Most people don't believe the Bible is inspired. Can you be absolutely sure the Bible speaks with divine authority?
"When Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt. 7:28-29). Either Jesus had the authority from God to set forth His revolutionary teachings, or else He perpetrated one of the most colossal frauds In human history, involving the deception of most of the Western, Christian-professing world. He did not claim merely to tell us about the right way of life. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). What supreme egotism for a man to say such things — unless they are true! And what about the book that contains all these shocking statements? Jesus referred to the Bible as "the scriptures" and told men to "Search the scriptures... they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). Again, Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Later, the apostle Paul declared, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Tim. 3:16). And Peter instructed Christians to heed the "sure word of prophecy" (II Pet. 1:19). There is much compelling evidence that the Christian Bible was and is inspired of the great Creator God who governs the universe, and who in this Book is revealing to mankind divine truths that could not be learned any other way. Here is an examination of some of that evidence.
Only the Bible reveals God and His plan
Literally thousands of different "religious books" purport to tell us about spiritual truths, spiritual powers and correct ways of living. Many more appear every year. But there is and always has been only one Book that speaks with the authority of God — that reveals and describes the details of creation, and of His plan and purpose for all mankind. The Bible details the creation of man and the purpose behind man's creation. Paul wrote: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). The vast, orderly creation with its intricate and unchanging laws of gravity, inertia and aerodynamics demand a great Creator, Designer and Lawgiver. It didn't just happen by blind chance! Furthermore, only the Bible reveals the purpose for man and his creation. "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion" (Gen. 1:26). Man was made like God, in limited fashion, and is the only creature given God-like potential: a mind with which to reason, creative imagination and the ability to discern right from wrong, among other things. Man is to develop these God-like capacities, grow in grace and in know ledge (II Pet. 3:18), overcome human nature through God's help and finally to qualify to rule with God and Christ over all creation (Rev. 2:26, Heb. 2:6-10). Paul says that vain men who reject the simple, obvious truth are fools — often, today, "educated fools" (Rom. 1:22). Yet the only book thoroughly describing this creation is the Bible. No other book even comes close to revealing the answers to how we got here, why we were born and where we are headed.
Detailed, accurate prophecies
In a unique manner, the Bible sets forth scores of specific prophecies affecting the major peoples, nations and cities of the world. We will have room to discuss only a few of these astounding Bible predictions here. Leroy Neff details some others in an accompanying article in this issue. Herbert W. Armstrong in his remarkable book, The United States And Britain In Prophecy, highlights one of the greatest prophecies of all time — details given thousands of years in advance as to how and why the United States and Britain rose to world supremacy within the last two centuries, and why this national pride and power is being taken away in a continuing national decline! Only a great God, through His inspired Word, could foretell and then bring to pass the events described in these Bible prophecies! One striking series of prophecies, written hundreds of years ahead of time, concerns the coming of Christ and His purpose in living as a human on earth. In Genesis 3:15, we find the first hint of the promised "seed" of the woman, who was to conquer Satan. As early as Genesis 4:1-7, God indicated that He wanted a blood sacrifice — the slaying of an animal — pointing to Christ's sacrifice as the "lamb of God." For "the life of the flesh is in the blood... for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11). Then, nearly 2,000 years before Jesus was born, Abraham showed that he was willing to offer his only legitimate son as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:1-12). This dramatic event prefigured what was to happen to the promised Son of God. Just as Abraham, the "father of the faithful," gave Isaac, his "son of o promise," God the Father was to give His Son for us all. Remember the momentous events surrounding Israel's exodus from Egypt (Ex. 12)? Literally millions of Israelites prophetically preen acted what would happen to the Messiah nearly 1,500 years later. Each household set aside an unblemished male lamb. On the 14th day of Nisan, they killed it and poured out its blood. It was called "the Lord's passover" (verse 101). And if they were "under the blood" of this Passover lamb, they would be spared from the death penalty (verses 12-13). Isn't it remarkable that God caused an entire nation to act out 1,500 years in advance the details of the coming sacrifice of His Son — the perfect, unblemished Lamb of God whose blood was also shed on Nisan 14 to pay the death penalty for all mankind? The prophet Isaiah revealed that Jesus would have "no form nor comeliness; and... there is no beauty that, we should desire him" (Isa. 53:2). Seven hundred years later, Matthew points out that Judas had to kiss Jesus so that the Jewish leaders coming to arrest him would know who He was (Matt. 26:48). Isaiah also described how Jesus would not answer His accusers (Isa. 53:7), how He was not kept overnight but rather given a rushed, illegal trial (verse 8), how He would be put in a wealthy man's sepulchre (verse 9) and even how in dying He would make "intercession for the transgressors" (verse 12). Note the striking fulfillment in Luke 23:34, "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." The vivid description of Jesus' sufferings set forth in Isaiah 52 and 53 demonstrate, again, that the supreme God of heaven and earth is speaking through the Bible! "As many were astonished at him — his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men" (Isa. 52:14, Revised Standard Version) John's gospel describes the horrible beating Jesus received the Passover morning: "Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands" (John 19:1-3). More than 200 years after Isaiah, Zechariah foretold how Jesus would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, and that this blood money would be thrown down in the Temple and eventually used to buy a potter's field (Zech. 11:12-13). Five hundred years later, Judas and the Jewish priests did exactly that with the money pledged for Jesus' betrayal (Matt. 27:3-8). Dozens of men, in different times and different places, set forth intricate details of the coming birth, life and death of the promised Messiah. An entire nation acted out yearly the mode of His death, and did it on the exact date his death would take place, nearly 1,500 years in advance. Could anything but the direct inspiration of God account for all this?
