This post is from a series of six articles that were originally written for publication in the LaGrange Daily News. They ran every Saturday from July 26 to August 30, 2014.
Part 1: The Author
The first, and most basic, reason I know that the Bible is from God is that I know there is a God. Yes, I understand that there are lots of people who believe in God (god or gods) that do not believe the Bible is from God. But, before I can begin to show how I know, and you can know, that the Bible is, without a doubt, from God, I must start from that most basic reason – I believe in God.
There are a lot of big words and phrases people use to talk about how we can know that God is real, like “the Cosmological argument” and “the Teleological argument.” We can just keep it simple by saying that we know God exists because something can’t come from nothing and that where we see design there must be a designer.
For example, I can know – beyond any doubt – that my existence is traceable back to a specific cause. I am the result, or effect, of a known cause. My parents met, fell in love, got married and caused me to come into existence. I can know – beyond any doubt – that I didn’t just happen with no known cause. Likewise, the existence of my house can be traced back to a known cause – a builder that put together the material to cause my house to exist (cf. Heb. 3:4). So, if I were to ask you if your house is itself evidence of a builder, you would certainly say “yes.” You would have no doubt whatsoever that someone built your house – it is the effect of a known cause. This principle of cause and effect can continually be expanded until we have reached the limits of physical existence. Then we are left with the question, “where did the first physical matter come from?” Matter is not eternal so it can’t have been its own cause. We must look beyond matter, beyond physical existence. God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24) and Spirit is eternal (Heb. 9:14). God is not a physical Being bound by the laws of physics or the physical universe. He is outside of nature, i.e. supernatural. He is the only adequate First Cause for the physical universe.
I can also know – beyond any doubt – that God exists because of the intricate design evident all through creation. I know that design doesn’t happen by accident – where there is design there must be a designer. For example, where did the laws of physics come from? They are universal laws that allow precise predictions, calculations and outcomes to be made because we know that things are going to work according to those laws. We can mathematically calculate exactly where to put a satellite to make it stay in an exact orbit and know exactly how long it will stay there and where it will be all the time – given that no mistakes were made in the calculations. Well, why are the heavenly bodies constrained to these known laws? Who wrote them and who has the power to bind them? (cf. Heb. 1:3). Human beings certainly don’t! We can’t even figure out how to alter or change them, only how to advance our functioning within their bounds.
The very apparent design all around us proves – beyond any doubt – that there is a Designer and that Designer is greater than man. Even at our advanced technological state, we have not mastered the working of even our own bodies. The amazing design of the physical body is so advanced and intricate that we are still trying to get it all figured out and we’re not even close. Where did that amazing design come from? Design – especially the kind of advanced design of the eye and ear, for example – doesn’t just happen (cf. Prov. 20:12). Paul said, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). We can know from the things that are made that there is a Great Eternal Designer, and that is why I believe the Bible is from God.
If God is, and I know He is, and if He created us, and I know He did, then it only makes sense that He would want to communicate with His creation. In this series of articles I will continue to show how I know beyond any doubt that the Bible is that communication from God to His creation.
Part 2: The Claim
In part one of this series I started out by saying that I know the Bible is from God because I believe in God. In that article we discussed the rational and logical belief that God is real, and, if God is real it is only rational and logical to believe that He would want to communicate with His creation.
I also know the Bible is from God because the Bible claims to be from God. It would be silly to try and prove that a book is from God if that book never even claims to be from God. The Bible does indeed makes such a claim. Again, I understand that there have been many, many books over the years that all claimed to be from God. As we continue this discussion in future articles I will show why only the Bible’s claim to divine authorship proves to be true under the most critical of honest examinations. As for this article, we’ll look at the implications of the Bible’s more than 3,000 claims of divine authorship.
There are several terms used in the Bible’s claim of divine authorship. For example, the phrase, “Word of God” (or Lord), is used 335 times in the Bible. It is not the word of man, it is the word of God! God told the prophet Jeremiah, “I have put My words in your mouth” (Jer. 1:8). When Moses prophesied of the coming Messiah (Christ), he said that He would be a prophet like Moses (i.e. a law giver) and that God would put His words into that Prophet’s mouth (Deut. 18:18). Peter said that no biblical prophet was the original source for what he spoke, everything they spoke came from God via the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
This biblical claim of divine authorship is referred to as “the doctrine of biblical inspiration.” There is another biblical doctrine connected to the doctrine of inspiration called “the all-sufficiency of the word,” meaning all we need in order to have a successful spiritual life and go to heaven is found in the word of God (2 Pet. 1:3). The doctrine of biblical inspiration refers to the fact that none of the Bible came from any other source than God Himself.
