INDEPTH : How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?
The Holy Spirit endorses it as the Word of God, causing us to accept its message and to prove its power in our lives. (To this 'internal' evidence we may add many 'external' evidences that give supporting testimony to the Holy Spirit's endorsement.)
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS INTIMATELY CONNECTED WITH THE BIBLE.
All the books of the Bible owe their origin to Him (Matthew 22:43; Acts 28:25; Hebrews 3:7).
The writers were 'carried along' by the Holy Spirit's influence (2 Peter 1:21). The exercise of their natural faculties was not interfered with, yet spontaneously they produced what God planned - so perfectly that what they said, God said (Daniel 9:10).
AS THE BIBLE IS EITHER READ OR PREACHED IT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT'S PARTICULAR RIGHT TO ENDORSE AND MAKE CERTAIN ITS TRUTH IN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF INDIVIDUAL READERS, ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.
When the Holy Spirit chooses so to act, the message of the Bible comes home to individuals with great power behind it - the Holy Spirit's power - which results in deep conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
The message of the Bible is recognized to be then what it is - the Word of God and not human opinion (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
THE BIBLE BECOMES AN INCREASING INFLUENCE AND POWER IN OUR LIFE
When such power is known, the call of God to the individual through the Bible, by the working of the Holy Spirit, is answered - that is to say, the message is received, and acted upon. The way in which the promises of the gospel then become real in a person's life confirms the truth of the Bible (Psalms 34:4, Psalms 34:6, Psalms 34:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8).
The Bible finds a primary place in a person's life as a consequence, transforming it (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Psalms 119:9-11).
OUR CONVICTION THAT THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD GROWS AS OUR CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE OF GOD INCREASES.
Every promise we rightfully claim is fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:20).
The more we know the Scriptures the more we find them relevant and suitable to our need (Psalms 119:49-56).
We find that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Bible, whether we read in the Old or the New Testament (Psalms 95:7-11; compare Hebrews 3:7-11, noticing verse 7 - 'as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice"').
The Bible becomes an increasing influence and power in our life (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 5:14).
AS WE CONSIDER THE 'EXTERNAL' EVIDENCES THAT THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD OUR CONVICTION CONCERNING ITS INSPIRATION IS STRENGTHENED. THERE ARE MANY SUCH EVIDENCES AND EACH IS WORTHY OF THOUGHT.
The Bible's age.
Its preservation in spite of many attacks.
Its amazing unity, although made up of sixty-six different books, written by over forty authors, over a great period of time.
The prophecies made in the Bible that have been fulfilled (Deuteronomy 28:64; compared with Jeremiah 30:11; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 11:12-13).
Its knowledge of human nature.
Its frankness and honesty when dealing with its heroes.
Its superb moral teaching: it never falls short of the highest even in the darkest hours of human history.
Its power to change people's lives.
The testimony of much of contemporary science. The evidence that science gives concerning the creation of the universe, the evidence of geology, archaeology and geography all add confirmation to the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.
Most important of all the 'external' evidences is the Lord Jesus Christ's repeated testimony to the Old Testament as the Word of God (e.g. Matthew 5:18; Mark 12:36).
THE ESSENTIAL CONVICTION THAT THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD COMES NOT FROM THESE 'EXTERNAL' EVIDENCES, HOWEVER, BUT FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Spiritual insight is given to Christian believers (1 John 2:20, 1 John 2:27).
The Holy Spirit guides Christians into everything that is true (John 16:13-14).
Christians are given an understanding that is not natural to fallen human beings (1 Corinthians 2:10-12): this explains their growing conviction that the Bible is the Word of God.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is composed of the books of the Old and New Testaments, all uniquely inspired by God the Holy Spirit. It contains everything that we are to believe and do, so that our souls may be saved and our lives equipped to serve God.
THE BIBLE IS A COLLECTION OF BOOKS - A LIBRARY.
The Old Testament is made up of the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Book of Psalms (Luke 24:44).
BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS, AND YOU WILL BE SAVED
What we call historical books the Jews reckoned among their prophetic or inspired writings: 'the Psalms', as the first and longest item, was a way of referring to the final section of these inspired 'Writings'. The historical books record's dealings with His people, and provide the contemporary background of the prophets' ministries.
God's very words were entrusted to the Jews in the Old Testament Scriptures (Romans 3:2).
The New Testament has four parts: first, the four gospels, which record the earthly ministry of Jesus; second, the Acts of the Apostles, which describes the establishment and growth of the early Church; third, the letters which convey the teaching of the apostles to the early churches; and, fourth, the Book of the Revelation (sometimes called 'the Apocalypse' meaning 'an unveiling') which is a prophetic book, looking very much into the future.
The books of the Bible should be read as books rather than as collections of verses or texts.
The books of the Bible have come together from a variety of backgrounds:
They were written by kings (e.g. David wrote many of the Psalms), prophets (e.g. Isaiah), apostles (e.g. Paul), historians (e.g. The Books of Kings), and others (e.g. Luke and his gospel and the Acts).
