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                  Is the Bible Inspired of God?

 

The Twentieth Century spawned industrial and technological advances which promoted standards of living for humans previously unimagined.  Those who remembered well from their youth the days of horse drawn buggies were astonished to witness astronaut Neil Armstrong step out of the Lunar Module, Eagle, and onto the surface of the moon.  Although remarkable for the extraordinary leaps in engineering design and unparalleled progress in fields as diverse as Education, Medicine, Physics, Geology, Astronomy, etc., it is a sad fact that spiritual skepticism also grew exponentially during the Twentieth Century.  While infidels have always spewed malice against the Scriptures and expressed unbelief in the one true God of the Bible, the number of detractors has generally been small by percentage of the overall population, and such were often ostracized within respectable society.

Unfortunately, skepticism or cynicism has now become quite common, and within the halls of higher learning, disbelief in the God of the Bible is held as the more intelligent, sophisticated view.  Even more disturbing is the trend emerging from “Christian Scholarship” suggesting that the Bible – while containing the words of God – is also filled with interpolations of error derived from authors who were dependent upon their own fallible judgments in expressing the thoughts of God.  This reasoning allows the rejection of any part or portion of scripture which stands opposed to the exegete’s personal bias and belief.  

An ancient example of such despicable behavior is seen in the actions of Jehoiakim, king of Judah.  When God issued a call to the kingdom of Judah to repent or else suffer destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, the words of God where dictated by the prophet Jeremiah to the scribe, Baruch.  When the scroll was read before king Jehoiakim, he exhibited defiance to the message, taking a knife and slashing the scroll to pieces, casting it into the fire (Jeremiah 36).  Refusal by infidels to acknowledge the words of God and obey them does not in any way diminish the truthfulness of the words.

In Jehoiakim’s case, the original words were again given by God to Jeremiah and dictated to Baruch who wrote them onto a second scroll.  Jehoiakim learned that God’s word could not be so easily dismissed, and as a result of his disobedience and irreverence, the kingdom of Judah was conquered by the army of Babylon precisely as foretold on the prophetic scroll.  The same remains true today.  Although men may mock and ridicule the Bible and its devoted adherents, the solemn contents of the “scroll” will someday judge every man (John 12:48).

But are we sure the Bible is from God?  If a divine Supreme Being is the Creator of all things, it would certainly be reasonable to expect that He would attempt to communicate with His creation.  The Bible immediately answers one of the most fundamental questions emanating from the human population: How did man and the universe come into existence?  The question of origins consumed billions upon billions of dollars in the last century alone as man scoured the earth and probed the vast dimensions of space in the attempt to glean possible clues pertaining to the universe and life on earth.  The most beloved book in the world addresses this topic without delay, immediately responding to man’s quest for answers concerning origins; and although vehemently opposed by unbelievers, nothing has been advanced as evidence which can deny even the very first line scribed on the Bible’s opening page, i.e., “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

The Bible is a record of God’s activities in dealing with mankind, including man’s intended purpose, his devastating fall from dominion through sin, and God’s benevolent restoration of man through the eternal scheme of redemption (II Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2).  These are all serious issues that humans would need to understand if the Creator desired a relationship with His creation.  Men have been turning to the Scriptures for guidance since Moses penned the first five books of the volume.  The Bible continues to be the world’s best seller year after year.  In fact, the number of Bibles existing in the world is incalculable.  Kyle Butt offered this analysis in his book, Behold! The Word of God:

"To estimate a total number of Bibles and portions of it that have been produced and distributed worldwide throughout history would be virtually impossible, but the number stands well over tens of billions, since the United Bible Society alone has distributed over nine billion since 1947" (2007, p. 1).

The first question that must be answered is: Does the Bible claim to be from God?  The answer resounds affirmatively.  More than 3,800 statements are found in the Bible expressing inspiration from God.  Before writing the Ten Commandments, Moses asserted, “God spoke all these words…” (Exodus 20:1).  A majority of the Minor Prophet books begin with declarations of divine inspiration rather similar, e.g., “The word of the LORD which came to Hosea…” (Hosea 1:1); “The word of the LORD that came to Joel…” (Joel 1:1); “The word of the LORD came to Jonah…” (Jonah 1:1); “The word of the LORD which came to Micah…” (Micah 1:1).  The Major Prophets also include hundreds and hundreds of such statements throughout each book.  The book of Jeremiah contains ten such declarations in the first chapter alone, and approximately 500 total references to divine inspiration can be found in the book.

