How is the Bible God’s Word?

How does one convince a nonbeliever that the Bible is the Word of God?

Before I try to answer that question directly, let me make a distinction that is important at the outset. There’s a difference between objective proof and the persuasion or conviction that follows. John Calvin argued that the Bible carries both persuasion and conviction in terms of its internal testimony—the marks of truth that could be found just by an examination of the book itself—as well as external evidences that would corroborate that substantial evidence to give solid proof for its being the Word of God.

Yet the last thing people would want is a book telling them they are in desperate need of repentance and of a changed life and of bowing in humility before Christ. We don’t want that book to be the truth. Calvin claimed that there is a tremendous bias and prejudice built into the human heart that only the influence of God the Holy Spirit can overcome. Calvin distinguished between what he called the undicia—those objective evidences for the trustworthiness of Scripture—and what he called the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, which is necessary to cause us to surrender to the evidence and acknowledge that it is the Word of God.

But I think this is a critical issue upon which so much of the Christian faith depends. The Bible makes the claim that it is the unvarnished Word of God, that it is the truth of God, that it comes from him. God is its ultimate author and source, though indeed he used human authors to communicate that message.

In speaking with people about this, we have to go through the laborious process of showing first of all that the Bible as a collection of historical documents is basically reliable. The same tests that we would apply to Herodotus or Suetonius or any other ancient historian would have to be applied to the biblical records. The Christian should not be afraid to apply those kinds of historical standards of credibility to the Scriptures, because they have withstood a tremendous amount of criticism from that standpoint, and their credibility remains intact.

On the basis of that, we come to an idea. If the book is basically reliable, it doesn’t have to be inerrent or infallible; it gives us a basically reliable portrait of Jesus of Nazareth and what he taught.

We move from there in linear fashion. If we can on the basis of general reliability come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ did the things that history claims he did, it would indicate that Jesus is more than an ordinary human being and that his testimony would be compelling.

I would move first to a study of the person of Jesus and then ask the question, what did Jesus teach about Scripture? For me, in the final analysis, our doctrine of Scripture is drawn from the teaching of Jesus and from our understanding of who he is.

From That’s a Good Question! Copyright © 1996 by R. C. Sproul.

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Why Believe God Exists?

Is there a God? Atheists say no such being exists, yet have no proof. Agnostics merely offer that they cannot know with certainty either way. Is there, however, proof that God is real and that He is alive? This brochure presents careful reasoning to verify not only the reality of God’s existence, but the legitimacy of trusting Him.

The Inevitability of Faith: Everyone believes in something. No one can endure the stress and cares of life without faith in something that cannot ultimately be proven. Atheists cannot prove there is no God. Pantheists cannot prove that everything is God. Pragmatists cannot prove that what will count for them in the future is what works for them now. Nor can agnostics prove that it is impossible to know one way or the other. Faith is unavoidable, even if we choose to believe only in ourselves. What is to be decided is what evidence we think is pertinent, how we are going to interpret that evidence, and who or what we are willing to believe in (Luke 16:16).

The Limitations of Science: Scientific method is limited to a process defined by that which is measurable and repeatable. By definition, it cannot speak to issues of ultimate origin, meaning, or morality. For such answers, science is dependent on the values and personal beliefs of those who use it. Science, therefore, has great potential for both good and evil. It can be used to make vaccines or poisons, nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons. It can be used to clean up the environment or to pollute it. It can be used to argue for God or against Him. Science by itself offers no moral guidance or values to govern our lives. All science can do is show us how natural law works, while telling us nothing about its origins.

The Problems of Evolution: Some have assumed that an evolutionary explanation of life would make God unnecessary. This overlooks some problems. Even if we assume that scientists will someday find enough “missing links” to confirm that life appeared and developed gradually over great periods of time, laws of probability would still show the need for a Creator. As a result, many scientists who believe in evolution believe also that the universe in all of its immensity and complexity did not “just happen.” Many feel compelled to acknowledge the possibility or even likelihood of an intelligent designer who provided the ingredients for life and set in motion the laws by which it developed.

