IS THE BIBLE GOD'S WORD?
A chapter from his doctoral dissertation
© 1997, Institute of Biblical Defense, All Rights Reserved
The case for the inspiration of the Scriptures builds upon the evidence produced in the last four chapters CHRIST'S TEACHINGS CONCERNING THE OLD TESTAMENT
Our Lord not only believed the truth of the Old Testament history and used the Scriptures as final authority in matters of faith and conduct, he also regarded the writings themselves as inspired. To Him, Moses, the prophets, David, and the other Scripture writers were given their messages by the Spirit of God.1 Some of Christ's teachings concerning the Old Testament are as follows:
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all has been accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18). And He answered and said to them, "And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
For God said, 'Honor your father and mother,' and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.' " (Matthew 15:3-4) But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"? (Matthew 22:31-32) He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.
For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death'; but you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down. . ." (Mark7:9-13).
He referred to the Old Testament authors as prophets (Matthew 11:13; 12:39; 22:40; 23:31-35; 24:15; 26:56; Luke 16:16-17, 31; 18:31; 24:44; John 6:45), meaning proclaimers of God's truth. In fact, Jesus spoke of the prophets as beginning with Abel and ending with Zechariah (Luke 11:49-51).
This covers the exact time period of the Old Testament, from creation to about 400BC. Since Christ is God Himself, his view of the Old Testament must be correct.
Therefore, the Old Testament is the written Word of God. CHRIST'S VIEW OF THE NEW TESTAMENT Christ ascended to heaven before the New Testament was recorded.
However, the promises He made to his apostles guaranteed that the New Testament would be the inspired Word of God:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away (Mark 13:31). But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (John 14:26).
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning (John 15:26-27).
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come (John 16:13). But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
From these quotes of Christ, five conclusions can be drawn.
First, Jesus promised that His teachings would be preserved.
Second, He said that the Holy Spirit would remind the apostles of all that He told them.
Third, the Holy Spirit would reveal future events to the apostles.
Fourth, the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into the truth (prevent them from promoting doctrinal errors).
Fifth, the Holy Spirit would empower the apostles to be Christ's authoritative representatives to the world.
From the above conclusions it is clear that Christ promised to preserve His teachings through the apostles' writings. Obviously, these writings make up the New Testament.
Since Jesus is almighty God, His plan cannot be thwarted. Therefore, since He promised to preserve His words through the teachings of the apostles, then their teachings (which have been passed on to future generations) are the teachings of Christ.
Hence, they are the Word of God It should also be noted that Jesus taught that only the Old Testament and the teachings of His apostles (the New Testament) were the Word of God. The evidence declares Jesus to be God. Jesus taught that both the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God. Therefore, the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God.
THE SUPERNATURAL WISDOM OF THE BIBLE
The evidence presented above is sufficient to demonstrate that the Bible is God's Word.
Still, there are other factors which help corroborate this evidence. The supernatural wisdom and the fulfilled prophecies of the Bible verify that the Bible is God's Word. Christian thinkers such as Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)2 and Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)3 have noted that only the Bible offers an adequate explanation for both man's greatness and man's wretchedness.
Modern man, even with all his accumulated knowledge, cannot sufficiently account for both aspects in man. Atheistic evolutionists may be able to explain the wretchedness of man, for they see man as merely an animal, but they cannot satisfactorily account for man's greatness.
New Age Pantheists recognize man's greatness by attributing godhood to him, but, they offer no convincing reason why man is so wretched.
The Bible alone offers an adequate explanation for both aspects of man. Man is great because he was created in God's image; he is wretched because he is in a fallen state.
4 This indicates that the wisdom found in the Bible supersedes the wisdom of man. Evidence for the supernatural wisdom of the Bible can also be seen in the realm of science. At a time when men thought the earth was flat, the Bible taught that it was a sphere (Isaiah 40:22, 700BC). At a time when men thought the earth rested on the back of a giant turtle, the Bible taught that is was suspended in space (Job 26:7, 2000BC).
At about 1500BC the Bible taught that the stars could not be counted (Genesis 15:5); yet, in 150AD an astronomer named Ptolemy taught that there were exactly 1056 stars.
5 Today, modern science confirms that the stars are innumerable. In about 1850AD, the first and second laws of thermodynamics were discovered by modern science. The first law teaches that no new energy is being created or destroyed.
The second law teaches that, though the amount of energy in the universe remains constant, the amount of usable energy is running down. Therefore, the universe is winding down. The Bible taught both of these laws thousands of years ago.