Referring to the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus asked the Sadducees: “Have you not read that which was spoken to you by God?” (Matthew 22:31).  In his letter to his fellow worker, Timothy, Paul stated, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” (II Timothy 3:16).  Paul affirmed to the Galatians, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11, 12).  The apostle Peter wrote, “But know this first if all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (II Peter 1:20, 21).

Nothing short of exhaustive, plenary inspiration could account for the claims made by the apostles.  These men sought no glory for their own writings, but insisted the words they wrote came directly from God.  Before sending the apostles into the world, Jesus told them: “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:19, 20).  Peter declared the Holy Spirit spoke by the prophets, and this is confirmed by the prophets themselves.

Jeremiah related, “Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’” (Jeremiah 1:9).  David exclaimed, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was upon my tongue” (II Samuel 23:2).  In the New Testament, Luke confirmed David’s claim, stating, “Brethren, the Scriptures had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David” (Acts 1:16).

The Bible writers consistently affirmed that the words they wrote came not from men or from human wisdom, but were the words given by God.  Paul exhorted the church of the Thessalonians, saying, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (I Thessalonians 2:13).  Perhaps the best explanation regarding inspiration is Paul’s comments to the church at Corinth: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (I Corinthians 2:12, 13). 

The “words” of divine revelation – not the mere “thoughts” or “concepts” – are the very “words” directed by the Holy Spirit.  This is why Paul could say, “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment” (I Corinthians 14:37).  It certainly cannot be denied – even by the most adamant skeptic - that the Bible does claim inspiration from God.  But does the claim alone merit blind belief that it is from God?  If so, the Book of Mormons would also have to be believed, along with a handful of other books which boast inspiration from God.  If the Bible truly is from God, what separates it from all others?  When people ask why we believe the Bible is from God, do we have more than its own claim to inspiration to rest our faith upon?

Absolutely!  Several methods allow the Scriptures to be tested for authenticity of divine correspondence.  God never intended for man to follow blindly down a dark alley of unknowns.  As Peter vigorously defended, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (II Peter 1:16).  The Bible contains evidence confirming its inspiration.

 

The Unity of the Bible

The typical book is written by one or possibly two authors, and is composed in a very short period of time.  Because we now possess the complete revelation of God to men – all 66 books – in one bound volume, some may not recognize the long duration of time which elapsed from start to finish.  The composition of the entire Old and New Testaments spans almost 1,600 years (c. 1500 B.C. – A.D. 70).  No other book in existence can claim such a lengthy process of development.  Furthermore, it is authored by approximately forty men of such diverse backgrounds that any semblance of unity in thematic construction would be simply unimaginable, yet these documents fit together like pieces of a puzzle.  By way of comparison, both the Book of Mormon and the Qu’ran were penned by single individuals in a relatively short duration of time.

Contrasting with the literary works of those sole authors, consider the diversity of writers involved in the composition of the Bible.  Moses was a shepherd when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage (Exodus 3:1ff).  Ezra was a “skilled scribe in the Law of Moses” (7:6).  Nehemiah was a royal cupbearer (butler) for king Artaxerxes (1:11).  David, a shepherd who became king, wrote many of the Psalms.  His son, Solomon, who wrote the books of Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and much of Proverbs, was a king to whom God granted wisdom beyond all other men (I Kings 3:12).  The prophet Amos was a herdsman from Tekoa (1:1). 

Paul, who wrote 13 New Testament books, was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, an esteemed Jewish professor (Acts 22:3).  By trade, Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:2, 3).  Matthew was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9).  Peter and John were fishermen (Matthew 4:18-22).  Luke, who wrote the gospel that bears his name, along with the book of Acts, was a Physician (Colossians 4:14).  James and Jude were half brothers of Jesus, being sons of Joseph and Mary.  Though not stated in their respective books, these two, like Jesus, came from a home of the poorest class (Luke 2:24), but a home rich in treasures with God (Luke 1:30).

Considering the vast distinctions in education and the diversity of life experiences represented by only thirteen out of forty men, the unity of the Bible’s primary theme of human redemption from Genesis 3 to the very end of Revelation becomes truly extraordinary.  These men worked independently, and many of them never even met another biblical scribe; yet, each successive book compliments the other, unfolding before the reader an incredible drama to be enacted by the promised Savior, who, appearing as a man (Isaiah 53:2, 3), was unlike any other man to ever walk the earth (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:18-23).  The Old Testament carefully carves out the prophecies and types pertaining to the identity and mission of the Messiah, thwarting any attempt at deceit or possible denial of the true Messiah when He arrived.

