Apologetics: The Bible

We believe the Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, inerrant and infallible as originally given, were inspired by God and are the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life.

– Beatty Community Church
Statement of Faith

The Bible: What It Is

What is the Bible?

There are two ways to answer this. From a human standpoint, the Bible is a collection of 66 different books, letters, or writings (scriptures) written over a period of about 1500 years. But the Bible is also God’s word to man – He is the ultimate Author.

We believe that the Bible is the only authority upon which Christian doctrines are based.

What does the Bible contain?

The Bible is divided into two parts, the Old Testament, and the New Testament..

The Old Testament contains the Jewish scriptures under the old covenant. This includes:

The Law
The first five books of the Bible, containing the history of the Jewish people up to the end of the 40 years of wilderness wandering, and the Law which God gave Moses.
The Psalms or Writings
Includes poetic, philosophic, and historic books and the book of Daniel.
The Prophets
Includes books written by prophets, as well has the historical books of Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings.

The New Testament (or “new covenant”) contains the writings of the first church leaders or witnesses of Jesus Christ. It can be divided into the following groups:

The Gospels
Four books containing accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ from four different perspectives.
Acts of the Apostles
The history of the beginnings of the church.
Epistles
Instructional letters written to various churches and individuals by the apostles.
Revelation:
A prophetic book about the end times when Jesus will be fully revealed, written by John, one of Jesus’ disciples.

Who wrote the Bible?

The Bible was written by over 40 authors under the influence of the Holy Spirit. They came from various walks of life, including kings, a rabbi, a fisherman, a shepherd, and a tax collector.

How did we get the Bible?

The books of the Bible were written as separate books, but were recognized as inspired by God. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jews recognized the need to officially declare a list of these books so that there would be no confusion later as to which books were inspired and which ones were not. In 90 AD, the Council of Jamnia came together for this purpose and ‘canonized’ the books of the Old Testament. It is important to realize that these books were recognized as scripture before the council convened. For example, Jesus appealed to the books of the Old Testament as authoritative (Matthew 5:17-19, 15:1-8, John 10:35).

The New Testament was canonized for similar reasons in 393 AD at the Synod of Hippo.

What criteria was used to determine if a book was truly inspired by God? The exact criteria is unknown but the following principals (given on page 29 of the book “Evidence That Demands A Verdict”) have been put forth by biblical scholars:

Is it authoritative?
Did it come from the hand of God? (Does this book come with a divine “thus saith the Lord”?)
Is it prophetic?
Was it written by a man of God? (Test of a prophet in Deuteronomy 18:18-22)
Is it authentic?
The early church fathers had a policy of “if in doubt, throw it out.” Many books that seemed like scripture were not. They contained historical and doctrinal contradictions.
Is it dynamic?
Did it come with the life-transforming power of God?
Was it received, collected, read, and used?
Was it accepted by the people of God (the apostles)? (For example, Peter recognized Paul’s writings as scripture in 2 Peter 3:16 and Paul Luke’s gospel in 1 Timothy 5:18, quoting Luke 10:7)

The Bible: We Trust It

What do we mean by the Bible being “inspired” by God?

While we can know some things about God from creation (natural revelation) such as His power (Romans 1:20) and His goodness (Acts 14:17), we cannot know Him in more detail, nor can we determine His will for us unless He reveals Himself to us in a more direct way. This He has done through the scriptures. The Bible shows us what God is like, and what His will is for us.

The Bible was written by men who were under the influence of the Holy Spirit to write what God wanted them to write. (2 Peter 1:21, Hebrews 1:1, Galatians 1:11-12, Acts 1:16, 28:25, Ezra 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 14:37, Jeremiah 30:2) Everything in the Bible is therefore God’s word. This is called plenary verbal inspiration:

Plenary
Full; Complete
Verbal
Word for word
Inspiration
God breathed

Each word in the Bible was directed by God. We can see this in the details of the way the Bible is worded, such as in spelling (Matthew 5:18) and tenses of words (Galatians 3:16).

God reveals Himself through the Bible. By reading, studying, and meditating on scripture, anyone can learn what God desires him to know about God and His will for man.

Because the scriptures are inspired by a perfect and all-powerful God, they are themselves perfect as originally written. God ensured that the writers wrote exactly and only what He wanted them to write (inerrency), and because God is truthful, the scriptures do not promote false doctrine (infallibility).