Throughout the Bible are promises that are binding on the great God who inspired this Book — if we do our part! James 5:14-15 states: "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Literally thousands of you Good News readers can personally vouch for the authenticity of that promise, as I can also. Like all our longtime ministers, I have been personally acquainted with dozens of people who have been genuinely healed in response to fervent prayers claiming God's biblical promises to heal. And I have read many of the hundreds of letters from all over in response to the anointed cloths (see Acts 19:11-12) Mr. Armstrong sends out for healing the sick. These letters describe in thankful, glowing terms how God has heard the prayers of His servant and has healed people from every conceivable disease and sickness. If the vital truth of God's promise to heal is new to you, be sure to read Mr. Armstrong's eye-opening booklet, The Plain Truth About Healing. God also promises to bless the faithful tither: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal. 3:10). God challenges us to "prove" Him in this matter — to faithfully do our part in a right attitude — then witness His promised blessing. After 28 years in the ministry, I can truthfully say that I have seen God keep that promise again and again. He does bless us physically and financially if we put Him and His I ways first, including obedience to the law of tithing. Also, most people don't realize that our Creator has promised that good results will come if we follow His instructions for properly training our children. Notice, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6).
There is much compelling evidence that the Christian Bible was and is inspired of the great Creator God... who in this Book is revealing to mankind divine truths that could not be learned any other way.
Over the years, I have noted that those who consistently follow God's method of childrearing always get good results. Their children 'may not be perfect, but they will be so much better off than the average youth in our degenerate society that the difference will be obvious. Even then; a young person may lapse for a few years in his appreciation of the approach and the way of life loving parents have instilled in him. But even if he departs somewhat from the straight path for a few years, God promises, "When he is old, he will not depart from it." Training your children to follow God's laws will pay in the long run.
God's laws and ways
In a sense, all God's laws have promises connected with them, as the examples above show. And God Himself stands directly behind all the laws and teachings of the Bible! This Book shows the hand of God's inspiration because it reveals to mankind vital information man could not learn from any other source, or would not learn until it was too late to avoid disaster. The application of God's laws of sanitation finally stopped the Black Death of the Dark Ages. The Black Death was estimated to have taken the lives of one out of four persons in the 14th century alone! Many historians feel it was the worst disaster ever recorded in human history. What finally turned the tide against this dreaded plague? The procedures came from Leviticus 13:46: "All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." Discerning historians credit the Bible for the dawning of a new era in effective disease control. "The laws against leprosy in Leviticus 13 may be regarded as the first model of a sanitary legislation.... As soon as the European nations saw that the application of Scriptural quarantine brought leprosy under control, they applied the same principle against the Black Death. The results were equally spectacular, and millions of lives were saved" (from None of These Diseases, by S.I. McMillen, M.D.). Astonishing? It shouldn't be. But for people who think that the Bible is a collection of mere religious traditions, myths and sentimentalities, exciting examples such as these should prove particularly instructive. Not only in the realm of the "hereafter," but here and now, our willingness to do exactly what the Bible says can spell the difference between life and death. For the Creator, the Supreme Mind of the universe, is the direct Author of the Holy Bible. And He tells us in this Word, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. 66:2). We can do so with an ever-growing faith and abounding confidence in Him who gave us the Book of books.