Summary: We can trust Scripture’s claim of inspiration--we have a secure word from God
“Can I Trust My Bible?” Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
A man went to a bookbinder to get a well-used New Testament rebound in leather. He wanted the side binding to read: “The New Testament”. When the job was finished, the binder explained that he just wasn’t able to get all the letters on the side, so he abbreviated: “TNT”.
Some people might like to think they can take some of the powder out of this dynamite, but it’s not possible to disarm God’s word. Comparing the Bible to TNT is appropriate; the author of Hebrews describes the Scriptures as a “double-edged sword” (4:12). The edge of our sword is not dull and cannot be made so by skepticism. Spiritual blindness keeps people from recognizing God in nature and in the revelation of His written word.
We live in an age where it is popular to question authority, and this extends to what God has said. Although for most of the past 2,000 years all branches of Christianity have agreed that the Bible is completely trustworthy, in recent times the validity of Scripture has been questioned by some. Can we trust our Bible? Can we trust its message?
It is reasonable to assume that God would want to reveal Himself to us. The Bible makes a claim for inspiration in several places. One of the clearest is II Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness; that we may be adequate, equipped thoroughly for every good work.”
In the original Greek the word for “inspired” means literally “God-breathed.” This signifies that God is the Author of Scripture. Of course we know that God used people to pen the Scriptures. The writers were God’s appointed spokespersons. They retained their own writing style but were so guided by the Holy Spirit that the end product generated was God’s. The writers were God’s instruments and the process was divinely superintended so that it comes to us without error. The Bible is true, reliable, and inerrant.
We believe that the Bible is our basis for living. We base our decisions and set our priorities according to what is revealed in God’s word. To deny the divine origin of Scripture is to open the door to further unbelief—any or all teachings of the Bible could be tossed overboard if we do not accept the Bible as our authoritative word from God.
When Martin Luther was put on trial, he stated that he would gladly renounce his opinions if he could be shown where his views disagreed with Scripture. “Prove me wrong from the Bible, and I’ll gladly change,” he asserted. The Scriptures, not man-made rules or tradition, was Luther’s sole basis of authority. So he declared to the Council: “Here I stand! I can do nothing else!”
How to we respond to people who contend the Bible is full of errors and contradictions? Skeptics have over the years argued that there are discrepancies in Scripture, yet no one has ever come up with any firm evidence that might topple the basis of our faith. For every charge against the Bible there is a scholarly answer. There may be some difficult statements in Scripture, and we might not understand all we read. But when something appears inconsistent, we have to realize that the problem is with us, with our limited understanding. How we interpret the text may be what is keeping us from arriving at a satisfying answer. With time and study, we will be able to grasp what is being said in the pages of God’s word, and when we arrive in Heaven, all questions will be adequately answered to our satisfaction. The bottom line is that the Bible is a unified book and can be defended. People may hammer at an anvil, and their many hammers will break, but the anvil will remain.
Peter describes the process of inspiration, stating, “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (II Pet 1:21). The word “moved” could be translated “carried along”. The Bible is divine in origin; God superintended the production of Scripture. It’s not “creative writing” or inspired in the same way we think of people like Shakespeare, Mozart, or Rembrandt. Theirs was a gift of genius, but those who wrote the Bible were guided by the inward work of the Holy Spirit; they wrote in such a way that God got written exactly what He wanted. Because of its divine origin, the Bible (in the original languages) is completely trustworthy. There may be errors in translations, which is why it’s important to choose a reliable version, and then compare translations.