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Richard Bennett :: Chapter 2 Is Your Spiritual Guide Reliable?

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Your Quest for God — Chapter 2

Is Your Spiritual Guide Reliable?

A dark cave can easily be traversed by one who has entered it with a torch. —Plato

Nature is the dim light from the cave’s mouth; the torch is Scripture. —A. H. Strong

Some time ago newspapers recounted the alarming fact that the tragic loss of human life in an airplane crash had been caused by a faulty radar signal. And yet that tragic accident pales into insignificance when compared to what happens if people put their confidence in a ‘spiritual radar system’ which directs them to spiritual disaster.

Today there are many conflicting and confusing voices in the world, each claiming to be a guide to God. How can you know which one to trust? In your quest for God you cannot afford to be guided by the wrong voice because the issues at stake are eternal.

British Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone wrote: “The Bible is stamped with a speciality of origin, and an immeasurable distance separates it from all its competitors.”

American President Abraham Lincoln once said: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.”

Even though many great men of history have indeed testified to its uniqueness, the Bible really stands on its own record.

King David was clear about the reliability of his spiritual guide. He said: Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105 NASB).

To this very day people are finding the Bible can be trusted to guide them to God. In spite of those who have tried to destroy its credibility, the Bible stands as firm and faithful today as it did in days gone by; it is truly unique among the writings of the world.

Because people need the assurance that the Bible is both unique and authentic, God has stamped it with many seals that verify its being ‘The Word of God.’ Both within the pages of Scripture and also from the records of secular history, an honest enquirer will find overwhelming evidence to support the fact that: All Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB).

If the Bible had been written by one writer, we would not be surprised to find its theme developing in an orderly and progressive manner. This Book of Books, however, was not written by one person, but by many different authors from diverse cultures over a time span of several centuries; yet it contains a consistent, orderly and unique development of the truth about God. That in itself is most remarkable, more than remarkable—miraculous!

In addition, archaeological diggers are continually unearthing new evidence which further confirms the historical accuracy of the Bible record. Events that were once ridiculed as fiction have now been verified by the spades of modern archaeologists. [1]

Yes, the Bible truly is God’s Book containing God’s message to all people.

In spite of the fact that the Bible is God’s Book, some people are still ‘turned off’ from reading it because of a popular delusion that the world is divided into two groups: scientists who face the facts, and true believers who shut their eyes to them. The implication is that a real scientist cannot be a true believer. Today, however, there are many great scientists who deny this assumption. Though the Bible is not a scientific textbook, wherever it does touch on these areas it has never been discredited by established scientific facts. Instead, in its purpose and design, the Bible goes far beyond the limitations of science.

For instance, science cannot explain why we are here on Planet Earth, nor can it tell us where we are going after our life here on earth ends. Neither can science tell us what life is all about, or even the real value of a person. No matter how clever (or simple) a person may be, each one needs divine help to come to know the truth about God. That is surely why the French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, said: “The supreme achievement of reason is to show us that there is a limitation to reason.” We would never have reliable answers to life’s most important questions if it were not for God’s Book.

Now let us consider two strong indications that the Bible is in fact God’s Book.

The first is the incredible accuracy of its prophetic predictions. The second is the powerful and positive influence that it has exerted in the lives of those people who have taken its message seriously.

The Bible’s Prophetic Accuracy

There is a built-in curiosity in most of us to know what the future holds. And the Bible reveals some of the most important events of the future, many in intricate and fascinating detail. Now you may well ask: “How can you be so sure?”

To answer this question let us imagine that you are taking a walking holiday in a country where you have never been before. The map in your hand is your only guide. Yesterday you found this map to be totally reliable for, just as it had indicated, you had found a river and then the village where you slept last night. Today you must decide a new path to take. Before you is unfamiliar territory, but your map indicates that if you turn left you will go through some woods to a place where you will find a large lake. Now you would like to see that lake, so what would you do? I think you would follow the directions of the map and take a left turn. Surely, the main reason for your confidence in doing this would be the fact that yesterday your map proved to be an accurate guide in an unknown territory. It told you what you would find before you got there, and it was right!

One of the most remarkable proofs that the Bible is the Word of God is its unique accuracy when it prophesies future events. In its pages we read many prophecies which, from today’s perspective, we know have been exactly fulfilled even as they had been predicted hundreds of years before.

These prophecies cover a remarkable scope, embracing all the peoples of the earth, as well as including very specific details about Israel and the Middle East. Even more important are the hundreds of predictions relating to the coming of the Messiah. Because many of these messianic prophecies are now history, we recognize how incredibly accurate they were in some extremely unlikely details about the Messiah’s birth, life and death.

On the basis of such a track record, it is reasonable (and right) to assume that the future will unfold exactly as the Bible predicts. And each year, further evidence of the Bible’s prophetic accuracy unfolds before our very eyes. In fact, to read the Bible is to read tomorrow’s newspaper.