Beginning in the New Testament, the four Gospels detail the arrival of the Savior, followed by events from His life; especially those related to His work of redemption.  John, instead of describing the physical birth process of Jesus, opens his book by stressing the deity of the Word who became flesh, revealing His dual nature as both the Son of God and the Son of Man (John 1:1, 14, 18, 34, 51).  The book of Acts presents the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom (occurring after the resurrection and ascension of Christ) with people from every nation pouring into the kingdom in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Daniel 7:13, 14; cf. Acts 2:8-11, 41; Acts 11:12-18).  The establishment is followed by a history of the spread of Christianity throughout the world in keeping with the commission Christ gave the apostles (Matthew 28:18-20). 

The various epistles were written to encourage faithfulness, and to correct errors that were creeping into church worship and Christian behavior.  The final book demonstrates the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ and His church over all evil, with the end result being mankind’s restoration back to the paradise of God’s holy presence (Revelation 22: 1-5).  In essence, the entire volume of the Bible is a history of man’s one great problem with sin, and God’s one great solution – Jesus Christ.

 

Prophetic Fulfillment in the Bible

Critics of the Bible deny the possibility of predictive prophecy, because no mere human can predict the future.  They disparage all alleged prophets by claiming they wrote after the fact, but if it can be shown that the Bible does contain genuine examples of predictive prophecy, then it must have originated with God.  One interesting note about Bible prophecy is that it is not always “foretelling.”  For instance, Moses was a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), yet when he scribed the creation record of Genesis 1, he was giving a divinely inspired account of what transpired during the first six days of earth’s history.  Moses lived and wrote about 2,500 years after those events transpired.  In fact, no human witnessed the events preceding man’s creation on the sixth day. 

The prophetic testimony of Moses looked into the past – before the arrival of man – describing the activity of God as He formed the heavens and the earth.  This information was certainly supplied by divine inspiration.  When Moses wrote of the events involving Israel’s forty years sojourn in the wilderness, he was dealing with current conditions he was personally witnessing.  However, when Moses wrote of the prophet that God would raise up like himself (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18), he looked ahead through inspiration to the coming of Christ some 1,500 years in the future (cf. Acts 3:19-22). 

All that Moses wrote was superintended by divine guidance, guaranteeing the veracity of every word.  This is why Paul is able to develop an argument based upon the accuracy of a single word written by Moses in the Holy Text.  Attempting to convince the Jews that the promises God made to Abraham and his “Seed” were not promises to all blood descendents of Abraham, Paul reasoned; “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ” (Galatians 3:16). 

The inspiration of each word – even down to the singular or plural number – is made the foundation of Paul’s argument.  The Jews had considered every fleshly descendent of Abraham as a son of God, but Paul explains that the Bible never taught such.  The promised “Seed” was Christ, and all who believe and are baptized into Christ belong to Him and become the offspring of Abraham, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:26-29).  From cases such as this in the Bible, we must learn to have undeviating respect for the number value and tense assigned the original wording of the Sacred Text.

The case for inspiration is further strengthened by the call from Jehovah God to use prophecy as a test for authenticity.  False prophets who served false gods often came into conflict with the true prophets of God.  In order to prove Jehovah as the only true God, predictive prophecy was called into the court of inquiry as evidence:

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; yes, let him recount it to Me in order, from the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock?  I know of none’” (Isaiah 44:6-8).

God then proceeds to present the evidence that He alone is God, calling Cyrus, the future king of Persia, by name more than a century before his birth and a century and a half before his reign.  God describes in great detail how Cyrus would release the Hebrews from Babylonian captivity (cf. Isaiah 44:28; 45:11ff).  God issued the challenge to any so-called god to do the same, declaring forcefully, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done” (Isaiah 46:9, 10).

More than 800 such prophecies are found in the Old Testament, and each one is valuable in proving the inspiration of the Bible.  The mission of Josiah was foretold more than three centuries before his birth (cf. I Kings 13; II Kings 23).  Daniel described the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires with such accuracy that his prophecy alone is able to establish the inspiration of the Scriptures (cf. Daniel 2, 7, 8).  And then one must contend with the 300 plus prophecies that center on Jesus Christ.  An entire volume could be written comparing the specific prophecies concerning Christ and their timely fulfillment on the pages of the New Testament, but an even greater argument exists for verification of these thrilling prophecies.

The historicity of Christ as developed outside the Bible offers a powerful authentication of the fulfillment of many ancient prophecies detailing His life.  For instance, the Messiah was predicted as being more than a man (Micah 5:2; Isaiah 9:6); also He would perform marvelous signs, preaching the gospel and converting all manner of men unto Him (cf. Isaiah 35:5, 6; 61:1, 2; Luke 4:14-21; 7:22).  In his History of the Jews, Flavius Josephus wrote a fascinating description of Jesus which confirms the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies previously mentioned.  Keep in mind that Josephus was not a Christian, and he was not writing to aid the Christian cause in any way; he was merely a Jewish historian:  

"Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principle men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these things and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day" (18:3:3).

