This article was first published in 1997 and is available in booklet form on request through the Contact page.
WHY I BELIEVE THE BIBLE
When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey, London, there came a very solemn moment in the service when she knelt before her God and was presented with a copy of the Holy Bible. She was then told by the Archbishop, “This is the most precious thing that this world affords. Here is the Royal Law. Here are the Oracles of God.
When U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was presented with a Bible he said, “In regard to this great book I have but to say it is the best gift of God that he has given to man. All that the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book.”
What is your view of the Bible? I believe it to be the inspired and infallible Word of God. After that of the Savior of whom it speaks, it is indeed God’s greatest gift to mankind.
The Bible is (or should be) our supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
Today the question of authority could hardly be more important. We need to have an authority so that we can find answers to such vital questions as:
What is right and what is wrong?
What is true and what is false?
Is there life after death or is the grave the end of us?
Is there a Heaven and a Hell?
If so, how may I be sure I will go to Heaven when I die?
There are so many opinions, aren’t there? So many religions, so many philosophies, so many books, so many teachers, so many cults. So many voices, some of them very strident, very dogmatic. Little wonder people are confused.
Some say, “The Church” is the authority. But which church? Roman Catholic? Lutheran? Pentecostal? Methodist? Baptist? Which?
Others say there is no objective authority; everyone must gather what they can and just guess, believing and doing whatever they think fit. That is the prevalent view today, isn’t it? Just do as you like. Make up your own religion. Invent your own morals – if any.
That the Bible is our trustworthy guide and supreme authority used to be the position of the church generally – or at least the Protestant churches – until about the middle of the 19th century, and then that position became challenged. Some scholars in theological colleges, universities, and seminaries, whom we call, Liberals, or Modernists, began to say, “No. It is a pipe dream. You cannot really accept any more an infallible Bible. That is an untenable view. It is archaic. It was a nice dream, but the Bible will not stand the test.”
I have to tell you that I have made a life study of this subject because I have staked my entire ministry, and indeed my life, upon the Bible and I needed to be sure. I want to share my conclusions with you. I will call forward EIGHT WITNESSES whose testimonies have made me sure. Believe me a booklet could be written on each, if not a series of booklets, so what follows is but an introduction.
Not all these witnesses are of equal value but each one plays its part in convincing me that the Bible is indeed God’s Word and is trustworthy and true.
- The Testimony of REASON
First may I assume that you believe in God. That is to say, you do not believe that the world somehow made itself or that the universe has always existed. Only God can create ex nihilo – something out of nothing. Only God can create mind out of matter and cosmos out of chaos. And only God can create a human being made in God’s likeness. A creature who thinks deep thoughts and appreciates great beauty. Who communicates, who creates, loves, has a conscience and (highest of all) worships.
Matter cannot bring forth mind by itself. A moral sense cannot come from a blob. Love and hate are not merely chemical reactions. These things are self-evident. The Bible says, only “the fool says in his heart there is no God.”
Given then that God made us it is very reasonable to assume that God would have a way to speak to us. Animals communicate, but nevertheless we sometimes call them dumb animals because they do not have the amazing ability to communicate thoughts and feelings, ideas and discoveries, abilities which God has granted to those whom he has made in his image and likeness.
Is it likely that God himself, who is a communicating Being would have remained dumb? Surely not. He invites us to speak to him in prayer and he speaks to us in a Book which is trustworthy and true and can be passed from generation to generation and translated into the languages of the world. That is why we call it God’s Word.
It must be trustworthy or what use would it be? What good is a compass that is faulty and which cannot be trusted? You would throw such a faulty compass away. It would be worthless. What is the use of a map that has been proved wrong? You may as well trash it because it may lead you astray. Similarly, what use is a Bible which cannot be trusted? If these are merely the writings of men they may be of some small interest as a collection of ancient writings but that is about all. If some parts are God’s Word but others are not, who is to tell us which are the Divine parts? Some have the arrogance to do just that, of course, but they are simply setting themselves up as the final authority. Anyway, they differ.
Vance Havner said, “The Bible is either absolute or obsolete.” I agree with that. Such a view seems to me very reasonable. Now, believing that it is reasonable to suppose that God would give a sure word does not make it so. I realize that. We need other witnesses. But this is my first.
- The Testimony of THE BIBLE ITSELF
Does the Bible declare itself to be God’s inspired Word? It certainly does – over and over again. In fact, 3808 times the Bible introduces a statement with, “This is what God says…” (In the KJV, “Thus saith the Lord…”).
Psalm 19 declares (vs7-14):
The law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure enduring for ever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
The Bible’s claim for itself could be summed up in the words of 2 Timothy 3:15-16 which tell us the source of Scripture, its purpose and its sufficiency.
