How You Can Know the Bible is the Word of God?/Program 1
Editor’s Note: The charts in this transcript were provided by Dr. Geisler, and are used by permission.
|By: Dr. Norman Geisler; ©2000|
|The Bible: Who Wrote It? The evidence: supernatural acts, supernatural predictions; incredible unity. The Bible is the only book in the world that claims to be and proves to be the Word of God.|
Today on The John Ankerberg Show, is the Bible the word of God, or just the words of men? What does the Bible claim about itself? What evidence does the Bible provide to prove its claim is true – that it did come from God? My guest is philosopher and theologian Dr. Norman Geisler, Dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary.
Dr. Norman Geisler: Is the Bible the word of God? Or is it the words of men? The Bible claims to be the word of God and the Bible proves to be the word of God. In this program we’re going to show how this is the only book in the world that really claims to be, and proves to be, the word of God.
Today, “Is the Bible the word of God or just the words of men?” We invite you to join us for this edition of The John Ankerberg Show.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome. Is it really possible that the Bible is a book that conveys the very ideas and thoughts of Almighty God? Well, in this series of programs we’re going to seriously examine the questions: Is the Bible really the word of God or nothing more than another collection of the words of men? If it is the word of God, how do we know that this information came from God, and what was the process God used to get it to us? Some people say, some parts of the Bible came from God, but then add, “There are also a lot of errors in it.” My guest today is philosopher and theologian Dr. Norman Geisler, Dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary. I asked him to start us off by answering the question: Does it matter whether or not there are errors in the Bible?
- Dr. Norman Geisler: Is it dangerous to live downstream from a cracked dam. Ask the people in Toccoa Falls, GA. A little college nestled in the valley there; beautiful waterfalls behind it. The Army Corp of Engineers said, “The little hairline crack in the dam won’t matter.” One night, the dam burst and the waters swept down the valley and dozens of people were killed. It’s dangerous to live downstream from a cracked dam.
- What’s the “cracked dam”? There are people telling us there are errors in the Bible – just small ones, not big ones – just little ones, just a crack in the dam. Are there errors in the Bible or is the Bible the inerrant word of God? Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundation be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?”
- Is the Bible the word of God? Or is it the words of men? The Bible claims to be the word of God and the Bible proves to be the word of God. In this program we’re going to show how this is the only book in the world that really claims to be, and proves to be, the word of God.
- Ankerberg: Now, there is no use thinking that the Bible came from God unless it specifically claims to be from God. Maybe you are not aware of the fact that there are not a whole lot of books that claim to be the word of God to man. Obviously there are some and we will talk about them later. We will see that just because a book claims to be the word of God, that doesn’t mean it is the word of God. There must be evidence; there must be proof that backs up such a claim. As we will see, the Bible supplies evidence that it did come from God. But right now, “Does the Bible claim to be the word of God?” Does it say it just once or twice in a mysterious way? Or does it clearly, over and over, make this claim? Dr. Geisler tells us.
- Geisler: First of all, the Bible claims to be the word of God literally hundreds of times. It says, “Thus saith the Lord”; “The word of the Lord came to me”; summarized very beautifully by two New Testament Scriptures: 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God.” Now, to be inspired means “to breathe into,” not to breathe out. It’s the Greek word theopneustos. All Scripture is breathed out of the very mouth of God. Matthew 4:4: “A man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” David on his deathbed in 2 Samuel 23:2 said, “His word was on my tongue.”
- The Bible claims to be the word of God. If the New Testament is Scripture and the Bible is said to be inspired Scripture, then the New Testament is also inspired Scripture, not just the Old Testament. So what is true of the Old Testament is also claimed in the New Testament. For example, Peter said in 2 Peter 3:16 that Paul’s writings were inspired. In fact, in 1 Timothy 5:18 it quotes the Gospels as being inspired Scripture right alongside the Old Testament. So, it’s not just referring to the Old Testament when it says “inspired,” it’s referring to the New Testament as well.
- Ankerberg: Now, what do you think the apostle Peter and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself thought about the Bible? Did they teach that the words in the Bible came from God?
