I know we all come from a variety of backgrounds but I have to tell you that this book was very foreign to me growing up although I went to a church that didn’t believe in this book and we didn’t do much with it, we did have one on our coffee table.
It was part of what you did in that era. And so, one time, I think I was maybe junior high or something, my parents were gone and I opened it up. Probably not a good move… it was somewhere where there was lots of The’s and lots of Thou’s and lots of Hittite, Jebusite, Magaonites, you know?
I remember reading it for, like, thirty-five seconds and shutting it and thinking, you know what, I have no idea what this is all about. But I had this urge; you ever have a spiritual urge? I had this sense. Maybe there’s something in this book. I had it for about thirty-five seconds and then I shut it.
I just had no idea. It was just a whole mystery to me. Then at eighteen, I opened the Bible for the first time and I, shortly after that came to Christ and then I began to grow spiritually. I had a friend sit down and help me learn how to read the Bible in the mornings to begin to actually not learn about a book, but get connected to the Author of the book and that he would speak to me.
Then later on, I shared, I had some people really challenge me about the intellectual basis of my faith. And I was in grad school and some really smart people looked at me like I did in junior high.
One day one of these guys was with me and he got up to me, he goes, “you don’t really believe that, do you”? Uh, well, yeah. “Well, why”? Uh, very good question - I don’t have a good answer. That was a big part of my journey. I realized that of all the things we’ve talked about, foundational is the resurrection and likely after the resurrection is, can you trust that book or not? Is this really God’s Word or is it the word of men?
Five questions were asked me and I began to ponder, and you’ll see them in your notes. Is the Bible the word of men or the Word of God? Is the Bible full of myths, legends, and fairy tales or is it historically reliable? Is all of the Bible trustworthy or just parts of it? And if only parts of it, then how do you know which parts?
Can a Bible that’s been translated so many times for so many hundreds of years still be accurate? People told me, it’s like telephone. Right? You know? Someone tells someone who tells someone who tells someone and how in the world are you telling me that a lot of this was oral tradition. There’s no way that what you have today could be accurate.
Finally, what makes it different than all the other religious writings and their claims? I want to dig in tonight with you and give you the seven reasons why I believe the Bible is God’s Word.
As I go through those, I’ll try and kick back to some of the questions that were asked me and are maybe are asked you, and just with an open hand say, why do we believe? Why do I believe that the Bible’s God’s Word?
First, I believe archeology. The Bible is a historical, accurate document. It’s not a dream that someone had from somewhere, someday, somehow. This book came together about people and places and events that when you start digging, you can find those people, those places, and events.
They’re not dreams, they’re not myths, and they’re not fairy tales. They’re not oral stories handed down about some people that are good, moral lessons. This has been under much attack over the years. In fact, for liberal scholars one of the big slams against the Bible was the only reckoning of this group called the Hittites, in all of history, was in the Bible and with Abraham.
Liberal scholars say, “This is proof? This Bible can’t be God’s Word because how come your book has a civilization that nobody else has”? Well, they started digging and as a result of a number of digs, they discovered twelve hundred years of Hittite civilization, ten thousand clay tablets, all going back to the Hittites.
What you find is there have been these big pokes in the Bible in terms of archeology and the more they dig, the more they find.
Another very strong criticism was that Moses could not have written the Ten Commandments. The reason that he could not have written the Ten Commandments is that it’s very sophisticated, it’s very well written, and at that period of time, historians and archeologists didn’t think that that level of writing yet existed.
Well, there was something discovered called the black stele. S-t-e-l-e. This was an ancient Code of Hammurabi and it was written with letters that had wedge shaped alphabet, it was very advanced, and what was interesting, it was written three hundred years before Moses wrote his. So again, archeology shines through and says, what we have in the Bible is accurate.
Another thing - Solomon was supposed to be this great king you read how he had all these stables and all these horses and thousands of this and the Queen of Sheba came. And they said, no, wait a second. Don’t you think we would find those?
Well, they kept digging and at Megiddo, they found as they went layer after layer, stalls of over a thousand horse stalls where Solomon had his horses. These are just examples. We have twenty-five thousand sites of people or places in the Old Testament alone that correspond with archeological finds that are in scripture.
Probably one of the most famous is a man named Sir William Ramsay. He was a noted historian and archeologist and he set out to prove that Luke’s history was filled with errors, but he emerged from the study surprisingly by saying Luke’s history is unsurpassed in its trustworthiness.