…and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The word translated “God-breathed” is the Greek word “theopneustos”, which means “God breathed out.” When we say the Bible is inspired we have it right, but in a way it is also expired. The Bible has been expired by God Almighty because it originated, if you like, in the mind of God. It is his Word. It is his communication to us, and he breathed it through all these authors who wrote these sixty-six books.
God did not place them in a trance while he dictated to them or else all the books would be in the same style. Some wrote history, some poetry and some prophecy. Some wrote letters to young churches teaching them and addressing their problems. Forty different authors. Over fifteen hundred years of history. But whatever the immediate circumstances which called forth their writing all along God guided and guarded them to give us his inspired Word.
There is a lovely verse in 2 Peter 1:21,
For prophecy never had its origin in the will of men, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ”
Isn’t that a beautiful way to describe the inspiration and authority of the Bible – “carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
This is not only true of the Old Testament but also of the New. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians that everyone must be subject to the Divine revelation, even those through whom the revelation came and who first preached and then inscripturated it, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned” (Gal 1:8).
Why would he speak so strongly? Because:
“I want you to know brothers that the Gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:11,12).
Could any declaration be clearer than that? (See also: 1 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 John 1:1-5; Rev 22:18-20.)
Every New Testament writer speaks of “The Truth” in an objective sense. Warnings are given concerning false teachers who will depart from that Truth, will deny it, twist it, or add to it. The Church is to guard it, teach it, feed on it, and preserve it. How can such solemn commands be adhered to if we don’t know what that Truth is?
As with my first testimony I am not suggesting that this one is conclusive. Just because the Bible CLAIMS that it is God’s Word – even four thousand times – doesn’t make it so. There are many people who make great claims for themselves, and no doubt many books also, but such claims have to be tested before they can be trusted. So, with the Bible.
Nevertheless, would you not agree with me that if the Bible lies thousands of times (because its author is not the Lord, but is only Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Luke, John, Peter or Paul) then it is not the “Good Book.” It is a bad book! Once again, we should scrap it. Why would Presidents and Kings want to swear their oaths on such a false book? And why, for that matter, would theological Liberals ever want to preach from it or even read it? That they do so has always been beyond me.
- The Testimony of the SPADE
This refers to the work of the archaeologist. Though our belief in the authority of the Bible does not hang breathlessly upon what the archaeologist digs up in Israel or any of the ancient lands, it is nevertheless an area of discovery which has always fascinated me and does serve to confirm the Bible’s history; sometimes very disputed pieces of Biblical history.
Let me give you just a few examples.
In Genesis 12:16 we are told that Abraham acquired great wealth in Egypt including camels. However, the extra-biblical evidence recorded no reference to camels in Egypt until much later than the time of the patriarch. Thus the 1930 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica declared the Bible in error stating that camels made no appearance in Egypt until the 4th Century BC. Since then, however, the archaeologist’s spade has unearthed pottery fragments dated 1000 years earlier and showing pictures of camels. Other artifacts (such as a rope of camel hair) support the account in God’s Word.
One interesting sidelight of that verse is that there is no mention of horses yet Egypt became famous for its breeding and export of fine horses. We now know that horses were not introduced into Egypt until the Hyksos invasion, considerably later than Abraham’s time. Hence the omission.
Moses and Writing
There are several references, in the book of Exodus and elsewhere, to Moses writing things. In fact, numerous references tell us that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. “Ah….” said some of those Liberal scholars in the middle of last century, “… there’s a mistake to start with because writing was not invented until after the time of Moses who lived about 1300 BC.”
But in 1887 a peasant woman in Egypt was scrabbling about on a little dust covered hill called Tel-el-Amarna. She knew that sometimes poor people found things on those ancient sites that the museum would buy. She found some flat dried clay tablets that had strange markings on. She took them to the museum, and they gave her about a dollar for them.
You could not buy those tablets today for millions of dollars, because they proved to be the correspondence files of a Pharaoh of Egypt named Ahmenhotep IV, copies of letters he had written to people and their replies. There are about 380 in all. Ahmenhotep was dated 1400 BC – one hundred years before Moses.
A few years later a French archaeologist was digging in the Persian Gulf at a place called Susa when he came upon an eight feet high black stone with writing on it. When translated this proved to be the laws of King Hammurabi from 1750 BC, about the time of Abraham.
Today we know that writing goes back at least 2000 years before Moses and the question which scholars now discuss about Moses’ writing is not whether or not he could write, but which script did he learn and use! Since he received the finest possible education as a prince in Pharaoh’s household, probably several.
