The Bible – God’s word

The Bible – God’s word

Introduction

Among the countless books filling the shelves of bookstores and libraries there is one book that stands out: The Bible, or the Holy Scriptures. Great men in history have said: «The Bible is not antique, nor modern. It is eternal» (Martin Luther). «The Bible is a book, which answers the questions of a child and mocks the wisdom of the wise» (Bettex). «When reading it for the hundredth time I found the Bible immensely more beautiful» (C.H. Spurgeon).

In the Bible God reveals himself, his powerful acts in the whole universe and his plan for mankind. God’s divine word is the eternal source of truth and has the power to bring people into a living relationship with the only true God, the Creator.

EVIDENCE OF DIVINE ORIGIN

Inspiration and authority of the Bible

As a young person I wasn’t sure what to believe. There were so many religions. Many different holy books claimed to be “the word of God”. How could I know that the Bible was really true and provided answers to my seeking heart? Christians today are challenged not only to know what they believe but also why they believe it. This will enable them to make a solid defence of the faith.

The Bible itself claims to be the word of God. The Old Testament (OT) has about 3800 phrases starting with “And God said?…” or “The Lord spoke to?…”?–?“All Scripture is God-breathed?…” (2?Tim 3:16). “God-breathed” means exactly what it says: God breathed his message on the writers of the Bible through his Spirit. They were inspired by him and correctly wrote down what God wanted them to write. Read also 2?Pe 1:20-21.

The apostle Paul declared, “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:11-12). Because Scripture is God-breathed and therefore true, it has the power and authority to change the life of those who believe it. “…?when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe“ (1?Thess 2:13).

Accuracy and reliability of the Bible

Prophecy

Bible prophecies are very specific and accurate. In the OT there are over three hundred prophecies about Jesus Christ such as his place of birth (Mic 5:2), how he would die (Ps 22:16/Is 53:5+12), his rejection by the nation of Israel (Is 53:3), and many others. All these prophecies were made hundreds of years before Jesus was even born and were fulfilled at the right time. It is impossible that human beings could have controlled their fulfilment. Such prophecies show that Scripture is divine in origin and not man-made.

The destruction of Tyre

Around 587?B.C. prophet Ezekiel predicted mainland Tyre would be destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He said many nations would fight against her and the debris of the city would be thrown into the sea. The city would never be found again and fishermen would come there to lay their nets.
14 years later Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the mainland city of Tyre. Many of the refugees of the city sailed to the island, which remained a powerful city. In 333?B.C. however, Alexander the Great laid siege to Tyre. Using the rubble of mainland Tyre, he built a causeway to the island city. He then captured and completely destroyed it. Today, Tyre is a small fishing town where fishing boats come to rest and fishermen spread their nets. The great ancient city of Tyre, to this day, lies buried in ruins exactly as prophesied (see Ez 26).

Archaeology

Archaeological findings of historical books in the Middle East, provide important evidence for the accuracy and reliability of the Bible

Dead Sea scrolls

One of the greatest discoveries was made in 1947-1956 near Qumran, Israel. There, in one of the caves near the Dead Sea some very old clay pots were found containing ancient scrolls. The collection included a complete copy of the book of Isaiah and other fragments of the Old Testament written around 300?B.C. to 100?A.D. Amazingly, careful analysis showed that the Isaiah text of our modern Bible does not differ from these earliest copies of the Old Testament except for some spelling changes.

Jericho

Possibly one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Palestine is Jericho. Over the years the site has provided much evidence to confirm the well-known story recorded in the book of Joshua. In the 1930s, Dr John Garstang said, “There is no doubt that the walls (of Jericho) fell outwards so completely, the attackers would be able to clamber over the ruins of the city.” This is remarkable because city walls normally fall inward, not outward. Even grain was discovered in the ruins, which shows the city was conquered quickly. These findings fully confirm the Bible account.

Harmony of the OT and NT

The Old and the New Testaments were written in 66 separate books over a period of 1600 years by around 40 authors from many different locations. These writers had different backgrounds and used varying writing styles like prose, poetry and letters. Yet for all these many different authors and literary styles, the whole Bible carries a single, but powerful message from Genesis to Revelation, blending the Old and the New Testament together. Everything points to a developing understanding of the grace of God in creation, redemption and salvation (see He 1:1-2).

