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Don Stewart :: How Do We Know the Bible Is the Word of God?

Don Stewart

How do we know the Bible is what is claims to be - the Word of God?The Bible claims to be God's communication to humanity; but is this claim true?

There Are Two Basic Approaches

There are two different approaches that are taken when it comes to arguing for the Bible to be the Word of God. First, there are those who believe that the Scripture is self-authenticating. The Bible is true because it says it is true and the Holy Spirit bears witness to this truth. No other argument is necessary.

A second approach believes that the claims of Scripture have sufficient evidence to back them up. Those who hold this view believe there is overwhelming evidence to convince anyone that the Bible is what it claims to be - the Word of God.

Approach 1: The Bible Is Self-Authenticating

To many people the issue of the Bible's authority is something that should not be debated. The authority of the Bible must be believed because the Scripture says so. This is usually argued in the following ways.

1. Let The Bible Speak For Itself

The Bible should be allowed to speak for itself. It clearly claims to be God's Word. It doesn't need defending. If we attempt to defend the Bible, then we are placing some other standard as the ultimate judge. Whether it is scientific or historical accuracy, human reasoning, or some other standard, what we are doing is placing Scripture under that standard. What Scripture says should be our ultimate standard and everything should be judged by its claims.

The problem with humanity is that sinful, finite human beings still must evaluate any evidence offered for the truthfulness of the Christian faith. Again, it places some sort of human standard as the final authority. Evidence gathered from other sources may be useful but it has nothing convincing to say about the truth of Christianity.

2. The Bible Can Testify On One's Own Behalf

In a court of law people have a right to testify on their own behalf. Since the Bible is the Word of God, the author, God, should be allowed to testify what sort of Book the Bible is. This is particularly true because the Bible says that God cannot lie. His testimony should be received as final.

3. The Witness Of The Holy Spirit Demonstrates Its Truthfulness

However, the Bible does more than merely claim to be God's Word. The witness of the Spirit shows the reader that the Bible is the Word of God. When the truths of the Bible are personally applied, the credibility of the Bible is demonstrated. Paul wrote.

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:2).

Paul said that people would see the Bible at work in the lives of the people. This was its testimony. When the truths are lived out in one's life we find that they work.

As a person reads the Bible they find the Holy Spirit giving confirmation that what they are reading is God's Word. Therefore we not only have the claim of Scripture we also have the witness of the Holy Spirit that these things are true.

This Is Arguing In A Circle

Those who criticize this approach say that it is circular reasoning - it is assuming what it should be proving. By quoting the Bible to prove the Bible does not prove anything. Why should the claims of the Bible be believed? There are many religious books that claim to convey truth. In addition, adherents can be found who will testify as to the power of the truths in these books to change their lives. How can anyone know which claims, if any of them, are right and which claims are wrong? Religious experience alone is not a valid test.

Approach 2: Examine The Evidence

A second approach to the truth of the Bible's claims is to examine the evidence about the truthfulness of Christianity. The Bible's claim to authority is not in and of itself proof of its divine authority. Arguing that the claims of the Bible are more persuasive than the claims of all other religious writings does not always work in real life. There will be those who are not convinced of the Bible's claims. What should we do with these people?

There Are Three Lines Of Evidence

The Bible never argues for the existence of God - it takes it for granted. But the New Testament does argue about the truth of its claims through three lines of evidence. They consist of miracles, fulfilled prophecy, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When the evidence is considered the verdict become clear - the Bible is the Word of God.

Do What Jesus' Followers Did

Because the claims of Scripture do not constitute any type of convincing proof we should argue the same way in which Jesus disciples argued. They presented compelling proof to the people that Jesus was the Christ. For example, on the Day of Pentecost Peter told the crowd.

"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know - this man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to death. "But God raised him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for him to be held in its power. "For David says of him, 'I saw the Lord always in my presence; for he is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 'Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; Because you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow your Holy One to undergo decay. 'You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence' (Acts 2:22-28).

In this one passage we find Peter appealing to the three different lines of evidence - the miracles of Jesus Christ, the fact that He came back from the dead, and that his resurrection was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Since this is the way that the New Testament writers argued the claims of Christ, we should do the same.

Taste And See For Yourself

A person can know the Bible is God's Word by first examining the claims of Scripture, considering the evidence for those claims, and then personally accepting the challenge of Scripture to "taste and see" if these things be true. The psalmist gave the following challenge.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the one who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).

Summary

While the Bible claims to be the authoritative Word of God there have been two basic approaches as to how anyone can know these claims are true. One approach believes that the Bible should be taken at its Word and not defended. The Holy Spirit will show the truth of its claim to anyone who is interested in knowing. Nothing else is necessary. This way the Bible is not made subject to any other type of authority.

On the other hand, there are those who point to evidences that God has provided to argue for the truth of Scripture. These include miracles, fulfilled prophecy, and Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Taken together they constitute overwhelming evidence for the truth of God's Word. Christians employ both methods in defending and proclaiming Scripture.

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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