Jerusalem – David’s City
My wife and I made our first trip to Israel in 1977. My, what an exciting time that was for us. Though I have returned several times I will never forget that first time. One afternoon, wanting to get away from the commercialized “holy sites” of Jerusalem and to explore on our own, we went wandering off down the Kidron Valley hoping to find the Gihon (= the Bubbler) spring which was the water supply for the city in the time of King David.
Sure enough, across the valley from the Palestinian village of Silwan we found it. Little remains of the ancient Jebusite city which David conquered and made his capital. Most of the ruins still lie buried beneath millennia of stones and dirt. So high and so thick were the walls of this fortress city and such was its topographical position surrounded by deep valleys on three sides, it was thought impregnable. In fact, the Jebusites boasted that they guarded it with their “physically disadvantaged”.
The question was how did David ever conquer such an impregnable fortress? The Bible verses relating to that were as tantalizingly brief as they were mysterious.
The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David.
On that day, David said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those “lame and blind” who are David‘s enemies.”
…David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward (2 Sam 5:6-9).
In 1867 a British army captain, visiting the Gihon spring, noticed above his head a dark cavern. Being something of an amateur rock climber he returned the following day with ladder and rope and began to explore. Up and up he climbed until suddenly he emerged into daylight right in the middle of what had been the old city.
This then was how the Jebusites got their vital water through months of siege, by lowering people down the shaft. Without this they would have been very vulnerable for the Gihon lies OUTSIDE the old city walls. In times of peace women wended their way through the Water Gate and down to the spring carrying back their water pots. However, during a siege with all gates securely fastened what were they to do? The secret shaft was the answer.
But David had a very efficient Intelligence Department who knew of it. And so, at dead of night, a handful of his commandos climbed it, overcame the guards, the gates were opened and the city taken while the poor Jebusites were still asleep. Thus, Jerusalem became the City of David, Israel’s capital, and – so the Israelis declare today – will be for ever.
The story of Jerusalem’s water supply does not end there. A later king, Hezekiah, found this old system far too hazardous – now that the secret shaft was common knowledge. He therefore extended the city westward incorporating a lower elevation and had workmen cut through solid rock to allow the Gihon spring water to flow into a pool especially created within the extended walls. It became known as the Pool of Siloam (2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chron 32:30).
The existence of this watercourse remained undetected until, in 1880, two little Palestinian boys were playing in the pool when they found themselves in a dark tunnel. Scared but curious they explored it deep into the rock and it seemed to have no end. They informed the authorities who discovered it led to the Gihon and was the long-suspected conduit of Hezekiah.
Several times I have led brave Christian parties, bearing candles and singing hymns, wading knee deep in fresh flowing water from Gihon to Siloam.
The tunnel is about 5 ft high and 5,550 ft long, and winds about. Some say it winds to avoid the tombs of David and Solomon. If so they have never been found. Others say that the workmen had to keep correcting their efforts to make sure they met in the middle because they chiseled from both ends. This remarkable feat is confirmed by observation of the cuts in the rock and by the inscription which the boys found nearby. It is in the Hebrew-Phoenician script used in Hezekiah’s day:
The boring through is completed.
And this is the story of the boring while yet they plied the pick, each toward his fellow, and while yet there were three cubits to be bored through, there was heard the voice of one calling to the other that there was a hole in the rock on the right hand and on the left. And on that day of the boring through the workers in the tunnel struck each to meet his fellow, pick upon pick. Then the water poured from the source to the pool twelve hundred cubits and one hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the workers in the tunnel.
This inscription is now in the museum of Istanbul.
Excavations in Egypt, Ur, Babylon, Nineveh, Lachshish, Jericho, Samaria, and in innumerable other places – especially Jerusalem, only continue to confirm the historical statements of God’s Word, sometimes after strong challenges.
We were told at one time; there never was a Noah’s Flood; Belshazzar – mentioned in the Book of Daniel – never existed (some critics said, “we have complete lists of the Babylonian kings”); and the walls of Jericho never fell down! Now flood stories from the ancient past have come to light in places all over the world; Belshazzar’s name has been found on Babylonian tablets; and excavations at Tell-Jericho confirm the collapse and destruction of the city at the time of Joshua.
Historian Paul Johnson recently wrote, “It is not now the man of faith it is the sceptic who has reason to fear the course of discovery.”
- The Testimony of PROPHECY
The writers of the books of the Bible were primarily FORTH-tellers but their messages were authenticated by the fact that they were also FORE-tellers. By combining a study of extra-biblical history, archaeology and the amazing number of prophecies in the Bible, we can use its own test to see whether its words are truly the Word of God (see Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Someone has calculated there are two thousand specific prophecies that have come true which are very difficult to dismiss as just ‘good guesses’.
