You Can Trust the Bible
By Thomas Lindberg
July 17, 2011
My cousin is an amateur rock climber. “When you’re 1,000 feet up a sheer cliff,” he once told me, “you have to depend on your climbing partners. One serious mistake or error on their part can cost you your life.”
Trust, an all-important component in climbing, is also essential in the Christian life. The Bible you hold in your hand certainly deserves your trust, and for good reason. It is God’s divinely communicated “climbing partner” for your life.
Some people struggle to trust God’s Word. As one man said to me not long ago: “I no longer put much trust in the Bible my mother gave me when I was a boy. The Bible was written more than 2,000 years ago. The people in the Bible walked to their jobs; I fly to my appointments. People in the Bible took care of sheep; I do spreadsheets on my laptop. What relevance does a 2,000-year-old book have to me?”
What Did Jesus Think About the Bible?
Can a person believe in the Lord Jesus as the Son of God, but not in the inerrancy and authority of the Bible? It’s possible, but that person faces a dilemma. Here’s why: Jesus endorsed the Bible as fully true and completely authoritative. As His followers, we must follow Him in our personal beliefs.
During Jesus’ earthly life, the 39 books of the Old Testament were regarded as Holy Scripture. When tempted by Satan in the desert, three times Jesus quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy to defeat the devil’s attack (see Matthew 4). When quoting the words in Deuteronomy, Jesus did so with confidence and authority. He firmly believed the Old Testament was God’s Word.
When Jesus delivered what we call today the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7), He laid down His core beliefs and principles for His kingdom. When He addressed the issue of Scripture, He boldly declared, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17,18, NKJV).
Among the biblical accounts viewed with skepticism by critics today are the creation of Adam and Eve, the account of Noah and his ark, and the narrative concerning Jonah in the belly of the great fish. “These must be considered myths today. No clear-thinking person can place credibility in those fanciful stories,” goes the reasoning.
Yet in Matthew 19:3-6, Jesus asserted the historicity of the first couple. In Luke 17:26,27, the Lord Jesus affirmed that Noah actually did enter the ark and used the account to teach about the future. In Matthew 12:38-41, Christ clearly stated His belief that Jonah literally was in the belly of the great fish.
It is clear Jesus absolutely believed what He said in John 17:17: “Your Word is truth.”
Biblical Inerrancy and the Church
Historic Christianity has always held to the infallibility, inerrancy and authority of the Bible. The confessions and creeds of the church councils through the centuries have defended the divine inspiration of the Bible.
The Bible was written over a span of 1,600 years by about 40 authors. They wrote out of very different personalities and in very different circumstances. Some wrote from a plush palace setting, while others penned their words from prison or exile. Written in three different languages on three different continents, the biblical authors used some 11,280 Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words.
Yet the Bible stands today as totally unique. Despite the fact it touches hundreds of complex subjects and controversial topics, it possesses a supernatural harmony from beginning to end. Martin Luther called this the analogy of faith.
God miraculously inspired kings and poets and prophets and shepherds. Inspiration is not God merely working through the thoughts of human authors. Rather, God inspired precise words to be written. Inspiration is not merely God’s influence as someone reads the Bible. Inspiration is in the words of Scripture for all time, not just in the moment of reading.
But God did not treat the biblical authors like writing machines. In each book of the Bible you feel the personality of the human author, expressed in the words of God. Remember that the Bible says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16).
It is helpful to define and distinguish three terms: revelation, inspiration and illumination.
· Revelation: This isn’t referring to the last book in the Bible, but to the revelation of all Scripture. Revelation means what God wrote in the Bible.
· Inspiration: Whereas revelation deals with what God wrote, inspiration addresses how God wrote it. The Greek word for “inspiration” is theopneustos. It’s a combination of the words Theos (God) and pneu (breath), meaning “God-breathed.”
· Illumination: Illumination deals with the who of biblical inerrancy and authority. The Holy Spirit illuminated the authors’ minds to write the Scriptures; He also illuminates our minds to understand it.
“But All We Have Today Are Copies”
“Yes, I believe the original autographs (manuscripts) of the Bible were inspired,” some say, “but today all we have are copies of copies. Can I really trust and believe Bible translations today?”
It is true we do not possess any original manuscripts of the Bible. Our oldest copies are dated about 100 years after the deaths of the last biblical writers. However, the scribes who copied and transmitted the Scriptures from generation to generation went to incredible lengths to guarantee accuracy.
This can be proven by comparing the more than 5,000 ancient manuscripts we have of the Bible. Not one major doctrine varies or is in dispute. You can believe just as the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, He also guarded their transmission through the centuries.
Go to any university in America today and you can read and study the writings of Plato. He lived before Jesus Christ. We have less than a dozen ancient manuscripts of Plato (none of which are original autographs), yet no one doubts the reliability of Plato’s words today. Believe me, you can trust the Bible in your hand!
Three P’s About Your Bible
The Bible’s purpose, power and practicality work together to offer you an invaluable resource for your walk of faith. You can trust God’s Word.
The Purpose of the Bible
A main purpose of the Bible stated in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 is to bring salvation to people. Let’s be clear — no one is saved by the Bible. But the Bible reveals the Lord Jesus to a person, and Jesus will save all who trust Him. A hospital cannot cure our diseases. But sick people can go to a hospital and meet a physician who is able to deliver a cure. The purpose of the Bible is to connect you with Jesus Christ who can save you.
When a child is conceived, two parents are required. When spiritual birth occurs, two “parents” are also involved: The Scriptures and the Savior. No one can work themselves into God’s family.
Too many people have the notion they can pull themselves up into God’s family through good works, but this idea is totally wrong (see Titus 3:5). We can no more work our way into God’s family than robots can work their way into the human family. The Bible reveals the Savior who is able to redeem us.
The Power of the Bible
I have listened to well-meaning believers (and even preachers) say something like, “Now take it from me. Here is my experience, and this is what I believe. You can count this as gospel.” I’m a strong believer in both experience and personal conviction; the power of Scripture goes far beyond both.
In 2 Peter 1, the apostle asserts the divinity and authority of the Lord Jesus. He says in verse 16, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (NIV). In simple words, Peter said, “Take it from me. I was there, I heard Him, and I saw it all.”
Then, amazingly, in verse 19, Peter goes on to say, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” In other words, “Yes, I was there and saw it all. But don’t rest your convictions and beliefs on what I experienced. There is something far more significant. We have a more certain word from God, that is the Bible!”
The apostle ultimately pointed people away from himself and to the Scriptures. Why? Because there is inherent power in God’s Word (see Isaiah 45:23; 46:10; 55:11; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:24).
The Practicality of the Bible
While it is true the Bible can be defended intellectually and academically, it can and must be used devotionally and practically. When I was a boy, I memorized this verse: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11, KJV). I’ve always liked Charles Spurgeon’s comment on that verse. He said you have the best thing (God’s Word) in the best place (your heart) producing the best result (not sinning against God).
God inspired His Word to change your life and fortify your faith. Trust the Bible you hold in your hand. It’s a solid foundation upon which you can stand.
Dr. THOMAS LINDBERG is senior pastor of First Assembly of God of Memphis in Cordova, Tenn.
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