From time to time our faith is put to the test.
It comes in many different ways.
You may encounter the Moonies, Krishnas, E.S.P.s in an airport terminal, shopping mall, or just walking down the street. In their smooth warm-hearted approach they may ask you whether you have any problems, are afraid or mixed up with life. What young person doesn’t have these things to some degree? They offer to rap a bit and before you know it you are involved in a rather heavy conversation about truth, faith, God, the Bible. You probably leave a little confused and carrying a handful of reading material.
Other times it may come your way from friends who are brought up in the Christian church, but are questioning the fundamentals of the Christian faith. This is especially true on the college level. There you are encouraged to do your own thinking, to examine every aspect of what you believe, often in a questioning way. Included in this examination is your attitude toward Scripture itself. What is the Bible? Is it a collection of writings given us by the Holy Spirit, thereby consisting of divine truth? Or does the content of the Bible become the Word of God in us when we believe it and receive it by faith?
Then again, you may get into a discussion with other young people concerning what you believe and what you consider to be right and wrong in your Christian conduct. All such discussions ultimately lead, or at least ought to lead, to the Word of God.
You have learned from your own experience as a Christian young person how important the Bible is to you. Two important things stand out concerning the Scripture. The first thing is that it is the source of all truth. We believe in the inspiration of the Bible, that God so revealed to the authors and guided them by the Holy Spirit that what they wrote is in truth the very Word of God. Hence, we conclude that there are no errors in the Bible, that it is truth. The second thing that is derived from this is that we can therefore trust the Bible in the sense that we can trust God the Author. This is important to us. Often we are surrounded by a sea of relativism; questions are raised from those who hate the Christian religion; questions are raised from those that seem to hold to the Christian religion. Questions, questions, questions!! What is truth? Who can we trust? What is right? Where do we go?
Out of our Christian faith, we appeal to Scripture. If we lose this, we are lost forever; if we maintain this, we have an anchor for our faith.
THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD
I’m sure that certain disturbing thoughts pass through your mind from time to time. Eventually, you may begin to think like this: why do I really believe what the Bible teaches? We have the Bible; there are so many other religions that claim to have books that are inspired and form the basis for their faith: the Koran, the writings of Ellen G. White, the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witness, the Book of Mormon, etc. Is it so that we believe the Bible simply because we were taught to do so and that is the only reason? The graduation from childhood to youth involves just such a change. You struggle to come to a point in your life when you conclude that what you have been taught is true and you believe it is true not simply because you were taught it, but you believe it because it is true.
This includes the Bible.
Why do you appeal to the Bible as the standard of truth? Why do you conform the whole of your faith and life to its teachings?
How would you answer this?
Let me try to help you think this question through to your own satisfaction.
In general, we can point out some wonderful things about the Bible that cannot be said of any other book. The author of the Bible is God; this can be said of no other book. God did not write any other book, and the proof of this is that no other book is like the Bible. You can compare all of them that claim to be Bibles, or divinely written, but your conclusion will be that they are different from the Bible. A careful examination will make this plain to you. Besides this, just think about the Bible for a moment. How else can we explain the fact that the Bible was written over a period of some two thousand years, through the agency of some twenty authors, who do not contradict each other but rather compliment each other in contributing to the one glorious theme of salvation in Jesus Christ to the glory of God! Only divine authorship can explain this wonder.
God through revelation communicated to the authors what He wanted them to write. These men were moved to write it down and in the process of such writing were guided by the same Holy Spirit to do so accurately. The benefit of such activity is that the church may have perfect faith. Luke explains all this in the prologue to His gospel: ‘”Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order most excellent Theophilus that thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed,” Luke 1:1-4. See also I Thess. 2:13.
In addition to this, careful Bible study will also show that there are no errors in the Bible. Oh, I know some critics jump up and down and say that this is an empty boast and immediately produce a few passages to show that scientifically or historically it cannot be true. Be careful of those who boast that they have found errors in God’s Word. We. had better tremble lest we be wiser than God and be so presumptuous to lay such a charge at the feet of the Almighty. Yes, I’m aware of certain passages (amazingly enough, so very few, compared to all the passages of the Bible) that seem to be incorrect. Don’t forget, we do not have the original writings. We have copies, and by careful comparison of these copies, we can come to a correct understanding of these seeming errors. These “errors” were not there in the original; they crept in by the process of transmission. As the Spirit guides us in our Bible study, we may be sure that the message of God comes to us clearly.
