Welcome to another installment of “Clay’s Corner”. Thank you all for taking the time to read my posts on this blog. Thank you all for taking the extra time leaving a comment. I appreciate all your comments and feedback.
I’ve read many posts, news articles, comments and opinions regarding the accuracy and authority of the Bible. Naturally, this installment will be titled “Authority of the Bible.”
Authority of the Bible
What do we believe?
I must have stared at this question for at least 15 minutes (possibly shorter, possibly longer, but it felt like days). I thought to myself, “Well, duh, we all believe in God’s infallible Word that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation.” So the question is not “What do we believe”, but rather, “Why we believe.” I could find a host of scriptures that prove the authority of the Bible. However, I’m not going to. You’ll see why as you continue to read.
Here’s the deal. There are many books that claim to be the Word of God. The Koran claims to be the Word of God. The Book of Mormon claims to be the Word of God. The Hindus believe the Bhagavad Vita is the source of eternal truth. Karl Marx, with his atheistic world view, claimed his writing, the Communist Manifesto, was the ultimate truth.
We Christians believe the Bible to be the Word of God and the eternal source of truth we live by. How do we know the Bible is the Word of God? Can we actually prove that the Bible is truly the Word of God? With just a simple Yes or No, can you prove it? Think about that for a minute and let it register. Can you honestly prove that the Bible is truly the Word of God? If you were speaking to an atheist or a non-believer or someone of a different religion, could you prove to them that the Bible is truly the Word of God? If you picture yourself speaking to a non-Christian, how difficult would that be? The use of scriptures is invalid trying to prove your case because the non-Christian has their own verses from their specific “book”, or their own opinion based on scientific evidence or presumptions. So, back to the question, can you prove the Bible is truly the Word of God to any of the aforementioned people? The answer is YES. It is my intention to show you how and I hope to do just that. So pull up a chair, grab your Bible, sit back, eat some popcorn and enjoy.
Before I begin this written discussion on the authority of the Bible, let me first quote the words of Jesus found in John 15:18-19. Jesus warns his disciples about the attitude the world will have toward those who follow Him. Jesus says, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you were not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” 1 Peter 5:8 states, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
What is vital to understand about these passages is the attitude of the world toward God. The world is in rebellion against God, and worldly people under the influence of Satan seek to destroy your faith.
In the light of the times we live in, it is important for Christians not only know what they believe, but, also, why they believe what they believe.
I once read an astounding statistic. It indicated that 80 percent of college-bound students who profess to be Christians leave for school and return home no longer believing in Christ. One of the reasons is this: when a student sits in class and hears the professor, faculty member, or another student discredit the Bible, the student doesn’t have a defense and is easily deceived into believing the Bible is no longer credible. This happens too often because Christians know what they believe, but not why they believe it.
In my experience, there is no book that is criticized and attacked more than the Bible. Many intelligent scholars have written books that attempt to discredit the authority of the Bible. This is another of Satan’s goals: to get man to doubt the Word of God. This is a goal that Satan achieved with Adam and Eve.
To counter this attack, we will study some of the evidence in the case proving the authority and divine origin of the Bible. This knowledge will enable us to make a solid defense of the faith when we are attacked.
In the history of man, there has not been a book that has rocked the world as has the Bible. The impact it has made is phenomenal. Some hail the Bible as the Word of God; others criticize and condemn it. With the Bible facing such opposition today, and with many other works claiming to be the “Word of God,” how do we know the Bible is the true Word of God? Let us take a look at the evidence.
The evidence for the authority of the Bible falls into two major categories: internal evidence and external evidence. Internal evidence is the evidence found within the Bible. External evidence is the evidence found outside the Bible, such as archaeology, science, philosophy, and ancient manuscripts. Let us first consider the internal evidences.
The first fact is that the Bible claims to be the Word of God. The authors knew they were writing the words of God, even though they often did not fully understand what they were writing. 2 Timothy 3:16 states, “All scripture is breathed out by God.” 2 Peter 1:21 states, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Jesus himself viewed the Old Testament as authoritative and quoted from it throughout His ministry. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not assume that I have came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until Heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.”
The Holy Spirit confirms to us that the Bible is the Word of God. John 16:13 states, “When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” The Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin also assures the believer that the Bible is God’s Word.
We have evidence concerning the transforming ability of the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit.” Romans 12:2 states, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” The Word of God and the Spirit of God actually transforms the lives of people. The Bible has changed the lives of murderers, drug addicts, top government officials, business people, alcoholics, rapists, and students, just to name a few people from every walk of life who have been transformed by the Bible. No other book can make such a claim. This is because the Bible is not a mere book on good living, but is literally packed with power. It is the Word of God with the power to change lives.
The Bible covers hundreds of topics, yet it does not contradict itself. It remains united in its theme. “Well, what’s so amazing about that”, some may ask. To find out what’s so amazing about that, consider these facts.
- The Bible was written over a span of fifteen hundred years (that’s 1,500 years).
- The Bible was written by more than forty men from every walk of life. For example, Moses was educated in Egypt and became a prophet over Israel. Peter was a simple fisherman, Solomon was a king, Luke was a doctor, Amos was a shepherd, and Matthew was a tax collector. All the writers were of vastly different occupations and backgrounds.
- The Bible was written in many different places. The Bible was written on three different continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. Moses wrote in the desert of Sinai; Paul wrote in a prison in Rome; Daniel wrote in exile in Babylon; Ezra wrote in the ruined city of Jerusalem.
- The Bible was written under many different circumstances. David wrote during a time of war; Jeremiah wrote at the sorrowful time of Israel’s downfall; Peter wrote while Israel was under Roman domination; Joshua wrote while invading the land of Canaan.
