Can We KNOW the Bible is the Word of God?
By: Rev. Sam Harris
|By: Rev. Sam Harris; ©2003|
|Responding to a viewer’s question, Rev. Harris explains how we can be sure the Bible is indeed God’s word, and trustworthy.|
Question: Is there some type of credible evidence that the Bible is the Word of God?
Let’s approach these questions with the following analogy. When a crime has been committed, the police will begin their investigation at the crime scene. Once they have collected evidence at the scene, they may well move beyond the scene looking for additional evidence to help make and/or affirm their case. Evidence at the scene is called “internal evidence.” Looking for additional evidence apart from the scene can be called “external evidence.” Most often, the internal evidence will be the primary evidence used in the case to convict someone of a crime. He might well have the evidence on him or in his possession.
We take the same approach regarding Scripture: There is both “internal” and “external” evidence. In the case of the above questions, we let the Bible speak for itself and thus deal with “internal” evidence.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul writes these words to Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (NASB). The NIV says that “all Scripture is God-breathed.” If you return to the original Greek, you find that the Greek word theopneustos is translated “God-breathed, or given by inspiration of God.” Notice the use of the word “all”. When “all” is used, it means “all.” Over the years, I have urged my congregations to circle the word “all” as it further helps us to understand the Scriptures.
A good cross reference verse is 2 Peter 1:20-21: “But you know this, first of all, that 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.” This verse affirms that the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture and moved men to write it down.
The internal evidence points to the Bible as the infallible Word of God. Psalm 119:89— ”Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.” Matthew 24:35—Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
My own denomination, in the Reformed tradition, has affirmed in “The Essentials”:
- All Scripture is self-attesting and being Truth, requires our unreserved submission in all areas of life. The infallible Word of God, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is a complete and unified witness to God’s redemptive acts culminating in the incarnation of the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible, uniquely and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks.
Question: How do you know that Paul wrote the book of Romans and not someone else?
To understand that Paul is the author of Romans, we must again examine the “internal evidence.” Let me preface this by sharing a unique aspect of early writers. When you and I write letters, and now E-mails, we usually start with “Dear David or Sarah,” and we will end the letter by signing or typing our name. The reader must look at the end of the letter to find out who it is from.
The New Testament writers used a different technique; they identified themselves at the first of the letter. For example: Look at the first chapter and verse of each of the following books: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and all through the rest of the New Testament letters.
In the case of Romans, chapter 1, verses 1 and 7, “Paul, a bond servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God… to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The internal evidence shows Paul as author, his credentials, and to whom the letter is written. With all the New Testament letters, by the internal evidence, we can identify the author and to whom each letter is written.
Question: How do you know that some other book is not the Word of God?
Again, let’s look at the internal evidence. Revelation 22:18—”I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book.” Pretty straight-forward, isn’t it! That is not to say that God doesn’t still “inspire” writers of quality, Christian books today; He certainly does. Hopefully, sermons and Bible studies are inspired by the Holy Spirit, based on the Word of God. And that’s the key: It must be based on, and not contradict, the Word of God. These books are not, however, a part of the original canon.
Question: How do you know that it is authentic? Please excuse my ignorance; please respond!
Your question dealing with the authenticity of Scripture is answered above.
You stated in your question: “Please excuse my ignorance.” I just want you to know that there are no dumb questions! Thanks for asking and keep them coming. Have a blessed day!