How do we know that the Bible is inspired?

The Bible declares that all scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), but you can’t use this verse to prove the inspiration of the Bible because it is a circular argument.

The evidence (not proof – faith is still required) that the Bible is truly inspired by God can be seen in other ways:

Fulfilled prophecy
The Bible contains many prophecies or descriptions of future events. If the Bible is a book of human origins, then we would expect at least some of these prophecies to fail. However, no prophecy of scripture has failed. Instead they are fulfilled in great detail.
Example #1 – Tyre (See “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” pages 274-280).
Example #2 – Jesus’ first coming (See Messianic Prophecies)
Example #3 – Israel’s dispersion & regathering (See The Return Of Israel)
Accurate description of reality
The historical statements in the Bible, for example, are being shown true by many archeological discoveries. References to various cites and persons mentioned in the Bible that were once thought legendary or mythical have been discovered (such as Sodom and Pontus Pilate – “A Ready Defense” pages 98 & 111). The list of the founders of various nations given in Genesis 10 has been recognized as very accurate.The Bible also contains accurate descriptions of physical (i.e. Job 26:7, Ecclesiastes 1:5-7) and moral laws.
Changed lives
Millions of people have come to know God through the Bible and their changed lives have proven it. (John 17:17, Hebrews 4:12, 1 Peter 2:2)

How do we know that the Bible we have today hasn’t been corrupted over time?

There are a very large number of ancient copies of the Bible and Bible portions. By comparing our Bible of today with the old copies we can see that the Bible has remained virtually the same. No doctrines have changed. The discovery of some Old Testament books among the Dead Sea Scrolls has further proved this. (A fragment of Matthew has recently been dated to 66 AD, which shows that the book was written shortly after the events.)

Also, we can see that the Bible still speaks truthfully according to the evidence for inspiration given previously (fulfilled prophecy, accurate description of reality, and changed lives).

Is the Bible the complete word of God? What about the scriptures of other religions?

The Bible contains the complete revelation of God for man. We are not to add to it or take away from it (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:19).

The scriptures of other religions are not the word of God because they contain errors and doctrines contrary to the teachings of the Bible. For example, the Mormon’s Pearl Of Great Price teaches both polytheism and monotheism. Abraham 4:1 1 states that the gods created the heavens and the earth, but Moses 2:1 2 says that only Almighty God created these things. Islam’s Quran says the Jesus is neither God nor Son of God 3. God does not reveal Himself in contradictory ways.

General References About The Bible’s Inspiration

The Bible is the sole authority upon which Christian doctrines are based. The 66 books which make up the canon of scripture are considered inspired by God. Man did not determine if each book was inspired, man only recognized that the books were already inspired.

The Bible claims to record the words of God, many times in the form of “God said” or “Yahweh said”. (Genesis 1:3, Exodus 24:12, 31:18).

If the Bible is not inspired by God, then these claims are lies. However, the claims are verifiable by prediction-fulfillment means. (See Messianic Prophecies and The Return Of Israel).

A prophecy is simply a message that came from God, usually through a spokesman called a prophet. The type of prophecy that foretells the future has one main intention: to validate the claim that the message came from God. (Deuteronomy 18:18-22, Ezekiel 39:25-28, John 8:28).

The prophecies of scripture (predictive or not) come from God. They are not what man made up; not man’s idea of what God would or should say but recordings of what God actually did say. (Jeremiah 26:15, Acts 28:25, 2 Peter 1:20-21, John 3:34, 11:51)

God directly instructed some men what to write (Exodus 34:27, Jeremiah 30:2, Revelation 21:5).

God even wrote directly (Exodus 24:12, 31:18).

The gospels record the words of Jesus who claimed to be God. Jesus also made predictions that were fulfilled, validating His claim (Matthew 12:40, 17:27, 24:1-2, Mark 11:1-2, 13:21-23) In the Matthew 24:1-2 passage, Jesus was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Mark 13:21-23 prophecy is still being fulfilled today.

(Interestingly, while all the other prophets speak “So says Yahweh…”, Jesus never does, but instead says “I say to you…”)

The Gospels also record that God testified for Jesus and told us to listen to Him (Luke 3:21-22, 9:34-36).

We are not to add to or change God’s words (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, 18:20-22, 30:6, 22:18-19).

