“Even it is written in your law, the testimony of two or three witnesses is true.” –Jesus, John 8:17
People often claim that the Bible can’t possibly be a reliable source of truth based on the fact that it was written by man. However even if you believe that it is impossible for a flawed human being to be used for a greater Divine purpose, our own legal system makes determinations about truth using flawed individuals all the time! The roots of our present legal system began in ancient Israel, where the testimony of at least two witnesses was required to make a presumption of truth in a matter. Truth itself has an objective quality that can’t be owned by any individual or organization, and scripture itself could be thought of as a collection of witnesses testifying to the same thing over thousands of years. If we were to have some compilation of observations about lions and their behavior made over the last four thousand years, those writings in composite would give us a pretty good idea of what lions are like! The different authors would have varying insights about lions, but taken together their thoughts would point us to a truth greater than the authors themselves.
If we were to take a classroom of children to the zoo and ask them to describe the lions there, each child would have a unique description with their own observations. Some children might emphasize the fuzzy manes, while others might emphasize the teeth and claws. At first glance it may seem like the children are describing completely different animals, but taken together they would give us a fair description of what lions actually look like. If one child however mistook a monkey for a lion, it would be easy to omit that observation based on an apparent lack of uniformity with other observations. It would be silly for us to take any one of those children’s descriptions alone as a sole authority on lions, but taken together they would be a very useful authority for someone who has never seen a lion before. For those who have seen lions, reading the different accounts would be an illuminating experience providing details they may not have noticed.
When people read scripture they often get caught up in minor details or apparent inconsistencies instead of focusing on the big picture. Some of those children at the zoo for example may have had some unusual insights about lions that the other children failed to recognize. Taken out of context this single observation may be difficult to reconcile with the others, but it would be silly to discount all of the observations based on that alone! The Bible is the most amazing collection of writings in existence – spanning nearly all known human history. As an archaeological tool it has been used to confirm historical events and places ranging from Rome to Babylon to Sodom and Gomorrah. The most amazing aspect of the Bible however is the level of uniformity that it possesses considering the time span it was written over.
Scripture itself acknowledges the need for multiple independent witnesses to verify truth. This is why there are four different accounts of the life of Christ in the Bible. Jesus Himself was aware of this need and appointed twelve disciples whose life purpose was to testify of the things they had seen. Jesus as a witness Himself told Pilate before the crucifixion, “To this end I was born, and for this cause I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” –John 18:37 The witnesses throughout scripture never sought to promote themselves – not even Jesus. In law today that would be a conflict of interest, and tarnish the legitimacy of the witness and reliability of the account.
From shepherds ages ago, to prophets speaking of future events, to poets proclaiming His beauty, to Kings of the greatest empires, to Jesus Himself – all history as we know it is filled with witnesses to the God of Heaven. Unlike manmade systems of belief, these witnesses point to a Truth greater than any man or manmade institution. Instead of demanding that we submit to some human structure or order, we are exhorted to “Taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man who trusts in him.” – Psalms 34:8 There is an infinite difference between knowing of the Truth and knowing the Truth. It is when you know Jesus for yourself that all of His words become alive with meaning. When you have met the Lion, all the descriptions of the Lion begin to make sense.
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