The Bible states that God is resting from His creation work (Genesis 2:1-3), and that the universe will someday pass away (Mark 13:31; Isaiah 40:31).
The Bible does teach, however, that God will make a new heaven and a new earth when the old ones pass away (Revelation 21:1). There was no such thing as modern science in biblical times. Hence, the information mentioned above demands a source which transcends that of man, a supernatural source.
6 H. L. Willmington commented on this subject:
In 1861 the French Academy of Science published a brochure of fifty-one "scientific facts" which supposedly contradicted the Bible. These were used by the atheists of that day in ridiculing Christians. Today all fifty-one of those "facts" are unacceptable to modern scientists.
7 FULFILLED PROPHECIES
The Bible claims repeatedly to be the Word of God.
One of the most powerful witnesses to the truth of this claim is the many fulfilled prophecies proclaimed in the Bible. This work has already examined a sample of prophecies fulfilled by Christ. Here, a few more of the many biblical prophecies that have already come to pass will be discussed.
The Bible has made many predictions concerning the future of great nations and cities. The following is a brief discussion of a few of the prophecies fulfilled concerning these cities and nations.
Around 590—570BC, the prophet Ezekiel predicted that the city of Tyre would be destroyed and never be rebuilt, and that it would become a barren rock which fishermen would use to mend their nets (Ezekiel 26:4, 5, 14). Though Tyre was destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout history, it was ultimately devastated in 1291AD by Muslim invaders. Today, all that is left of the ancient site of Tyre is a small fishing community which uses the barren ground to dry their nets.
8 In the sixth century BC, Ezekiel also predicted that the city of Sidon would suffer much violence and bloodshed throughout her history, yet remain in existence (Ezekiel 28:23). Though Sidon has been invaded and defeated numerous times throughout her history, the city still exists today.
9 In 625BC, the prophet Zephaniah predicted that the city of Ashkelon would someday be destroyed, but that it would eventually be inhabited by the Jews (Zephaniah 2:4, 6). Ashkelon was destroyed in 1270AD by Sultan Bibars. The city remained uninhabited for centuries until the nation of Israel was reestablished in 1948. Now, the Jews have rebuilt and re-inhabited Ashkelon.
10 Zephaniah also predicted that the Philistines—a powerful enemy of the Jews throughout much of the Old Testament—would be totally wiped out. Though they continued to prosper for many centuries, they eventually became extinct in 1200AD (Zephaniah 2:5).11 The prophet Obadiah, writing in either 841BC or 586BC, prophesied the extinction of the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau and enemies of the Jews (Obadiah 18).
When the Romans devastated the city of Jerusalem in 70AD, they also defeated the remnants of Edom (called the Idumeans at that time). At that time, all traces of the Edomites disappear.12 In 740—680BC, the prophet Isaiah predicted that Egypt would still be a nation in the last days (Isaiah 19:21-22).
In spite of the many wars Egypt has encountered throughout her four-thousand year history, this ancient nation remains in existence to this day.13 In 1410BC, Moses predicted that Israel would be scattered among the nations of the world (Deuteronomy 28:64).
The prophet Hosea, in 710BC, predicted this dispersion of Israel as well (Hosea 9:17). History records that after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the Jews were scattered throughout the world.14 Both Isaiah and Ezekiel prophesied that Israel would be re-gathered in her land in the last days (Isaiah 11:11-12; Ezekiel 37:21).
This happened in 1948AD when the nation of Israel was reestablished. The Jews continue to return to their land to this day.15 God told Abraham that those who cursed Israel would be cursed by God (Genesis 12:3).
This prophecy has been fulfilled many times. Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, the Roman Empire, and Nazi Germany are a few examples of nations or empires that persecuted and oppressed Israel. While the tiny nation of Israel still exists today, Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, the Roman Empire, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany have collapsed and are no longer in existence. During the 1930's and 1940's, Nazi Germany had slaughtered six-million Jews and its war machine was devastating Europe.
A land born in a day;: Or, Irrefutable proof that the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God and offers the only way to eternal life
By 1948, Nazi Germany was nonexistent and the Jews had control of their homeland—the nation of Israel— for the first time since 586BC.16 Each of these prophecies has been fulfilled to the detail. Many other biblical prophecies have also been fulfilled.
It should also be noted that no futuristic prophecy of Scripture has ever been shown to be false. This separates the Bible from false prophets such as Edgar Cayce and Jean Dixon. Their success rate is much lower than the perfect accuracy of the predictions made by the Bible.
