- Today we begin a new series asking the question, “Is the Bible the Word of God?” This question is very important to answer not only for our own faith but because there are continued attempts to undermine the authority of the scriptures. Are the words that the apostles received the words of God or the words of men? Are the Bibles we hold in our hands today the same words which were written down by the apostles nearly 2000 years ago? What distinguishes the Bible from other books of religious importance? In this series of lessons we will attempt to systematically answer these questions.
- If the Bible is the word of God, then we would expect what we read to be unique. We would expect words that are different from any other book we have ever read because all other books are the works of man. If God authored the scriptures, then we must expect the word of God to be unique. The first argument we make today for the Bible being the word of God is that it is unique, far different from any book ever written.
I. The Bible Is Unique In Its Origin
A. The word of God, not man
- Immediately we are faced with a problem when we claim the Bible is unique because it is the word of God and not the words of men. There are others who claim that their book is also the word of God. The Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) claim the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants are the word of God revealed through Joseph Smith. Muslims claim that the Qur’an is the word of God revealed through Mohammed. So how do we know which claim to believe?
- As we mentioned at the beginning, we have certain expectations that must be met by any book which is claimed by people to be from God. We do not have to guess but can hold each work up to a series of tests to determine the veracity of the claim.
- The Bible claims itself to be the very words of God. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This is an important claim. It is not enough for people to claim something to be the word of God. Does the work itself claim itself to be the word of God and show itself to be the word of God. The scriptures claim itself to be from the very breath of God. Being from God, the word of God by definition claims perfection. God is perfect and has no error. Therefore, God’s words must be found without error. Such is the claim of the Bible.
- Other works claimed by people to be the words of God, however, do not make such claims. In fact, some works claim the opposite. Consider the words of the Book of Mormon on the title page: “—and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.” By contrast, Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is flawless.”
- It is not enough to declare a book the word of God. The book itself must make that claim, if not explicitly, then implicitly since God is perfect. However, many works immediately discredit themselves by claiming the possibility of fault. The Bible is unique in that is claims to be flawless, breathed out by God, and allows no room for faults.
- Repeatedly, the scriptures refer to themselves as the word of God. The prophets said the word of the Lord came to them. The Bible claims to be more than just “a good book.” The Bible claims to be the authoritative words of God.
B. Jesus gave testimony to the Bible
- The Bible is also unique in that Jesus gave testimony to the scriptures. Jesus quoted scriptures. “Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” (Matthew 21:42). By repeatedly quoting from the Bible, Jesus authenticated the words we hold in our hands today. Jesus never quoted words from other books that claimed to be the word of God.
- Jesus referred to the scriptures. In Matthew 12:39-41 Jesus refers the event of Jonah being swallowed by a large fish and remaining in its belly for three days. Again, Jesus is authenticating the scriptures we have as trustworthy and from God. Jesus never made a reference to the Book of Mormon, Qur’an, or the need for them to come.
- Jesus spoke of the scriptures as authoritative. Jesus said, “For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). This is a strong statement by Jesus that declared the scriptures to be authoritative.
- Jesus testified of apostolic revelation. Jesus said to his apostles, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). Jesus made no reference to any future revelations to come from self-proclaimed prophets like Mohammed or Joseph Smith.
- Jesus clearly declared the Bible to be the word of God. No one can declare Jesus to be a great prophet yet reject the words of the Bible, as Islam does. Jesus cannot be a great prophet and have lied about the Bible being the word of God. It is either one or the other. Further, Jesus said nothing about the need for future revelations. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth, not just some of the truth. Jesus declared the Bible to be the only word of God.
C. The Bible has perfect unity
- The unity of the message found in the Bible can only be explained the writings are the words of God. The scriptures were written over a period of more than 1500 years by more than forty people, who lived in different countries with different cultures, speaking different languages.
- Just try to bring together a national leader, a military general, two kings, a shepherd, a tax collector, a doctor, some fishermen, and a rabbi and see if they can agree upon the simplest message. Even if they were in the same room, we know there would not be such agreement especially on the myriads of controversial issues the Bible addresses. Separated by hundreds of years, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Amos, Matthew, Luke, Peter, John, and Paul, along with many others wrote down God’s word. There is no other work has avoided such errors and inconsistencies. Even the Book of Mormon not only contradicts the Bible, but it contradicts itself and has many historical errors, yet it was written by only one man.
- The Bible has a consistent message and theme. In the very beginning, the book of Genesis records mankind being removed from the tree of life because of sin (Genesis 3). The very end of the Bible, the book of Revelation reveals the tree of life offered to all people because the Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world (Revelation 22). Different writers in different eras speaking different languages writing down one common message.