The Habits of the Heart: Mankind has been described as incurably religious. In unguarded moments of trouble or surprise, in prayer or in profanity, references to deity persist. Those who would dismiss such thoughts as bad habits or social vices are left with unanswerable questions. Denying the existence of God does not dispel the mysteries of life. Attempts to exclude God from the language of civil life does not eliminate the persistent longing for more than this life has to offer (Ecclesiastes 3:11). There is something about truth, beauty, and love that makes our hearts ache. Even in our anger with a God who would permit injustice and pain, we draw upon a moral conscience to argue that life is not as it ought to be (Romans 2:14-15). Even unwillingly, we are drawn to something that is more rather than less than ourselves.

The Background of Genesis: On first reading, the opening words of the Bible seem to assume the existence of God. Genesis, however, was written at a point of time in history. Moses wrote, “In the beginning God” after Israel’s exodus from Egypt. He wrote after miraculous events that were said to have been witnessed by millions of Jews and Egyptians. From the Exodus to the coming of Messiah, the God of the Bible rests His case on events witnessed in real time and locations. Anyone who doubted the claims could visit real places and people to check out the evidence for themselves.

The Nation of Israel: Israel is often used as an argument against God. Many find it difficult to believe in a God who would be partial to a “chosen people.” Others find it even harder to believe in a God who would not protect His “chosen nation” from the boxcars, gas chambers, and ovens of Auschwitz and Dachau. Yet from the beginning of Old Testament history, Israel’s future was prewritten. Together with other prophets, Moses predicted not only Israel’s possession of the land but also her unparalleled suffering and dispersion throughout the whole earth, her eventual repentance, and then finally her last-days restoration (Deuteronomy 28-34; Isaiah 2:1-5; Ezekiel 37-38).

The Claims of Christ: Many who doubt the existence of God have reassured themselves with the thought, “If God wanted us to believe in Him, He would appear to us.” According to the Bible, that is what God has done. Writing in the 7th century BC, the prophet Isaiah said that God would give His people a sign. A virgin would bear a son who would be called “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). Isaiah said this Son would be called, “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The prophet also said that this child would die for His people’s sins before seeing His life prolonged and honored by God (Isaiah 53). According to the New Testament, Jesus claimed to be that Messiah. Under the oversight of a Roman governor named Pontius Pilate, He was crucified on charges that He claimed to be the king of Israel and that He had represented Himself as being equal with God (John 5:18).

The Evidence of Miracles: The reports of the first followers of Jesus agree that He did more than just claim to be the long-awaited Messiah. These witnesses said He won their trust by healing paralytics, walking on water, and then voluntarily dying a painful, undeserved death before rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Most compelling was their claim that many witnesses had seen and talked to Christ after finding His tomb empty and before watching Him ascend visibly into the clouds. These witnesses didn’t have anything on earth to gain by their claims. They had no hopes of material wealth or power. Many became martyrs, claiming to the end that the long-awaited Messiah of Israel had lived among them, that He had become a sacrifice for sin, and that He had risen from the dead to assure them of His ability to bring them to God.

The Details of Nature: Some who believe in God do not take His existence seriously. They reason that a God great enough to create the universe would be too big to be concerned about us. Jesus, however, confirmed what the design and detail of the natural world suggest. He showed that God is great enough to care about the smallest details of our lives. He spoke of one who not only knows every move we make but also the motives and thoughts of our heart. Jesus taught that God knows the number of hairs on our head, the concerns of our heart, and even the condition of a fallen sparrow (Psalm 139; Matthew 6).

The Voice of Experience: The Bible says that God designs the circumstances of our lives in a way that will prompt us to look for Him (Acts 17:26). For those who do reach out for Him, the Scriptures also say that He is close enough to be found (Acts 17:27). According to the apostle Paul, God is a Spirit in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). The Bible makes it just as clear, however, that we must reach out for God on His terms rather than our own. He promises to be found, not by just anyone but by those who admit their own need and are willing to trust Him rather than themselves.

You’re Not Alone: You’re not alone if you find yourself honestly unconvinced about whether Christ rose from the dead. But keep in mind that Jesus promised God’s help to those who want to be right with God. He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own” (John 7:17).

