The Bible is the most important book in the world. The Bible is God’s Word – God’s message to mankind. The Bible claims to be inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). The word inspired means “God-breathed.” This means that God put His thoughts and words into the minds of the writers of Scripture. What they wrote was not their opinions or their insights about God; they wrote God’s thoughts and words as revealed to them by God’s Holy Spirit; “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Therefore, the Bible is inerrant (without error) and infallible (incapable of error).
God gave us His Word for three main reasons: (1) to reveal Himself; (2) to reveal man’s sinful condition; and (3) to reveal the way of salvation from sin. Jesus said “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The apostle Paul told Timothy: “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Bible is a holy book because it stands apart from every other book. It is holy because its author is holy, its message is holy, and its content is designed to make us holy.
How did we get the Bible?
The Bible is a collection of 66 books, written by 36 different writers over a period of about 1600 years (from 1500 B.C. to 90 A.D.). The word Bible comes from the Greek word “biblion”, which means “book.” Biblion was the name of a plant (like papyrus) which grows besides rivers and marshes. Much of the Bible was written on papyrus plants. The inner bark was dried in flat strips. These strips were pasted together – to form a page. Several pages were joined together and then rolled up in a scroll. Papyrus would turn yellow and become brittle with age; and therefore several copies had to be made before the original wore out. Books as we know them today did not come about until after the printing press was invented in 1438. The first English Bible to include chapters and numbered verse divisions was the Geneva Bible in 1560.
How can we know that the Bible is God’s Word?
But how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God? First, God in his Word claims to be its author. Second, He provides evidence of this claim in the Bible. Third, He gives us His Holy Spirit, who shows us His hand and voice in all of Holy Scripture.
1. God in His Word Claims to Be Its Author
The first reason for believing the Bible is God’s Word is that the Bible claims to be God’s Word. Throughout the Bible, God testifies repeatedly that He is speaking through the writers of the Bible. In the Old Testament alone, the expression “thus says the Lord” appears almost 2,000 times. The writers of the Bible were well aware that they wrote God’s Word. King David, who wrote most of the Psalms, says: “the Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).
The most important testimony in the Bible to its own inspiration and infallibility is the witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who regarded the OT as the infallible word of God. Jesus said, “The Scriptures cannot be broken” (John 10:35). To be broken means to be proven wrong. The Scriptures cannot be proven wrong! The Bible can never be proven to be wrong, because it is the Word of God – and God is never wrong.
Jesus also promised that the Scriptures would never pass away: “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). Jesus said the same thing about His own words, making His own words equal with Scripture: “Heaven and earth will pass away, by My Words will by no means pass away” (Luke 21:33). If Jesus’ words were not going to pass away then they would have to be written down and preserved for all generations. Jesus gave His words to His apostles (John 17:9) and His apostles committed those words to writing. Jesus promised that the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of the Old Testament would be given to His apostles so they could write the books of the New Testament. Jesus promised His apostles: “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
All 27 books of the NT were either written or approved by an apostle; and the writers knew they were writing God’s Word. For example, the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians: “the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). Paul told the Thessalonians: “when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the Word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
2. The Evidence within Scripture Confirms the Claim That the Bible Is God’s Word
God not only makes the claim that the Bible is His Word. He provides within the Holy Scriptures abundant evidence to support that claim.
a. Unity. The Bible is a compilation of 66 books written by 36 different writers over a period of 1,600 years. The authors did not sit down as a committee to decide what to write. They were separated by great time and distance. Yet their books are in complete harmony. The OT points forward to the Savior to come. The New Testament tells of the Savior who has come (Luke 24:27). Only one reasonable explanation exists for this marvelous unity—there was one mind that conceived the plan, one hand that wrote the words: the mind and hand of God.
b. Fulfilled prophecy. One of the most remarkable evidences of the Bible’s inspiration is the prophecies of the OT fulfilled in the NT. 800 years before Christ’s birth the prophets declared that Christ would be born, how He would be born, where He would be born, what kind of person He would be and what kind of work He would perform. For example, 800 years before Christ was born, Isaiah said that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah also prophesied of the sufferings of the Messiah for our sins. “He was wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). Micah prophesied that Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The NT records the fulfillment of all these prophecies. Jesus Himself claimed to be the fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 4:21; 24:27). Jesus told the Jews of His day: “You search the Scriptures…and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
c. Basic message. The Bible’s basic message is the story of man’s complete ruin in sin, of his inability to save himself, and of the power of God’s grace alone to save him. This is a humbling message that the human mind would not naturally think up. When left to himself, man has always invented another kind of religion – one that says man is not completely sinful and therefore can save himself. The Bible teaches that man is dead in sin, cannot save himself, and can be saved only by the grace of God through the death of the Son of God. This is contrary to the proud thoughts of the natural man. We don’t naturally admit our failures and inability. To teach about our sin and need for salvation is evidence that the authors of the Bible were controlled not by their own spirit but by God’s Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
3. The Testimony of God’s Holy Spirit in Our Hearts
How can some people read the claims of the Bible to be the Word of God and study the evidence for such claims, only to reject the Bible as God’s word? The problem is that by nature we are all spiritually blind; we cannot see the truth. To be more accurate, our heart is so hard that we do not want to see the truth. When Jesus did miracles right in front of the Pharisees, the Pharisees said: “you must have done that by the power of Satan.” They did not want to see the truth.
Our heart is so hard that only God Himself is able to overcome our blindness and resistance and enable us to believe His Word. And this is exactly what He does. The same God who spoke by the mouth of the prophets speaks to our hearts and assures us that the Bible is His Word. This is precisely how the Christian Church came to recognize only 66 books as divinely inspired.
Why are only these 66 books considered to be inspired by God? How do we know? Is it because the church told us? How do we know if the church is right? We approve of these 66 books “not so much because the church receives and approves them, but more especially because the Holy Spirit witnesses in our hearts that they are from God” (Belgic Confession, article 5). The Scriptures do not need the church’s approval to make them authoritative. Rather, the Holy Spirit causes the church to recognize the authority that is already there. The Holy Spirit causes each believer to recognize that the Bible is truly God’s inerrant and infallible Word. If you do not have unshakable confidence that the Bible is the Word of God, then you must pray for the help of God’s Holy Spirit, and He will help you. Jesus Himself said, “Seek and you shall find.”
You will not find the truth apart from the Bible. “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26). “Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:9). “Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man,…Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5, 7).