What further need have we for witnesses?  When the enemies are offering testimony which confirms the fulfillment of Bible prophecy - especially when said testimony is concerning Christ - can the accuracy of inspired prophecy honestly be doubted?  The Old Testament offers sufficient evidence to identify the Messiah, and that is why Paul often went into the Jewish synagogues and “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2, 3).

 

Factual Accuracy of the Bible

Since the Bible claims to be the inspired word of God, there can be no errors on any subject with which it deals.  One of the truly amazing facts about the Bible is the phenomenal accuracy that characterizes the text.  The two books written by Luke – Acts and the gospel of Luke – constitute more than a quarter of the material contained in the New Testament.  Within these works, Luke is very specific with references to historical data including persons, places, and titles.  It has been noted that Luke mentions 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 Mediterranean islands.  He also lists 95 individual names, 62 of which do not appear elsewhere in the New Testament (Metzger, p. 171).  Early critics occasionally charged Luke with errors, some adamantly so.  However, the discoveries of archeologists have since vindicated Luke on every perceived discrepancy.

The conversion to Christianity by Sir William Ramsey stands as an excellent example of the factual accuracy of the Bible.  Initially doubting Luke’s reliability, Ramsey – who was not a Christian – set out to settle the matter.  After many years of “on-site” archeological work and research, Ramsey was amazed to find “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14) precisely accurate in every detail.  Even in instances of the Bible claiming one must go “down” or “up” to a certain location from another - whether it is north or south - the elevation change from sea level always aligned with the writer’s statement.  Sir William Ramsey was converted to Christianity by the undeniable factual accuracy of the word of God.

If the credibility of the Scriptures is firmly established in such trivial pursuits, may we not also trust the great theological doctrines it develops as necessary for salvation?  As Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

 

Scientific Accuracy of the Bible 

We are indebted to the work of Christian scientists like Brad Harrub.  His esteemed work in confronting the modern day assault on Christianity by the forces of evolution is invaluable.  To fully appreciate the scientific accuracy of the Bible and to review material that will strengthen the faith of every Christian, the reader is referred to brother Harrub’s book, Convicted.  His material provides evidence from the fields of Medicine, Physics, Oceanography, Astronomy, and Biology – all presenting indubitable evidence of the inspiration of the Bible.

An example of the inspired scientific foreknowledge contained in the Bible is a statement from Psalm 19:4-6 which speaks of the created universe and “the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens. And its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”  Bible critics once celebrated over this passage, mocking the inaccuracy of the Bible as it seemed to suggest the sun revolved around the earth.  Scientists had long determined that the sun was stationary, and the earth was revolving around it.  This was perceived as proof that the Scriptures contained a scientific mistake and Bible scoffers relished the ability to ridicule God’s word as fallacy. 

But similar to every other supposed error, when the dirt is removed and the light of thorough investigation illuminates the evidence, the Bible is vindicated as truth.  In June of 1999, astronomers discovered that the sun – along with the entire solar system - is in an orbit within the Milky Way galaxy.  The estimated time for the sun to circle its home galaxy is 226 million years.  How did the Psalmist know 3,000 years ago what modern Scientists using state-of-the-art telescopic equipment have only recently learned?  Could it be that David was a more gifted astronomer with superior technology?  Of course not!  The answer lies in the inspiration afforded David and every other biblical scribe.  Though the Bible writers may not have always understood all the things they wrote as the Holy Spirit guided their writing (I Peter 1:10-12), their words were no less true. 

The Bible is not just a good book; it is the inspired, all-sufficient, soul saving word of God.  Peter explained that God, by “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (II Peter 1:3).  The Psalmist correctly stated, “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).  The evidence is neither lacking nor uncertain, but absolutely positive; the Bible is from God.  What will be your response to the word of God?

 

References:

Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Harrub, Brad (2009), Convicted (Brentwood, TN: Focus Press).

Josephus, Flavius (1987 edition), The Antiquities of the Jews, in the Life and works of Flavius
          Josephus
, trans. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

Metzger, Bruce (2003), The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, Content (Abingdon Press).

 

Additional Resources:

Thompson, Bert and Harrub, Brad (2003), Investigating Christian Evidences (Montgomery, AL:
          Apologetics Press).

Woods, Guy N. (1976), Questions and Answers – Open Forum (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman
          College).

            Let the Bible Study Continue

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