November 20, 2017

Faith in the Bible

By Cecil Willis

A revelation is an "unveiling," or "unfolding," and divine revelation is God's unveiling or unfolding of the truth regarding Himself in some manner and degree to the intelligence and heart of man. Only as He does thus unveil Himself does He become known to man. If such a God does exist, then it is reasonable to expect Him to reveal Himself to man. One would look for provision to be made for the preservation of the knowledge of the revelation in some permanent and authoritative form. This revelation preserved in a permanent and authoritative form is exactly what we have in the Bible.

Since God chose to reveal Himself to man, there must have been chosen some means of accomplishing this revelation. Thus God chose two means by which He would reveal Himself: (1) Natural Revelation; (2) Special Revelation. By "natural revelation" one simply means the knowledge of God that can be attained from a 'study of nature itself. There are some things that you and I can learn about God without the Bible. David said, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork" (Ps. 19:1,2). Paul said, "For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity" (Rom. 1:20). But this is the summation of one's knowledge of God that may be gained through the revelation of nature. One cannot learn of His will through nature. This must come by "special revelation." One cannot learn how to become a Christian by looking at the heavens, although they do declare the glory of God. One could never learn the true nature of the church and of the necessity of being in it by looking at a tree or anything else in the natural realm. There is a limitation of the scope of natural revelation. Beyond this limit there must be some other type of revelation given. Natural revelation cannot satisfy the innermost craving that we have not only to know about God, but to get into living, personal relations of friendship and worship of Him. Something further must be given if mankind is to attain such a knowledge of God as to be able to render pure, spiritual, and intelligent worship to Him. Thus in order for God to make known fully His will to man, He chose to supplement natural revelation with a special supernatural revelation, namely the Bible.

The Bible is here! It has made claims to be the Word of God, and thus it is our purpose to investigate these claims. The Bible affirms its own 'inspiration. "For I make known to you brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:11,12). ". . . and that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Tim. 3:15-17). "For no prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). While the Bible affirms its own inspiration, one could not accept the Bible's affirmation of its inspiration unless first of all there are reasons given forcing him to accept the Bible as an inspired book. It would be useless to try to prove to an atheist or an infidel that the Bible is inspired by quoting the Bible to him, for he does not believe the Bible. Thus one must try objectively to view the Bible and examine the evidences of its inspiration.

If you or I should have a piece of property and should make the assertion that there was oil on it, there would be but one way of knowing for sure. That would be to drill down into the earth there. We certainly would not go off somewhere else to do the drilling to determine if there was oil on our property. Now then, the Bible makes a claim, its inspiration, and the only sure way for us to know if it is right in making this claim is to drill into it and make testings.

Evidence: Content

The greatest single testimonial of the inspiration of the Bible is the Bible itself, not its own affirmation of its inspiration, but its content. When we view the Bible from the aspect of judging as to its inspiration, no greater argument can be made than the Bible itself makes. With all of the railing efforts of criticism-which chooses to call itself Higher Criticism - "there is one thing that it can never expunge from the Bible, and that is what we commonly speak of as the gospel-its continuous, coherent, self-attesting discovery to man of the mind of God regarding man himself, his sin, the guilt and ruin into which sin has plunged him, and over against that the method of a divine salvation, the outcome of a purpose of eternal love, wrought out in ages of progressive revelation, and culminating in the mission, life, death, atoning work, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ" (Orr, Revelation and Inspiration, p. 18). This wonderful message of the Bible will ever remain in it, and it alone is adequate to prove that the Bible is the Word of God. This message did not just accidentally happen. Somebody had to be the author of it. This author had to be either God or man, divine or human. With such a message as this gospel in our Bible, we then are as sure as we are of our own existence, that it was not man who put it there. It is too high for him; he could not attain to it. If man could not put it there, then only God remains and thus it was God who did it. The content of the Bible is its greatest single proof for its inspiration.