Jesus himself and the apostles often quoted from the OT, acknowledging its truth (Mt 5:17-19; Mt 19:4-5; 1?Pe 1:10-11).

God protects the Bible

No book has been attacked more than the Bible. Enemies of the Bible have tried to destroy it for the last 1800 years. It has faced criticism from archaeology, science and philosophy. Yet, despite all these attacks, God protected his word, the Bible. Even today the Bible is a best-seller and well worth taking to heart.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mt 24:35).

Wide distribution

Approximately 300 million Bibles are distributed globally every year, and an average of 171 000?Christians worldwide are martyred yearly, killed for their faith in God and the Bible. This indicates that these people have a faith so precious, so powerful that for them it is worth even dying for. The Bible is also the most translated book in the world. By 2010 the Bible or parts of it had been translated into over 2400 different languages.

Mum’s Translation

Four pastors were discussing the merits of various Bible translations. One liked a particular version best because of its simple, beautiful English. Another preferred a more scholarly edition because it was closer to the original Hebrew and Greek. Still another liked a contemporary version because of its up-to-date vocabulary. The fourth minister was silent for a moment, then said, “I like my mother’s translation best!”
Surprised, the other three men said they didn’t even know his mother had translated the Bible. “Yes,” he replied. “She translated it into her life, and lived it out. Her life was the most convincing translation I ever saw.”?1

IMPACT AND EFFECT OF THE BIBLE

Some points we have learnt about the Bible:

  • It is the truth inspired by God.
  • It is at work in those who believe.
  • It contains many prophecies, some of which have already been fulfilled.
  • Some people keep and study it even under threat of punishment or persecution.
  • It has brought together people from all walks of life internationally to worship the Lord.

And personally? What does the Bible really mean to you and me?

The greatest message of the Bible

Again and again Scripture underlines the powerful message of God’s love. God wants to speak to us through his word. It will have a powerful impact on our life as we believe it and come into relationship with God through Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). “…?but because Jesus lives for ever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (He 7:24-25).

God’s word convicts people of sin

At the first NT Pentecost gathering the apostle Peter gave a powerful message to a big crowd. He spoke of Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection. The crowd was convicted of its utter hopelessness and sinfulness. The people were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Ac 2:37-38).

God’s word is the source of cleansing and forgiveness

God used Peter‘s message so that the people believed in Jesus Christ and readily turned away from their sinful lives and their traditional heathen beliefs. They repented of their sins and were forgiven (see also 1?Jn 1:9).

Life-changing word of God

One night, years ago, a drunken criminal named Sam staggered into a mission hall and heard the word of God being preached. There and then he became truly converted and morally renewed. At his conversion he was so wonderfully changed that the very taste for drink and the lust for crime were plucked out of his life in a tremendous deliverance. Sam tells in his own words how this happened. “I went into the street, and looked up to the sky. I don’t believe I had looked up for ten years. An alcoholic never looks up; he always looks down. It was a glorious, star-lit night, and it did seem to me that I could see Jesus looking at me out of a million eyes. That night, right on the corner of the street, I was ordained to preach the everlasting gospel, and have never doubted it for an instant. I have never stood before an audience without that vision inspiring me.” Sam became the leader of a rescue mission for alcoholics and simply did an amazing work for Christ. Hundreds of alcoholics and criminals were saved and transformed by his ministry. When Sam died he had one of the biggest funerals ever seen in that area.?2

God’s word brings forth new life

On this first day of NT Pentecost all those who believed were baptized and added to the church numbering about 3000 people. What a powerful demonstration of what God can do in such a short time, through his word, the Bible! People, who for a lifetime believed in Judaism, or in Greek philosophy, or in Arab traditional stories suddenly make a complete turn about, forsake their old lifestyle and believe in Jesus. How does such a total change of life come about? The answer is in the Bible itself: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1?Pe 1:23).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2?Cor 5:17).

Whoever believes in the Good News of Jesus Christ receives a brand new life. The old is gone. A new direction, a new living relationship with God is available for all who believe in Jesus. This means life in its fullness and is so much better than mere religion or philosophy.