- The writers had different purposes for writing. Isaiah wrote to warn Israel of God’s coming judgment on their sin; Matthew wrote to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah; Zechariah wrote to encourage a disheartened Israel who had returned from Babylonian exile; Paul wrote addressing problems in different Asian and European churches.
If we put all these factors together, the Bible was written over a span of fifteen hundred years, by forty different authors, at different places, under various circumstances, and addressing a multitude of issues. It is amazing that with such diversity, there is such unity in the Bible. That unity is organized around one theme: God’s redemption of man and all of creation. Hundreds of controversial subjects are addressed and yet the writers do not contradict each other. The Bible is an incredible document.
Here’s an example: Take ten contemporary authors and ask them to write their viewpoints on one controversial subject. Would they all agree? No, we would have disagreements from one author to another. Now look at the authorship of the Bible. All these authors, from a span of fifteen hundred years, wrote on many controversial topics, and they do not contradict one another. Amazing, isn’t it?
It seems one author guided these writers through the entire process: the Holy Spirit. Allow me to repeat 2 Peter 1:21, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke form God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The unity of the Bible is just one more amazing proof of the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible.
Now, let’s take a look at the External Evidences of the Bible; that is, evidences found outside the Bible.
The first external evidence is the indestructibility of the Bible. The Bible is the most well-known book in the history of the world and no book has been attacked more than it. Skeptics have tried to destroy the authority of the Bible for the last eighteen hundred years (1,800). The Bible has undergone every kind of scrutiny possible from archaeology, science, philosophy, and computers. Yet, despite all these attacks, the Bible proves itself to be true again and again. Each time the skeptics have been wrong, and the Bible has proven itself true. Just the fact that the bible has remained steadfast in its authority after two thousand years is another piece of evidence supporting its divine origin.
The next source of external evidence comes from archaeology. Middle Eastern archaeological investigations have proven the Bible to be true and unerringly accurate in its historical descriptions. Nelson Glueck, a renowned Jewish archaeologist, states, “No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.”
Dr. William Albright, who was not a friend of Christianity and was probably the foremost authority in Middle Eastern archaeology in his time, said this about the Bible: “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament.”
Here are a couple examples of the historical accuracy of the Bible.
- A good example is found in Genesis 14. The Bible speaks of Abraham’s victory over Chedorlaomer and five Mesopotamian kings. For years, the critics stated that these accounts were fictitious and many people discredited the bible. In the 1960s, however, the Ebla tablets were discovered in northern Syria. The Ebla kingdom was a powerful kingdom in the twentieth century B.C. The thousands of Ebla tablets that have been discovered are records of its history. What is important is that many of these tablets make a reference to all five cities of the plain proving the Genesis 14 account to be accurate.
- The story of Jericho recorded in the book of Joshua. For years skeptics thought the story of the falling walls of Jericho was a myth. However, in the 1930s, Dr. John Garsang make a remarkable discovery. He states, “As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls fell outwards so completely, the attackers would be able to clamber up and over the ruins of the city.” This is remarkable because the city walls fell inward, not outward. The March 5, 1990 issue of Time Magazine featured an article called “Score One for the Bible.” In it, archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon claimed Jericho’s walls had fallen suddenly. Many scholars feel this was caused by an earthquake which may also explain the damming of the Jordan. Additionally, grain was discovered, which shows the city was conquered quickly. This find adds credence to the biblical account. Further study by Brian Wood found the date of the fall of Jericho to match the Bible’s date.
The Bible contains hundreds of prophesies which have come to pass. No book in history has ever come close to the Bible when it comes to fulfillment of prophecy.
The prophesies in the Bible are very specific and accurate. Nostradamus claims to have made hundreds of prophesies that have come true, but if you read his prophesies, you will find them to be vague and unclear. His symbols and language can be taken to mean a number of historical events. Unlike many such prophesies, biblical prophecy is very specific.
Here are some examples of fulfillment of prophecy.
1. In Ezekiel 26, which was written in 587 B.C., Ezekiel prophesies that the mighty city of Tyre would be destroyed. Tyre was made up of two parts, a mainland port city and an island city half a mile off shore. Ezekiel predicted mainland Tyre would be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, many nations would fight against her, the debris of the city would be thrown into the ocean, the city would never be found again, and fishermen would come there to lay their nets. In 573 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the mainland city of Tyre. Many of the refugees of the city sailed to the island and the island city of Tyre remained a powerful city. In 333 B.C., however, Alexander the Great laid siege to Tyre. Using the rubble of mainland Tyre, he built a causeway to the island city of Tyre. He then captured and completely destroyed the city.
Today, Tyre is a small fishing town where fishing boats come to rest and fishermen spread their nets. The great ancient city of Tyre to this day lies buried in ruins exactly as prophesied. If we were to calculate the odds of this even happening by chance, the figures would be astronomical.
2. There are over three hundred (300) prophesies made of Jesus in the Old Testament. Prophesies such as His place of birth, how He would die, His rejection by the nation of Israel, and so on. All these prophesies were made hundreds of years before Jesus ever came to earth. Because of the accuracy of the prophesies, many skeptics have believed that they must have been written after 70 A.D. – after the birth and death of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem. They have, thereby, tried to deny that they are even prophesies.
However, in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. These scrolls contained the book of Isaiah and other prophetic books. When dated, they were found to be written from 120 to 100 B.C., well before Jesus was born. It would have been an incredible accomplishment for Jesus to have fulfilled all three hundred prophecies. Some say these prophesies were fulfilled by chance, but the odds for this would be exceptionally large. It would take more faith to believe in that chance happening than in the fact that Jesus is God and these prophesies are divinely inspired.
No book can match the Bible when it comes to prophecy. Understand that I have only touched the tip of the iceberg. I have only mentioned a few of the evidences to prove the authority of the Bible.
I challenge you to find more evidence.