by Steven Chan
In last week’s article we have established that there is a God who created the “heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). By the scientific process of careful observation of the universe, the design of man and natural laws that make the life on earth possible, we infer that the Creator God is far greater than man and He is of infinite wisdom and power. We also note that the inherent sense in man of “right and wrong” declares our origin from a moral God. Evolution or Big Bang cannot explain intelligent design of the universe and the intricate and complex design of man with his ability to reason, body systems (skeletal, muscular, nervous, cardio-vascular- heart & blood, respiratory & digestive systems), appreciation of love and beauty, etc… Non-living matter cannot possibly produce living matter. Only life can produce life. God is eternal in existence: by definition, He is not a created being (He is the Creator) and only He can give life.
We also establish that being the infinite God, it would not be possible for man to know what God’s purpose and will for man is, unless He has chosen to reveal it to man. Who can know the mind of God, except the Spirit of God? Listen to what the Bible says: “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor 2:11). And the Bible declares: “it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.”
Yes, the Bible claims to be God’s revelation to man: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17); “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet 1:21). So, one will note that the writers of the Bible would often state “thus says the Lord”. The Bible is not a compilation of man’s effort to discover God; the 40 different writers who wrote over a period of 1500 years claimed that they were merely God’s prophets or His spokesmen. This is a distinctive difference from other religious books. Its inspiration from God is the reason for it being profitable as a guide to man. If it was not inspired by God, then it is no better than any book written by mortal man. It would not be a sure and certain guide for man.
So, how may one know that the Bible truly comes from God? The process of authentication is not any different from that authenticating a currency note from a counterfeit. One looks for the identifying marks that points to it necessarily being a product of divine origin, beyond any reasonable doubt.
Here are some distinctive marks of the Bible that point to it being written by holy men who were “moved by the Holy Spirit”: –
- Its incredible unity of theme, in spite of it being written by about 40 different writers with different social background living in a period spanning 1500 years. How is it possible that there is a consistent progressive unfolding of the underlying theme of God’s scheme of redemption for man?
- Such progressive unfolding of God’s scheme of redemption was recorded in the midst of or alongside with the secular socio-political (i.e. non-religious) events of the day. So one can verify the historical accuracy of the accounts of the Bible. Indeed, archaeological discoveries have confirmed that the Bible that it is indeed accurate in its historical accounts.
For example, the Bible mentioned the presence of the Hittites people during the time when Joshua led the conquest of the land of Canaan (Josh 11:3-4) but for many years, there was no record anywhere in secular (non-religious) history of such a people. So, some questioned the historical accuracy of the Bible record. But in 1906 an archaeologist, Hugo Winckler excavated in the city of Boghaz-Koy in Turkey and discovered that the capital of the Hittites, Hattusha was located there. This is just one of many examples of the historical accuracy of the Bible records.
- How do we know that the prophets who claimed to speak from God were truly speaking from God? It is always good to have a healthy dose of skepticism with regards various claims (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess 5:21; 1 John 4:1). So, what does the Bible says for itself?
When Moses expressed to God the concern that some may question whether God had indeed spoken to Moses, God told him to perform certain supernatural feats that authenticate his claim that God had indeed commissioned him to go and deliver Israel from the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 4:1-9),
God also told the Israelites of the test that they should use to verify the authenticity of whoever claimed to be speaking on God’s behalf:-
“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deut 18:20-22)
However, even if a so-called prophet was able to perform a sign but he taught the people to follow after other gods (or other so-called deities) then the people should also not follow him (Deut 13:1-4)
Fulfilled prophecies are an important authentication factor for believing that the prophets whose teachings were recorded in the Bible indeed spoke from God. For example, nearly 700 years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah by inspiration from God wrote thus:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel”. (Isa 7:14. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, here’s what Matthew observed: “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matt 1:22-23)
In the New Testament, God confirmed the Word preached by the apostles, with signs following:-
“And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen”. (Mark 16:20)
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Heb 2:3-4)
A similar warning to that Deut 13:1-4 was also given in 2 Thess 2:9 and 1 John 4:1-6. Jesus said: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits.” (Matt 7:15-16)
Jesus Himself performed “signs and miracles” and these have been recorded in the Bible so that we may believe that He is truly the Son of God (John 20:30-31). Of course, the most overwhelming sign is His resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:3; 1 Cor 15:12-19)
God’s Word as delivered to us through the prophets, and through Jesus Christ and His apostles has been confirmed by those who heard them alongside the signs/miracles that accompanied them (Heb 1:1-2; 2:4; John 17:8, 14:26; 16:13; 1 John 1:1-4; 2 Pet 1:16-19).
We now have the complete revelation of God (the faith or the system/teaching of faith in Christ; the terms of the New Covenant mediated through Christ) “once for all delivered” to us all for which we must contend earnestly (Jude 3).
In summary, the apostle Peter wrote this word of assurance and exhortation: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place…”
The Bible has given us ample evidence for us to believe that the Scriptures cannot possibly be a product of mere man but indeed evinces the authorship of God. No amount of conspiracy of man can possibly produce such a library of writings with its marvelous harmony and unity of subject matter together with its accuracy in historical (as confirmed by archaeological discoveries) and scientific matters and fulfilled prophecies. The teachings of the Bible upholding the virtue of truth and condemnation of lies and liars, are not compatible with a fraudulent claim of divine authorship.
A careful study of God’s revelation as recorded in the Bible would remove any doubt that it is truly inspired or God-breathed. The Bible reveals the origin of man, the purpose of man on earth and the eternal destiny of man after death. It also reveals the loving, merciful and caring God who desires man to be in fellowship with Him so that He may bless us abundantly as He said to His people through His prophet Jeremiah: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11).
It is to this “hope” from God that we will turn to study next.