Dear members of RZIM, my question is: How do we know that All OF the Bible is the inspired word of God?
Hello @lotfallah. The short answer is that this is the testimony of Scripture:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:16-17
Thanks a lot, Omar, for your quick response. There are two counterarguments: 1. You cannot use a Biblical quotation to show that the whole Bible is the inspired word of God, since maybe that particular verse was not. 2. This verse was written by St. Paul, and was probably addressing the old testament, not the new testament, and definitely not that verse itself. So even if we do believe in this verse, and consequently believe in the old testament. This leaves the whole new testament unsupported.
The bible what is it?
very important question
I recently listened to a debate between John Lennox and Michael Ruse which touched on this question
worded slightly differently from how you frame it,
what do you make of the bible?
Johns reply was very clear and strong,
the bible is much more important than science to me
it has been an enormous source of comfort, guidance and truth for me
Michael Ruse’s (agnostic) response was that it was a very interesting and influential book
He personally doesnt accept any miracles including the physical resurrection.
My personal view is almost identical to John Lennox’s view, with no greater view of scripture with some caveats:
the bible was written by humans using their minds, who were directly inspired by the Holy spirit. At times they appeared not to fully know what they were writing about, eg Johns Revelation or Daniels visions
The bible has layers or several depths of meaning. It impoverishes scripture if we try to make it apply in only one way, at one time or in one culture. The 2 Timothy 3.16 is very interesting, because in verse 17 it says "the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work". The reference to the man of God clearly transcends time and cultures, ie is universally applicable. This requires sensitivity and revelation by the spirit.
Of course we should study the cultural background to when the bible was written, but rather than use this to suffocate the text by saying it does not apply today because it was written thousands of years ago, I believe it should enrich the meaning enormously by realising objective truth is subordinate to getting the message across. For example, the mustard seed is not the smallest seed in the world, but was the smallest seed known to Palestian people of that day. Jesus no doubt knew that smaller seeds exist, eg an orchids seed is smaller, but Jesus is teaching a deeper principle and objective truth is subservient to infallibility which is different and it could be argued higher than “objective inerrancy”.
The question may relate to the OT and the problems being faced then. Often though the underlying principles, ie affairs of the heart are the real issue being addressed. Jesus kept on getting at the universal principles underlying a particular law or event- the heart of the matter. Thus rather than get caught up in the hyperliteralistic reading, grasp Gods heartbeat underlying it, the big picture.
Personal applications. For me this is central to what the bible is- living and breathing. I read the bible with the expectation that the Lord will speak to my heart. Yet I know there is a (suppressive) view that the bible was not written to us- a view that I think suffocates the life out of the text and smothers a christians relationship with the living Word Jesus himself. A friend of mine, a theologian has this restrictive view of the bible. I think it is no coincidence that when looking for guidance on eg same sex marriage, such a view bends to societal trends and pressure and puts less weight on biblical authority.
@lotfallah, thank you for this very important question. Appreciate the comments already made. I myself have gone through a period of time wondering about the reliability of the Bible and its inspiration. While I have not gathered proof that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired, I think there is reasonable amount of evidence to say that the Bible is divinely inspired. I am no scholar but I can share some information that I found useful in arriving at an answer to the inspiration of the Bible.
Theologian Carl F. H. Henry defines inspiration of scripture as - “Inspiration is a supernatural influence upon the divinely chosen prophets and apostles whereby the Spirit of God assures the truth and trustworthiness of their oral and written presentations”. Here are some of the reasons for the inspiration of the Bible:
The Bible itself claims to be the word of God written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The prophets received their messages in many ways (Heb 1:1) – dreams, visions, audible voice, inner voice, prayer. They were not allowed to add to what they heard and were dealt severely if they did. (Prov 30:6, Rev 22:18, Deu 4:2, Jer 36:28).
Reasons for Inspiration of Old Testament
Old Testament authors claimed they were writing the words of God. Many places in the Old Testament we see the words God said or declared. Ex. Lev 4:1, Isaiah 1:11, 18, 2Samuel 23:2, Jeremiah 2:3,9
New testament authors speak of the Old testament as being inspired by God. 2Tim 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21
Jesus confirms the Old Testament as being inspired by God and quotes the words of many of the prophets of the Old Testament. Matt 4:4, Matt 15:6, Matt 19:4-5, Matt 24:37-39, Matt 12:40-42, John 10:35, Luke 16:31
Inspiration of the New Testament
- The Greek word “Graphe” is only used for sacred writing in scriptures and that is the word used by Paul and Peter in 1Tim 5:18 and 2 Peter 3:15-16.
