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A guide to the Bible for the layman
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Category: Bible related
At times believers are thrown off guard by men’s attempts to change the Bible, or chop it to pieces. Thinking logically will save time, anguish and doubts about the Bible: it is and remains God’s infallible revelation to man.
It is said that the Bible is the product of man. If it is merely a product of man, we may as well discard it as the Word of God. Millions of books have been written by men of which the Bible would then be one. So why build your life on the Bible if it is just an ordinary book? There is no reason to believe in man’s opinions about God. The positive results of the Bible during 2000 years, its indestructibility and the animosity of society in general against it, sets itself apart from all books written during the past 3500 years. Men cannot produce a book like the Bible; if they could, where are these other books? Rest assured that the Bible is God’s specific message to man, written down by men, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
If the Bible is from God, why do many of the 66 books have the names of human writers? It is because God does nothing without men. He works in partnership with man. If God had sent his word to earth without using men to write it down, he could have done so (sent golden plates or stones inscribed with His message). But then we would either have worshipped them, or taken no notice of them. Translations and general or personal use of the message would have been been difficult. God created the earth for man, and from the beginning he was only interested in a partnership with man.
Why did the Bible have such a powerful influence on society? The Bible has a godly and a human character. It is similar to Jesus Christ who was wholly God and wholly man; he could heal the sick, save the sinner, or still the storm; and the Bible has the same ability.
We cannot explain scientifically how Jesus was fully God and fully man. Similarly we cannot explain scientifically how the men who wrote down God’s words in the Bible, wrote in their own idiom, yet it is the Word of God. In writing, they did not forfeit their characters, style and ways of thinking, but they wrote down the powerful Word of God (1 Thes 2:13).
Either the Bible is fallible or infallible. If fallible, why give attention to it? No country can have a judicial system, unless they have a constitution on which to base transgressions. All people will be held accounable to God: “will stand before God’s judgment seat...So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 13:10b,12; Revelation 20:11-15). If the 'constitution', the Bible is not clear, without any errors, then there could be no judgment. Logically, since God preplanned all, no person will be able to call in an advocate and plead ignorance or errors in the Bible. In the same way, the devil, if the Bible had errors, would be vindicated in telling Eve that God is not talking the truth (Gen 3:4). The fact that society is awash with anti-Bible propaganda proves that the devil (in control of society) knows very well that the Bible is without any error, and gaily struts around misleading people, dragging them off to hell because of their ignorance.
The devil, who rules society (1 John 5:19b) testifies to the infallibility of the Bible by the continual negative media barrage against it (John 15:25).
If the Bible is infallible, why is it not in text book style, with straight forward, clear and numbered statements? God gave an eternal book, which would be suitable for many generations. It has one clear goal: a relationship with Him. This Book is not for the perusal of unbelievers. It is written in such a way that only with the help of the Holy Spirit, can it be understood and can people have faith in Jesus Christ through the Word. His command, ‘seek the Lord’ means that we read, study and meditate on the Word. Like pearls of great price, it is not for easy grabbing. The Bible becomes clear and meaningful to the serious seeker.
Some say the salvation history of the Bible is truth, but not the historical and scientific data. How would we then know which parts of the Bible to believe? Why would the salvation history be the truth, if the rest is not? Without an infallible book, we have no certainty of what God is really saying to us.
Some say the Bible only has to do with this life: how to live and do what is right. If it has nothing do with life after death and giving account of our lives to God, why would one trouble oneself with it? It would be easier to do as one pleases, since everyone dies, and everyone shares the same fate.
The fact that the Bible is the only book (of all the millions written through human history) that has been constantly under attack for two thousand years (just like the Jewish nation), means that it must have to do with more than this life. Why would one criticize a book that only has significance for this life? The Bible also has to do with life after death.
Jesus was a man who lived as an historical person, but he was also God who is eternal. Similarly the Bible has to with this life and eternity.
If the Bible has its origin in God, then it will be 100% reliable. It is mainly a revelation about God’s character, and just as a smudged photo is indistinct, God’s character will be smudged by an unreliable revelation. The historical details must be accurate, otherwise it will give a false impression about God. God’s character is not only a description in words, but also in acts.
We also know that the Book is infallible, because history and archaeology support it.
Is the Bible a designed, supernatural book? If it is not, we can disregard it, because then it doesn’t come from God. God’s handiwork shows careful planning in the creation of man, nature, and the intricate balance between the cosmos and the earth. If the Bible is his work, it will display supernatural design. It will not be 66 random books. God works with a purpose in mind. For example in nature the plant is designed to capture sunlight and convert it into energy which man and animals can utilize. The various books of the Bible have one central goal, namely salvation through Jesus Christ. It is designed to take people from a fallen state into God’s eternal presence. The central goal is salvation. It is a designed book, since all 66 books have this one theme, salvation.
Can we believe all theologians’ opinions on the Bible? No, since they contradict each other. Jesus warned us about false teachers who would lead others astray. How does one know which theologians to believe? There are many Bible believing theologians, and we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. In general, if a theologian denies any of the central tenets like the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Jesus as Man/God, or the Bible as the Word of God, we can discard his opinions, because they are against indispensable truths in the Bible.
Is it possible to understand the whole Bible like mathematics or physics? No, “Man’s original sin was a lust after self-sufficient knowledge, a craving to shake off all external authority and work things out for himself (cf. Genesis 3:5-6); and God deliberately presents saving truth to sinners in such a way that their acceptance of it involves an act of intellectual repentance, whereby they humble themselves and submit once more to be taught by Him” and accept the Creator’s words (D. Guthrie, The new Bible commentary revised. Intervarsity Press, 1973, p17). The Bible is an object of faith.
It is said that we live in a post modern era. Therefore the Word of God must be re-interpreted for our time. Is that the truth? The Bible was written in the milieu of Israel. Its lessons and history is clear to the generations after them. At the Great Judgment, the Bible will be the constitution on which judgment will be based. God cannot allow his permanent truth to be changed by any generation. In reality Post-Modernism is devised to delude people. The Bible is clear truth to all generations.
If man could chop and change and decide for himself what parts of the Bible are really the Word of God, it has no real value. The character of the Bible is such that it is either accepted in totality, or discarded in totality. Proverbs 30:6 says, “Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” Attempts to change the Bible is part of the devil’s strategy against God.
If a person merely listens to the Word, without doing what it says, it is worthless. The Word was not given to be heard only, but to be obeyed and applied. (Knowing about your countries’ laws, but not keeping them, is not going to save you from jail.)
Some people say the Bible is not to be taken literally; it consists of symbols and myths. How is it possible that a myth changed the course of history and the lives of millions of individuals? If eternity is only a myth, what are millions of people doing studying the Bible, and establishing hundreds of colleges and schools? Why were there countless martyrs for Christ? Then they are/were all under an illusion. Why work, worship, be disciplined and study just for a myth? Either the Word of God is reality, or not. History proves it is reality.
If the Bible is about religion, and not a relationship, then what difference is there between Christianity and other religions? Since it is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is just like a marriage relationship: there are certain basic rules, like fidelity, but it is the relationship that makes it interesting and lasting. Our relationship with Jesus Christ prevents monotony and being ‘religious’. It always remains interesting.
Conclusion: The Word of God is correct, factual, inspired, infallible, wonderful, powerful to save and change people, and never to be tampered with. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to believe and trust in the Lord Jesus, and grow in knowledge of God and in wisdom (Colossians 1:9).