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Wondering What to Believe?

  1. Does Nature Give Proof of God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  2. Can I Hear God's Voice?
    8 Digging Deeper
  3. Who is God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  4. Who Wrote the Bible?
    8 Digging Deeper
  5. Can I Trust the Bible?
    7 Digging Deeper
  6. Is there a Right and Wrong?
    7 Digging Deeper
  7. Why Does God Allow Evil?
    9 Digging Deeper
  8. Who Am I?
    7 Digging Deeper
  9. What is the Meaning of Life?
    7 Digging Deeper
  10. Does God Love Me?
    5 Digging Deeper

The Apostle Paul wrote that the Scriptures (literally “holy writings”) are given to us by means of inspiration (literally, “breathing out”) from God. Consider this claim in his second letter to Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (3:16-17)

Jesus had a very high view of Scripture. In praying to the heavenly Father, he said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The meaning of the word “truth” is “what reality is.” If you trust Jesus, then this means that the words of Scripture in the original languages in the autographs (the documents penned by the original writers) are true, accurate and recorded without falsehoods. Whatever the Bible says is reality. In the view of Jesus, the words of Scripture properly interpreted are the words of God. Jesus quoted the Old Testament as the word of God that cannot be broken (John 10:35). This implies that every word of Scripture is true and reliable. Jesus said that David spoke in the Psalms by the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 20:43-44). David said,

The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me;
    his word is on my tongue.
 The God of Israel has spoken;
    the Rock of Israel has said to me (2 Sam. 23:2-3)

Jesus quoted the comments of the writer of Genesis, presumably Moses, as what God himself said (Matt. 19:4-6). The writer of the book of Hebrews in chapter one quotes seven times from the Psalms and says that it is God who is speaking (verses 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10-12 and 13). The Apostle Paul makes an argument for the veracity of Scripture by emphasizing that the word “offspring,” referring to Jesus as the promised Messiah, in Genesis 13:15 and 17:8 is singular, not plural (Gal. 3:16). This shows his complete trust in the smallest details of the Scripture text.

If God is perfect in all his words and ways, then his words are, too. Inspiration means that the words of the Scriptures are the very words that God approved. This refers to the original autographs of the writers who were either directly given their message by God through revelation or who wrote from their own background and knowledge while being guided by God’s Spirit. The words they used were exact equivalents of what God wanted them to write. Like Jesus who was both God and man, the perfect God-man (two persons in one nature), the Bible is both divine and human. It is divine in that the message was revealed or accepted and approved by God, and human in that the forty writers of the Bible used their own history, language, and thoughts to accurately convey what God wanted written.

Translations are made by linguistic scholars and can be improved. No translation or translators are inspired. A translation can be called the word of God when it accurately conveys the meaning of the best texts of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek documents. (These are the three languages in which the Bible was written). Scholars called “textual critics” seek to discover, determine and translate the best manuscripts of the Bible. When a translation accurately renders the meaning of the best manuscripts we have, then we can safely say that the translation is the word of God. This means that what the documents meant to the original readers in their language is the same message as it is to us in our language.

The Bible records lies told by Satan and false prophets and teachers. What they said is not true but it is true that they said it. For example, the Bible says that Satan told Adam and Eve that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would not die (Gen. 3:4). That is a lie recorded in the Bible but it is true that Satan said it. The Bible gives an accurate and true account of what happened or what was said but that does not mean that what was said was the truth or that what happened was approved by God.

When we read and interpret the Bible, we must read and interpret it with the same understanding and perspective that we interpret all language when we read any book or magazine. For example, the Bible speaks of the “four corners of the earth” (Isa. 11:12). Some critics have said that the Bible is scientifically inaccurate since this teaches a “flat earth” while aeronautical science has proved that the earth is oval-shaped. However, the “four corners” is not a scientific statement but a reference to the cardinal directions of north, south, east and west that speak of encompassing the whole earth. From our perspective of standing on earth, the earth does appear to be flat and the Bible accommodates itself to that visual perspective. On the other hand, another verse in the Bible speaks of the “circle of the earth” (Isa. 40:22).

In a similar way, the Bible speaks of the sun moving (Josh. 10:12-13) but since Copernicus and Galileo we know that the earth moves, not the sun. However, from our visual perspective it does appear to us that the sun moves across the sky from the east to the west. Psalm 50 speaks of the sun rising and setting (verse 1). This is even the way that graduate-degreed meteorologists announce the weather every day on television: “The sun will rise at ____ A.M. and set at ____ P.M.” The scientists use language that accommodates itself to our perspective, just like the Bible does. Neither is in error, though both are inaccurate scientifically. We must allow the Bible to speak from a human perspective, and not judge it by a criteria not under consideration, just like we allow the weather reporters to do in the media.

Nothing verified in science, history, medicine, anthropology or archaeology contradicts the biblical text. If there is an apparent conflict, either the Bible or the science or both have been incorrectly read and interpreted. God created the universe and science discovers his secrets after him. His world and his word are in perfect harmony, if they are both correctly interpreted. God is truth and in him there is no error at all.

This is not to say that there are not occasional, apparent difficulties in the text that need to be carefully read and interpreted. We are to love God with all our mind (Matt. 22:37). That means that we need to use our minds to explore, discover, interpret and understand God’s message. Gifted scholars have written excellent books that give reasonable explanations of these difficulties. No difficulty involves any doctrine of God or salvation. The difficulties are in minutia like numbers where one text rounds off the number and another text is quite specific. We should not criticize the text for using language the way that we do ourselves. It is common for us to round off numbers when we talk with one another. Another apparent difficulty to some is where one writer names more people present for an event than another writer names. The texts are not contradictory but supplementary and complementary. One writer chose to give more details than the other.

To sum up, there are reasons to believe that the Bible can be trusted. Upon careful investigation, questions about the Bible’s science are best understood as the writer choosing to describe reality from a human perspective. Since God is the author of all truth, then science, history, archaeology and the Bible must coincide or one or more of the evidences have been misinterpreted. Everything that we know for certain does not detract from the veracity of the Bible’s message.