Dr. Wilbur Smith was a life-long student of the Bible. He took particular delight in pointing out the detailed accuracy of Bible prophecy. Contrasting the many prophecies in the Old Testament that speak of the Messiah with the teachings of others who claim to have the truth, Wilbur Smith noted that “Mohammedanism cannot point to any prophecies of the coming Mohammed uttered hundreds of years before his birth. Neither can the founders of any cult rightly identify any ancient text which specifically foretells their appearance.”

Now we must acknowledge that there are certain so-called ‘prophecies’ which do not require much inspiration to be accurate.

With the aid of computers, election-day interviews and historical data, the news media can sometimes predict the winner of an election before the ballot boxes close. With all the statistics that are available to them, there is nothing very remarkable when they ‘call’ the winner ahead of time, and even then they sometimes miss!

However, try asking any news reporter to identify the candidates who will be running for election twenty or fifty years from now. Ask him who will win, and then ask him for details about the places where the winners will be born, their future lifestyles, and even the circumstances that will surround their deaths. Go even beyond that and ask the news reporter for reliable information about what will happen in the Middle East 1,000 years from now. Also ask him to specify cities that will be annihilated during that long period of time.

Surely you will agree that each time an additional prediction is demanded of that news reporter the incredible odds against his being accurate in his prophecy are vastly increased. That is, of course, unless the God of eternity were telling him about the future; only in that case would we expect the reporter to know the end from the beginning. And such occurrences as those we have suggested for our news reporter together with many of even more intricate detail and covering an even longer time span have been prophesied in the Bible.

The history of the city of ancient Tyre, for example, is an incredible fulfillment of what God predicted would happen to this city.

If you are so inclined, first read the prophecies that are recorded in Ezekiel 26:3-21 NASB, and then turn to the Encyclopedia Britannica and other records of history. In both you will be reading the same story, the first one as prophecy, and the second one as history.

Prophecy: A long time before the events occurred, God prophesied a turbulent future for the city of Tyre. He said:

Behold, I…will bring up many nations against you,…they will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers. Also, it was foretold that the very site on which this city of fame was built would be scraped to make her a bare rock. Even more than that, it was prophesied that they will…throw your stones and your timbers and your debris into the water. But the incredible details of these prophecies do not conclude with that. God said of ancient Tyre:…you will be a place for the spreading of nets (Ezekiel 26:3, 4, 12, 14 NASB).

History: When you read the historical records, you will verify that when Nebuchad-nezzar destroyed the old (mainland) city of Tyre, he did indeed break down the walls and towers just as had been predicted. And later the engineers of Alexander the Great did scrape the ancient city of Tyre clean and did leave her like a bare rock.

When they threw the rubble of the city into the sea to make a causeway to the island, it was just as it had been prophesied: the stones and the timber and the dust were in fact thrown into the water. Yes, to this very day the ruins of ancient Tyre are buried by the waters of the sea. God said it would happen and it did.

Though there is a well-known city called Tyre in the Middle East today, this is not the ancient city of Tyre which was finally destroyed in 1291.

If you were able to visit the site of ancient Tyre, you would see an even more incredible fulfillment of these prophecies. There you would view a few fishermen’s cottages clustered together in a little village, where you would view fishing boats drifting out to sea and fishing nets drying on bare rocks! How could human wisdom have predicted this unlikely future for such a thriving commercial city as that of ancient Tyre?

Peter Stoner compared seven prophecies about Ancient Tyre with the historical record. After calculating the mathematical probability that Ezekiel’s prophecies would be fulfilled, he stated:

If Ezekiel had looked at Tyre in his day, and made these seven predictions in human wisdom, these estimates mean that there would have been one chance in 75,000,000 of their all coming true. They all came true in the minutest detail.

Now let us look at just one of the predictions concerning the birth of a baby.

Matthew, a retired government tax official, recalled four of the many remarkable prophecies that were fulfilled when Jesus was born. In one of them, Matthew referred to the prophet Micah, who had thundered denunciations against the phony rulers of his day. Micah’s heart was broken because when he was alive his nation lacked genuine leadership authority. However, Micah saw a brighter future when God showed him that one day a Ruler would be born. He even pinpointed the exact birthplace of this coming Leader.

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity (Micah 5:2 NASB).

God revealed that the needed Ruler in Israel would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah.

Just as Micah prophesied, Jesus was born, not in His family’s home town of Nazareth, but in Bethlehem Ephrathah; born there because of the decree of a Roman Emperor. It was census time and His parents were obeying an imperial decree. Accordingly, they left home to go to Bethlehem. Surely no one would look for the Ruler from little Bethlehem, which was only one of many Judean towns. The odds against His being born there are incredible. Yet it happened just as Micah had predicted. And this is only one of literally hundreds of such amazing prophecies about the life of Jesus.