If you do see the reasonableness of the resurrection, keep in mind that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and those who believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). The salvation Christ offers is not a reward for effort, but a gift to all who in light of the evidence put their trust in Him.

This information comes from Radio Bible Class (RBC Ministries).

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Obvious Evidence for God

Evidence that God exists, that Christ is the Son of God and that, along with the Holy Spirit, God encompasses these three identities, appears throughout the Bible. To know that the one God created the universe forms the basis of faith, our foundation. We know God created the world and everything in it, and see evidence of this every day in its order and complexity and the way all things fit together in an extraordinary planned sequence.

Extraordinary order = Unimaginable Intelligence

This irrevocable order comes from the indisputable intelligence that created it, ordered it, even maintains it, in spite of man’s interference. Those who attempt to refute the existence of God, the Creator, have to believe in Him on some level in order to refute Him! We witness the miracles in creation every day.

They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. (Romans 1:19–22)

Man is Only the Created; We Know Who the Author Is:

Imagine the giant ego of man to think he can reason beyond God! This arrogance is hubris, from the Greek word meaning excessive pride, which becomes the downfall of the person who possesses it. Literature is full of stories in which the hero ultimately fails because success has gone to his head, and he loses his true perspective and direction. “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” (Romans 1:25). Those who assume they know all the answers are victims of their own delusion. Remember: God is the judge of man; not man the judge of God.

Christians are constantly challenged by those who believe in evolution, the “accidental,” “scientific” process of change in the universe and living things. We are charged by Christ to patiently answer the naysayers, in the hope that the Holy Spirit uses our answers in their conversion:

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15)

Know Thy Limits, Respect Thy Maker

For God is the ultimate intelligence, and we must accept that there is no way we will understand and explain everything. Our limitations as humans are too great. “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:26). Let us be reminded that an image is a representation of a being or object. A picture of a person is NOT the person himself. It is but a mere reflection. By believing that the Bible is God’s Word, recorded in remarkable consistency by many through the ages, we take God at His Word. Denying His Word reduces that denial to absurdity.

Indeed, for the unbeliever, our faith is blind, but as the Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:25, “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” They cannot see truth until repentance. First Corinthians 2:14 says: “But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.”

We have our foundational evidence: IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH. (Genesis 1:1)
Enough said!
Praise be to God (not man)!

I found this article at Creation Today website. This is an edited version.

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Ancient Astronaut Theory?

I watched a show on the History Channel this evening because the topic aroused my curiosity; it was called Ancient Aliens. Here is a brief summary about the program:

Unearthly visitations… Heavenly messengers… Close encounters… Accounts of humans interacting with celestial beings have existed since the beginning of mankind. Many of these encounters resulted in moral, philosophical and artistic inspirations. But did these contacts involve ethereal beings from heaven or extraterrestrials from other worlds? Are holy books the word of God, or guidebooks passed down by more advanced civilizations? Who told Joan of Arc how to defeat the English Army–saints or extraterrestrials? Could a young boy from India have learned advanced mathematical formulas from a Hindu goddess? What message did an American serviceman receive while touching an alien aircraft? If the Ancient astronaut theory is correct, then are beings from other worlds communicating with us for our benefit… or theirs? Just what is the purpose of these alien contacts?

Ancient alien theory grew out of the centuries-old idea that life exists on other planets, and that humans and extraterrestrials have crossed paths before. The theme of human-alien interaction came into view in the 1960s, driven by a wave of UFO sightings and popular films like 2001: A Space Odyssey. The space program played a part in this as well: If mankind could travel to other planets, why couldn’t extraterrestrials visit Earth?

In 1968, the Swiss author Erich von Däniken published Chariots of the Gods?. He writes that thousands of years ago space travelers from other planets visited Earth, where they taught humans about technology and influenced ancient religions. He is regarded by many as the father of ancient alien theory, also known as the ancient astronaut theory.

Most ancient alien theorists point to two types of evidence to support their ideas.

