Yeah, I know. I haven’t been blogging a lot during COVID because I’ve been preaching more via Facebook Live/YouTube using up all my messages! But last night I got a bit fired up – as I always do – when it comes to the Bible and need to get some thoughts down on paper so that they are easily accessed as a reference for folks.
I posted a meme on Facebook – one of my favorite pastimes – that said this:
“Some Christians are so afraid of ‘beating people over the head with the Bible’ (that) they prefer to accept all kinds of theological error in the name of ‘love.’ They forget that God’s word IS supposed to offend hardened hearts. It is God alone who softens, not our outward ‘tolerance.’”
The responses to this little meme by Ariel Gonzalez Bovat ranged from like to the Bible is just basically man’s commentary and not His word and everything in between.
I don’t know why I get so fired up when people – supposedly believers – don’t accept the Bible as God’s inerrant word. It’s not like I have to defend God or anything! I posted another meme this morning from Billy Graham that read:
“It doesn’t matter what you think about it…the Bible is true whether you accept it or not.”
Absolutely, Rev. Graham. ABSOLUTELY.
God doesn’t need us to agree with Him for Him to be right.
However, I am feeling a lot of holy discontent this morning so I’m going to run through why the Bible is God’s word and not just some man-made construct so it’s on paper for folks to review and either accept or reject. But understand this: If you reject the Bible as God’s word you are rejecting God – you can’t have it both ways. Just a warning here.
Okay, before I get into the all the “Bibliology” stuff, let me tell you the first thing that came to my mind yesterday when I saw a response that denied the Bible as God’s word:
If the Bible is not God’s word, then God is a liar.
You see, God Himself says it is His word. Isaiah 55:11 says this: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall.”
Skeptics will say, “Okay, but how does that make the Bible God’s word?”
First, all the prophets where told exactly what to say and record by God Himself or they weren’t prophets. So, you’re talking about Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Of the 39 Old Testament books, 16 are prophetic – God’s word directly to the people through a chosen prophet.
Second, the first five books – the Pentateuch – is God speaking directly to His people via Moses.
Third, you have Joshua – God’s chosen leader after Moses, Judges (a group of leaders chosen by God to lead Isareal), 1&2 Samuel (God’s final judge), and 1&2 Kings and 1&2 Chronicles giving the historical background of Israel’s kings and their relationship with God.
Together, that’s another 8 books with God’s direct word given to us through the authors. That leaves 10 Old Testament books (Lamentations, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs). And of these, God and/or His people are the focus of 9 of them. Song of Songs is the only one where you can go, “I’m not really sure what that’s doing in there other than showing Solomon, the wisest person to ever live, exploring what love looks like.
To say that the Old Testament is not God’s word basically is saying God lied and if God lied then He’s not God. See how that works?
What about the New Testament?
There are two main verses we show to prove that once again the New Testament is God’s word.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Obviously, not all is fulfilled until Jesus returns so Jesus is confirming the truth of scripture.
Haters – yeah, I know he’s talking about the Old Testament; the New Testament wasn’t written yet! But do you really think Jesus didn’t know about what would be written about Him through the revelation of the Holy Spirit after he ascended? Come on.
Here’s the other verse from Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
All scripture is God’s word.
What comes to mind, obviously, is John in his Gospel saying this:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
Clearly John is speaking of Jesus – Jesus is the Word made flesh. In the beginning God spoke things into existence (Let there be light) so the Word was spoken, and it came to be! Thus, the Word of God – the Bible – is JESUS!
So, again, if the Bible is not God’s word Jesus is a liar and then He is not the messiah, savior, or Son of God.
Let’s take a look at the books though.
The Gospels were written by Matthew (the tax collector), Mark (missionary with Paul and Barnabas), Luke (friend of Paul’s) and John (the disciple Jesus loved). So, even if you were a cynic two of the Gospel writers are eyewitnesses. Then the question is this: Are Mark and Luke consistent with Matthew and John? Of course.
Then we get into Paul’s letters. Here’s a guy that was a Christian killer who had a personal experience with Jesus and becomes a Jesus freak, risking life and limb to share the gospel. Do you really think his words are his own? Do you really think he’d give up everything he had in Jerusalem if what he said was untrue?
His letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians and Timothy are not only consistent but absolutely focused on the teachings of Jesus from the Gospels.
What’s left? Peter a disciple, more letters from John, Jude (Jesus’ brother), James (Jesus’ other brother), Hebrews (author unknown but I still think it’s Paul), and Revelation again from John.
Written by men as a commentary about God and Jesus?
Roughly 35 traditional authors over a period of 1,500 years with a completely logical and consistent message that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly with no “revisionist” history as man is so apt to do?
