How is the Bible revealed to us? Part 2 in this set of articles enlightens.
This series attempts to pre–sent a sound rationale for believing that the Bible is from God to man. Apologetics is about knowing why we believe this. We admit that our belief in God is based on faith, but faith is not irrational. God gives some evidence that the faith we have in Him is reasonable, but He gives us only enough for that. He does not give us enough evidence that we have no need for faith to believe.
Most of what we know about God comes from the Bible. In the last BA, we summarized the six main issues involved with assessing the authenticity and authority of the Bible. This article addresses the first issue: revelation, which relates to the Bible’s authorship and content.
Four kinds of revelation
To briefly review, the Bible reveals at least four kinds of revelation from God. Two of these, creation and miracles, are what theologians call incomplete revelation because there are limits to what they reveal. We do not learn all we need to know about God by studying His created world or experiencing a miracle. Creation can show us that God is great (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20), but no matter how long we look at it, we will not find God’s instructions for our lives. Same goes for miracles.
Two other kinds of Divine revelation make up complete revelation. They do teach us all we need to know about God and His will for us.
First, we know God through Jesus the Messiah. John 1:1 tells us that the Word of God is God and that God was incarnate — Word became flesh. What we need to know about God we can see fully in Jesus Christ because “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, emphasis mine).
Who better to reveal God than God himself? Jesus is the living demonstration of who God is (John 14:9). But the only valid picture we have of Jesus is the one the Bible reveals. We have to study Scripture to learn about the manifestation of God through Christ.
And this brings us to the second kind of complete revelation, and focus of this article. Hebrews 1:1, 2 says:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.
God revealed Himself to us through prophets and through His Son, and the Bible is the record of both. The message of the prophets and God’s Word by and about Jesus came down to us in written form: the Bible, the only rule of faith and practice for humanity.
The Bible’s author is God. That is reason alone for us to trust it. In addition, the following reasons should prompt us to further conclude that the Bible is a reliable and authoritative revelation.
- Its ideals. To paraphrase John Wesley, the best of men could not have written the Bible; the worst of men would not have written it.
- Its efficacy. Anyone who has experienced the Bible’s transforming power finds it easy to accept it as God’s Word, even the difficult parts. The Bible has given us its wisdom, tutored us in its message of love, strengthened us in faith, and filled us with hope, because we have seen its truth at work in our lives.
- Its integrity. The Bible’s details can be corroborated. The more details in an account, the greater the chance of error. But the Bible isn’t afraid of detail. For example, Luke 3:1, 2 offers many testable facts in a short space. The biblical Flood (Genesis 6-8) is another example. The Bible records history’s one universal story. The Flood account is preserved in over two hundred fifty cultures.
- Its composition. Around thirty people from seven countries composed the Bible across more than fifteen hundred years, yet it is internally consistent and presents a unified theme.
- Its indestructibility. Many regimes have attempted to destroy the Bible, but it endures and flourishes. The Roman emperor Diocletian boasted that he had eliminated Christianity and its Bible. To keep the laity from reading it for themselves, the medieval Catholic Church destroyed thousands of copies. The French Revolutionary government, egged on by Voltaire, sought to purge the Bible from France. These efforts were all in vain.
- Its foreknowledge. About one-third of the Bible is prophecy — “history written in advance.” One has only to study the texts and their many fulfillments to see that God fulfills His promises.
- Its endorsement by Jesus. If Jesus accepted the Hebrew Scriptures (the only Bible up to that time) as being from God, then so should we. During His temptation, He battled Satan’s attacks by quoting Scripture (Matthew 4:1-10). After His resurrection, Jesus opened the eyes of His followers, showing that His coming back to life fulfilled what was written in Scripture about Him (Luke 24:44, 45). But Jesus’ resurrection in history is the ultimate endorsement. It not only showed His divinity but also confirmed the authenticity of the Bible as God’s revelation.
The Bible is unique. It is authoritative and impacts our lives because the author is God. It makes this claim of Divine revelation throughout its pages (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21), and it challenges us to believe.
Sir Monier Monier-Williams, professor of Sanskrit at Oxford, understood this uniqueness. Writing about the Eastern books of religion he studied for years, he said, “Pile them . . . on the left side of your study table, but place your own Holy Bible on the right side — all by itself, all alone, with a wide gap between them.”
No other book compares!