Prophecies about Cities
Many of the prophecies in the Bible concern ancient cities that had stood for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Here are two examples:
In Ezekiel chapter 26 it is prophesied that one day many nations would attack this ancient city (v.3). Its stones and timber would be cast into the sea (vs12-14) and it would become a place for the spreading of nets – a bare rock (vs 4, 5). In 590BC Nebuchadnezzar attacked and destroyed the city. The inhabitants who survived fled to an island fortress.
Though Ezekiel’s prophecy had been partially fulfilled as the site of the destroyed city was left in ruins, it was certainly not like the top of a rock. However, some 250 years later came the world conquests of Alexander the Great of Greece. Desiring to reach the fortified island he ordered that all stones and wood from the ancient ruined city should be cast into the sea to build a causeway across to the island over which he and his army could cross and conquer. This he did with an alliance of “many nations”. The site of ancient Tyre was thus scraped bare and to this day is like the top of a rock and is a place whereon fishermen dry their nets.
One of the most grand and powerful cities of the ancient world. It covered over 2,500 acres, had walls 300ft high and 80ft thick, magnificent palaces, a towering temple (called a ziggurat), and “The Hanging Gardens of Babylon” – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was the capital of a vast empire. Yet the prophet Isaiah uttered this remarkable prophecy in the 8th century BC.
Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians’ pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.
She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there.
But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about.
Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged (Isaiah 13:19-22).
Jeremiah prophesied similarly (see Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51)
Two hundred years later this great city fell to Cyrus the Persian and was eventually destroyed by Xerxes in 478 BC and abandoned. The ruins are about 60 miles south of Baghdad and, it is said, nomads are reluctant even to pitch their tents there for fear of wild beasts, snakes, scorpions and ghosts.
Professor Stoner, professor of mathematics, took the prophecies of eleven of these cities and, in his mathematical way, worked out what the chances would be of the prophecies regarding these cities, which had been so remarkably fulfilled, happening by chance. He worked out the odds as 1:6 with fifty-nine zeros after the 6. Not impossible, I suppose, but rather unlikely, don’t you think?
PROPHECIES ABOUT JESUS
Again and again the New Testament draws our attention to the fact that certain events in the life of the Lord Jesus had been prophesied and recorded in Scripture centuries before they took place. Twelve times Matthew has the refrain, “This happened that fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet so and so…” John adds seven more and The Acts and Epistles even more.
For example, do you recall how when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem after their long trek from the east they sought out King Herod looking for the Christ-child whose birth had been heralded by the mysterious and miraculous star. Herod in turn asked his scholars to search the Scriptures to see where the prophets had predicted the Messiah would be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written…”
The prophet to whom they were referring was Micah who lived 700 years before the birth of Christ (see Mt 2:5,6 and Micah 5:2). Whereupon the cruel and paranoid tyrant ordered the murder of all the baby boys under two in Bethlehem. This too had been prophesied (Mt 2:16, Jer 31:15) as had been the fact that Jesus would escape the slaughter when Joseph took Mary and her Baby into hiding in Egypt (Mt 2:14,15; Hosea 11:1).
At Christmas time, Isaiah 7:14 is usually read which predicts that the Christ would be virgin born; and at Easter, Isaiah 53 which prophesies the healing ministry of Christ (v.4 see Matt 8:17), his death and burial (v.9), as well as being perhaps the finest exposition of the meaning of the Cross in the entire Bible (see also Acts 8:26-40). As I have said, the prophet Isaiah lived 800 years before Christ.
PROPHECIES BY JESUS
The very same Herod who tried to destroy the Messianic threat to his throne was only half Jewish. Consequently, he was always seeking ways to ingratiate himself with the Jews by wonderful and elaborate building schemes. Of course, self-grandeur also came into it. His greatest achievement was the rebuilding of the Temple.
For forty-six years his teams of hundreds of skilled craftsmen, using the finest of materials, extended the Temple Mount, surrounded it with exquisite colonnades and crowned it with a Holy Place of white marble overlaid with gold which was a breathtaking sight. Not only did millions of Jews of the Diaspora fulfill their dreams by making the pilgrimage from their far-away homes to offer sacrifices in such a beautiful and holy place but untold numbers of Gentiles too came to gaze and admire and to worship.