  1. The first is ancient religious texts in which humans witness and interact with gods or other heavenly beings who descend from the sky (sometimes in vehicles resembling spaceships) and possess spectacular powers.
  2. The second is physical specimens such as artwork depicting alien-like figures and ancient architectural marvels like Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.

If aliens visited Earth in the past, could they make an appearance in the future? For ancient alien theorists, the answer is yes. They believe that, by sharing their views with the world, they can help prepare future generations for the inevitable encounter that awaits them.

The pyramids, Stonehenge, Atlantis, the Mayans… all advanced for the times. The program mentioned another example of an ancient alien visit; a mythical island called Brazil, or Hy-Brazil (sometimes called the other Atlantis). It is a phantom island mentioned in many Irish myths. It was said to be cloaked in mist, except for one day each seven years, when it became visible but could still not be reached.

From a non-biblical perspective, they would have us believe that the encounters we read about in the Bible where angels (or a pre-incarnate theophany) are visiting God’s faithful would actually be encounters with E.T. For example:

  1. Noah (Genesis 6:13): God approaches Noah about destroying the world by a flood. The Gilgamesh Epic records that he is to transform his own house into the ship he would save himself and the animals; it’s even shaped like a cube (could it be Borg? Resistance is futile). The point is that alien technology (far more advanced than the times) was utilized to save mankind.
  2. Abraham (Genesis 18:1, 2-3, 19:1): God visits Abraham at his tent, and some angels go to visit Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah.
  3. Job and Isaiah (Isaiah 40:22, Job 26:7): When Isaiah wrote this verse he used a Hebrew word to describe the shape of the earth. Although the word is commonly translated into the English word “circle,” the literal meaning of this word is “a sphere.” In the Job passage, when we consider that twenty-eight centuries ago the prevailing view of the earth was that it was flat and resting on the back of an animal or Greek god, the biblical view of a spherical earth suspended on nothing is astonishing. The point is, how would this be known unless these men were taken up in a spaceship to see the Earth from orbit?
  4. Moses (Exodus 3:2, 34:29): The burning bush experience and the shining face from being with God up on the mountain.
  5. Joshua (Joshua 5:13, 14, 15): The captain of the Lord’s army with a drawn sword.
  6. Paul (Acts 9:3, 4-5): Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Why is it so difficult to accept the fact that God actually exists, yet it is so easy for someone to promote the notion of extra-terrestrials from other planets? The Christian seems to be the one with a foolish belief system? The origin of life coming from alien DNA makes more sense than the supernatural creation of God? If people can be convinced about the existence of aliens coming back to earth, what better explanation for the rapture, when Jesus returns and takes his faithful home?

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In the Beginning

The Bible does not discuss the subject of evolution, rather, its worldview assumes God created the world. The biblical view of creation is not in conflict with science, rather, it is in conflict with any worldview that starts without a creator (or an uncaused first cause of everything else that was caused).

Equally committed and sincere Christians have struggled with the subject of beginnings and come to differing conclusions. Students of the Bible and of science should avoid polarizations and black/white thinking. Students of the Bible must be careful not to make the Bible say what it doesn’t say.

The most important aspect of the continuing discussion is not the process of creation, but the origin of creation. The world is not a product of blind chance and probability; God created it.

Logic dictates that at the very least there is an intelligent designer (like a watch maker) that designed the complexity of the universe. Irreducible complexity tells me that at some point a complex system, such as sight, can only happen when there are 100 percent of the component working. Remove any one component and sight does not happen. This complexity happening by accident and change takes more faith than recognizing a divine creator. A God powerful and creative enough to get all this done sounds a lot like the God of the Bible.

The Bible not only tells us that the world was created by God; more important, it tells us who this God is. It reveals God’s personality, his character, and his plan for his creation. It also reveals God’s deepest desire: to relate to and fellowship with the people he created. God took the ultimate step toward fellowship with us through his historic visit to this planet in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. We can know this God who created the universe in a very personal way.

The heavens and the earth are here. We are here. God created all that we see and experience. The book of Genesis begins, “God created the heavens and the earth.” Everything after that statement begins the most exciting and fulfilling journey imaginable.

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