- Geisler: There’s another important passage in 2 Peter 1:20-21. It says all the prophetic writings came as people were moved by the Holy Spirit. The word there is the same word used for a wind blowing on a sailboat – moved along by the Holy Spirit. They did not come from the will of men but from the will of God.
- Now, all prophetic writings are inspired, and the New Testament is also a prophetic writing because it says it was written by apostles and prophets – Ephesians 2:20 and Ephesians 3:5. And even John was called a prophet in Revelation 22:18. If all Scripture is prophetic and the New Testament is also prophetic, then the New Testament is inspired Scripture as well.
- So we have literally hundreds of claims in the Bible in addition to crucial verses that tell us that the Bible claims to be the word of God. In fact, let me mention one other thing. Jesus said that the Bible is the word of God. He said in Matthew 5 that the Bible is imperishable – “not a jot or tittle will pass away until all is fulfilled.” [Matt. 5:18] He said in John 10:35, “the Scripture cannot be broken.” It’s literally unbreakable. He said it’s exalted above all human tradition, in Matthew 15. “You have made the word of God void with your tradition,” [Matt. 15:6] He said to the Pharisees. He said the Bible can be trusted when it talks about history, when it talks about origins, when it talks about science. He quoted Adam and Eve as being the first literal pair created by God. “Jesus said it, that settles it.” We used to sing the song in Sunday School. If Christ, the Son of God, said the Bible is the word of God, then the Bible must be the word of God or else Christ is not the Son of God.
- Ankerberg: So the Bible claims to be from God; the apostle Peter said the prophetic writings came as people “were moved by the Holy Spirit” and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said the Bible is the word of God. But there is additional evidence that shows the Bible claims to be the word of God.
- Geisler: Another way to look at it is the Bible claims to be the word of God by saying that what God said in the Old Testament, it was really what the Bible said in the New Testament.
- Let’s take a look at this chart. What Scripture says, God says. In the left column, “God says,” in the right column, “Scripture says.”
What God Says…
- For example, in Genesis 12:3, “The Lord said to Abraham.” But in the New Testament, when that is quoted, it’s the Scriptures saying to Abraham. Why? Because what God says, the Bible says; and what the Bible says, God says. It works both ways.
What the Bible Says…
- For example, Genesis 2:24 the Scripture says, that is, the author of Genesis said, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother.” But when that passage is quoted in the New Testament by Jesus in Matthew 19, it says, “God said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother.’”
- Now, let’s think about this for a moment. What the Bible says, God says; and what God says, the Bible says. The Bible claims to be the very words of God. Not just ideas, not just thoughts. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:13 says these are Spirit-taught words. David on his deathbed said the Holy Spirit spoke by men: “His word was on my tongue.” [2 Sam. 23:2] 2 Timothy 3:16, “The Scripture [the writings, the graphae] are breathed out by God.” “Every word that comes out of the mouth of God,” Matthew 4:4. This book claims to be the very verbally-inspired word of God.
- Ankerberg: Next, what about the Old Testament and the New Testament? Are they both stated to be the word of God by the Bible itself? Dr. Geisler tells us.
- Geisler: But what about the New Testament? Is it the inspired word of God? Many of the verses we just quoted refer to the Old Testament because the New Testament wasn’t written when Jesus was speaking.
- The word of God is inspired. The New Testament is also the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 talks about the word of God being “alive and powerful.” Therefore, the New Testament is inspired as well. It’s not just the Old Testament that claims to be the truth of God, but every book in the New Testament claims to come from an apostle or a prophet of God. So the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, claim to be the word of God.
- Ankerberg: Now, from this evidence, I think you would agree that at least the Bible claims to be the word of God. But because the Bible claims to be the word of God, is that why Christians believe it? No. Dr. Geisler received his Ph.D. in philosophy and explains that Christians are not using the Bible to prove the Bible. He explains:
- Geisler: Now let’s remember, we’re not using the Bible to prove the Bible here. We’re simply saying, “What does the Bible claim for itself?? It’s like asking me, “Who are you?” And I say, “My name is Norman Geisler. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina.” You could verify whether that’s true. We’re simply asking, “What does the Bible say about itself? What does the Bible claim?” And the Bible claims in a short sentence or two to be the very written word of God, from God, through men of God, to the people of God.
