EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a monthly series of articles in 2011 addressing apologetics, defending core truths of the Christian faith.
Christians affirm that the Creator God revealed Himself to humanity through an inspired, written communication. Furthermore, Baptists, and many other evangelicals, affirm that the written revelation from God functions as “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Baptist Faith & Message, Article 1). In our pluralistic culture with numerous religious books from varied faith traditions, is it reasonable to believe that the Bible is uniquely the Word of God? While accepting the Bible as the Word of God is a faith commitment, an individual possesses valid reasons to affirm the nature of the Bible as the Word of God. In this article, I propose to undergird the divine nature of the Bible with two major arguments and two subsidiary arguments.
First, the nature of the Bible correlates with the nature of God. Given the strong arguments and evidence for the existence of God, it is reasonable to assume that God would reveal Himself to humanity. Since God is perfect, truth and the absence of error necessarily characterize his revelation. God can neither err nor lie. What Scripture says, God says. Therefore, the Scripture is truth without error.
Second, the most important evidence of the nature of the Bible derives from Jesus’ attitude toward the Scripture. Most skeptics recognize Jesus as a great teacher. The nature of Scripture served as one of the primary teachings of Jesus. Jesus affirmed the historical accuracy of the Old Testament, including the biblical narratives most questioned today. Jesus affirmed the truth and accuracy of the narratives of Noah (Mt. 24:37-38), Sodom (Mt. 11:23-24), and Jonah (Mt. 12:41). Jesus taught the divine inspiration of the Old Testament. For example, he affirmed that the David wrote Psalm 110 “by the Holy Spirit” (Mk. 12:35-36). In addition, Jesus claimed the Scripture, unlike human books, “cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Jesus used the Old Testament as the supreme authority in controversies with religious leaders, namely, the divisive first century issues of divorce (Mt. 19:3-5) and resurrection (Mt. 22:29-32). Jesus affirmed the necessity of Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in his death and resurrection (Mt. 26:53-56; Lk. 24:25-27). The prophecies must be fulfilled because God is the source of the prophecies. Finally, Jesus himself predicted in principle the New Testament in terms of the past teachings of Jesus (Jn. 14:26) and new direct revelation (Jn. 16:12-13). As a great teacher, Jesus taught the historical accuracy and divine inspiration of the Bible.
Two secondary evidences also point to the unique nature of the Bible.
First, unlike the Hindu Vedas and the Qur’an archaeology and history support the historical reliability of the Bible. Of course, historical accuracy may characterize a human book; however, a God of truth does not inspire a book claiming divine inspiration, yet containing historical inaccuracies.
No archaeological discovery disputes the biblical narratives. I will provide one archaeological discovery that supports each Testament.
The Old Testament mentions a people group called the Hittites forty-seven times, from Genesis to 2 Samuel. In the nineteenth century, biblical critics doubted the existence of the Hittites since non-biblical materials of the time gave no evidence. In 1876, archaeologists discovered the capital city of the Hittite empire in Turkey, a city containing five temples, large sculptures, and over 10,000 clay tablets.
Concerning the New Testament, biblical critics claimed that Luke erroneously called the Thessalonica city officials before whom the Jews took Paul’s associates by the Greek term “politarches” (Acts 17:6). Archeologists discovered three first century inscriptions containing “politarches” as the title for the Thessalonian officials.
Second, the Bible contains numerous prophecies of contingent future events. The standard for an Old Testament prophet was 100 percent accuracy (Dt. 18:21-22). God declared his absolute uniqueness in contrast to other supposed gods because He alone predicts the future (Isa. 46:9-11). As pointed out above, Jesus understood the prophets predicted his death and resurrection (Mt. 26:53-56; Lk. 24:25-27). On the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed that Jesus’ death and resurrection fulfilled Old Testament predictions (Acts 2:16, 25, 30). The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary lists 111 Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament, the majority of which Jesus fulfilled during his incarnation. The fulfillment of numerous prophecies of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus gives assurance of the fulfillment of the prophecies yet future. A probability scholar estimated the odds of one man fulfilling the prophecies associated with Jesus’ first coming as one chance in eighty-four followed by 130 zeroes. In other words, this would have been impossible without divine activity.
In an age of pluralism, the Bible testified to its own nature as breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16). This biblical claim receives support from the nature of a God of truth, Jesus’ understanding of the nature of Scripture, archaeological discoveries, and the fulfillment of prophesies.
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