- New testament authors too claimed to be writing the very words of God and claimed to be the foundation of church and the apostles writings were already being used as teaching of the Lord. 1Cor 2:13, Eph 2:20, Acts 2:42
Bible witnesses are reliable
If we believe Jesus is God based on the resurrection evidence and other evidence his words are reliable attestation to the Old Testament. Both New testament and Old Testament authors are contemporaries of the events they wrote about . NT authors were willing to die for their beliefs and they also included information that would reflect badly on the message showing that their testimony is not fabricated. ex. Thomas doubting resurrection, they record about women who did not have an influential position in the society being present at the tomb.
Though there is influence of human authors in the Bible it is reliable.
- The Bible was written with human languages, human literary forms, human literary perspectives, human thought patterns, human emotions, human culture using other human sources and thus was influenced by human authors but only as ordained by God.
- The Bible is reliable as it has several fulfilled prophecies. About 300 Old Testament prophecies are already fulfilled. Ex. Prophet Micah predicts the city of Jesus birth 700 years before.
- Archaeological and manuscript evidence proves reliability of the Bible. The Bible has manuscript evidence from 250 BC unparalleled by any other scriptural manuscript evidence. The Bible is 99% accurate according to scholars based on manuscript evidence (Peter Flint) . There are only very rare minor copyist errors which don’t change the message of the Bible. The scribes were extremely meticulous and had methods in place to ensure accuracy when copying the Bible (Josh Mc Dowell)
(References: Works by Josh Mc Dowell, Who Made God - Normal Geisler and Ravi Zacharias)
In my own life, I have found the Bible to be divinely inspired as it changed my life. I came to a faith in Jesus from Hinduism through conviction from reading scripture from the book of Isaiah about idolatry. It continues to be a book that inspires me as in it I see absolute truth, a way toward humility through the grace of God as depicted in the life of our Lord Jesus.
From your question can I assume that you believe that some of the Bible is inspired? If that is true then this is an interesting question. Could you shed some light on this?
First, I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to answer my question.
Second, I do agree with everything you said. In particular, my own spiritual experience convinces me of the authority of (at least most of) the Bible.
Third, though Christ himself quoted the Bible, He never said that this book is infallible. In fact, I feel from His teachings that he took over the lead from the scripture.
Finally, I believe the doctrine of the infallibility of the whole Bible has both its pros and cons. It assures the believers that there is some Godly message behind every word, urging them to look for it. However, if some of the Bible is just the product of a human, wouldn’t it a bit dangerous to believe that God was behind this word and do everything to defend it?
Jesus did say that all of the old testament were scriptures written about Him. “These are they that testify of Me”. All of the scriptures testify to God working salvation through history in His Son.
Much of the new testament is made up of quotes of the old testament. And non of the new refutes the old.
Much of the new testament was written by (or the testimony of) eye witnesses (Apostles, those that walked with Jesus through 3 years of ministry, were trained by Jesus) or a close associate to the eye witnesses.
In contemplating Pauls conversion and 3 years in Arabia before meeting with the Apostles it seems to me that he learned through the Holy Spirit the truth of who Jesus was through the old testament scriptures.
Although Paul was not a disciple of Jesus during Jesus’ ministry, given his position in Religious circles he certainly knew who Jesus claimed to be and of his crucifixion.
I think I am correct in saying that all of the new testament is supported by the old testament.
Quote: “However, if some of the Bible is just the product of a human, wouldn’t it a bit dangerous to believe that God was behind this word and do everything to defend it?”
Wouldn’t it be more dangerous to assert that any part of the bible is just the product of humans?How than would you determine which words were inspired and which were human. We would be left with humans making that determination. It seems than that any part of the bible could become suspect.
Taking in consideration what has already been said, here’s some other points to consider into your personal meditation:
There are many resources, by which you can follow-up afterwards. BUT if in your question you are also implying for a personal answer, then I must also state my life changing part too, which to me was a complete personal transformation, a spiritual revolution, given to me as a revelation to take on.
