By Bobby Witherington
We live in a book-filled world. Regardless of whether or not one believes the Bible, he has to concur with its affirmation that “of making many books there is no end” (Eccl. 12:12). However, most books have a relatively small readership, a minimal influence upon people in general, and a short life span. In fact, few can even name the titles of books that were on the “best seller” lists a decade ago, and an even smaller number can identify by name any of their authors.
But there is one book from antiquity which refuses to die, and which man has been unable to destroy. A book which is loved in life and cherished in death. A book which for centuries has blessed the lives of millions and which continues to be the world’s most published and most read publication. In all probability, each person reading this paper has already concluded that this writer is referring to the Bible. In fact, even its detractors know that no other book could legitimately be so described.
However, the Bible has an abundance of enemies and is the object of an all-out attack on several fronts. Of course, this is really nothing new, for it has always been under attack, and such will doubtlessly continue until the end of time.
But this writer should be included among that vast number who regard the Bible to be the infallible, inerrant, inspired revelation of God to man. Believing that one should be “ready always to give an answer to every man” that asks for a reason for his “hope” (1 Pet. 3:15), the following facts are presented with regards to “Why I Believe the Bible.”
It Claims to Be From God
The expression “thus saith the Lord,” “God spake,” “the Lord testified, saying,” etc., are found over 1300 times in the Scriptures. Concerning the prophets in Old Testament times, we are told that “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). Worded a bit differently, the affirmation is made that “all scripture is given by in- spiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). Moreover, “inspiration” (theopneustos) literally means “God breathed,” or “breathed out by God.” In other words, “inspiration” denotes that which came from the mouth of God. And this concept of “inspiration” was implied in the Savior’s quotation of Deuteronomy 8:3; namely this: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
I recognize that many are “turned off” by an approach in which one cites Bible verses in order to emphasize the inspiration of the Bible. However, in any court of law the defendant is allowed to speak in his own behalf. Moreover, in view of the unique position the Bible occupies in contrast to all other books, and in view of the influence it has had upon millions for centuries, can we be intellectually honest if we refuse to even consider the claims the Bible makes for itself?
Jesus Believed The Old Testament
No person can successfully deny the historicity of Jesus. That Jesus lived among men, performed mighty works, was a great teacher, and died on a cross are too overwhelmingly documented for any honest, informed, intelligent person to even question. Hence, honesty demands that we at least consider what Jesus had to say with reference to the Old Testament Scriptures — Scriptures which have been proven time and again to have been in existence when he sojourned on planet earth.
As proof that Jesus believed the Old Testament we simply list several Old Testament characters to whom he referred, thereby confirming his belief concerning their historical reality. Jesus mentioned such ones as Moses (John 3:14), Solomon (Matt. 6:29), David (Matt. 12:3), Jonah (Matt. 12: 40), Isaiah (Matt. 15:7), Abel (Matt. 23:35), Elijah (Luke 4:25), Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Luke 13:28), Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32), etc. Jesus also cited Scripture to resist Satan (Matt. 4:1-11), to rebuke the wrong doing of those who defiled the temple (Matt. 21:12,13; Isa. 56:7), and to set forth the ignorance of his detractors (Matt. 22:29-32). His profound respect for the Old Testament is indicated in Matthew 5:18 wherein he affirmed that “one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
The Historical Accuracy of the Bible
The Bible is the oldest book in print. Parts of it were written close to 3500 years ago, nearly 1,000 years earlier than the oldest secular history extant. It touches on all the known sciences, and records much historical data, as well as geographical information. Even so, it has proven amazingly accurate in all these realms. Over the years critics have tried to discredit the Bible because of its mention of different incidents and people concerning whom no confirming secular data had as yet been discovered. For example, in Genesis 40:11 we read of the butler pressing grapes “into Pharaoh’s cup.” However, Herodotus (a 5th century B.C. historian) said that no grapes were grown in Egypt, so critics automatically assumed Herodotus to be correct, and the Bible false. But archaeologists have since discovered frescoes (paintings) that decorate the tombs of Egyptian antiquity showing the dressing, pruning, cultivating the vine, extracting, and storing the juice. Similar discoveries have confirmed the historicity of the Hittites, of Sargon an Assyrian king, and other data which had formerly been questioned.
Prophecy and Fulfillment
Mere men do not always accurately predict the weather one day in advance. However, there are literally hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, written centuries in advance of the events foretold, which involved details far beyond the scope of human speculation, but which were fulfilled in minute detail. Yes, we concur with the prophet that the ability to “show the things that are to come hereafter” (Isa. 41:22-27) is something which no mere idol and which no ordinary human being can do. But an omnipotent, omniscient God can do this with the greatest of ease! Take your Bible and read of Noah’s prophecy concerning Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 9), and then read the confirming secular historical documentation. The same may be said about Balaam’s prophecy concerning Israel (Num. 23, 24), the prophecy concerning Israel’s downfall (Deut. 28), or the approximately 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah — all of which were minutely fulfilled.
Its Scientific Factuality
The Bible recorded numerous scientific truths which were undiscovered for hundreds of years afterwards. A few such examples include the suspension of the earth in space and the empty space in the North (Job 26:7), the existence of paths in the sea (Ps. 8), the fact that life is in the blood (Lev. 17:10, 11), that all nations are of “one blood” (Acts 17:26), the need for quarantine and disinfection procedures for treating infectious diseases (Lev. 13, 14), the process of rain involving evaporation into the air and condensation back to the earth (Eccl. 1:7), the rotundity of the earth (Isa. 40:22), etc. The most capable scientists in the world have been unable to cite one contradiction between the numerous incidental scientifically related statements in the Bible and the proven facts of modern science. Of course, we recognize that contradictions exist between the Bible and certain theories which men of science have advocated. But it has long been demonstrated that many supposedly great scientific theories set forth by the scientists of one generation are debunked by scientists of a later generation.
Jesus said, “My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Peter declared that “the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Pet. 2:25). We must therefore concur with these statements by Cumming: “The empire of Caesar is gone; the legions of Rome lie moldering in the dust. The avalanches that Napoleon hurled upon Europe have melted away; the pride of the Pharaohs is fallen; the pyramids they raised to be their tombs are sinking every day in the desert sand; Tyre is a rock for bleaching fishermen’s nets; Sidon has scarcely left a wreck behind; but the word of God still lives. All things that threatened to extinguish it have only aided it; and it proves every day how transient is the noblest monument that man can build; how enduring the least word that God has spoken. Tradition has dug for it many a grave; intolerance has lighted for it many a fagot; Many a Judas has betrayed it with a kiss; many a Peter has denied it with an oath; many a Demas has forsaken it; but the word of God still endures.”
It’s Amazing Unity
The Bible was written by around 40 men, over a period of about 1600 years, and contains some 66 books. The writers thereof were from different backgrounds, cultures, and of varying occupations. Yet the Bible contains an orderly development of one great theme (namely the coming Messiah, his work, and the salvation he would make possible). Its writers complement one another, but do not contradict each other. Of course, the reason for this is the fact that it is the revelation of an omniscient, infinite God to man, and he simply used its writers as instruments to set forth his will, doing so in “words” which the Holy Spirit revealed (1 Cor. 2:10-13).
Yes, friend, God exists! He created man is his own “image” (Gen. 1:27). He chose to communicate his will to man, and the means of that communication is the Bible. It is inspired of God (2 Tim. 3:16). It is complete in every detail (2 Pet. 1:3). It will face us in the judgment (John 12:48). Hence, we urge you to read it to be wise (2 Tim. 3:15), and obey it to be saved.