We read that God declares:

The end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ (Isaiah 46:10 NASB).

I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass…Therefore I declared them to you long ago, before they took place I proclaimed them to you (Isaiah 48:3, 5 NASB).

History has proved that these prophecies, given by God and recorded in the Bible, have a 100% accuracy rating.

The Bible’s Powerful Influence

A second powerful proof that the Bible is the Word of God is the influence that it has exerted. Socially, culturally and individually the message of the Bible has dignified the human race whenever and wherever it has been taught and believed.

Just before the first revision of this book was to go to print, a new friend visited our home. Together we reviewed the manuscript. Though not readily given to a display of emotion, he became quite overcome with tears as we read Chapter Seven. Twice we stopped to bow in prayer and to give praise to the God whose love we were reading about. Together we thanked God for His patience, His mercy and for every token of His love in our unworthy lives. As we sensed the vibrant, vital presence of the living God, we were filled with joy.

That day was especially significant for my friend. Exactly one year earlier, he had been sitting alone in a luxury apartment which was quite a contrast to the modesty of the dwelling where we now met.

But at that time the beauty that had surrounded him had given him no joy. In fact, he had such inward despair that he had no real desire to live. In his quest for personal happiness, he had indulged all the animal impulses of his manhood. A cocaine habit had cost him a fortune. ‘Downers’ and ‘uppers’, brandy and whisky all had been part of his daily drag. For years, in Europe and around the world, he had partied with the wealthiest of the wealthy, but on that night he was alone. In his solitude, his memory-induced despondency was now deepened by what he considered to be a threatening and fearful world situation. For him there seemed no way out.

With grim determination he loaded his twin-barreled handgun, held it to his temple and cocked the trigger. “Just 1/8 of an inch away from oblivion,” he thought, “then my pain will be over forever.” At that split second (my friend does not know how it happened) the television program changed. He found himself listening to a message from the Bible that presented a future of hope. As the midnight hour approached and quite alone, he fell on the floor before the living God to ask for forgiveness and mercy.

Because the power of God had so radically transformed my friend’s life, the man before me bore little resemblance to the one I have briefly described. Before his birth, his parents had prayed for him; and though as a young man he had studied the Bible, he had refused to take its message seriously. In his world of affluence and privilege, he had rebelled against God and indulged in incredible moral license.

Seventeen years before that memorable night when he eventually found God, my friend had bought a beautiful leather-bound book. It contained blank white pages. His intent had been to record every significant event of his life from that day on. And yet nothing in those seventeen years of extravagant and wasteful living had merited one entry.

The fact is that all during those years my friend, having turned his back upon the living God, had traveled a strange and unsatisfying pseudo-spiritual journey. It had begun with an interest in the daily horoscope and an obsession with rock music and rock concerts. Soon he became involved in the occult. Later his fascination with Yoga led to a serious study of Hindu philosophy and to eventual involvement with Eastern Mysticism. Nothing that he had experienced during those years had merited a single entry in his brown leather notebook. Its pages remained white with the ache of emptiness until that memorable night when he met God.

That night my friend recorded his first entry. I had the joy of reading what he wrote. It is a sacred and spiritual account of a needy man who was saved by a loving God. It is beautiful indeed. In great mercy, God had broken through his spiritual blindness and had delivered him from despair and death by the light of His unchanging truth and amazing love.

It is because of man’s spiritual confusion like the blindness of my friend that God has revealed Himself in a book that is called the Bible. If you turn from the Bible, the only reliable spiritual guide, you will shut yourself up in delusion and error. But if, in your search for God, you turn to the Bible with a teachable mind, you will find it to contain all the spiritual light and direction that you need.

Only through God’s Word can we gain a clear understanding of God as He has declared Himself. In this Book, we are introduced to Truth itself, to the Word of God, to the Light of the World.

  Lord, Thy Word abideth,
  And our footsteps guideth;
  Who its truth believeth,
  Light and joy receiveth.

Pause to Consider

  1. Are there any other manuscripts or ‘sacred writings’ that can compare with the Bible in their accuracy in predicting future events?
  2. Do you personally know people whose lives have been transformed because they have heeded the message of the Bible?
  3. Have you ever belittled the unique teachings of the Bible while at the same time you neglected to read it with an open mind?

[1] For example, in 1868, a German traveler named Klein visited the ancient land of Moab, which is today called ‘Jordan.’ There he discovered a stone monument on which were inscribed thirty-four lines written by Mesha, King of Moab. This inscription was recorded in memory of his revolt against Israel. Both Omri and Ahab are mentioned in 2 Kings 1 and again on the monument. In both cases we are told that these Israelite kings were oppressors of Moab. Many such modern day discoveries confirm the historical accuracy of the Biblical record.

Chapter 1 Is There Really a God? ← Prior Section
Chapter 3 What Is God Like? Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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