Previous spiritual condition
So now, I will try to be simple, direct and short because there would be too much details, contexts, philosophies and explanations to give, and for each way I went, I was very zealous for it.
Coming from a very passive roman catholic family (which I never cared), I reset myself radically, I wanted to start from nothing, like there would be no books, etc. At some point I started to be agnostic, then atheist, buddhist, new age, universalist and hindu until finally I arrived to Christ, by the grace of God.
During my spiritual rollercoaster, before I decided to search for a God, in between buddhism and universalism I incorporated to myself many eastern ideologies, thoughts, and philosophies.
In my quest, I was on a mission to go to the root cause of things, finding a common origem, connecting the dots, studying etymology, and so on. I wanted to experience things and being truthful to the actual context of when some thing was originated or originally taught, and not corrupted by millennia.
I wanted to create my own religion, I started to collect all the things I considerated to be good from all the religious and non-religious books and live by those things.
When I decided to finally give myself up 100% to a God, having compared the most common God orientated religions, I turned to hinduism for many different reasons. And it was at this stage that the one true God touched me deeply.
Just small context here, before I accepted Christ, while I was studying hinduism, God gave me a wife with passive muslim background. Her family are from Bosnia, and so I had with me hindu, muslim and christian context. Here the God Almighty pointed me to the Bible. He made me leave hinduism, I respected my wife for her believe but the true God very vividly told me was pleased and to say hello to him, when I started to devout myself to the understanding of the person Jesus in the Bible context.
To me the life giving testimonies of the actual change of a person as a human being upon reading, questioning, understanding and studying a Bible throughout the entire planet, by so many different backgrounds, life styles, cultural differences and circumstances, is the most relevant part, which I take very seriously because of what happened to me.
My friend, if you are in doubts or if you have the spiritual hunger, as I did (like having the physical feeling or need to satisfy something) for truth, then humble yourself, go down on your knees, being simple and honest, start to pray.
I hope this has been useful somehow to you.
Kind regards and may God bless you my friend, in Jesus name, amen.
How were you reached?
@lotfallah, its wonderful to see your desire to defend truth. I am praying that God will give you enough clarity about your question.
In John 17:17 Jesus prays for His disciples and says, " Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth". If Jesus attests to the Word as truth, he is essentially saying OT teachings are trustworthy, Bible is infallible in teaching what is true. He also says ‘I am truth’, so teachings of NT received from Jesus by reliable witnesses can be considered true.
What I find amazing is that inspite of God using imperfect humans, the word of God managed to reach the ends of the world and has transformed lives over thousands of years. God could have dictated ‘word for word’ all parts of the Bible to its writers but He chose instead to empower man to receive truth and then write it reflecting human words and culture. God has a purpose for it. His glory and truth can shine through man’s weakness. Even today God continues to use us humans who err to spread truth. It shows that God values the personalities He has given us humans to accomplish His eternal purposes.
If we are not able to trust the word of God completely, it is difficult to be transformed by it. Romans 12 talks about renewing our mind with the word to know the will of God. Hebrews 4:12 talks about the role of the word in showing where our heart is. If God chose to transform us by His word would He not also watch over it that it contains only truth?
May God give you peace as you wrestle with this question.
It seems to me that you (@lotfallah) don’t believe in the infallibility of the Bible, is that correct? And when you talk about infallibility, can you please define what you think it means?
I am grateful to God for your knowledge and persistence. This is the first time in my life to think out loud and argue about this issue. I am still not 100% convinced that the whole Bible is infallible.
Both the old and the new testaments were formed by a consensus of believers, and though they were guided by the Holy Spirit, they are not themselves infallible. However, we are thankful to God that the church has something that is much more valuable, namely His own presence. He Himself can guide us to know the messages embedded in the scripture, as well as the messages we encounter in our everyday lives, including those sent by other believers, like those messages sent by you. Please pray for me that I am not lead astray by my own limited mind.
@lotfallah, Glad you are taking the time to think through this. I think it will be important to think through specific issues and address each individually when you struggle with a particular author of the Bible humbly before God. Will be praying for God’s guidance. I believe the Word is a lamp unto our feet.