One day Jesus’ disciples drew his attention to the size and beauty of the stones only to hear an astonishing prophecy by way of reply;
But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another, every one of them will be thrown down.” (Lk 21:5,6)
Such disastrous devastation seemed impossible. However, in A.D. 70 the Roman legions of Titus put the whole complex to the torch and left it in ruins. Later Emperor Hadrian finished the destruction by ordering the site made bare, “not one stone left upon another.” Today all that is left of the beautiful Temple is the foundation retaining wall to the west – often called The Wailing Wall – where devout Jews go to pray. On the most sacred site of the Jewish people is now a Muslim mosque – the Dome of the Rock.
Jesus made another startling prophecy;
Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Mt 20:18,19)
It might not be so remarkable for a religious leader to predict his martyrdom – even the details – especially if he is a threat to the status quo and the power and position of the current leaders. But who else has prophesied that he would rise from the dead – AND DONE SO? Answer: none save One, Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Savior of the World.
Thus, fulfilled prophecy is a powerful witness to the truth of the Bible
The Testimony of the LORD JESUS CHRIST
My fifth testimony is that which has the most influence on me and is crucial. It is the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. Surely if you are a Christian at all of any kind, or shape, or persuasion, or delineation, you accept what Jesus says. And Jesus paid testimony to the Scriptures as the Word of his Father. Let us consider this vital testimony under several headings.
i. His Acceptance of the Orthodox Belief in Scripture
It was the commonly held belief among the Jewish people of Jesus’ day that the Scriptures – as we would call them, the Old Testament – are the Word of God. That view was believed in the synagogues as the scrolls were taken down every Sabbath day and read. That view was believed in the Temple as the priests conducted their rituals. That was believed in the home. It was believed in the bazaars, in the market-place. It was believed by the leaders, the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Rabbis, and the priests.
Now Jesus was often a radical. He challenged many of the cherished beliefs and traditions of his day, but never this one. Rather, he confirmed it. He said the problem of the Jewish leaders was not that they believed the Bible to be inspired and authoritative, but that they did not obey it and that they put their own traditions before the word of God. “You are in error, “ he said, “You do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt 22:29).
ii. His weapon in Temptation (read Matt. 4:1-11)
Jesus was soaked in the Scriptures from boyhood and he quoted them again and again. For example, when he was tempted Satan came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God turn stones into bread…” Jesus replied with Scripture, “It is written: Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Satan tried a second time tempting Jesus to demonstrate his Messiahship by leaping from the pinnacle of the Temple. This time Satan tried to turn Jesus’ weapon against himself by also quoting a Scripture promising he would be caught by angels. But Jesus was not trapped by that. Satan was misusing and misapplying Scripture – just as thousands have done since and do to this day. Once more, the answer was from God’s Word written.
Finally, Satan made an all-out appeal to Jesus’ vanity and – Satan hoped – a lust for political power and material wealth, avoiding the Cross. But yet again Jesus won the victory with that weapon which the Apostle Paul was later to describe as “the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17).
It is inconceivable to me that Jesus would have answered these onslaughts with verses from Scripture if he had believed them to be the mere writings of Moses (the quotes came from Deuteronomy). Beyond question he believed these words to be the inspired and powerful Word of God, His Father, and thus he had memorized Scripture (or knew it by his divinity) that he might be ready in the day of battle (as should we).
iii. His Authority in Guidance
Jesus said the Scriptures spoke of him (Luke 24:27, John 5:39). He said the Scriptures determined his destiny. “I must go,” he said, “as it is written.” Yet Jesus had, if you will allow the phrase, a hotline to heaven. He received words directly from his heavenly Father (John 7:16; 12:49,50). That being so it seems once again quite clear that Jesus set his destiny to follow the directions of these ancient manuscripts because they were not merely the writings of fallible and sinful men but were ALSO the direct Word of God to him – and to us. Inspired, infallible and authoritative.
A close examination of how the Lord Jesus used Scripture reveals some interesting and relevant indications to the Authorship.
a) A Discussion with the Pharisees on the subject of Divorce
“Haven‘t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together let man not separate” (Mt 19:4-6).
The crucial words in relation to the authorship of Scripture are “and said” in v.5. This is a quotation of Genesis 2:24 which are the words of Moses, the human author of Genesis. Yet the subject of the verb “said”, is “the Creator” of verse 4. Jesus is saying God, the Creator, “said”. This can only be true if God was speaking through Moses as he wrote those words.
b) A Discussion with the Sadducees on the subject of the Resurrection
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of David?‘ He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt 22:29-33).
The Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection (that is why they were “sad you see” – sorry!!). Once again the appeal is to Scripture. The Lord Jesus asks them “have you not read what God said to you?” How did God say anything to these leaders 1200 or more years after Moses? Answer: by reading what Moses recorded in Exodus 3:6 which Jesus then quotes.
