Today, we continue on the essential doctrines of the Bible.
If you missed part 1, click here.
Since God exists, the Word of God must also, for would not the Creator communicate with His creation? Since God created us as rational beings and since He loves us enough to provide for us, surely He wishes to communicate with us and thereby fulfill His purpose for creation. All intelligent beings seek to communicate, and the Supreme Intelligence is no exception.
We would expect God to record His message in writing, the historic medium best suited for precision, preservation, and propagation. And the following evidence convincingly demonstrates that the Bible is the unique written Word of God to man: (1) its unique claims, (2) self-vindicating authority, (3) testimony of the apostles and prophets, (4) integrity of Jesus Christ, who endorsed the Old Testament and commissioned the writers of the New, (5) nature and quality of its content, (6) moral superiority, (7) unity, despite more than forty writers over 1,600 years, (8) lack of a credible alternative, (9) agreement with history, archeology, and science, (10) indestructibility, (11) universality, (12) influence on society, (13) witness of the Spirit, (14) life-changing power, (15) fulfilled promises and miracles, (16) fulfilled prophecies, and (17) lack of an alternative explanation for its origin.
We would certainly expect God’s Word to identify itself as such, and each book of the Bible claims, either directly or indirectly, to be the Word of God. Of all the books of the world’s great religions, only one other book boasts of equal authority— the Koran—and its fanciful, contradictory content does not support its claim. The world’s most moral book, the Bible, would not proclaim the world’s biggest lie. The world’s noblest and wisest man, Jesus, would not perpetrate the world’s greatest hoax. No one but God could have authored the Bible, for good beings would not falsely claim divine inspiration, and evil beings would not teach such high morality. The Bible is inspired of God, literally “God-breathed.” “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16). Holy men wrote as the Holy Spirit moved them (II Peter 1:21). Inspiration extends to all parts of the Bible and to every word. While the human writers chose words that reflected their language, culture, personality, circumstances, and style, God guided the process so that each word would accurately convey His message. As a result, the Bible is infallible, inerrant, and the sole authority for doctrine and Christian living. The Bible is truth.
The thirty-nine Old Testament books were recognized as Scripture by the ancient Hebrews, and Jesus and the apostles quoted from or alluded to almost all of them. The twenty-seven New Testament books were accepted by Christians from the earliest times, including contemporaries of the writers in most cases (II Peter 3:15-16), and are recognized as Scripture by all Christendom.
Errors can sometimes arise in copying, translating, or printing the Scriptures, but God has kept His hand upon the transmission process to preserve His Word for all time (Psalm 100:5). The accuracy of the Old Testament Hebrew text was safeguarded by the extremely high quality of the scribal transmission process and has received dramatic verification by the recent discovery of the ancient Dead Sea scrolls. The accuracy of the New Testament Greek text is assured by the extremely large number of manuscripts—over 5,000—which cancel out copyists’ errors.
The King James Version is the most popular English Bible. It was translated over a seven-year period by forty-seven theologians and linguists. Each was a noted scholar who was firmly committed to the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures.
The New King James Version is a modern language revision that seeks to preserve accuracy and increase understandability.
Bible students should use the literal method of interpretation, which means following the natural or usual implication of an expression—the ordinary and apparent meaning of the words—rather than seeking a hidden, allegorical or “spiritual” meaning. It is important to use sound logic and to study words, grammar, background, context, literary genre (style), history, geography, culture, figures of speech, symbols, parables, and types. When studying the Bible, we should keep in mind several points: (1) illumination of the Spirit is necessary, (2) the Bible is basically plain and meant to be understood, (3) Scripture interprets Scripture, (4) truth is revealed progressively from Old to New Testament, (5) the Bible presents a unified theology, (6) no doctrine stands on one passage alone or is hidden in obscure passages, (7) the Bible is accommodated to the human mind (but not to error), and (8) each passage has one primary meaning but can have many applications.
We can have confidence that God has revealed, preserved, and transmitted His Word to us today and that we can understand it. His Word is the Bible.
Taken from Doctrines of the Bible by David K. Bernard