Paul teaches the doctrine of biblical inspiration most explicitly in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In that passage, the phrase “inspired of God” comes from a single word that most literally means, “breathed out by God.” Paul says that “all Scripture” is “breathed out by God.” Again, none of the inspired writers were writing anything that was from their own understanding. They were all writing as they were “moved” by the Holy Spirit as He “breathed” the word of God into their hearts.
But we shouldn’t understand that to mean that God just gave the biblical writers the ideas that He wanted them to write and then left it up to them to put it in their own words. It wasn’t their words, it was – and is – God’s word! Paul makes this clear when he says, in 1 Corinthians 2:13, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” That is, the words Paul and the other inspired writers were using were not their own words. They were the words given to them by the Holy Spirit. It is not just the ideas of the Bible that are “breathed out by God.” It is the very words that were used.
This is just a very small example of the biblical claims to divine authorship. Peter said the Holy Spirit spoke by the mouth of David in foretelling Judas’ betrayal of Christ (Acts 1:16). In referring to an Old Testament quotation originally written by David (Ps. 95:7; Heb. 4:7), the Hebrews writer said it was the Holy Spirit who spoke those words (Heb. 3:7, “as the Holy Spirit says”). We could fill this entire paper with such claims of divine authorship for the Bible.
I know the Bible is from God because it claims to be from God. Of course, with such claims of divine authorship, one would expect to find “divine fingerprints” in the text of the Bible. Lord willing, we’ll look to see if we can find any such evidence of God’s hand in the Bible as we continue this discussion of how I know the Bible is from God next week.
Part 3: The Unity
There is an entire field of biblical study dedicated to “evidences” for the Christian religion. Not surprisingly, it’s called “Christian Evidences” or “Apologetics.” The word “Apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia. The word “apology” also has its origins in this Greek word. “Apology” hasn’t always meant to say you’re sorry. That is actually the number two definition given in the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition). The first definition is “a formal justification: defense.” Webster’s give the definition of “apologetics” as “systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine),” and “a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.” The original Greek word is found eight times in the Greek New Testament and is translated “defense” six of the eight in the New King James Version of the Bible. The most frequently quoted verse using this word is from 1 Peter 3:15, “…always be ready to give a defense (apologia) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is you….” So, in this third part to the series we’ll begin to get into some Apologetics and look at the internal evidence that the Bible is from God.
I know the Bible is from God because of its remarkable unity.
Many people consider the Bible one book. However, it is more like a volume of books and letters. More than forty human writers wrote the sixty-six books and letters of the Bible over a period of fourteen hundred years. The writers are from a broad diversity of cultural backgrounds. Moses was a displaced Hebrew raised as a prince of Egypt; Paul was a tent maker; Matthew was a tax collector; David was a king, as was Solomon; Amos was a shepherd; Luke was a doctor; Peter and John were fishermen, etc. So, not only were the writers separated by hundreds of years, they were also very diverse in their social and cultural backgrounds.
With such great diversity of historical, social and cultural settings, one would expect the various books and letters of the Bible to be full of contradictions and errors. After all, it would be nearly impossible to assemble forty people from the same town at the same time in the same room and have them all agree on nearly any given subject, especially religion. It would be extremely difficult to find a book, with similar scope as the Bible, written by a single person that was free from contradictions and errors. However, that’s exactly what we find in the Bible! From Moses, writing as early as 1450 BC, to Jude, writing around 68 AD, there is total agreement and harmony – unity – throughout.
How is such remarkable unity possible? It’s not possible with men! Go to the library and check out sixty-six books, the number of books in the Bible, on nearly any given subject and see how many of the authors actually agree with each other. You would probably have the books separated into stacks of five or six here and there that agree with each or write from a similar point of view but not all sixty-six. Try it with authors of the same nationality living at the same time and you still won’t get the kind of unity present in the Bible.
There is only one possible explanation for the Bible’s perfect unity. Though there were forty or more human writers, there was only one Author! (2 Pet. 1:3, 21). We noticed in part two of this series that the Bible claims to be from the Author we discussed in part one; and the amazing unity of the Bible is powerful proof of that claim.
“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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
Part 4: Fulfilled Prophecy
Fulfilled prophecy refers to those places in the Bible where we read of a future prediction and then in another, later, passage read of its coming to pass exactly as the prophet foretold it. God gave His prophets this ability in order to verify that what they were preaching was indeed from Him (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). The Bible is literally full of such fulfilled prophecy and, thus, confirms itself to be from God.