17 Henry Morris made the following comment:
It seems reasonable to conclude that the phenomenon of fulfilled prophecy constitutes a unique and powerful evidence of the divine inspiration of the Bible.
18 The evidence provided above for the Bible being God's Word is threefold. First, Jesus (who is God) taught that the Bible is God's Word. Second, the Bible contains insights that go beyond mere human wisdom.
Third, the Bible made numerous predictions, many of which have been fulfilled. None of these predictions have proven false (though some prophecies have yet to be fulfilled). In short, there are good reasons for believing the Bible is God's Word. Those who reject the divine inspiration of the Bible have failed to explain the three factors above.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE DIVINE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE Since the Bible can be shown to be God's Word, several implications follow.
First, since the cosmological argument has shown God to be infinite and perfect, there can be no error in His Word as originally recorded. God can only proclaim truth; otherwise, He would be less than perfect.
Therefore, the Bible is wholly true (inerrant). Second, since the Bible is God's inerrant Word, it is authoritative. God has spoken, and everything must be tested by the truth He has given.
Third, whatever is taught in God's inerrant and authoritative Word should be adhered to by all. This work has already presented evidence for some of the major tenents of orthodox Christianity (the existence of one God, creation by God, the resurrection of Jesus, and Christ's deity). Since the evidence indicates the Bible is God's Word, whatever it teaches must be true.
Therefore, other important Christian doctrines (e.g., salvation by grace through faith in Christ, the substitutionary death of Christ, the Trinity, and Christ's future return to earth) can be defended by showing that they are taught in the Bible Concerning salvation, the Bible teaches that all people are sinners who cannot save themselves (Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23; Matthew 19:25-26).
Scripture teaches that man cannot earn his salvation; salvation is a free gift given by God's grace (unmerited favor) to those who trust (believe) in Jesus for salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16-18; 6:35, 47; Romans 6:23). Only through Jesus can man be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
The Bible teaches that Jesus took mankind's punishment upon Himself by dying on the cross for their sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, 12; Matthew 1:21; Mark 10:45; John 1:29; Romans 5:8-10; Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:15, 21; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; Hebrews 10:10, 14; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 1:7; 2:1-2; Revelation 5:9).
The God of the Bible is holy and just; He cannot forgive sin unless it has been paid for in full. The good news is that Jesus (who is fully man and fully God) is the ultimately worthy sacrifice who has paid for the sins of the world through His death on the cross (Revelation 5:1-14).
He died as a substitute for all of mankind. Those who accept Jesus as their Savior receive the salvation and forgiveness that He has purchased for them.
One of the most controversial teachings of Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity, for this teaching transcends human understanding. This doctrine declares that the one true God eternally exists as three equal Persons (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). God is one in essence or nature (Mark 12:29; John 10:30), but three in Personhood (Matthew 3:16-17; John 14:16, 26; 15:26).
The Bible teaches that the Father is God (Galatians 1:1; 1 Peter 1:2). However, Jesus (the Son) is also called God and is described in ways that could only apply to God (Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 14:5; John 1:1, 14; 5:17-18, 22-23; 8:58-59; 10:30-33; 17:5, 24; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 1:17-18). Jesus is worshipped as God (Matthew 2:11; 28:9; John 9:38).
The Holy Spirit is also called God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16). Some have speculated that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, since they are one God, must also be one Person, but, this is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons (Isaiah 48:12-16; Psalm 110:1; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; John 14:16, 26; 15:26).
Before anything was created, the three Persons of the Trinity communicated with each other (Genesis 1:26; 11:7), shared the glory of God (John 17:5), and loved each other (John 17:24). Even while Christ was on earth, He and the Father spoke to one another, thus proving they were not the same Person (Matthew 3:16-17; 26:39; Luke 23:46; John 17:1).
When all the data is considered, it is clear that the Bible teaches that there is only one true God, but this God eternally exists as three equal Persons. Hence, the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity.
The Bible also teaches that Jesus Christ will someday return to earth in power and glory. After His return, He will rule over the nations for one-thousand years (Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 11:15; 19:11-16; 20:4-6).
Since the available evidence declares the Bible to be God's Word, whatever it teaches must be true. Therefore, the biblical teachings concerning salvation, Christ's substitutionary death, the Trinity, and Christ's return should be accepted.
