different places, different backgrounds and social status, and different times. Yet the incredible unity of the message shows it to have in reality only one author. The Bible is made up of 66 books, but it is definitely only one book. It has the stories of many characters and yet it is really a book about only one person – the Lord Jesus Christ. Starting in Genesis, after Adam and Eve's disobedience, God gives His first promise of a Rescuer, when He says to the serpent, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”. From then on there is a progressive revelation of this one person, by direct statements and by what are called 'types and shadows' (rituals, pictures and people who by illustration teach us something of what the Saviour will be like).
Then we start the New Testament, and we meet the promised One. We see His life, His teaching, His death and resurrection, the culmination of God's rescue plan. The work of reaching out to people is continued through His disciples in the book of Acts. The NT letters explain His life and work more fully, and show us how we ought to live because of what He has done for us; finishing with the book of Revelation, looking forward to His return. Jesus is the hero of the Bible.
In the OT, the first part of the Bible, there are over 600 prophecies, and over 300 of these relate to God's promised rescuer. They are fulfilled in Jesus. One Christian song writer puts it: 'From the pages of the prophets He stepped out into the world'. The fulfillment of those prophecies could not be faked. The Bible is not a book carefully constructed after the event. It's not like in the book 1984 where all newspapers have to be returned each day and the weather forecasts are changed in accordance with the actual weather, so all the forecasts appear to have been correct. The OT writings were in the safe-keeping of the Jewish people hundreds of years before Jesus was born, people knew them and had studied them for years. It was in Jesus' power to influence the fulfilment of some of the prophecies, but many e.g. where He was born, were completely out of His control if He was just human.
2 Peter 1:16 and 1:19-21 say:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty…and we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus' own attitude to the Bible is really significant. He believed it to be God's word. He came into this world, the man who is also fully God, and as God He had authority in His own right to say whatever He wanted. He did not have to refer to any other authority. And yet, when He was tempted by Satan, He answered with quotes from the Bible, subjecting Himself to the authority of God's written word. Even on the cross, as He was dying, we read, “so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, I am thirsty.” He would not let any of the prophecies fail. God, living in this world, showed Himself to be fully committed to His word written down for us in the Bible.
Do you want to know if the Bible is God's word? The Bible will pass any test you throw at it. But will the test you set show you it is God's word? If you test the Bible by archaeology you will find it is archaeologically correct. If you test it by historical documentation, you will find it is historically accurate. The point is that the Bible is the word of the living God who can be known and who wants us to know Him. So the best test is to read it and ask “Do I get to know God by reading this book?” When it comes to God and His word, you can't stand back cynically and say “Prove it to me!”, because God doesn't give you that option. He says “Come and see for yourself”; The Bible is full of invitations like that, and the true stories of people who took God at His word.
The Bible is true – there's plenty of objective evidence for that, but it will do you no good until you read it and take on board its message. So, get stuck in and read the Bible. We would love to help you do that. There are books on our bookstall at the back which split the Bible into manageable chunks to read each day, with notes to help you understand what you read and apply it to your life. Listen to the Bible talks we have here, they are a brilliant way to get into really engaging with the Bible. Ask another Christian to join you in reading the Bible and encourage each other to keep going. But, above all, ask God to show you Himself as you read the Bible and then you'll know that the Bible is God's word.