The regular reader will recall an article I submitted some weeks ago entitled “Jesus: The Fulfillment Of Prophecy.” In that article I showed how Jesus fulfilled every single one of the over three hundred Messianic prophecies concerning Him. The purpose of those prophecies was to identify, beyond any doubt, the Messiah (Christ) when He came into the world. These precisely fulfilled Messianic prophecies are certainly powerful evidence of Jesus, the Christ. However, they also serve as powerful evidence that the Bible is from God. The only way those prophets could so accurately predict the time of His birth (Dan. 2:44), the place of His birth (Micah 5:2), the manner of His miraculous virgin birth (Isa. 7:14), His unlawful trial and mistreatment (Isa. 53:7, 8), His crucifixion for our sins (Isa. 53:1-6, 9; Ps. 22:1, 16), the place of His burial (Isa. 53:9), etc., etc., is that they were writing from a Divine source.
Aside from these remarkably accurate predictions concerning Christ, there are hundreds of detailed predictions of people, places and governments that have all been precisely fulfilled in every regard. For example, the prophet Daniel was so detailed and accurate in his predictions of the rise and fall of the empires from Babylon to Rome that critics have claimed it must have been written by a latter writer and not the Daniel by whom the book claims to have been written. The same accusations have been made about Isaiah’s authorship. Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the judgment on the kingdoms of his time, and their precise fulfillment has caused critics to claim that the book was writer by an “early” and “late” Isaiah. However, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 a copy of Isaiah was discovered among them – a unified book, not two books by an “early” and “later” Isaiah. Once again, the critics were shown wrong and the Bible stands true.
The only reason to deny that the prophetic books were written by the ones who claim to have written them is that the critic already has his mind made up that he does not believe the Bible. So, with that preconception concerning the Bible, any evidence of the Bible’s Divine origin will be discounted and “explained away.” Even when their claims are proven false, they just come up with other reasons why the Bible can’t be from God. That’s why I stared out by saying that I believe the Bible is from God because I believe in God. All the apologetic evidence that I know simply reinforces that belief.
I believe Daniel wrote hundreds of years before the Roman empire came into existence that it would follow the Greek empire, which followed the Medo-Persian empire, which followed the Babylonian empire (Dan. 2, 7, 9). The critic can offer no compelling evidence that Daniel didn’t write it. Other than to say that such predictions, so accurately fulfilled in the pages of history, are not possible. Well, it is possible if the source of those predictions is the God Most High, Who knows the end from the beginning! (2 Pet. 1:19-21).
For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure (Isa. 46:9-10).
I know the Bible is from God because it is fulfilled with irrefutable evidence in the fulfilled prophecy it contains.
Part 5: The Science
The term “scientific foreknowledge” is used in the field of biblical apologetics to refer to those instances where the Bible touches on various areas of science. While the Bible is in no way a “science book,” it does touch on areas of science like biology, astronomy, oceanography, geology, etc. One of the very powerful proofs I have that the Bible is, without doubt, from God is that whenever it touches on these areas of science it is always absolutely correct. The “foreknowledge” part of the statement means that the scientific accuracy of the Bible occurred at a time when such scientific facts could not have possibly been known by human means alone. The only way the writers of the Bible could have possibly written with such accuracy on these points of science is that the Creator of science told them what to write.
Though men throughout the ages have attempted to count the stars, modern astronomers are learning that the Bible was right all along when it said the stars were innumerable (Gen. 22:17; Jeremiah 33:22).
Though the skeptic likes to describe the Bible as a book of myths and fairy tales, before the mythology of world religions were picturing the earth as being held upon Atlas’ shoulders (Greek mythology); or as an island resting on the back of four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space (Hindu mythology); or as being flat (a popular belief as late as the 1400’s), the Bible accurately described the earth as spherical (Isa. 40:22, the Hebrew word more literally refers to a sphere than a “circle”). Not only that it is spherical but that it was hung on nothing (Job 26:7). At the time Isaiah (who wrote around 700 BC) and Job (who lived around 2000 BC) made their scientifically accurate statements, they had no way of knowing these things scientifically. Yet, when men were coming up with fanciful myths about the shape and place of the earth on which they lived, the biblical writers always described it exactly as it is in reality.
From Geology – Oceanography
Touching on this area of science, the Bible accurately describes the water cycle – water evaporates from the sea, rains down on the land, runs off in rivers, flows back to the sea (Ecclesiastes 1:7).
Long before Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806 – 1873) became known as the “Pathfinder of the Seas” for his work of charting the ocean lanes, winds and currents, king David makes reference to “the paths of the sea” (Psalm 8:8).
Those who study things like tectonic plate movements and continental drift can find the origin of their field of science in Genesis 7:11 and the flood of Noah when “the fountains of the great deep were broken up.”
Even as recently as early American history, people believed that “bleeding” was a legitimate medical practice. The idea being that if you let the bad blood out with the sickness then the body would make new clean blood. The red and white striped pole that is the symbol of barbershops came from the practice of bleeding people while they got their hair cut and shave. A basin with a pole in it stood next to the barber chair and the customer would rest his hand on that pole and let the blood run down into the basin, thus the red and white striped pole. Many believe that George Washington died as a result of this “medical practice.” The day he died, he had as much as five pints of blood bled from him in an effort to treat a sever soar throat.
