Is the Bible the Word of God?
The sacred writings of the world’s religions are often appealed to by each respective faith to defend their doctrinal positions or acceptable moral behavior. Debate over the veracity of such doctrines or the morality of such behaviors often does not get very far before the proponents of that religion simply appeal to the divine authority of the writing. “God said so,” and that decides the case.
And it does if God truly did say so.
So when it comes to the Bible, before we can appeal to its teaching or ethics, we need to ask and answer this important question: How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?
The Bible evidences itself to be God’s Word by the heavenliness of its doctrine, the unity of its parts, and its power to convert sinners and to edify saints. But only the Spirit of God can make us willing to agree and submit to the Bible as the Word of God.
This question and its answer (Question 5 in our catechism), comes to us from the Baptist Catechism (17th century), gives us three answers.
The “heavenliness of its doctrine,” refers to the belief that the Bible is extraordinary in the truths that it teaches. They are mysterious in the sense that they often teach things which are paradoxical, though never contradictory. We have an awareness, for example, that what the Bible says about God (that he is three persons) is true, but at the same time incomprehensible (but he is only one God). This should not surprise us: God must be in some ways like us (so we can understand something about him), but in other ways nothing like us (so we can never understand him fully). And so we are not surprised when the Bible seems perplexing. If it did not, skeptics would certainly denounce the Bible precisely because it was too natural, too man-made.
Adding to the “heavenliness” of the Bible’s construction is the unity of its parts. Here’s a book, written over a millennium and a half, by at least 40 different authors, and yet its message is clear and consistent. All 66 books point us to the problem of human sin and the resolution of God’s redemption through the “anointed one,” Jesus Christ.
Finally, the Bible has the “power to convert sinners and to edify saints.” It is not only a book of evangelism, leading unbelievers to the only Savior that may be found, but it is also a book of discipleship, leading believers to find even more satisfaction in that same Savior.
And yet, despite these powerful arguments on behalf of the Bible’s claim to be the Word of God, there are and have always been skeptics. Why? Because it is not the Christian’s evidence or arguments in defense of the Bible that can win the day, but only “the Spirit of God” himself who can bring anyone, sinner and saint alike, into agreement with and submission to the Word of God. So, we ask for the Spirit’s influence over us as we read our Bibles, so that we might, like the Psalmist, understand its instruction and follow it with all our hearts (Psa 119:34).