"The God Who Is There" Series
The Truth About The Bible
Are the Scriptures a Reliable Word from Heaven?
Written by David M Rogers
Written & Published: 2005
Second Edition: December 2009
Table of Contents
It has been my experience, and the experience of countless millions of others, that the Bible - the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures - offers a reasonable and believable explanation for human existence, the world and the universe. I love that book! In its pages, and in its timeless message can be found a wealth of profound information which I need to know.
But in order to find these profound, timeless truths, I need to have the right approach to the Scriptures. The writer to the Hebrews describes the attitude which anyone must have before he can richly benefit from the message of the Bible.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).
That is to say, one has to come to the biblical text with a degree of confidence that what it says it true. I have to have faith. I have to believe that there really is a Being in the universe whose existence is the cause and reason for the existence of the universe. I have to believe in the God who is there.
But how can I place my confidence in a writing which was composed solely by people like me? I know I don't have all the answers, and I am reasonably sure that no one else, at least nobody human like me, does either. Thus, if the Bible was written by people like me, apart from any divine influence, I have no reason to hope that the message of the Bible can significantly help me.
Using the scientific method, no one can prove the existence of God. But this does not prove that God isn't there, either. There are a lot of things we know exist that cannot be proven to exist by the scientific method. No one can proof that love exists by that method. One cannot "prove" any historical event by the scientific method, because these historical events are one time events, while the scientific method requires that a demonstration be repeatable. The scientific method has its place, but it is useless in this endeavor. Science cannot prove nor disprove the existence of God.
We may be helped, however, by the formulation of some logical or intellectual "proofs" for the existence of God. Some of the greatest thinkers in human history have arrived at and formulated these "proofs." These include the ontological argument, the cosmological argument and the teleological argument for the existence of God. Here is a summary presentation of these intellectual arguments:
The ontological argument for the existence of God basically states that God is defined as a being than which a greater cannot be thought. So, if a being than which a greater can not be conceived exists only in the understanding, then something greater can in fact be conceived, namely, a being which not only exists in the understanding but also in reality. And that being is God.
The Scriptures depict God as the greatest of beings. The very name of God in the Bible, Yahuwah (Hebrew hwhy) means "the existing one" or "the one who is." The prophet Isaiah reveals God as the only true "mighty one" in the universe, while all other so-called gods are just the imagination of men's minds. This balanced view which concedes the non-existence of any other god, though men think they are real, suggests that there is one genuine God whose existence is greater than all else.
The cosmological argument for the existence of God, in its first expression, argues that everything in motion was moved by something else. Since this cannot go back to infinity, there must have been something that was the first mover. And that first mover is God. One doesn't have to be a genius or a great philosopher to rationally conclude that what is does not come from nothing, and that therefore, there must be something that always has been in existence. This "something" that must have always existed must be the cause and source of all else that exists.
And the teleological argument seeks to reason from the order of the universe. The fact that there is evidence of order, design and purpose in the universe suggests that there necessarily exists a being with intelligence and purpose which ordered the universe so. And that being is God. The Scriptures make note that "the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1). One only needs to look at the heavens and at all the creatures on earth, the wonder and glory of the human body and all its unsearchable details and complexity, to know and understand that none of this could have happened by chance. A brilliant and unsurpassed Being must have put all these things in place and in motion.
Perhaps the combination of all of these intellectual arguments can bring us, as much as reason can do so, to the logical conclusion that God exists. But the best and most convincing "proof" of the existence of an active Creator God is when God Himself speaks to our heart and mind and convinces us in the inner being that He is there and with us. The Apostle Paul alludes to this "proof" of God where he points out that "the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children" (Romans 8:16). This inner voice with which God speaks to the person who trusts in him is an undeniable reality. It cannot be proven, but it is overwhelmingly convincing for the one who experiences God speaking to him.
Once we are convinced of the existence of a benevolent God, or at least are open minded to the possibility of his existence, we can properly evaluate the claims which the Scriptures themselves make. What does the Bible say about itself? In order to trust in the promises it makes to its readers, one has to have a reason to place confidence in its reliability. Does it claim to be a reliable source of information which we can bank on? What do the writers of the Bible assert in terms of its source and authorship?
First, the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures claim to contain an accurate record of the very words of God. In the first chapter of Genesis alone are recorded eleven times that "God said" something, followed by the words he said verbatim. Dozens of different writers of the Bible claimed hundreds of times that God "said" something.
Secondly, the apostle Paul reports that the writings of the Bible were "God-breathed," which is to say, "spoken by God himself":
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)
The hyphenated, God-breathed, is a translation of the Greek word qeopnustoj (theopnustos), which is a compound word made up of words which mean "God" and "to breathe." The term plainly implies divine inspiration. Thus, in Paul's view, the Scriptures carry with them the authority of God himself.