- Now the question is, is what the Bible claims to be true really true? What are the credentials for this claim?
- Of course, any book can claim to be inspired. The Qur’an claims to be inspired. Muslims believe it’s the very word of God. The Bhagavad Gita of the Hindus, claims to be the inspired word of God. Mormons claim the Book of Mormon is the word of God. So we’ve got a lot of books out there saying, “I am the word of God!” How do we know which one is the word of God? What’s the credential, what are the evidences, for the Bible being the word of God?
- First of all, the Bible claims to be and proves to be the word of God in a way that no other book in the world proves to be what it claims to be. The Bible is supernaturally confirmed. Miracles are acts of God to demonstrate that a prophet of God is telling the truth of God. For example, when Moses was called by God to go and talk to his people, Moses said, “They won’t believe me!” [Ex. 4:1]
- God said, “Stick you hand in your bosom. Pull it out.” It was leprous.
- “Put it back in your bosom. Pull it out.” It was healed.
- “Take your rod. Throw it on the ground.” It became a serpent.
- “Pick it up.” It became a rod in his hand. [Ex 4:1-8]
- “Strike the water,” and the water divided and the people walked across. In other words, He gave His prophets miracles to confirm who they were. [Ex. 14]
- The same thing was true of Elijah in 1 Kings 18. Who is the true God, Yahweh or Baal?
- Okay. Pray to Baal. If a fire comes down from heaven, then Baal is God.
- It didn’t come.
- Okay, pray to Yahweh. Elijah prayed to Yahweh. Fire came down, consumed the sacrifice, licked up the water, and Elijah said, “Any more questions?”
- In other words, God confirmed who His prophets were by miracles.
- The same thing is said in the New Testament. Acts 2:22. Jesus, “a man confirmed by signs and wonders.” Even Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night, said, “We know you are a teacher come from God because nobody can do the miracles that you do except God be with him.” John 3:2]
- Hebrews 2:3-4 said, “They were confirmed by signs and wonders.”
- This is the only book in the world that is confirmed by acts of God to be the word of God.
- Ankerberg: Now, we’ve seen that the Bible claims to be the word of God, but some other religious books do as well. Let’s compare the evidence the Bible offers as proof for being the unique word of God with the Bhagavad Gita of the Hindus, the Qur’an of the Muslims, and The Book of Mormon of the Mormons. Listen:
- Geisler: Let’s take a look by comparison at some of these other books. Are there miracles in the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindus, saying that this is the word of God? There were no miracles. How about the Qur’an? As a matter of fact, in the Qur’an Muhammad refused to perform miracles. And the interesting thing is, they say Jesus performed miracles in the Qur’an, including resurrecting from the dead. They say God used to perform miracles through His prophets to confirm that they were prophets. And then when Muhammad himself was asked, “Perform a miracle to prove that you’re a prophet,” he said, “Here, read this surah, read this chapter of the Qur’an.” In other words, he couldn’t come forth with the credentials. He had the claim, but he had no credentials to prove it.
- What about the Book of Mormon? The Mormons say that’s the word of God. The problem is, the Bible tells us one way you can test to see whether a prophet is telling the truth or not is whether he makes prophecies that are false, Deuteronomy 18.
- Joseph Smith predicted that the temple would be rebuilt in Zion, Missouri and even gave the date for it. Didn’t happen. False prophecy.
- The Bible gives hundreds of predictions years in advance that are literally true, and I want to take a look at those in a little more detail.
- The Bible claims to be the word of God and the Bible proves to be the word of God.
- Number one, it proves to be because the authors of Scripture were confirmed by miracles. Moses, Elijah, Jesus, the New Testament writers, the apostle Paul.
- Second, the Bible proves to be the word of God by supernatural predictions made hundreds of years in advance. There is no other book in the world where there are literally hundreds of predictions made hundreds of years in advance, even by the dates that critics accept, that came literally true.
