The foundation of the Christian faith is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the foundation of our knowledge about him is the Written Word of God, the Bible. This is true of the Old Testament as well as of the New; the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy: “From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15, RSV).
The persistent, all-out attacks on the integrity of the Bible are to be expected. Yet Christians must also guard against subtle insinuations, often seemingly plausible, that if permitted to take root will inevitably bring disaster.
Whether man admits it or not, the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice. They are what they claim to be, a divinely inspired revelation of truth that man could never discover for himself.
To accept and defend the complete integrity and authority of the Bible is no longer popular. Yet I am convinced that the faith of individual Christians and the future of the Church depends on whether we accept the Scriptures as the unique revelation of divine truth, in which are to be found the answers to man’s problems in this life and the knowledge of his ultimate destiny.
The Bible is above all our source of knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is interwoven throughout the Old Testament and is in full fruition in the New.
Without the Bible we would have no more than a speculative knowledge of God, based on his works of creation and providence. But through the Bible we know that he is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and the Redeemer of those who believe.
With the Bible we can know God, his will and laws, his love, mercy, and grace offered in the person of his Son. As we read the Bible we become aware of his presence and help, his guidance and strength, his sufficiency for every situation.
The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to look into our souls and spirits and show us ourselves as God sees us. Who, while reading the Scriptures, has not experienced the searching of the Holy Spirit?
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews expresses this function of the Bible perfectly: “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Heb. 4:12, 13).
It is the Holy Spirit, the divine author, who makes the Bible distinct from all other literature. In its pages there exists a power stronger than any X ray devised by man, a power that reaches down into those areas of life hidden from man-devised equipment or methods.
Hardly a day passes that newspapers, magazines, and news commentators do not refer to the plight of a world steeped in lawlessness and tragedy that defies human solution. The Bible gives both the diagnosis and the cure.
Ignoring the Word of God, politicians, sociologists, and economists fight a hopeless battle. The world’s tragedies, ailments, bitterness, conflicts, and crime are all symptoms, not the disease itself. The Bible makes it plain what the disease is—sin in the human heart—and offers the cure in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
We are confronted by a brazen attempt to reject God’s revelation of man’s nature, need, and only hope. Going hand in hand with this is man’s ignorance of the nature, love, and perfect provision of God, who alone has in his hands the solution to it all.
The substitution of human opinion for the divine revelation to be found solely in the Word of God is sinful presumption and arrant foolishness, and it leads to certain disaster.
Human opinions are fallible; God’s truth is infallible. Men’s opinions change, but God’s truth does not. The devices of men are unreliable; God’s word remains sure. Men’s opinions are shot through with their own inherent weaknesses; but the Scriptures are strong and eternal in truth. And the wisdom of men is foolishness in God’s sight—that is, in the sight of the One with whom all men must ultimately have to do.
Let us never forget: wherever human opinion runs counter to the divine revelation, it will some day be dashed to pieces on the reality that God is true and cannot change.
Within the last few years, even months, denials of God’s Word have increased. Non-Christians, already confused, find themselves even more so because of these denials, some of which originate within the Church. Christians are also being confused and discouraged, for they feel the foundations being shaken.
Stand firm, like the pastor of a large city church who was chided for preaching a sermon on Jonah and the whale. His reply was, “I had rather be found on the side of faith than of denial.”
Don’t make the first compromise! When informed that new textual discoveries and the advance of science make it impossible to accept the Bible at face value, take comfort in this fact: not one new manuscript and not one discovery of science has discredited or altered any doctrine of the Christian faith.
On the contrary, new manuscripts and new archaeological findings are confirming the truth of the Scriptures. Furthermore, science, busy discovering the things God created and placed in his universe, is only confirming the divine revelation. We think of our age as the “space age,” and it is. Nevertheless, the Bible is filled with allusions to space, and nothing has been discovered that is contrary to the truth therein revealed.
Not for one moment would I imply that the Bible is primarily a book of science. But when the curtain of time comes down and we see God’s creation in the light of eternity, some will be amazed to see how accurate the Bible is. Even today scientists cannot go behind Genesis 1:1, and few go that far.
As for the “errors,” “contradictions,” and “discrepancies” in the Bible, many of these variations can be accounted for in the line of transmission of the text. There are places where we are undoubtedly left to accept by faith what we cannot understand. Yet in almost every instance the difficulty is more apparent than real.
The safest rule is to believe that no man knows enough to challenge God’s Word successfully. The Word is its own best defense. A difficulty at one place is cleared up at another, leaving unimpaired the conviction that we have in the Bible a marvelous book that speaks to the hearts of those who hear and obey.
Despite the attacks of unbelievers outside and sophisticates inside the Church, the Bible stands sure and tried by all who have put their trust in it. Christians who “defend” the Bible should take comfort in the knowledge that the Bible is its own best defense.
Read it. Study it. Believe it. Obey it. In it is the Way of Life.
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