By the way there is another interesting point here. Jesus’ argument hinges upon the use of the present tense, “I am” rather than “I was”. The Patriarchs are still alive. Thus, every word is important – sometimes even crucial.
c) A Discussion with the Pharisees on the subject of Scripture and Tradition.
And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of GOD in order to observe your own traditions! For MOSES SAID, “Honor your father and mother”, and, “Anyone who curses his father or his mother must be put to death.“ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother; “Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is “Corban” [dedicated]” … Then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the WORD OF GOD by your tradition that you have handed down…” (Mk 7:9-13).
I have emphasized GOD and MOSES to show how they are interchangeable because the Lord is referring to the commandment of God written through Moses.
d) His Direct Statements
The Lord Jesus made some very direct statements about the Scriptures. For example:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17).
In the Authorized (KJV) version, “…not one jot or tittle will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.“ The jot was the yod, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet; and the tittle or the serif was the tiniest mark on a letter (as paraphrased in the NIV). So, we might say Jesus not only believed in verbal inspiration (every word), he believed in jot and tittle inspiration (every letter, every mark)!
In Mark 12:36 the Lord quotes Psalm 110:1 with this introduction: “David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared…”
In John 10:35 Jesus said, “The scriptures cannot be broken.” And in John 17:17, “Your word is truth.”
The Scripture was the only book Jesus ever quoted. Never to debate it always to declare it as authoritative. Furthermore, he seems to have deliberately quoted from some of those passages most often questioned or attacked – such as the Creation story (Matt 19:45); Noah (Matt 24:37-38); Jonah (Matt 12:40-41).
Was Jesus Mistaken?
Now, was Jesus just plain wrong? Some people have said that he was a child of his times. He believed (they suppose) that the world was flat and he believed the Scriptures were true. Had he had our learning and our education he would have known differently.
Similarly, some have said that in his voluntary humiliation when he took our nature he also took our limitations, not only of body but of mind. Thus, he knew no better than to accept the beliefs of his day – even wrong ones.
Answer: Jesus never said that the world was flat. I do not believe that Jesus, in anything that he said, ever made a mistake.
He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” He cannot be “the Truth” if his word cannot be trusted. If the Lord Jesus was mistaken on something he so clearly regarded as fundamental – the authority and inspiration of Scripture – how can he ever be trusted on anything he said? We would have to conclude he was a misguided, mistaken, false messiah.
Let me also point out that after his Resurrection, in his glorified body, the Lord Jesus still maintained the divine authorship and authority of Scripture. When he met the two travelers on the road to Emmaus he rebuked them that they were: “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken”. He then gave them a Bible study, “beginning with Moses“ to show them that the Scriptures speak throughout of him (Luke 24:13-35).
Jesus not only gave his imprimatur to the Old Testament but also to the New. In John 14:26 Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would inspire the disciples to remember the facts later to be written in the Gospels; and in John 16:12-15 that the same Holy Spirit would continue to inspire them with further Truth until all that God wanted us to have had been given. That is why the Apostles spoke and wrote with such authority.
In the light of the above would you not agree with me that to say, “I accept the authority of Jesus but not that of the Bible,” is a totally untenable position. Jesus confirmed the Bible over and over and over again. The authority of Jesus and that of Scripture are inextricably intertwined. They stand or fall together.
Before we leave this testimony, hear the solemn words of the Lord Jesus Christ regarding those who reject his teaching:
There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it (John 12:48, 49).
- The Testimony of the MESSAGE of the Bible
Let me stress three things: the message of the Bible is unique, is sublime, and is one message from beginning to end.
(i) Consider the nature and character of God portrayed in the Bible.
The Bible is a self-revelation of God. He is revealed as awesome in the blinding light of his holiness; omnipotent as the Sovereign Creator and controller of all things and events; just in all his ways and the dispenser of all true justice who will one day judge all men in righteousness. Yet God is revealed as incomparably loving, merciful and gracious; to the poor, the outcast, the downcast, the sorrowful, the sick, and (especially) the penitent. Where else, I ask, can you read such things? Nowhere!
(ii) Consider the ethics of the Bible.
No other book has ever contained such high ethical teaching. Even unbelievers who reject the doctrines of the Bible nevertheless generally admit that the Sermon on the Mount is the highest ethical standard known to man. How could a false book reveal such things? Can a polluted well give forth such sweet water. No, this has come from the heart of God.
(iii) Consider the comforts of the Bible.
To where do we go in times of deep distress. Surely to the Word of God and frequently the wonderful Book of Psalms. It seems there is no depth to which a human being can sink but he will find the Psalmist has been there before him. No tears he can shed, no problem he can face, no despair that overwhelms him, no shame that breaks his heart, but David has faced and felt the same.