He had questions about the governor, he had questions about the census, and he had questions about who was ruling and which kings. He spent fourteen years in Israel digging and digging and digging and then Sir William Ramsay found the existence of the Pool of Bethesda. Later, Pilate was in question and they found evidence and documentation of Pilate’s life, the Pilate stone in Caesarea.
They found the altar to the unknown god in Athens and Dr. Nelson Glueck is probably the greatest modern authority on Israeli archeology, makes this statement, "No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible”.
For me, this is really important. This isn’t like the salad bar of religious books that people had had a dream or they say God spoke to them. The Bible is a historically reliable, accurate book.
Reason number two is the Revelation. The Bible claims to infallibly reveal the very words and the mind of God. People would say to me, you know, Chip, you got your book, this group has their book, what makes your book, the Bible, different than all the other religious writings and all the religious books?
Unlike any other book, the Bible is very much like Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. That’s very narrow. Jesus can’t be a good moral teacher. He can’t be a prophet. He can’t be a nice guy. He claimed to be God - he claimed to be the only way. So, he’s either right or he’s wrong. Or he’s a liar. So there’s no room.
The Bible says it authoritatively is the Word of God. It’s God-breathed. Let’s look at it. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is” inspired or literally, “God breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”.
It says all of scripture - Old Testament, New Testament - it’s literally, the mind and the heart of God, exhaustively no, but accurately revealing the very mind and heart and will of God.
If you could get this… I was praying before I came out here and I thought, this is sobering to think that I have in my hands the God who spoke, ex nihilo, out of nothing and created all that there is, the Word that brings life in creation, the Word of Jesus when He speaks to creation and calms it, the Word that comes out of His mouth that creates life. When God breathed into Adam and Eve after He created them, we have in our possession. That’s an outrageous claim - and it’s either true or it’s false.
In 1 Timothy 5:18, it says, and what I want to make the point is that the Old Testament is inspired, 18 “For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
The only point I want to make is, when the New Testament is looking back inspired at the Old Testament, he’s quoting a Proverb, he calls it scripture. For example, II Peter 3:16, Peter, writing about Paul says this, 16 “He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction”.
The point is the Bible actually claims to be the authoritative, inspired, very words of God. Over three thousand times in the Bible, you hear, “thus says the Lord”. It’s exclusivity. This isn’t a good book with some good stories, for some good morals, to help people live a good life. This is the very mind and Word of God. This is God’s will in printed form, the written Word that becomes the living Word as the Spirit of God takes it and applies it to our hearts.
So, the first reason I believe the Bible is God’s Word is archeology. The second is revelation and the third is origin. The Bible’s unity, structure, and subject matter argue for a supernatural beginning. Forty different authors, three languages, over fifteen hundred years.
The Bible was written in Hebrew, it was written in Aramaic, and it was written in Greek. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever done a group project in school. You ever done one of those where they get four or five people together and they say, you need to write a paper?
You each do a part of this paper and then you come together and you’re supposed to put it together and it’s supposed to make sense and have some flow? Those were not fun times for me in school. You always had one person that really didn’t do their work and then you thought you were on the same page and then you tried to piece them together … it was way easier to do it by yourself.
Now, imagine a group project that has one central theme from the very beginning to the very end. That talks early on about the seed and this Messiah who ends with the Messiah reigning, and then for a fifteen hundred year period, with forty authors, from different countries in different languages that comes together cohesively.
Terry Hall - he wrote a little article on how we got the Old Testament but he has a little picture that’s worth reading. He said it had to be the strangest publishing project of all time. No editor or publishing house was responsible to oversee forty independent authors, representing twenty occupations, living in ten countries, during a fifteen hundred year span, working in three languages, with a cast of two thousand nine hundred and thirty characters in fifteen hundred and fifty-one places.
Together, they produce sixty-six books containing eleven hundred eighty-nine chapters, thirty one thousand verses, seven hundred seventy-four thousand seven hundred forty six words, and three million five hundred and sixty seven and some change, letters. This massive volume covers every conceivable subject, expressed in every kind of literary form, from prose to poetry, romance, mystery, biography, science, and history. What was the final product? The Bible. Our evidence that the Bible is a supernatural book is the unity it displays despite such wide differences among cultures, forms, and expressions. And that to me is an amazing thing.
I’ve actually had to work with a few publishers over the years and I’ll tell you what, when I read that and I think of my tiny little experience, the ultimate publisher, God, brought all that together.
And then, when you think of the origin of the Bible too, who would write such honest accounts that are even unfavorable? If you were writing a book and trying to sell people that this is from God, I think I would leave David, Moses, and Solomon out.