- People run around on television and in books claiming the Bible is full of contradictions. That is a very old charge that has never been proven. The world has had thousands of years to prove this charge and yet the Bible still stands. Anyone who makes the claim that the Bible has contradictions, let them prove it. Most people are simply repeating a line they have always heard, but do not know of any case where the Bible is inconsistent or has error. The Bible has been examined, dissected, and attacked by some of the greatest minds in history, yet no one has ever made a charge stick against the word of God. Only God could make one perfectly unified document out of 66 books.
II. The Bible Is Unique In Its Teaching
A. About God
- Other books may teach that there is a God, but only the Bible teaches God as three distinct persons who share one divinity. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
- All other religions reject this conceptual teaching. Other religious either teach that there is only one person who is God, like the Muslim teach concerning Allah, or that there are many gods, a teaching found in a significant number of religions. The Bible is set apart in its teaching about the nature of God.
B. About Jesus
- The Bible is also set apart in its teaching about Jesus. The Bible teaches about Jesus’ virgin birth, sinless life as God in the flesh, atoning sacrifice, and triumphant resurrection. The Bible presents Jesus in a light like no other book. We see the humanity of Jesus as he was hungry, was tempted, experienced pain, and wept. Yet we also read of Jesus as God, creating enough food to feed 5000 from a little boy’s lunch. We see Jesus raising people from the dead, walking on water, and healing people of diseases, proving he is God.
- The Bible does not declare Jesus to be a mere man. Islam teaches that Mohammed was a prophet to point people to Allah. Jesus said that he himself is God (John 20:28-29; 14:8-9; 8:58). Only the Bible gives us this information of Jesus, the Son of God and the son of man.
C. About man
- Further, only the Bible teaches the whole truth about mankind. The Bible shows we are the unique creation of God that has been utterly ruined by our sins. Like no other book, the Bible explains our beginning, our purpose, and reason for existence. Only the Bible declares that we are made in the image of God by the very breath of God.
- No other book gives a reasonable explanation for why we are here. No other book reasonably explains our purpose for living. No other book declares humans to be made in the great image of God yet have corrupted and destroyed that greatness by our sins.
D. About prophecy and fulfillment
- Only the Bible is able to declare historical events hundreds of years before it took place. There have been many so-called prophets, claiming general things and usually coming up empty. The books of men have repeatedly tried to predict historical events and the end of time.
- Joseph Smith, a self-proclaimed prophet of God, made this prophecy on May 6, 1843: “I prophecy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished” (History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 394). However, the United States Government did not redress any of the wrongs committed against the Mormons in Missouri, and now over 150 years later, the U.S. Government still stands.
- Only the Bible predicted the fall of great empires that at the time seemed to be invincible. Empires such as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome have their predicted demise in the scriptures. Even the names of kings who would rise up were predicted years in advance. A couple hundred years before the Persian empire had any power, Isaiah prophesied of Cyrus, the king of Persia would let the captives of Israel go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of the Lord (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1). The prophecy that Jesus Christ would be born in a no-name town of Bethlehem was prophesied about 700 years before the birth of Christ. No so-called prophet in any book has ever claimed to prophesy the future on the scale of the Bible. Even greater, no book has had every prophecy fulfilled except the Bible.
E. About salvation
- All other religions tell you what you must do to bring yourself to God. Only the Bible tells you what God has done to save you. The Bible is extremely unique when it comes to the explanation of salvation. All other religions teach that mankind must reach out to God because God is far away and not concerned about our plight. The Bible declares God coming to mankind, offering salvation and grace to all people. Only the Bible declares God’s love being so great that before creation of mankind, God made a way to reconcile us to him. God has done all the work in salvation. We simply must respond to God’s conditions of grace.
- No other book offers salvation in this way. Salvation in the Qur’an is based upon doing as many good deeds as possible, memorizing the texts, and performing holy tasks. The Bible declares that there are no good deeds that can save mankind. Only the blood of Christ can bring salvation. Our works are useless in removing our sins.
- How special it is to know that God has come to this earth and allowed himself to die so that our sins could be taken away from us. But good living and morality is not the call of the Bible. Such a call is the religion of man. God’s call is to accept the conditions of his grace by loving God with all your heart and being immersed in water to receive his grace, uniting ourselves with Christ.
- No other book has changed the course of human history the way the Bible has. No other book has the ability to change your life and your eternal outcome than the Bible. God has come to man with the good news of salvation and deliverance. Respond to God’s love today by being immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins.