Friday, November 4, 2016

Four Affirmations of God's Word

The Bible makes some drastic claims in regard to its own authority. Scripture says that it is inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16-17), written by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:19-21), worthy to be glorified (2 Thess 3:1), the focus of Christian study (Acts 15:35, 17:11, 18:11), and the basis for preaching (2 Tim 4:2). Scripture has been regarded as authoritative since the days of Moses as evidenced by the way David, Jesus, Paul, and others all used it in their ministries. There's no doubt that the Bible has been uniquely placed at the center of religious history and makes remarkable assertions.

Naturally, skeptics respond to the Word of God with questions about its presumed authority. These questions are good and healthy. It would be a shame if Christians always rejected intelligent questions that challenge a presumed position. 

Since the Bible is the cornerstone text of our faith, it's important to examine the reasons why we believe it to be so. Why is Scripture considered paramount in all matters regarding life and godliness? Below are some basic reasons that I hope you'll find helpful as you develop and defend your beliefs in the midst of world hostile toward God.

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1. Authority affirms that the Bible is the Word of God.

  • Prophets. In the First Covenant, God spoke through certain men whom He appointed to deliver His message to the people. These men were authorized to proclaim, "Thus saith the Lord..." and reveal prophetic teachings. As a measure of verification, God provided two tests of a prophet in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 so that the people would know whether or not to believe a man: (1) he must not draw the people to gods other than the true God and (2) his prophecy must come true. 
  • Apostles. Similarly, in the New Covenant, God spoke through certain men for a time whom He called and named "apostles." For this reason, Paul often started his letters with a phrase to the same effect as what is found in Ephesians 1:1, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God." Apostles had the ability to write Scripture and make decisions for the early church because, like prophets, they had been authorized by God. 
  • Church Leaders. For the Christian, the local church plays an extremely important role. In the local church the believer is exposed to corporate worship, a combination of truth and fellowship. There he is also able to live out his role as a member of Christ's body, submitting to Him as the Head and submitting to the shepherds He places in leadership. Of these leaders, Hebrews tells the Christian to "obey" and "submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account," (13:17). In this way, because good Christian leaders will proclaim the truth of God's Word, church leaders are an affirming authority of the Bible.  
  • Parents. Similar to the way Christians are to obey their church leaders, children have been placed under the authority of their parents (Ephesians 6:1). Just like good church leaders will affirm Scripture, good parents will do the same. In this way, Christian parents become an affirming authority of the Bible.  

2. History affirms that the Bible is the Word of God.
  • Accuracy. The historical accuracy of the Bible is rather incredible in light of all of the factors surrounding its formation. Written by over 40 authors on three different continents and in three different languages, there is naturally a high probability of historical error attributed to the text. However, Scripture reveals historical events with astonishing accuracy. From the history of kings to the details of the Babylonian Empire to the first-century spread of Christianity, the history found in the Bible validates its claim as the Word of God.
  • Preservation. Textual criticism is a fantastic gift God has given His church. Due to the popular notion that Scripture has been tampered with throughout the centuries, Christians have been driven to examine historical manuscripts to see whether God's Word has remained in tact. What has been found is that the Bible has been preserved by God throughout the ages. Refer to the Dead Sea Scrolls and other resources for more information.
  • Tenacity. Adding amazement to the preservation of Scripture is the fact that the Bible has been the most-persecuted book in all of history. Roman emperors from the birth of the Christian church to the time of Constantine tried to get rid of the Word of God. During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church burned thousands of copies of the Bible. Voltaire foolishly thought he could destroy it. Many people have died for owning it, reading it, and spreading it. Yet, the tenacious Word of God lives on as an affirmation of its divine origin.  

3. Experience affirms that the Bible is the Word of God.
  • Conviction. This affirmation makes me the most uncomfortable, though that does not make it any less true. Hebrews 4:12 says, "The word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires," (NLT). The only book that can convince a sinner of his error while also revealing God's ultimate grace in justification and salvation is the Bible. A personal conviction regarding the truth of Scripture is yet another affirmation of God's Word.   
  • God's glory. No other book in existence gives God as much glory as the Bible. God is most glorified in its contents than in any other place. No book brings as much honor to Christ and His work than the canon of Scripture. Believers experience that glory as they read the Word of God; it's an experience completely unique to the Bible.
  • Growth. No piece of literature will cause a person to grow in the wisdom of God in the same sense as Scripture does. The Bible leads a person into righteousness by revealing God's wisdom, which is "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere," (James 3:17). For a person to grow in Christlikeness, to know Him and live as He lived and would will for us to live, he must know the Word. He must study the Bible to know who God has called him to be.

4. The Bible affirms that the Bible is the Word of God.
  • Recognizing these things, now the claims made by Scripture itself (noted at the start of this article) carry even more weight. A book this unique, being God-breathed, is allowed to make its own claims in regards to its nature. The Bible affirms itself!

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