The Bible states over 2500 times within its pages that God is its author. Statements such as “thus saith the Lord” or “the word of the Lord came unto me”, or “hear the word of the Lord” appear frequently in the Bible, leaving no doubt in the minds of its readers that it claims to be the word of God, and not some human work of literature or a compilation of folklore that has been collected over time. Yet, simply claiming something to be does not make it true. Other so-called “sacred-writings” also claim to be the word of God. So how does one prove whether or not the Bible is what it claims to be?
Although postmodernism which is so pervasive today in Western society claims as an absolute truth that “there is no absolute truth”, whether a claim is true or not can be proven. Reason demands that a claim be first proven to be true based on objective evidence (real facts not influenced by feelings, personal or cultural beliefs) before being accepted as truth. The Bible itself also insists on no less. I Thessalonians 5:21, for examples, says, “Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good.” The verb prove means to establish as true or genuine. Hence, what the Bible is demanding in this verse is that everything be proved or tested to determine whether it is true (or good). If it is proven to be true, then the Bible further commands that it be held fastly or firmly. “All things” would of course, include the Bible itself. The Bible does not expect people to accept it as the word of God merely because it claims to be that. On the contrary, as stated in I Thessalonians 5:21, the Bible requires its readers to prove that it is the word of God before being accepted as such.
I Thessalonians 5:21 demands a verdict from all who read the Bible. All must decide whether the Bible is the word of God as it claims to be, or a clever human work of deception, a metanarrative constructed by men in order to exert power over others, a lie which has fooled millions over the centuries. In this respect, I Thessalonians 5:21 is itself strong evidence that the Bible is what it claims to be for this very simple reason: If it is not what it claims to be, then why would it make such a demand on it readers? Surely if the Bible was a mere human invention, its writers would realize that those who obeyed I Thessalonians 5:21 by thoroughly investigating its claims, would soon discover the deception. On the other hand, if the Bible is the word of God, then certainly close scrutiny and examination of its pages would reveal this fact. There should therefore be evidence with the Bible which supports its claim of divine authorship.
Romans 10:17 says: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith means belief or trust. Romans 10:17 therefore means that the word of God, the Bible, contains the information necessary to produce faith or trust in God in the mind of an objective hearer of the word. Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is not a belief in something which cannot be proven to be true. Faith is a sure confidence with respect to things hoped for, a firm persuasion with respect to things not seen. Faith is a firm, unshaken, confidence, conviction, or belief in the truth of a proposition, based upon testimony concerning it (Ref. 1). The Bible itself provides the facts and testimony upon which a person is able to develop faith in the Bible as indeed being God’s word.
II Timothy 3:16 says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Luke 1: 3 – 4 says: “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein this hast been instructed.” John 20:30 – 31 says: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” I John 5:13 says: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” It is obvious from all of these statements that the Bible contains within itself the objective, verifiable evidence needed to support its claims of being the word of God.
There are other “sacred writings” which also claim to be the word of God, but they make appeals to subjective proof of their divine origin. For example, in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:3 – 5 says: “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things… ask God, the Eternal Father in the name of Christ, if these things are true, and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” One of the claims the Quran makes in support its divine origin is that it is a superior literary work in eloquence and the Arabic language that cannot be duplicate or exceeded by humans. The Quran therefore makes three challenges to produce a work similar to it, with the implication that the inability to produce a work of similar caliber is proof of its divine origin. These challenges are:
Quran 17:88: “Say: ‘If all mankind and the jinn would come together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce it even though they exerted all and their strength in aiding one another.” Quran 11:13: “Or do they say that he has invented it? Say (to them). ‘Bring ten invented chapters like it, and call (for help) on whomever you can besides God, if you are truthful.” Quran 2:23: “And if you are in doubt about what I have revealed to My servant, bring a single chapter like it, and call your witnesses besides God if you are truthful.”
Literary style and eloquence are subjective, as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. How can one be sure that the sign he believes he saw truly came from God, and was not imagining what he wanted to see? Many believe certain things to be true based on feelings, not on objective facts. Man has throughout time, and still does today, claim to have seen visions or signs from God. Such personal subjective tests are, however, not a true test for truth. The only proof is the hard, objective facts which may be placed before all for examination. For this reason, the Bible discounts subjective feelings and emotions as a source of proof and relies on objective facts.
The articles which follow will discuss some of the proofs or objective facts within the pages of the Bible which prove that it is the inspired word of God.
- W. Brents, The Gospel Plan of Salvation, Gospel Advocate Company, Nashville, TN, pg. 168, 1977.
Written by: RHT