God’s word gives assurance and comfort

What makes the Bible so precious to its believers? How come a true Christian is able to rejoice even in the face of suffering and all kinds of trials? Well, it is the assurance, the peace of mind and heart, and the comfort which enrich the life of a true Christian. Assurance and comfort not only for this short and earthly life, but also beyond this are divine blessings giving the believer a living hope. The following Bible verses underline this: 1?Jn 5:13-14, Ro 5:1,1?Pe 1:3-7.

Power of the gospel

Botembo Isako was a soldier, a military man in his country. After basic training, he was assigned to a military police unit in Muanda. He lived an evil life, doing drugs, committing immorality, and misusing his authority against civilians.
One day he was responsible for security at a soccer game. Being in charge of his unit, he sent his men inside the stadium while he remained outside bullying people and forcing them to give him their watches, jewellery, and money. He approached a 17-year old and searched him. The youth had nothing but a little book. In a rage, Botembo beat the boy until the lad finally managed to get free and run away, badly hurt and drenched in his own blood. But as he fled, he shouted back, “God bless you. May the Lord forgive you.”
Botembo laughed. After the game he went home and surveyed his loot. He saw the little book and discovered it was a New Testament. He began to read it, and for the first time in his life, he started feeling guilty for his evil ways. He could hear the young man’s voice, saying over and over, “God bless you. May the Lord forgive you.”
The more he read the little book, the more he began to change. His family noticed, unsure what to make of it. Shortly afterward, Botembo fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. There he continued to read his stolen New Testament until he finally crawled out of his hospital bed, knelt on the floor, and begged God for forgiveness. When he asked Jesus Christ to be his Saviour, he said, “…?a truck-load of guilt fell off my heart and I turned my life over to God.” That day he decided to leave the army. He became a pastor in Zaire, always on the lookout for a 17-year old with a missing New Testament.?3

God’s word is living and powerful

The word of God is sharper than the sharpest knife (see He 4:12). It is like fire and a hammer (Jer 23:29), good seed (Lk 8:11), light (Ps 119:105) and food (Jer 15:16). God’s word exposes who we really are and what we are not. It demands that we respond to it. We must not only know what is written in the Bible; we must also let it shape our lives.

Whenever we allow the word of God to control our lives we are empowered to be true Christians in the strength of God. As Christians we are people who have turned to the Lord for salvation, who submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ and who follow him day by day. There may be mighty evil forces against us, like the sinful patterns of this world or opposition against the good news of Jesus Christ, or even satanic forces and occult powers. But we don‘t have to fear any of these because we are enabled to overcome all evil. God’s word, whether from the NT or OT is powerful. Jesus himself defeated Satan, who tempted him in the desert, by using it (Mt 4:1-11; Deut 8:3-16).

We may be thrown into prison because we are God‘s people. We may even be beaten because we believe in Jesus. However, the iron bars and locked-up cells of a prison cannot bind our innermost being. Our spirit is free and we are one with Jesus through the Spirit of God. In this way it is given to us also to suffer for Jesus.

God’s word is eternal

In our changing world with its changing values it is important to have a reliable and unfailing foundation to stand on. God’s word is eternal (Is 40:8). His word and promises are the same, yesterday, today and forever. At all times we can count on the Bible to find lasting solutions to our problems and needs.

Let God’s word dwell richly among you

In this study we have seen that the Bible is God’s inspired, eternal word and not just a fine book written by men. We are invited to read and to expose ourselves to these words of life, words which have the power to bring us into a living relationship with the only true God, our Creator. Let us accept and put into practice the words of the Lord for our eternal benefit. ”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:16-17).

Just do it!

John Wesley said, “The problem of problems is getting Christianity into the life.” What is it that makes the Christian putting faith into practice so difficult? Maybe it’s because we assume that it’s enough simply to know God’s truth in our heads.

Most of us have heard more sermons than we can count. We may even take elaborate notes on what we hear. We feel good about what we know, and we are quick to debate anyone who disagrees with our understanding of Scripture. What else is left? The answer is as simple as it is obvious: JUST DO IT!?1

U. Spycher, DCL team

Sources:

1 Our Daily Bread RBC Ministries

2 Awake My Heart by Sidlow Baxter

3 Gideons Int. Testimonies

The Authority of the Bible by Pat Zucheran

NIV Life Application Bible