Jesus referred to Old Testament scripture as from God, and as more authoritative than tradition from men (Matthew 15:1-8). The problem is not with tradition, but with tradition that goes against God’s command.

Jesus said that the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35, Matthew 5:17-19).

Since the Bible is from God, we know what it says is true. Therefore, we can use it to test the teachings of others by (Acts 17:10-11).

The Gospel message was not made up by men but it came from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).

God’s word is the guide for spiritual growth (Psalms 119:9, 2 Timothy 3:16).

The stories of people’s lives in scripture are examples for us. Why make the same mistakes twice? (1 Corinthians 10:11)

Since the Law came from God, it is trustworthy (Psalms 111:7)

Jesus’ words won’t pass away. They will always be relevant ( Luke 21:33).

How do we recognize a false prophet? An example of a false prophet putting words in the Lord’s mouth (Jeremiah 28:1-17).

The agnostic is only partially correct. We cannot know anything about God on our own. But we can know about God if He tells us about Himself. We can know God if He reveals Himself to us.

God’s word brings us to faith in Jesus (John 20:31).

God’s word gives wisdom leading to salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).

God’s word gives us hope (Romans 15:4).

Jesus equates knowledge of scripture with knowledge of truth ( Matthew 22:29, Mark 12:24)

Jesus fulfills prophetic scripture (Matthew 26:54, 26:56, Mark 14:49, 15:28, Luke 4:21, 24:27, John 13:18, 17:12, 19:28, 36-37, 20:9).

The scriptures testify of Jesus (John 5:39, Acts 8:35, 18:28). The scriptures referred to here are the Old Testament as the New Testament was not yet written.

The New Testament is just as authoritative as the Old. For example, Peter classifies the writings of Paul as scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Paul preached the word that God gave him. (Therefore, Paul was a prophet.) (1 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 14:37)

There are no hidden esoteric meanings in the Bible. For example, Paul wrote his letters plainly. Anybody can understand the Bible (2 Corinthians 1:13).

God’s word is powerful and life giving (Hebrews 4:12, Matthew 4:4)

The Bible: Its Purpose

What is the Bible good for?

It says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is good for:

Teaching
or doctrine. It is useful for understanding the things of God: What God is like, what He has done, what pleases and displeases Him (Psalms 119:130).
Conviction
or reproof. It is useful for pointing out areas in our life that displease God. (Hebrews 4:12)
Correction
It is useful for showing us how our relationship with God is to be restored (Proverbs 6:23).
Instruction in righteousness
It is useful for showing us how to live to please God. (Psalms 119:9,105, Romans 15:4, 1 Peter 2:2, John 17:17)

The Bible tells us about God and shows us that Jesus Christ is God in human form (John 20:31). It warns us (1 Corinthians 10:11), gives hope to man (Romans 15:4), and gives knowledge of eternal life (1 John 5:13)

We should spend time studying the Bible so that we can know God better and be better able to serve Him (Deuteronomy 17:19, Acts 17:11). Don’t study to know about the Bible but to know God.

The Bible: Study Guidelines

Try to read and study without preconceived bias. Let the Bible speak for itself.

Useful items to have in your library:

More than one version of the Bible
When a passage is hard to understand, another translation may make the meaning clearer.
Concordance
Helps you find a verse when you know a word in the verse.
Bible Dictionary
Especially useful with “churchy” words such as ‘immutable’, ‘sanctification’, ‘propitiation’, etc.)

Methods of Bible Study (outline from text by R. A. Torrey)

  • Make up your mind to study the Bible every day.
  • Make up your mind to STUDY the Bible. Ask yourself:
    • What does this passage say?
    • What does this passage mean?
    • What does this passage mean for us? (May be multiple meanings)
  • Study topically
    • Be systematic
    • Be thorough
    • Be exact (note exact words, meanings of words, context, parallel passages)
    • Write down the results of your study in an orderly way
  • Study by book / chapters
  • Read chapters (and even books) multiple times (like at least five times)
  • Compare in different translations
  • Study the Bible as God’s word
  • Study prayerfully
  • Memorize scripture

Notes:

  1. And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth. (Abraham 4:1)
  2. And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest. (Moses 2:1)
  3. O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: So believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not “Trinity”: desist: It will be better for you: For Allah is One God: Glory be to Him: (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs. (Surah 4:171)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-Spam by WP-SpamShield