The Bible claims to have been inspired by God :-
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, forreproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… (2Tim.3:16).
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2Pet.1:16...21).
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,… (Heb.1:1-2).
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, said himself,
…the scripture cannot be broken… (Jn.10:35).
The above are from the New Testament, but the Old Testament abounds also with claims that it is an inspired record of God's dealings with mankind - we read how Nehemiah reproved Israel:-
Yet many years didst thou [God] forbear them [Israel], and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets…1 (Neh.9:30).
Now these claims are either true
(and the Bible is therefore reliable) or they are false and
the Bible is a fraud. There can be no half measures. The
argument that the Bible can be merely regarded as 'containing
truth' cannot be sustained because, if parts of it are not
inspired, then we have no means of knowing which parts are
reliable and which are not and therefore we have no guidance
…doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness... Life then becomes a
'free for all' existence in which men do what is right in
their own eyes. 2
It is important to understand that, when reading the Bible, not everything should be taken literally. For example; it contains stories, or parables, which, although they teach divine truth, this is nevertheless achieved by fictional means. Figurative, symbolic and poetic language is also used. The Bible also contains untruths! Examples of this are to be found in the book of Job where it is testified that Job's three friends did not speak right things about God. So care must be taken when considering the utterances of these men that, although they are reliably reported, they are not necessarily true. This underlines the need to be clear on the context of what one is reading.
Of course, most readers have to make do with imperfect translations and even Greek and Hebrew scholars only have access to copies of the original sources with their many and variant readings. None of these considerations is sufficient to undermine the reliability of the Bible - indeed; study of different translations and sources often leads to greater understanding of a particular passage or theme. God is well able to protect His word, and indeed has testified to that effect,
… 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 prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isa.55:11).
There are many ways in which the claims of the Bible can be shown to be true, such as fulfilled prophecy, the portrayal of human nature in contrast to God's ways and, ultimately, the setting out of the whole purpose of the creation and its future redemption.
The Bible is not out of date, nor is it concerned only with a religious few. It is relevant for all people at all times and shows that God actively channels the activities of world leaders to bring about his purpose. These points are proved by the following quotations,
…God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1Tim.2:14).
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live... (Ez.33:11).
…the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will (Dan.4:25).
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God... (Rom.13:1).
The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it (Zech.12:1-3).The rest of this chapter shows that this prophecy, in its fullness, has yet to be fulfilled - it has great relevance to our times.)
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all (1Cor.15:28).
It is only by reading this wonderful book in the light of its claims that we can gain the faith that leads to salvation.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom.10:17).Hearing the word also includes understanding, remembering and acting upon it (see Jas.1:22-25).
1 The authority of the prophets' utterances may be met with scepticism in today's secular climate. Indeed there is good reason to reject the testimony of those today who are so sure they are doing the work of their god that they impose their will on others, even to the extent of perpetrating all sorts of dreadful acts. The prophets of the Bible however, for the most part, lived in fear of their lives and in no way were imposing their own will on their people, who in any case mostly ignored their admonitions. One example will suffice for illustrating the reassurances which would be necessary for them to carry out God's work faithfully. The 'Word of the Lord' came to Jeremiah along with some instructions that, the following day, his uncle's son would ask him to buy his field. When this came to pass, Jeremiah records, “Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD” (Jer.32:8). This was a witness to Jeremiah rather than to his hearers. The witness to them and to us is all that Word of the LORD contained in the Bible, much of which has already come to pass and which also testifies to us,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isa.55:8-9).
2 Some people reject the complete authority of the bible because it ascribes, to God, acts which they regard as abhorrent: a prime example being the genocide which the children of Israel were commanded to perpetrate upon the tribes in the land of Canaan. This is not a valid argument and, in effect, places human understanding of morality above what God has decreed (cf Isa.55:8-9 above). In this particular example the Canaanite tribes had been given 400 years in which to mend their ways (Gen:15:16) yet they grew more corrupt until the only remedy was their destruction (Deu.9:4). The corrupting influence of mankind following its own ways is a recurrent theme throughout scripture and the time approaches when the world will not only need to be morally cleansed yet again, but actually saved from the destruction of the planet which otherwise would occur due to the the misdoings of man (Rev.11:15,18).
©2018 Martin Allen Cragg