Add to this evidence the fact that God providentially preserved this book throughout the ages of history. All the inspired writings were selected by the church and kept for reading and study. This is a thrilling narrative in itself. Jehoiakim cut it up and threw it into the fire, Jeremiah 36:23ff. During the Dark Ages it collected dust in libraries. During the Inquisition, men were burned at the stake for reading it. And today it is mutilated by perverse paraphrases, and dissected by higher critics. Yet, through it all, we have the Bible, and true believers are strengthened in their faith by it. God preserved His Word for us.
THE BIBLE CLAIMS FOR ITSELF DIVINE AUTHORSHIP
This is a different approach to our question, how can we be sure that the Bible is the Word of God. We can begin to examine it and see whether its contents tell us that it is so. Now, I know many other books written by men claim this to be true for their writing, too; but can it actually stand the test of faith? I know that a skeptic will not be persuaded, for he will base all his belief on the criteria of human reason; but I’m concerned with you covenant young people. Does the Bible speak to your faith, and does it put your mind at ease concerning the fact that it is the Word of God?
First, the theme of Scripture is different from that of any other book. From the mighty display of divine glory in Genesis 1, “In the beginning, God!” to the exalted crescendo in Revelation 22, “Surely I come quickly, even so come Lord Jesus,” the one message elevates the weary saint by focusing His eyes upon Jehovah, the God of our salvation. Every page testifies to this glorious theme. Old Testament and New Testament blend in perfect harmony in extolling God as saving us in Jesus Christ. No man could ever dream up such a message. It is a revelation from God.
Secondly, on the pages of the Bible God explains to us how He gave the Bible to us. Let me refer briefly to the two passages most often quoted. “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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” II Tim. 3:16. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in our hearts; knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation, 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 Ghost,” II Peter 1:19-21. God assures us that He gave the Bible to us by the wonder of inspiration.
Thirdly, the believers appealed to the Bible in support of what they believed. They set the example for us. In fact, we can turn to our Lord Jesus in this regard. When He was criticized for His teaching concerning marriage and the wrongness of divorce, he appealed to the creation account, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,” Matt. 19:4. The Apostle Paul did the same thing. In his discussion concerning marriage, he refers to command, “And unto the married, I command, yet not I but the Lord, let not the wife depart from her husband,” I Cor. 7:10. This is a reference to Christ’s teaching recorded in Matt. 19. In the other part where he states that he writes, not the Lord, he is conscious that the Holy Spirit is guiding him in an area that is without precedent. He can’t quote a Bible passage to support his teaching. The Holy Spirit is guiding him that very moment; hence the teaching is not less authoritative, though it is original. If Christ and the apostles referred to the Scriptures, which were more than likely the Greek translation of the Old Testament, we may certainly rely upon our Bibles.
Finally, the Bible contains prophecy that deals with future events that can be explained only on the basis of divine authorship. For one example, Isaiah predicted that Cyrus would allow the captives to return, Isaiah 45:1. Only God could have so directed him to record future events.
A MATTER OF FAITH
Alas, you may say, that all may be debated. The pages of history are filled with infidels who have done their best to discredit all that has been said and written in defense of the faith concerning the Bible. Some of it comes from the “experts” who have become erudite in the linguistics of the Bible, others come from the professionals who know history and are quick to discredit Scripture’s accuracy. Others are philosophical and they like to become immersed in the vagaries of epistemology. To add more confusion, hermeneutics seems to be the “in” thing today: how must we interpret the Bible? Maybe we can leave languages alone, history alone, and get our way by emphasizing a new method of interpreting. The simple fact is that all such emphasis leads to the same end—a denial of God’s Word.
We close for this time by emphasizing that no matter how we may look at the Bible, no matter what we may emphasize, basically it is a matter of faith.
To this we hope to address ourselves in our next article.
May God give us the faith to see the evidence that the Bible is indeed the Word of God and we do well to appeal to it for all our faith and life.