Thirdly, the apostle Peter attributes the writings of the prophets to having been profoundly influenced by the Spirit of God:
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
In Peter's thinking, none of the Scriptures were the product of the imaginations of men, but were written by men as God carried them along. Peter uses the imagery of the wind picking up and carrying around objects which are lighter than its power and thus are under its control. The writers of Scripture were under the control of God as they wrote, and thus, wrote out the very thoughts of God.
In addition to these three claims of biblical inspiration made by the writers of the Bible, are those claims made by the same, that the propositions asserted by the Scriptures are truth. God, who is quoted directly in the Bible hundreds of times, maintains that he speaks only the truth:
I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, 'Seek me in vain.' I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right (Isaiah 45:19).
And the prophets testify that God speaks the truth:
Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth (Psalm 31:5).
Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell (Psalm 43:3).
Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the God of truth; he who takes an oath in the land will swear by the God of truth. For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes (Isaiah 65:16).
Furthermore, one of the tests of a prophet, who is a man sent to communicate a message from God, is the truthfulness of his words:
He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman (Psalm 15:2,3).
The law (Torah - first five books of the Bible) speaks God's truth. By the use of parallelism, a common style in Hebrew language poetry, the inspired writer of the Psalms equates truth with law:
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws (Psalm 119:30).
Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws (Psalm 119:43).
And in the Brit Hadeshah (New Testament), the apostle Paul, likewise, equates the Torah with truth:
...because you have in the law (the Torah) the embodiment of knowledge and truth... (Romans 2:20).
In addition, the prophets of both the Old and New Testaments encourage God's people to speak the truth:
These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts (Zechariah 8:16).
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
Yahusha himself claimed over and over again that his words are true:
And he said to them, "I tell you the truth..." (Mark 9:1).
The four gospels record dozens of times Yahusha using the phrase, "Amen, Amen, I say to you" (amen means truly). This oath is possibly best translated as, "I am certainly telling you the truth that...."
So we can be quite sure that the writers of the Scriptures are claiming to speak the truth. Now these claims made by the writers of the Bible need to be validated. We need some sort of lie detector - a test we can put them to to gain certainty as to their truthfulness. We might validate their claims by using common sense, our own experience, reason, the testimony of witnesses, the writers own reputation, and even physical evidence. But perhaps the most compelling proof that the Hebrew and Christians Scriptures are of divine origin is the acid test of prophesy.
If the things which the Bible says will happen always do happen, then we can make a compelling case for its reliability. But if the predictions of the Bible do not come true, then we may dismiss it as nothing more than an entertaining and clever piece of human literature. The Scriptures hold its own prophets and writers to this rigid requirement.
But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true (Jeremiah 28:9).
When all this comes true-- and it surely will-- then they will know that a prophet has been among them." (Ezekiel 33:33).
The God of the Bible has warned its readers not to trust anyone who comes in his name and yet his predictions don't come to be 100% true:
You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:21,22).
This is the approach we are wise to take, as well. If the Bible is the truth and is wholly reliable, then we should expect to see its predictions come to pass with 100% accuracy and in minute detail.
Let us use two test cases. First we will consider the prophesies spoken which tell of the coming of one sent from God. Then we will consider what the Bible predicts about the conditions of the world during our own time (the last days).
The Jewish Scriptures are known as the Tanach. The word Tanach is an alliteration of the first letters (T N Ch) of the three groupings of books in the Jewish Bible. The Torah contains the first five books of the Bible. Those five books are the "Law" or more accurately "the Instructions" God has given to us to live by. The Neviim, or "Prophets" contains some of the historical books and most of the major prophets and all of the minor prophets. And the Chetuvim, or "Writings" contains the poetry and wisdom literature, Daniel, Chronicles and a few other writings.
The Tanach speaks of the coming of a special prophet sent from God. This Prophet, who will have been anointed by God, is often called "the Anointed One." The Hebrew word for anointed one is moshiach, which transliterated into English becomes Messiah. The Greek translation of moshiach is christos, transliterated as Christ. So, when we speak of Moshiach, Messiah, Christ, Christos or the Anointed One, we are saying the same thing. Anyone who is anointed by God is authorized to serve God in some specific capacity.
Daniel predicted the exact time when Moshiach would appear:
Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One (Hebrew, xyvM, moshiach), the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' (Daniel 9:25).
The "seven" is a period of seven years. Thus, seven 'sevens' and sixty-two 'sevens' is equivalent to sixty-nine times seven years or 483 years.
Historians tell us that Artaxerxes issued a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem in 457 BC. Exactly 483 years later (in 27 CE), Yahusha (popularly known as "Jesus") of Nazareth presented himself to Israel at his baptism in the Jordan River by the prophet John. Thus, Daniel's prediction was fulfilled exactly as stated, verifying that he (Daniel) is a true prophet of God, and also verifying that Yahusha is the Moshiach promised by the Tanak.
The prophet Micah foretold the birthplace of the Moshiach:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times (Micah 5:2).