Evidence: Unity

A second argument for the inspiration of the Bible is its unity. It might be that one cannot possibly conceive of how an argument for the inspiration of the Bible can be drawn from its unity, but if we will but reflect for a few minutes concerning some of the conditions back of this argument, we will be able to see vividly the point. The Bible is not the product of one man, written at a single sitting, but it is the united effort of many men written over a long period of time. No less than forty great men had a part in the writing of the Bible. The reason we cannot know definitely is that we do not know exactly how many men had a part in the writing of the books of Kings and Chronicles. These men did not all sit down together and allocate a certain portion of the before-planned story to each man. Most of these men never saw each other. Many of these possibly never even saw the writings of the other. Job is the oldest book in the Bible in all probability. It seems to have been written approximately during the days of Abraham or almost two thousand years before Christ's advent into the world. From the time that the book of Job was written until the last book of the New Testament, Revelation written about 95 A.D., was written a period of time of two thousand years elapsed. This book was written in at least three different languages at the time of its original production. There are at least half a hundred subjects discussed in this book, and yet there is perfect unity on every page.

Such a unity is the Bible that it is often necessary to have at least a working understanding of an entire book in order to get the meaning of just one isolated verse in another book. For example, some verses in the book of Hebrews would be completely non-intelligible were it not for the book of Leviticus. Or again, "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7). Were it not for the twelfth chapter of Exodus this passage would have but little if any meaning to us. These books are all knit into one composite whole. There is perfect unity!

"Naturally, in light of these facts, prominence is given to the idea of "Organic unity' in the Biblical religion as a mark of its origin in revelation. . . Apart from all theories about the Bible, the earnest student cannot but be struck by observing in how marked a degree it is a structural unity-has a beginning, a middle and an end" (Orr, Op. Cit. p. 16). "A like organic unity, combined with progressive development, it might be shown, reveals itself in doctrine" (Orr, Op. Cit. p. 17).

The Old and New Testaments cannot be separated logically, in spite of the fact that between the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, and the first of the New Testament, Matthew, there are five silent centuries. The first New Testament writer just begins where the Old Testament writer had ceased and continues the great theme of the redemption of mankind, which was in Jesus Christ.

Again we say that the unity of the Bible is an astonishing thing, and which shows us that under the circumstances, man could not have been its author. Oft times man will contradict himself several times in the matter of a few short pages, and the man does not live who does not contradict himself somewhere throughout his life. And yet the Bible remains a unity, so man could not be its author, and if not man, then only God remains. How could forty men, writing on at least fifty subjects, in at least three languages, and covering almost two thousand years, achieve a unity that is supernatural? We have the answer in the last word, supernatural. Only by God's supervision over the minds of men through out the years in the giving of a special supernatural revelation could the unity which is supernatural have been achieved.

Evidence: Indestructibility

The third and final argument supporting the Christian's faith in the Bible as being the Word of God is its indestructibility. It cannot be destroyed. Our Lord said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). Peter reiterated the same' great truth as he said, "For, all flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth: But the word of the Lord abideth for ever" (1 Pet. 1:24,25).

It is not often that books long survive because of their very structure. They are made of very perishable material, but the Lord said that even though heaven and earth should pass away, His Word would still endure. Certainly then, He must have been speaking of something more than just the paper and ink that preserved the message. He was speaking of the message itself.

Not everyone throughout the annals of human history have had the warm view that you and I have toward the Bible. Man has not always sought to preserve the Bible. At one time during the Roman Empire's reign, the Emperor, Domitian declared that all Bibles were to be destroyed, and that not only were the Bibles to be destroyed, but should there be one who should fail to destroy his copy of God's Word, then he should therefore forfeit his own life. After this decree had been in effect for quite some time, Domitian proudly boasted that he had completely abolished the Word of God from the face of the earth. Many, many copies of the Bible had been burned, but not all. Constantine, the next ruler, after purporting to have been converted to Christianity, offered a substantial reward for anyone presenting him with a copy of the Bible. Note now, that this was in the same land in which Domitian had said he had completely destroyed the Word of God. In twenty-four hours there were brought fifty copies of the Bible to Constantine. This is but one example of its indestructibility. There are many others that could be cited. Not only have there been men who have given themselves in trying to abolish the Bible, but there also have been organizations, some professing to be religious, which have waged relentless wars against this wonderful Word. As the men, so must the organizations also, fall before the conquering powers of the Word of our Lord, for His Word "abideth forever."

Won't you then, dear friends, believe in, and obey, this book, the Bible that embodies this Word that will retain its distinction as the Book of Inspiration until the end of time!

Truth Magazine, XX:17, p. 3-4, 6
April 22, 1976

Share