Yet in these verses he finds forgiveness, deliverance, comfort, healing and promise after promise of the Presence of God. No words reach deeper but none lift higher. The writer of this booklet knows this from personal experience. Perhaps the reader does too.
(iv) Consider the Bible’s diagnosis of the human condition.
The Bible teaches that man is not the product of blind chance, a mere complex biological machine thrown up by some evolutionary process living out his meaningless existence on this speck of cosmic dust called ‘the earth’. No, he is a glorious creation made in the image of God.
Each individual has great significance under God his Maker for he is given the gift of thought and reason, of creativity and design, of the appreciation of beauty. He has the capacity to love (or hate) and the responsibility to obey his conscience and do right, to desist from evil and to, above all, worship, love, and obey the living God all his days.
But man is a castle in ruins. Something has gone drastically wrong. He hates where he should love, destroys when he should build, does evil instead of good and – worst of all – rebels against God, preferring to go his own way. The sins of Sodom are our sins. Man doesn’t change. He may advance in his technology but morally and spiritually he is what he has been since our first parents fell – guilty, lost and helpless unless God intervenes to save him. That is the Bible’s diagnosis of man and his predicament.
Now doesn’t that diagnosis ring true? What other explanation can there be for man’s amazing achievements and dreams and yet his total inability to prevent cruelty, abuse, greed, promiscuity, hatred, violence, murder, war, and Godlessness. The naive optimism in man’s inherent goodness which dominated thought at the beginning of the 20th century was shattered in the slaughter of two terrible world wars. Few believe in a man-made Utopia today.
(v) Consider above all the great Gospel of which the Bible speaks.
What is it? Tragically millions of people, even in countries where the Bible is freely available and where there are churches on nearly every street corner, have no idea of what is the message of God’s Word. Ask them and they will most likely say, “Oh, be good and keep the Commandments and you will go to Heaven when you die.”
That is NOT the message of the Bible. In fact, the message of the Bible is almost the exact opposite of that. The Bible teaches that no-one – NOT ONE PERSON – will enter Heaven because they have lived a good life. This is one of the many ways in which the message of the Bible is unique.
Other religions do teach that Heaven is for those who earn it; by their good life or perhaps by their martyr’s death. Scripture teaches that none of us have perfectly kept God’s Law. It is like a mirror. When we examine our lives against God’s perfect standard we have all fallen far short of what is required. Even if we have committed only one sin that is enough to keep us out of Heaven. In fact, we have all sinned many times in deed, in word and in thought. Even our motives will be brought to the bar of God’s justice. Who can stand? None.
What could be done then to save a sinner? Only God could help us. He must save us or we are lost. He has done so. Other religious books purport to show how man can reach God. The Bible shows how God came to man.
Yes, the wondrous message of the Bible is that God purposed to save an innumerable company of hell-deserving sinners by sending his Only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life (the only human being who ever has) and then to die as our sacrifice and substitute on the Cross. There on the Cross of Christ the justice of a holy God and the grace of a loving God met. Jesus died because God must punish sin. He punished our sin in Jesus because that was the only way that we might be redeemed.
If we could get to Heaven by our good works or our religiosity or some other thing that WE could do, then there would have been no need for the Cross. Jesus could have stayed in Heaven. That is why the Cross is the emblem of the Christian Faith. It is central. Jesus came to die. Then on the third day God raised him from the dead and he is alive for evermore.
We call the message of the Bible “The Gospel”. It means the good news. It would not be good news to tell us that if we lived a good enough life we would be saved. We would never know if we had done enough. Anyway, we have no power to do it. And what about all those sins we committed before we got started on this so-called good life? How could we erase those sins? No, that is a message of hopelessness. Here is the real good news
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Not only is the message of the Bible a sublime message. A unique message. A message that could only come from one mind, and that is the mind of God. It is one message from cover to cover. Forty authors; fifteen- hundred years of writing; sixty-six books; and yet if you study the Bible I think you will agree with me that there really is one message from beginning to end.
Back at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, God gave the first Gospel promise to fallen man. Then through patriarchs, priests, poets and prophets the promise was repeated and demonstrated until in the fullness of time Christ came.
- The Testimony of the POWER of the Bible
We speak of nuclear power, military power, political power, financial power, but is there any power that can change a human heart, can make a stupid man wise, a cruel man kind, a bad man good, or a weak man strong? Yes. There is. This book, and the God of this book, has been doing it in millions of lives since ever it was penned by writers “carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship wrote the Foreword to a book by J.I. Packer on the subject of the inerrancy of the Bible. In it he tells how he had thought that inerrancy was a battle only to be fought in the ivory towers of theology until, in prison, he saw the power of the Bible to change lives when it is believed. However, he says, when the Bible is just regarded as a reflection of spiritual insights by religious and pious men it has no power at all.