- For example, the Bible predicted that Jesus would be born of a woman in Genesis 3:15; that He would come from the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12); that He would come from the tribe of Judah in Genesis 49; that He would come of the dynasty of David in 2 Samuel 7; that He would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14); that He would be born in the city of Bethlehem in Micah 5:2; and that He would be crucified, get this, that He would be crucified and killed 483 years after 444 BC, which is exactly what happened in Daniel 9. Because Daniel said, “Four hundred and eighty-three years from the time of the command to build the temple, rebuild the city of Jerusalem, that the Messiah would be cut off.” That happened literally, because between 444 BC and 33 AD, it is literally 483 years.
- You say, “Wait a minute. You must be on modern math; much learning doth make thee mad.” No. Four hundred and forty-four plus 33 is 477. But these are lunar years of 360 days. Twelve times 30 is the Jewish calendar. You have to add five more days. So five days times 483 years is six more years and 477 and six is 483 exactly.
- Now, show me any book in the world that predicted something that would happen hundreds of years in advance, what city, how, what year, what dynasty, what ethnic group. Jesus came and literally fulfilled all these predictions. This is a supernatural book.
- Ankerberg: Now, in listening to what Dr. Geisler just said about fulfilled prophecy being proof that the Bible came from God, maybe you’re wondering, are biblical prophecies the same as the psychic predictions being made in the tabloids at the supermarket? The answer is, “No.” Dr. Geisler explains the big difference. Listen:
- Geisler: You’ve heard skeptics say, “Well, what’s so great about that? Psychics make predictions, too.” Well, they do. But the problem is, they’re usually wrong. Several years ago they did a study of psychics’ predictions for that year and found out they were 90% wrong. In fact, just a couple years ago, of all the specific predictions that were made by psychics, they were 100% wrong on that year.
- “Well, didn’t Jeane Dixon make great predictions about Kennedy’s assassination?” Well, number one, she never mentioned Kennedy. And number two, she never mentioned the means of assassination. All she said was a Democrat would die in office.
- And in a 20 year cycle they had been doing that for the last 100 years or more, but what they don’t tell you is that she, like the rest of the psychics, is wrong 80% to 90% of the time.
- For example, she predicted that Jacqueline Kennedy would not remarry. She remarried the next day Aristotle Onassis. Not a very good prediction.
- Ankerberg: Well, this is just our first program in this series entitled, “Is the Bible Unique or Just Another Religious Book?” I asked Dr. Geisler to summarize why it is that we as Christians believe the Bible came from God, and to introduce next week’s topic:
- Geisler: So the Bible claims to be and the Bible proves to be the word of God. It proves to be because the authors were supernaturally confirmed. It proves to be because there were supernatural predictions made hundreds of years in advance that literally came true. It also proves to be because the Bible has amazing unity. It was written by 40 people over a period of 1500 years in two different languages – Hebrew in the Old Testament; Greek in the New Testament – on hundreds of different topics, and yet, it has amazing unity. The same story from beginning to end. God created man; he fell. Christ was sent to save us. He’s going to come back to defeat evil and bring in the eternal kingdom. No other book in the world written by 40 authors over 1500 years on a similar topic with hundreds of little sub-topics would ever come out with this kind of unity.
- For example, take a medical advisor. Suppose we had 40 doctors over 1500 years telling us the solution to sickness. One chapter would read, “It’s all in demons.” Another chapter would read, “Well, it’s in the blood – the blood-letters from the barber pole, you know. Take the blood out. George Washington died probably from blood-letters. Another chapter would say, “It’s all in your mind.” It would not have unity.
- The Bible has the same problem, the same solution, with all this great diversity, this amazing unity. It shows there must be one Mind behind it using these authors to bring about these marvelous truths. The Bible claims to be and proves to be the word of God by supernatural miracles, by amazing predictions, and by incredible unity.
- I know the skeptic is saying, “Well, what about all those errors in the Bible?” Let me say something. The Bible is the word of God. The word of God cannot err. Therefore, the Bible cannot err. Tune in next week and we’ll show how the Bible couldn’t possibly have any errors any more than God Himself could err.