Does the Bible authenticate itself?


(Eunike Misiekaba) #1

Hi Friends,

I came across this article/interview between John Piper & Michael Reeves ( See block quotes below)

My question(s)/Remarks: " What is wrong with added information? Isn’t that the same as presenting the obvious evidence to our faith? For example: the evidence about the authenticity of the Bible…or how obedience to the Word of God, transforms our lives…etc etc. It’s a bit difficult for me to make the connection with apologetics. Or to understand it. (Excuse me, English is not my native language :slight_smile:

Piper explains that when he says the Bible is self-attesting, he’s not referring to the Bible’s claims to be true, nor does he mean the Holy Spirit will give an extra revelation from God testifying about its truthfulness to those who read it. Rather, it’s about the content of the Word itself:

MICHAEL REEVES: You talk about Scripture as a window through which we see the glory of God. It’s not that the glory of God comes alongside Scripture in a different way; it’s mediated through Scripture.

JOHN PIPER: No, no. That’s an absolutely crucial distinction. The “alongside” idea of self-attestation is misleading. In other words, when I say that the Holy Spirit testifies…I don’t mean that there’s added information—so I’m reading my Bible, and I’m praying, “Oh God, is this your word? Is this your word?” And a voice comes into your head and says, “THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD.” That’s a dangerous voice! That is not the way it happens. What the Holy Spirit does—another picture besides window is a cloudy day. The sun is shining [above the clouds]. The sun is the Word and the glory of God in the Word. What does the Holy Spirit do? He doesn’t whisper to people down here, “There’s a sun up there. He’s shining. Trust me.” That’s not what He does. He blows the clouds [away], and what convicts us is not the voice of the Holy Spirit, but it is the sight of God in and through the Word

Source: https://www.str.org/blog/how-the-bible-authenticates-itself#.W4YI--hKg2w


(Jean Daniel Slabbert) #2

Hi @Eunike,

I agree that this conversation, especially when only seeing this small part of the conversation, can be very confusing. I had to re-read the blog quote you shared a few times over to discern a little better.

I think what Piper means is that when you read the Bible, you start to see so much of God through the Word of God that you become convinced of its authenticity. You get to know Him so well that He become more real to you than an individual in front of you. You get to a point where, even though you might not have all the answers to all the questions that could arise from the Bible, you still believe its authenticity 100%, because you know its Author 100%.

Apologetics for me is not having all the answers to all the questions anyone could ask. Far from it! I know that no person will ever have all the answers. I only need to give a reason for MY hope. That’s all. I trust the Lord to do the rest.

Not sure if my comments speak exactly to your questions/concerns, but that was my take on the conversation you shared.


(SeanO) #3

@Eunike Thank you for your question. I appreciate @Jean’s response. You asked - what is wrong with added information? I think Piper’s point, simply stated, is that if we do not believe the witness of the Holy Spirit regarding the Scriptures, a miracle will never truly convince us and voices in our head are not to be trusted.

First, we must establish the context of what John Piper is addressing when he says ‘added information’. I do not think Piper is saying apologetics is wrong at all. Rather, Piper is contrasting the way God’s Spirit testifies to the truth of His Word with our spirit with the idea that we can hear a voice inside our heads or experience some miracle to verify the truth of Scriptures. Piper is simply saying that we do not need a voice in our heads or supernatural signs to verify the truth of Scripture - in fact, he says these things should not be trusted. The testimony of the Spirit of God with our spirit is what we should rely upon.

I believe Piper would say that rational study and apologetics are very useful, but at the end of the day we believe the Scriptures due to God’s Spirit engaging with us through them. Below are a few passages pointed out how God’s Spirit interacts with us to lead us into truth.

So often people want a sign or a miracle to verify the Bible is true. But the Scriptures are clear that it is the testimony of the Spirit of God alone that can truly convict.

One very important passage is Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, where He makes it clear that if we do not believe the Scriptures and the testimony of the Spirit- a miracle will never convince us.

Luke 16:31 - He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’

Romans 8:16 - The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

John 17:17 - Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.

Acts 7:51 - You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!


(Eunike Misiekaba) #4

Thank you @SeanO and @Jean
I’ll study your responses later today. And I think more question will come up.

Many Blessings


(Eunike Misiekaba) #5

@Jean @SeanO
Once again thank you for your responses.
I’m trying to get my mind and heart around this.

These are the premises that I’m holding:

  1. The witness of the Holy Spirit is crucial for faith
  2. The state of a heart determines how the witness is received

I have been thinking about 4 bible passages in this regard:

  • The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3: Here Jesus is posing very clearly that the Holy Spirit is the one that enables us to have sight (understand/recognize) the authority of God.Nicodemus was pointing to the miracles as His way of seeing, but as the conversation progressed, Jesus made it very clear that Nicodemus did not believe.

  • The debate between Jesus and the Pharisees in John 8,9 & 10: From these passages there are a few remarkable things that I observed: 1) the belief is necessary to hear Him; 2) a few started believing in Him, because of the words he spoke; 3) others who naturally do not believe, because they didn’t belong to God; 4) how miracles lead others to believe, but yet other’s still didn’t belief; 5) how Jesus is asking his opponents to follow the evidence to start believing in Him (verification of truth)

I’m arguing the following:

  • The witness of the Holy Spirit is crucial, however this witness can come through numerous forms, which also includes the obviousness of the Word itself as well as miracles.

  • I’m agreeing with you that the state of the hearts determine how a witness/testimony is received. You have a honest or dishonest heart I suppose. A honest heart for example follows the evidence wherever it leads.

Against this light, I’m looking at the article of John Piper, and I’m saying: God is using alongside information as well as self -authentication of His word. The witness of Holy Spirit, in whatever form, is elementary to have sight and an honest heart is also necessary to start hearing Him.

I appreciate your feedback on this as well.

Thank you and blessings


(Eunike Misiekaba) #6

I found this link very helpful as well: https://www.gotquestions.org/self-authenticating.html


(SeanO) #7

@Eunike Glad you were able to work through it - the article made the helpful distinction between deductive and inductive reasoning. Thank you for posting that as well. Yes, we must accept the testimony of the Spirit of God or else no miracle or sign will ever convince. If you have further questions please feel free to share.