It is also important to note that since whatever the Bible teaches is true, the morality taught in the Bible is authoritative. If God calls a practice wrong, then it is wrong, regardless of common political sentiment.
Though the Bible student must differentiate between absolute moral laws which are universally binding on all men and temporary cultural laws prescribed for a specific people at a specific time, absolute moral laws taught in the Bible should be adhered to by all. The day will come when all must answer to God, at the judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15).
IS THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD? YES!
Third, since God has been shown to be infinitely perfect, His Word is totally trustworthy. Therefore, whatever the Bible teaches is true. Since the Bible teaches that salvation comes only through trusting in Jesus as one's Savior, then Christianity is the one true faith.
All religions which deny salvation only through Christ alone are false religions. One's eternal destiny depends on his response to Christ. It is Jesus who calls out to all mankind, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
Reason And Faith
by Van Fisher
The attack usually includes quotes indicating that our "science" is "ends driven," meaning that if the result fits with our biblical view of things, then we accept it as truth, and if it does not, we call it bogus or soft-science. This line of attack has merit because it is partially true.
However, it falls apart, or more accurately, the falsity surrounding the core of truth melts away, when put under the bright light of reason. Starting with some stubborn facts, let's reason together. Man has a brain capable of reason, or what we call reason.
We can consider things, current, past or future, and make judgments concerning them, funny, sad, true, bad, important or irrelevant. We can work things out, study them, test them and arrange them in a way that makes sense to us - logically, if you will.
An atheist will use reason because it is in his self-interest. So will a theist. So there does not appear to be any inherent problem with reason and belief.
When we make our judgments, accepting or rejecting things based on our sense, we label them. One thing is true, another is false. One thing is good; another is very bad. Something makes sense; another is bogus.
We have a memory, so as we gain experience, we fit things together. One thing is true because another is true; another cannot be true, because it conflicts with what I know to be true.
And on and on. The Bible tells us about things outside our experience. Nobody, born in our lifetime, walks on water or rises from the grave on the third day. So in order to accept the Bible, we must bridge the gap between what we know or believe, and what we trust. And that bridge is not reason; it is faith.
But the Bible also does not ask us to build the bridge without a foundation, which is knowledge. Therefore, I believe that reason is not the enemy of trust; it is an essential part of the foundation. It follows, of course, that the foundation should be solid, not made of falsehoods or clever stories that melt away.
It must include the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. Our foundation of knowledge also includes what we believe to be true from science and from the Word of God. Sometimes, what science in its day thought was true turned out to be bogus. Sometimes what believers in their day thought was biblical truth, has turned out to be bogus.
An additional problem arises here. Since trust in the Bible must be based on imperfect understanding, why not say, "If my beliefs were good enough to gain salvation, they are good enough for all those who come after me."
The answer of course has to do with the bridge of faith. For example, I accepted Jesus Christ based on my understanding of the King James Version of the Bible.
I had studied it, memorized verses in it, had underlined whole passages and put notes in the margin. Even though I did not understand some of its vocabulary or figures of speech, I did not see a need to change to the New American Standard Bible or New International Version.
But when my local church recognized the need for a Bible that the people of our day could understand, we changed, and our impact for Christ increased. One way to look at the premise that we should not put God to the test is to say we should not ask people of our day to use more glue (faith) than necessary given their education and knowledge.
So building a foundation of a slightly different shape, using reason and a different knowledge base is consistent with our biblical mandate to be all things to all people so some can be saved. Once we accept the Bible, and file it under truth in our minds, we initially reject things that conflict with what we believe is biblical truth.
We accept the premise that the Bible as originally written was completely true; but we also accept the premise that our understanding of the Bible is imperfect.
So our difficulty is in separating and discarding our imperfect understanding of either science or the Bible when confronted with a paradox, two things that seem to conflict yet both seem to be true. For example, the book of James seemed to conflict with Paul's writings. Paul said salvation is through faith, works has nothing to do with it, and James said faith without works is dead.
However, using reason the apparent conflict can be resolved, without abandoning, or undermining the truth of both divinely inspired writings, because a reasonable interpretation shows that there is no conflict in the texts, but only in our understanding. Works does not provide salvation; it proves salvation. Barking will not make you a dog, but a dog barks.
So the trick, it appears, is to see if we can fit scientific truth and biblical truth together, by perhaps improving our understanding and without creating additional unresolved conflicts.
The task is impossible without a whole lot of Bible study. But the Bible tells believers to study the Bible and study it well.