THE BIBLE: A BOOK LIKE NO OTHER BOOK
by Bob Wheeler
The extraordinary claim that the Bible makes for itself is that it is nothing less than the inspired Word of God himself. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . .” (II Tim. 3:16; NKJV). “. . .for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet. 1:21). God spoke to Moses directly. Others saw visions or dreamed dreams. The Holy Spirit descended on others and they spoke as they were led by the Spirit. The words that they spoke and wrote down were words in human languages, but the thoughts, concepts and ideas came directly from God himself. The prophets themselves did not always understand the things that God was revealing to them. They had to study their own inspired to try to understand what God had revealed through them (I Pet. 1:10-12).
But how do we know that the Bible’s claim for itself is true? How do we know that the Bible really is God’s Word? What about other sacred books – the Hindu Vedas? The Koran? The Book of Mormon? Are all of them “inspired”? Or are all of them, including the Bible, merely human productions? Why would the Bible be divinely inspired and not the others?
First of all, the Bible is different from the others, and in ways that make it unlikely to have had a purely human origin. It was composed over a very long period of time (at least a thousand years), by a large number of different authors writing in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). And yet in spite of all of the diversity on their backgrounds there is a remarkable unity of thought in the book as a whole. There is only one God, the Creator of heaven and earth. He is absolutely just and holy. Mankind is fallen and sinful, but God is merciful and compassionate. Sin must be atoned for. And in the fullness of time God sent His Son into the world to die for our sins and make salvation available to the entire human race.
And then there is the phenomenon of fulfilled prophecy. Events were predicted before they happened and they subsequently came to pass. The New Testament writers in particular could cite a large number of Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming Messiah, and note that they were fulfilled in Christ. The prophecies are remarkable enough that they could not have been fulfilled by accident.
But what is even more remarkable is the nature of the message itself. On the one hand it presents a high standard of moral conduct. Men are exhorted to love God and each other. Pride, lust, greed, envy, jealousy and anger are all condemned. In the end all human beings fall short of God’s standards.
Most books of human origin, however, glorify man. They either excuse, rationalize or even condone behavior that is compulsive, anti-social and self-destructive. And in most books of human origin there is at least one human hero who distinguishes himself above all others. In the Bible, however, there are no human heroes – all men fall short of God’s standards. The Bible views human life from God’s perspective, and this suggests that He is the true Author of it. No human being could write a book of this apart from divine inspiration.
And then there is the manifest wisdom contained in the Bible. Philosophers and psychologists have propounded theory after theory, only to have them discredited over time. But countless multitudes of ordinary people have found the Bible “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It provides guidance and gives solace to those who follow its directions.
But in the end it often comes down to a matter of personal conviction. When the message grips your soul, makes you feel your awful guilt before a holy God and then gives you the hope of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ you almost have no choice but to believe. It has to be God’s Word – nothing else could bring such conviction.
The Bible is God’s Word, then, and we owe it to Him to study it, meditate upon it, and apply it to our lives. It is the key to understanding life, and our lives must conform to its principles fi we are to find any lasting happiness or fulfillment. Our ultimate loyalty must be to God himself, and all human teachings, laws and doctrines must be evaluated in the light of His Word.
Too often today young people who were raised in Christian homes are merely reacting to their upbringing. But what is often missing is a direct relationship with God himself. But it is not a matter of “your pastor said this” or “your parents taught you that.” Rather it is a matter of what God himself has said, and in order to know that we must each individually dig into His Word and seek to understand what it says. Our parents, pastors and teachers are all fallible human beings. God’s Word is the final authority. By that we stand or fall. May God give us the grace to search, understand and obey!