As well versed as Washington was in the Bible, he must have overlooked the many statements that “the life is in the blood” (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11, 14). Now doctors thankfully now better than to let sick people bleed. They need that blood for their immune system to work. God knew then what doctors have only figured out “scientifically” in relatively recent years.
Today doctors give little boy babies a shot when they are born so that they can circumcise them without having them bleed too much. Those newborn babies don’t have the vitamins and minerals in their blood that they need for clotting. That doesn’t happen until day eight of life, at which time those blood-clotting elements are the highest they will ever naturally occur in the blood. Maybe that’s why the Bible says the Hebrew boys were to be circumcised the eighth day (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3).
This is just a very small sampling of the scientific foreknowledge contained in the Bible. There are far too many examples to be explained away as coincidence. They are a powerful proof that the God of Creation gave the writers what they were to write. I know the Bible is from God because of its scientific accuracy long before those things could be scientifically known.
Here’s another little bonus tidbit of scientific foreknowledge. Long before evidence of dinosaurs was discovered (1600-1800), the Bible told us of “behemoth” and “leviathan” (Job 40:15; 41:1).
Part 6: The Perfection
In this series of articles I have laid out several ways I know the Bible is from God. Please notice that I haven’t said that “I believe the Bible is from God,” though I certainly do. What I believe about the Bible or what you believe about the Bible is really irrelevant. My personal belief and your personal belief doesn’t really have anything to do with the factual reality that the Bible proves itself, in numerous ways, to be from God.
I don’t just believe the Bible is from God, I know the Bible is from God. I know that, without any doubts whatsoever, because of the very clear evidence of that fact. The fact that God exists, the fact that the Bible repeatedly claims to be from God, the fact of the Bible’s inerrant unity, the fact of the Bible’s fulfilled prophecy, the fact of the Bible’s scientific foreknowledge, and the fact of the Bible’s superior moral teaching. Those are facts whether a person believes them or not!
As I bring this series to a close this week I want us to consider the evidence of the Bible’s Divine origin in its moral perfection. There is a moral code taught in the Bible that is so perfect as to be irrefutable by even the most ardent skeptic. There are dishonest skeptics that will take passages of the Bible out of context to try and make it look immoral in its teaching. But when those passages are examined in their true context they unanimously agree with the perfect morality of God.
Not only is biblical morality perfect in its teaching but it is taught in a brevity that is incapable of human wisdom. Where human authors have filled huge volumes and libraries with their ideas of morality, self-help, meaningful living, etc., etc., the Bible says it in very few and simple words. Twelve simple words, to be exact, “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matt. 7:12). These simple words are so profound that we call them “The Golden Rule.”
Think for just a moment what would happen if everyone in the world woke up tomorrow following that one simple rule. What kind of impact would it have on the world if everyone followed that twelve word moral code? Terrorism would instantly vanish from the world! There would be no more wife beaters, child abusers, corrupt politicians, greedy business leaders, warmongers, alcoholics, drug abusers, bullies, adulterers, thieves, etc., etc. Every human behavior that might harm another human being would instantly vanish away if “The Golden Rule” were universally followed.
That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “for this is the Law and the Prophets.” If people just followed that one perfect rule for human conduct then they wouldn’t have to worry about breaking any of God’s laws. All of those passages about how to treat each other would take care of themselves if we would just treat other people the way that we want to be treated.
Where “The Golden Rule” is the perfect moral code for human relations with each other, Jesus also gives the perfect moral code for human relations toward God. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Again, a very short and simple statement, but incredibly powerful in its perfect moral teaching. Perfect human relations with God is summed up in this powerful statement. To be pleasing to God we must be devoted to Him (“in spirit”) according to His word (“and truth”). That one simple statement takes care of all the specifics. If we just have that one perfect principle in place then the specifics will take care of themselves. There wouldn’t be any man-made religions or selfish human ambition in religion. Everyone would worship and serve God the why He wants instead of how they want. Instead of focusing on attending the church of our choice, we would be more concerned about attending the church of God’s choice!
I give thanks to God every day for His perfect, inerrant, word. I am so thankful that God has not left us to wander in darkness and doubt. I praise Him and glorify Him because He loved us enough to give us a lamp unto our feet and light to our path (Ps. 119:105). The Bible gives the most perfect moral code for the home, for the workplace, for government, for the church, for friends, classmates and neighbors. How thankful we should always be unto God for such a perfect word as His!
And that is how I know the Bible is from God. And that is why I dedicate myself to spreading that perfect word as far and wide as I can in my life.