Think of other religions and their leaders. Okay? If you make a cartoon about some of them, you get in trouble. And yet, here, it has all the fingerprints of God. No man or group would come together and say, here are our heroes - here’s a great king who’s an adulterer and a murderer. Here’s the champion of our missionary movement. He’s a murderer. Uh, Solomon - man, he’s got all kind of problems. The reality and the authenticity in which the Bible characters are spoken of…talk about an origin that has God’s fingerprints all over it. Where we read it and we see ourselves and it’s authentic and real.
It isn’t this plastic people living these ideal lives that if you do certain things in certain ways, everything will go your way.
So, archeology, revelation, origin - and fourth and I think this is one of the most powerful, is Jesus. When you are in a courtroom or if you’ve ever been in a trial, I’ve been on two or three juries, which are always kind of fun, one of the keys is they bring in expert witnesses. You have someone that’s done all this research and they’re an expert in this and there’s an expert psychologist or it’s an expert person in ballistics and they know more about anyone else.
So they put some evidence and then this expert witness sits down and they know more than anyone else and their testimony is very, very, very important. We have an expert witness - it’s Jesus. Well, how did Jesus view the Old and New Testament? He’s the only one that rose from the dead.
If, in fact, the resurrection is true and that He’s God, that He died, that He rose from the dead, how Jesus views and treats scripture is a very important way of how we should view scripture and understand it.
I would like to suggest that He believed that the Old Testament to be the very words of God and predicted the New Testament would be likewise. And by the way, He didn’t believe it in general that it contained God’s truth or even concepts. He believed in the actual words were God-breathed.
Now, at this point, you should be saying, now Chip, are you actually saying that Jesus believed, like the actual, very words were God-breathed? Yeah. That’s His will. The actual individual words? Yes.
And you say, well, where do you get that? Let me ask you to dig in with me. Jesus gives us the scope of the whole Old Testament in Matthew chapter 5:17 and 18. It’s the Sermon on the Mount. He’s being attacked and saying that He’s trying to revolutionize what’s happening. And He says, no, no, no. What you did is you missed the intent of what God wanted to say.
He said, you have heard it said, but it is written. But I say to you. And then notice what he says here. 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”.
Now, when He uses the smallest letter of the stroke in Hebrew, Hebrew is backwards. And there’s a little thing called a yod, it looks like a comma but it’s a backwards comma. You put it on the beginning of a word, it’s a letter. And it’s just a little comma.
Jesus is saying, not even a single partial of a comma that makes up a word. Or a stroke. There are a couple letters, a “b” and a “d” in Hebrew are very common and the difference between a “b” and a “d” in Hebrew is a little stroke. It’s just a little line.
He says, down to that, they will not be removed until it’s fulfilled. Now let me give you a couple very interesting examples here. In terms of, Jesus based His view of the resurrection, not just on a word, but on the tense of a verb.
Now, he’s being attacked and they’re coming to Him and you have the Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection, you have the Pharisees who do believe in the resurrection.
They say, well, pretend, what if there is this woman and she has a husband and they get married but he dies before they can have children. According to the Law, the brother should marry her and have an offspring and he marries the second one and he dies and marries the third one and he dies. And so, basically, there are eight different husbands and they never have a child so, in the resurrection, who is she really married to?
The point they were trying to make was not anything other than, this whole idea of the resurrection is a bunch of baloney. You just can’t buy it. Notice Jesus’ response. We pick it up in Matthew 22 verse 29. 29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God”.
He addresses the first one. At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage but they will be like the angels in heaven. And so, okay, now we’ve got that straightened out…
But, about the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what God said? He’s going back to scripture. What God said to you. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
Now, do you see what he built His whole basis for resurrection on? The tense of a verb. I am instead of I was. Now, He’s taking the words literally. He’s taking them so literally, not just the word, but the tense of that verb.
There were lots of places He could have gone to defend the resurrection. It’s interesting to me that He builds His case on just the tense of a verb. The Apostle Paul does the same thing. Actually, in Galatians 3:16. He makes an entire theological point on the basis of whether a single word in the Old Testament is plural or singular.
Follow along. Galatians 3:16. Paul says the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his Seed, singular. The scripture does not say, and to Seeds, meaning many people, but into your Seed, meaning one person who is Christ.
I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at that closely, but that is a pretty amazing thing to me. This is not just containing God’s Word, they are not just moral principles, and this isn’t just a formula for living life. According to Jesus, it’s the very words of God.