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Don Stewart :: Can We Be Confident That the Correct Books Are in the Bible?

Don Stewart

There are a number of reasons as to why believers can be confident the correct books are in the Bible. They are as follows.

1. God's Words Are Important To Him

God's Word is very important to Him. The Bible says that He love those who are His and has given them His Word to live by.

They are not just idle words for you - they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess (Deuteronomy 32:47).

Jesus said to the devil when He was tempted.

"It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4).

If God's Words are important to Him, then it is logical to assume that He would do what He could to preserve them.

2. The Nature Of God Makes It Logical

The nature of God also has to be considered. The Bible is clear that God has controlled all of history. He sets up rulers and nations and He also brings them down. This being the case, it makes sense that He would make certain that those who believe in Him would have exactly the right information - nothing more, nothing less. This is especially true in light of the severe judgments that He places upon those who attempt to add or subtract to His Word.

Jesus said the following about the nature of God.

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:9-12).

Consequently the Lord would not keep anything from His children that is absolutely necessary for their well-being.

3. The Power Of God Makes It Likely

The preservation of the correct books in both testaments is a work of God. As God has miraculously intervened in history to bring forth His eternal plan He has also intervened in history in such a way as to preserve His Holy Word for lost humanity.

4. The Providence Of God Comes Into Play

The providence of God has to be considered in the matter of the canon. God has led certain writers to record his truth for humankind. If this is the case, then we would naturally expect that He would providentially protect these various writings. If the canon of Scripture contains books that do not belong, or does not contain books that do belong, then humanity is in an impossible situation. No one would have any idea concerning which books should be added or which should be deleted. Fortunately God's providence can give assurance to believers that his truth has come to humankind with the exact number of writings - nothing more and nothing less.

5. There Is An Old Testament Precedent

We also have the precedent of the Old Testament. Jesus believed and taught that the Old Testament was complete and nothing needed to be added to it. The fact that God accomplished this task with the Old Testament should cause us to trust Him that He would do the same with the New Testament. We also have the testimony of Jesus with respect to the Old Testament. He believed it was the Word of God.

And He answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? "For God said, `Honor your father and mother,' and, `He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.' (Matthew 15:3,4).

He also gave testimony to its extent.

So that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar (Matthew 23:35).

Consequently Jesus, who was God in human flesh acknowledges the authority of the Old Testament as well as its extent.

6. The Work Of The Holy Spirit

Moreover the message of Scripture is spiritually discerned. Only those who have God's Holy Spirit in their lives are able to discern between spiritual truth from spiritual error. Jesus said.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).

God's people will recognize His voice and obey it. They will also know when someone is making a false claim to speak for God. The work of the Holy Spirit guided God's people in receiving the correct books in Scripture.

The Holy Spirit Gives Confirmation

Believers are not able to acknowledge the extent of Scripture apart from the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit testifies that the Scriptures are true. From the first century, until the present time, the Holy Spirit has confirmed these writings as authoritative Scripture.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).

7. The Character Of The Books Reveal Their Authority

The character of the writings themselves reveal their divine authority. When put to the personal test, the books of Scripture satisfy the spiritual longings of humanity. They pass the personal test.

No Other Books Have Such Authority

Not one of the many different gospels, acts, letters, and apocalypses that have been during the last two thousand years compare to the canonical books of the New Testament. The only reliable sources about the life of Christ, the early years of the church, and Christian belief, come from the New Testament. This is something that Bible-believing Christians have long known from the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. While the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the believer does not give the authority to these New Testament books, it confirms the authority the books already possess.

When the Lord Jesus comes a second time, a written Scripture will no longer be necessary. Until that time, we have a trustworthy Bible that tells us what to believe and how to live.

Summary

We can be confident that the correct books are in the Bible for a number of reasons.

First, God has made it clear that His words are important to Him. Consequently we should expect them to be accurately preserved. Second, the nature of God is such that we can have confidence that He has done this. Since God has already miraculously intervened in human history we should also expect Him to intervene here.

There is also the providence of God that needs to be considered. If God went to the trouble of divinely inspiring certain books to be composed, then it only logically follows that he would providentially protect these books. Otherwise each person would be left to his or her own idea of which books were authoritative and which were not.

We also have an Old Testament precedent. God gave humanity a certain number of authoritative books during the Old Testament period.

Add to this the testimony of Jesus. He limited the extent of the Old Testament canon as well as acknowledging its authority.

The work of the Holy Spirit among believers should not be underestimated in our quest for determining if the correct books are in Scripture. Jesus promised that believers would hear his voice and follow him - they would not follow another shepherd. The Holy Spirit was at work among the believers when the various books that claimed divine authority were examined.

The work of the Holy Spirit and the providence of God should assure the Bible that nothing has been added to Scripture and nothing is missing.

Finally, the character of these books testify to their divine authority.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

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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