They were written in several languages, although mainly in Hebrew (the Old Testament) and Greek (the New Testament).
They were written over a period of more than a thousand years.
They originated from places as far apart as Babylon and Rome.
They were written by as many as forty different individuals.
THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE HAVE TO DO WITH EITHER THE OLD OR THE NEW COVENANT, OR TESTAMENT.
The books of the Old Testament relate particularly to the covenant God made with the children of Israel in the desert before they entered the promised land (Exodus 19:5).
The essential message of the Old Testament (or covenant), with its demand for obedience to God's decrees and laws, was 'Do this and you will live' (Leviticus 18:5; Luke 10:28), although this is an over-simplification.
The books of the New Testament relate to the new covenant promised in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34), achieved and fulfilled through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 13:20).
The essential message of the New Testament is 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (Acts 16:31).
THE BOOKS OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS SHARE A COMMON INSPIRATION - THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The New Testament speaks often of the Scriptures as a product of the creative activity of God's Spirit. He is their primary author (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
More than 500 times in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) is divine authority claimed (e.g. statements such as those found in Deuteronomy 4:5 and Exodus 20:1).
The Lord Jesus Christ promised the Holy Spirit's inspiration to His apostles (John 14:26; John 15:26-27; John 16:13).
The apostles claimed to possess His inspiration (Acts 2:33; Acts 15:28; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8).
Where do we learn the truth?
From the Bible alone.
CHRISTIANITY PRESENTS US WITH UNIQUE HISTORICAL FACTS AND SPIRITUAL TRUTHS THAT ARE TO BE UNDERSTOOD AND BELIEVED (1 JOHN 1:1-4).
The deity of Christ (John 20:31);
His Incarnation (1 John 4:2, 3; 2 John 7; John 1:14);
His atoning death for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 2:2; 4:10);
His resurrection (John 20:26-29; 1 Corinthians 15:4; Acts 2:32);
His ascension (Acts 7:55, 56; Hebrews 1:3; 2:9);
His second coming (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
ALL THAT IS TAUGHT MUST BE EXAMINED AND TESTED IN THE LIGHT OF WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS.
THE RECORD OF THESE HISTORICAL FACTS AND THE WITNESS TO THESE SPIRITUAL TRUTHS ARE FOUND IN THE BIBLE (LUKE 1:1-4).
The deity of Christ (John 1:1-14; Matthew 16:13-20);
His Incarnation (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-7);
His atoning death for our sins (Matthew 27:26-61; Mark 15:15-41; Luke 23:27-49; John 19:13-37);
His resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-13; Luke 24:1-48; John 20:1-29; 1 Corinthians 15:4-8);
His ascension (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-11);
His second coming (Matthew 24:3-31; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
THE AUTHORITATIVE SIGNIFICANCE OR INTERPRETATION OF ANY FACT OR TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY IS WHAT THE BIBLE GIVES (JOHN 20:30-31; 1 CORINTHIANS 10:11).
Many of the truths of Christianity need explanation in detail (Luke 24:27; Acts 18:26).
Human understanding, unaided, cannot provide the satisfactory explanation (Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians 2:14).
The Scriptures were given by God to provide us with the illumination and instruction we need (Psalms 119:130; Matthew 21:42; Romans 15:4) - the basis on which the gospel is preached is the statements of the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-47; Acts 10:43; Acts 17:2; Acts 18:28; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to explain truths to which we would otherwise be blind (Luke 24:27).
When we fail to understand what the Scriptures say on a subject, we soon make mistaken judgments on spiritual matters (Mark 12:24; Matthew 22:29).
THE BIBLE ALONE MUST BE OUR AUTHORITY IN ALL MATTERS OF FAITH AND CONDUCT.
The Bible is authoritative (Matthew 22:31).
It is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
The revelation the Bible provides is final - anything that goes against it is false (Isaiah 8:20; Galations 1:8-9).
The revelation God has given in the Bible - through prophets, apostles and through the Lord Jesus Christ - is the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20).
All that is taught must be examined and tested in the light of what the Bible says (Acts 17:11).
What the Bible says must be the deciding factor in any decision that has to be made (Matthew 4:1-11; Acts 15:14-15).
The Bible teaches us all that is right and true and equips us to live in a way that pleases God (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
If we fail to recognize the Bible's supreme authority in matters of faith and conduct, we find ourselves breaking God's commandments by paying attention to lesser authorities (Matthew 15:1-9).
Hollow and delusive speculations based upon traditions of human teaching quickly capture our attention if we neglect the Bible's authority (Colossians 2:8).
EVERYTHING POINTS LOGICALLY TO THE SUPREME AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE WHENEVER CHRISTIANITY IS UNDER CONSIDERATION.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to fulfil the promises made by God in the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44).
The New Testament came into being because of the saving work of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1; Luke 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Revelation 1:19).
The Spirit of Christ who caused the Old Testament Scriptures to be written also caused the New Testament Scriptures to be written (John 14:26; Hebrews 2:4; 1 Peter 1:10-11).