But there is much more evidence as to the validity, authenticity, and yes, inerrancy of the Bible.
When I was I seminary I was introduce to the study of manuscript evidence – the number and consistency of the found manuscripts. Everyone knows that the original “autographs” of the Bible have not been found but 5,000 Greek manuscripts and an additional 13,000 manuscript copies or portions have been found of the New Testament. An additional 8,000 copies of the Latin Vulgate and more than 1,000 copies of earlier version are existent.
How does that compare to other non-fiction historical works?
Caesar – 10 copies
Plato (Tretralogies) – 7 copies
Thucydides – 8 copies
Herodotus (History) – 8 copies
Aristotle – 5 copies (of any one work)
The Bible is the most critically examined work of literature ever written yet continues to hold up given it’s historical, archeological, and cultural accuracy.
But here is the amazing thing about God’s word – it changes lives. It doesn’t just get people to change their behavior like some self-help book or spiritual Ted Talk; it transforms people – supernaturally – because it IS God’s living word. No other work – religious or otherwise – can claim that! Here’s why:
- The Bible is the unique revelation of Jesus Christ.
- The Bible make extraordinary claims that the Bible is from God Himself.
- The Bible makes prophetic announcements that are FULFILLED at a statistically improbable rate.
- The Bible convicts, convinces, and coverts through its living power.
- The Bible has a trans-cultural, trans-historical appeal to all peoples through all time.
- The Bible passes the experience test of individual believers.
In his book The Case for Christ, former atheist Lee Strobel – a Chicago Tribune investigative reporter – set out to prove that Jesus was not the Son of God and that the whole basis of Christianity was a hoax. He was turned off to Christianity because his wife had taken the faith and he basically wanted to prove her wrong.
He went about his task like any good reporter – finding eyewitness reports, testing the eyewitness evidence, trying to find holes in the evidence that would be contradictory and determining if the evidence added up or not. He looked at witness statements and the fact that there were witnesses named in scripture itself who could be examined. he looked at archeology to determine if the Bible had the proper names and places. He looked at the psychology of a guy who would claim to be a messiah! He basically looked at everything you could examine to rebuff claims that Jesus was the Son of God.
Know what happened?
He became a Christian. He wrote that the evidence was so overwhelming – both from biblical accuracy to non-biblical/religious histories – that it had to be true. An atheist became a Christian through investigation, examination, analysis, and conclusion.
Scripture tells us we are saved by Grace through FAITH. It doesn’t say we are saved through grace by:
God demands faith because faith requires trust and trust is the basis of all relationships. God, in essence, says, “Trust me” when it comes to the Bible yet is merciful enough to us to give us every fact we need to indeed trust it with verification!
I like how A.W. Tozer put it back in the 1940s in his work, The Crucified Life:
“For example, the question, ‘What do you think of the Bible?’ is outdated and has no meaning since the Bible was confirmed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus endorsed the Bible in its entirety.
“The question, ‘What do you think of the Church?’ has no meaning either. Nobody can ask that and be truly sincere about it because Christ said, ‘On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matt. 18:18)
“These questions, and many more like them, are inappropriate. So, the question before us, and the question that really matters, is simply, what do you think of Christ? And what are you going to do with Christ? Every question we might ever have can be boiled down to the subject of Jesus Christ.
“Everyone needs to answer this question of what we are going to do about this man whom God raised from the dead. Christ is the last word of God to humankind. It is written:
‘God, who at sundry times an din divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.’ (Heb. 1:1-2)
‘It is also written that ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us’(John 1:14). When the Word became flesh, God spoke. He spoke His Word in flesh, and the incarnated Christ is that Word. That sums up all that God would ever say to men. No new development in human psychology requires God to amend or edit it what He has already said in Jesus Christ.
“Our question then is about Christ Himself, and all other religious questions are reduced to ‘what do you think of Christ and what are you going to do about Him?’ Unless this is fully answered, nothing else really matters.
“Some pretend to have problems concern this. Actually, they are in love with themselves and are blinded by egotism and self-love. I respectfully claim the right to doubt the sanity of those who are now saying, ‘I have problems about the Bible. I have problems about the Church. I have problems about morality.’ All these problems are reduced to one. God spake His eternal Word in Christ Jesus, so Christ as settled every question.”
Jesus Himself put it more succinctly than Tozer:
“”Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
If you have problems with the Bible being God’s word, you have problems with Jesus.
If you have problems with the Church, you have problems with Jesus.
If you want your intellect satisfied without a step of faith you have problems with Jesus.
Put more bluntly, if you don’t believe you don’t believe if you know what I mean. You’re either with Him or against Him – as Joshua said, “As for me and my household we will choose the Lord.”