The Bible has withstood the onslaught of those who have attacked it – as it were – from within. I mean those ministers and scholars who have belonged to the church but who have said that we can no longer trust the Bible. That it is full of mistakes and myths and legends. That even the life of Jesus must be “demythologized”. These attacks have been continuous and ferocious. But, I can tell you that I am familiar with most of the arguments and I still hold to the inerrancy of Scripture as originally given; that the Bible is God’s Word to us, and that we can trust it.
It is interesting, isn’t it, that in spite of these ferocious attacks upon the Bible there are more preachers, and there are more churches, that believe it than there have ever been in the history of the world, because those are the churches that grow. And, no, we are not all “hill-billies”, and ignorant people, those of us who believe the Bible.
The Bible has been burned and banned, but it rises from the flames and it has been translated now, some part of it, into over eighteen-hundred languages in the world. This anvil has worn out many hammers.
In the past 30 years amazing changes have taken place in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and in China. It doesn’t seem so long ago that the few tourists who visited Albania – said to be then the most closed country in the world – were not even allowed to take in their own personal Bibles.
Friends of mine in northern Greece used to put passages of Scripture in bottles and float them down a river which flows into Albania or drop them into the ocean off the coast of Corfu praying they would wash up on the Albanian shore. I used to ask, “I wonder why the Communists are so afraid of the Bible if it is a dead book?!”
Today however, Bibles are being printed in the former Soviet Union, in China, and in Albania churches are being openly established.
All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures for ever (1 Peter 1:24-25).
- The Testimony of the HOLY SPIRIT
In the last analysis I must tell you that all the arguments that can be mustered, however convincing, can never persuade a fallen human being to believe, understand, love and obey God’s Word. At the very most all he will do is assent to its authenticity as “The Good Book” and then ignore it, going on his own way. The Apostle Paul put it like this:
The natural man does not receive the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1Cor: 2:14).
What is needed, then, is not merely outward assent but deep faith. For that to happen there must come first a regenerating work of God, the Holy Spirit. When God quickens the soul, illuminates the mind, and when the Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart he authenticates his own handwriting.
Many times I have spoken with people who have professed their inability to believe the Bible because of its (supposed) contradictions and insurmountable difficulties. However, when subsequently some of those very people have come to see themselves as sinners before a holy God, and ignorant before an all-knowing all-wise God. When they have humbled themselves before an almighty God and have come to him and said, “God be merciful to me, a sinner, and save my soul, and renew my life for Jesus Christ’s sake,” then God the Holy Spirit has come into that person’s heart and life and made them a new creation as he has promised to do for all who call upon him.
I have gone back to them and said, “Now, let’s talk about your difficulties with the Bible. Wasn’t your first problem with Genesis…?”
And they have replied, “Yes, and I shall be grateful for some help. But, it is all so different now. The Bible has come alive for me. As I read and study it God speaks to me. I don’t understand everything but I believe it now. I want to learn more and more.”
That is what I mean by saying that the Holy Spirit authenticates his own handwriting.
That doesn’t mean that there are no difficulties in the Bible. Even the Apostle Peter described some of the writings of his fellow Apostle Paul as, “hard to understand”. But you never let the difficulties and the things you do not yet understand interfere with your fundamental belief that the Bible is God’s inspired and infallible Word.
The born-again believer knows – he just KNOWS – that this is God’s Word. The arguments we have looked at in this booklet then become supportive of that inner testimony of the heart.
A Final Word
I must stress one last conclusion. Believing that the Bible is the infallible Word of God will not save your soul. The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that even “Fundamentalists” can be lost. After all, Satan believes that the Bible is inspired.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who saves and him alone. However, the Jesus who saves is the One revealed in Scripture. He is the true Jesus, the only Saviour. Any other Jesus but the Jesus of the Bible is a fiction. The only hope for the sinner is to put his or her trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you done that?
Have you knelt at the Cross and confessed your sin…repented of it and cast yourself entirely upon the mercy of God shown in the sacrifice of Christ? Do you have an assurance, founded upon the Promises of God’s Word, that your name is written in Heaven? If not, then I urge you without delay to turn in faith to Christ right NOW.
John Wesley said, “I want to know one thing, the way to Heaven. God himself has condescended to teach us the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book. At any price give me the Book of God!”
First printed in 1996
Edited and Reprinted 2018