The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
Light is such a wonderful description of the effect of the Bible on the human heart. I know, because on the evening I read and discussed Romans 5, I became a Christian. Through His Word, God led me out of darkness into light. No other word depicts so well the work God did through the Bible that summer evening as I sat on the grass outside a college dorm. Through the light of His Word, I met Jesus, the Light of the World.
Have you ever considered what Jesus taught about God’s Word? Do you understand why Christians believe the Bible is God’s Word? Years ago as I thought through how to explain why I believe the Bible is God’s Word, I decided the starting point was the truth that the New Testament is an accurate historical document attesting to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I want to walk you through my sequence of thought.
I’m not unique, and others who are far more learned than I am have described and expounded this sequence of thinking in greater detail. In “The Case For Inerrancy: A Methodological Analysis,” a chapter he wrote for God’s Inerrant Word, a book edited by John Warwick Montgomery, R. C. Sproul titled it “The Classical Method.” It is discussed by John Montgomery Boice in Does Inerrancy Matter? and by John W. Wenham in Christ & the Bible. You can find it at The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy or go to John Montgomery Boice’s “The Preacher and God’s Word,” and scroll down to page 135 for a quick summary.
I believe the Bible is God’s Word because I confess Jesus as Lord.
1. The New Testament is a set of accurate historical documents attesting to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I recommend John Warwick Montgomery’s History, Law and Christianity, a small book which can be read in just a few hours, or F. F. Bruce’s The New Testament Documents Are They Reliable? Bruce writes:
“The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”1
Bruce goes on to set forth the scholarship that attests to the authenticity of the New Testament and concludes at the end of the book:
“Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ-myth’, but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ-myth’ theories.’
“The earliest propagators of Christianity welcomed the fullest examination of the credentials of their message. The events which they proclaimed were, as Paul said to King Agrippa, not done in a corner, and were well able to bear all the light that could be thrown on them. The spirit of these early Christians ought to animate their modern descendants. For by an acquaintance with the relevant evidence they will not only be able to give to everyone who asks them a reason for the hope that is in them, but they themselves, like Theophilus, will thus know more accurately how secure is the basis of the faith which they have been taught.”2
So Luke wrote:
Christianity is grounded in the history of the person and work of Jesus Christ. The eyewitnesses of the New Testament attested to what they had seen and known about Jesus Christ. They wanted those who read their witness to know and to be confident of the truth regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ, because without Jesus Christ there is no Christian faith.
2. From the New Testament documents it is possible to observe what Jesus did and said, to understand the claims He made about Himself, and to make a decision about who He is.
A person can therefore read the Gospels as history, but then an unavoidable question arises—what does the reader think about Jesus Christ? There is no middle ground, Jesus said, He who is not with Me, is against Me.
C. S. Lewis writes in his essay, “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?”, from his book God In The Dock.
“This problem is to reconcile two things. One the one hand you have got the almost generally admitted depth and sanity of His moral teaching, which is not very seriously questioned, even by those who are opposed to Christianity…
“The other phenomenon is the quite appalling nature of this Man’s theological remarks. You all know what I mean, and I want rather to stress the point that the appalling claim which this Man seems to be making is not merely made at one moment of His career…
“On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac…There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions…
“The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion that undermines the whole mind of man… [I believe Lewis develops the choices as Liar, Lunatic or Lord in Mere Christianity].
“We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects-Hatred-Terror-Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval”3
3. Those who confess Jesus as Lord (see My Witness for my story of how I became a Christian) are inexorably drawn to examine, believe and obey His teaching in all matters. Not to do so is a denial of confessing Him as Lord.
4. As you read the Gospels, you will find that Jesus regarded the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament, as the authoritative and inerrant verbal revelation of God to His people.
As in the passage I quoted from John 5, Jesus continually used the Old Testament to define and validate His teaching regarding God and man, and His own person and ministry. Eyewitnesses described their conversation with Him on the road to Emmaus after His Resurrection.
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?”
And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”
And He said to them, “What things?”
And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”
J. I. Packer writes:
Here is a major issue for decision….There is no disputing that Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son, viewed these Scriptures as his Father’s Word…Nor is there really any disputing (despite skeptical poses struck by some scholars) that “God raised him from the dead” (Acts 13:30), thereby vindicating all he had said and done as right—including the way he had understood, taught and obeyed the Scriptures.4
Jesus clearly taught the Bible is the true, inerrant revelation of God to us. Packer goes on to say:
So, too, it is clear that the apostles, like their Lord, saw the Scriptures as the God-given verbal embodiment of teaching from the Holy Spirit…and that they claimed, nor merely that particular predictions were fulfilled in Christ (compare Acts 3:22–24), but that all the Jewish Scriptures were written for Christians (compare Rom 15:4; 16:26; 1 Cor 10:11; 2 Cor 3:6–16; 1 Pet 1:10–12; 2 Pet 3:16); and that they took over the Old Testament (Septuagint version) for liturgical and homiletical use in the churches alongside their own teaching.5
5. Jesus claimed God’s authority for His own words.
6. Not only did Jesus claim God’s authority for His own words, but He told His Apostles that the Holy Spirit would come to further teach them, thereby establishing God’s revelation of His Word in what we now call the New Testament.
Packer summarizes the understanding of the Apostles:
They also saw their own teaching and writing as inspired in just the same sense in which the Old Testament was inspired (compare 1 Cor 2:12; 14:37; 1 Jn 4:6; and so on), so that the later cojoining of their official writing with the Old Testament to form the two-part Christian Bible was a natural and necessary step. None of this is open to serious doubt.6
7. We can therefore conclude that Jesus taught that the Bible is the truthful and authoritative—verbal, plenary, infallible, inerrant, unlimited, inspired—Word of God.
From the words of Jesus Christ, Christians gain our doctrine of the nature and authority of Scripture. My pastor, Mike Braun, wrote:
The Old and New Testaments, in their entirety, are the Word of God written and are therefore inerrant in their original hand. All Scripture was given by inspiration [of God] and is fully authoritative for the Christian in all its teaching. Whatever is taught by Scripture is to be accepted, believed in, and affirmed by all who bear the name ‘Christian.’
Your growth in faith, hope and love is through hearing and heeding the preaching and the teaching of the Bible, and through your own reading and study of God’s Word.
Visualizing the Bible® Chris Harrison. Used by permission. Click the image to enlarge.
This image was named one of the best science images of 2008 in National Geographic News. An art print of the image can be purchase at Chris’s site here. He explains:
“The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc – the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.”
ESV: English Standard Version
1, 2F. F. Bruce, New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
3C. S. Lewis, “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” God In The Dock.
4, 5, 6J. I. Packer, Truth & Power: The Place of the Scripture in the Christan Life (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1996), 102–103, 103, 103.
Copyright ©2012–2021 Iwana Carpenter