Yahusha was born in Bethlehem of Judah as the prophet announced:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" (Matthew 2:1-6).
So this prophecy was precisely fulfilled also.
The prophet Malachi foretold of the Moshiach healing people by the hem of his garment:
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall (Malachi 4:2).
The term sun of righteousness was believed to be a reference to the Moshiach. And the word wings can also mean the hem or border that was to be on the four cornered garment worn by the men of Israel.
There were several people healed by touching the hem of the garment worn by Yahusha. First, there was a woman with a blood disease:
Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment (Matthew 9:20-22).
Others, with various diseases, found healing with a touch of the tassels on Yahusha's garment:
And wherever he went-- into villages, towns or countryside-- they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed (Mark 6:56).
And one more example. King David indicated that the Messiah would be raised from the dead!
I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay (Psalm 16:8-10).
Peter explains that David was speaking of Moshiach's resurrection:
David said about him: "'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.' "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay (Acts 2:25-31).
This prophecy, written roughly one thousand years before Christ, was fulfilled precisely.
Many more examples of specific prophecies could be given. Scholars estimate that there are several hundred prophesies which Yahusha fulfilled in his life and death. The following table lists some of those prophesies from the Tanak which are fulfilled and documented in the Christian New Testament:
For a lengthy list of several hundred such prophesies fulfilled in the life and mission of Yahusha, see Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict. These few examples serve to demonstrate that the Tanach (the Old Testament Scriptures) are indeed a reliable resource of truth, whose authorship must be from God who supersedes time and history to know what is going to take place in the future.
The Tanak and the Christian New Testament provide further evidence of their own divine inspiration. They do so by accurately predicting the condition of the world in our day, which is very near the end of the age. The Prophet Hosea describes the rejection of God's Law by Israel:
"Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle is over the house of the LORD because the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law (literally. "my Torah"). Israel cries out to me, 'O our God, we acknowledge you!' But Israel has rejected what is good (Hosea 8:1-3).
I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien (Hosea 8:12).
This rejection of the knowledge of God's Torah results in wickedness and distancing themselves from God:
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. The more the priests increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. They feed on the sins of my people and relish their wickedness (Hosea 4:6-8).
The apostle Shaul (Paul) describes people living in the last days as being guilty of the same sin of rejection of God's law:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth (2 Timothy 3:1-6).
Not only does this describe the people of the world in our times, but this is also an accurate portrayal of people in the Christian church. With all of the sex and money scandals which the media has uncovered and sensationalized, who can deny that our churches are in this horrific state. Christianity today has a form of godliness, but denies the power of godliness, which is God's Torah - his instructions to live a godly life. These people are "never able to acknowledge the truth." The Bible describes the Torah - God's Law - as the truth (see above).
Yahusha (Jesus) talked about this anti-Torah, anti-law, antinomian spirit which would pervade the world in the last days:
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness ("lawlessness" or "anti-Torah," Gr. anomoj), the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:10-13).
And Paul reiterates the same message:
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion (i.e. apostasy or "turning away from the faith") occurs and the man of lawlessness ("Torah-lessness") is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.... Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?... . For the secret power of lawlessness ("Torah-lessness") is already at work... (2 Thessalonians 2:3-7).
Paul teaches us that believers in the last days would be involved in a massive apostasy - a denial or turning from the faith of the Scriptures. And this would be associated with lawlessness, or a denial or turning away from God's Torah.
This is precisely the state of the Christian Church right now. Christians deny that the Torah of God has any validity over an enlightened and liberated New Testament people. "We are free from God's law," they say. And they will not hear God's instructions for a godly life. Paul also accurately predicted that this would be the case. He tells us that the Christian people in earth's final days would deny the truth found in the Torah, and would not tolerate the sound doctrine found therein:
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3,4).
It's no wonder that the Christian Church is in the chaotic state it finds itself in. It has rejected God's instructions (Torah) and has taught as doctrine the easy things which people want to hear.
As a demonstration of their own reliability and authority, the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures have accurately predicted the condition of the world and of the Christian church of the end times.
The Bible is telling the truth. We know this because it passes the most difficult test of authenticity: it predicts, with 100% accuracy, important historical events. While there are still many prophecies (predictions) which have a future fulfillment, the Scriptures foretold in exact detail about the first advent of the Messiah. And it also describes in amazing detail the condition of the world we live in today. Thus, we can put a great deal of confidence in its usefulness to us.
The Bible is the self-revelation of the God who is there. It was written by men who loved God and the truth. Because it tells the story and plan of God to right all the wrongs of the universe, and because it holds out to me a better way of living and better promises for my future, I can confidently look to the Scriptures for answers to life's toughest questions.
Let us take this approach - an approach loaded with confident expectation and eager anticipation - as we open up the Scriptures to discover eternal truths which are useful to you and me, right where we live.