We’re continuing in our study of a general subject: Is the Bible believable? And we’re studying our God-breathed Bible, the doctrine of inspiration. We believe this book is the breath of God, that He breathed out even the words. And we said that in studying the inspiration of the Bible, we would study two facets. First of all, definition; and secondly, defense. We would define it and then we would defend it.
Now, we saw two Scriptures that clearly gave us a definition of inspiration. The first one, perhaps the most familiar, was 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” or better translated, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” All of it, past, at the time this was written, present, at the time it was being written, and future Scripture which was yet to come after Paul had completed 2 Timothy.
All Scripture, all holy writing, is the breath of God. These are not the words of men; these are the words of God, written through human instruments, but no less the Word of God. We saw also an important passage in 2 Peter 1:21. “For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved” – or borne along – “by the Holy Spirit.” Those two Scriptures tell us that the Bible is the breath of God and that God used human instruments and kind of carried them along in making sure they put down accurately His word.
Inspiration, then, is the Bible as authored by God through human instruments. And we believe that because men wrote the actual words and because they actually came out of men’s minds makes them no less the Word of God or the words of God than had God spoken them Himself. God used men and chose from out of their experience and their own vocabulary the very words He wanted in the holy book, and so this is the God-breathed word.
Now, we said last time that there are a lot of people who want to define the Bible as inspired. You ask them, they say, “Oh, I believe the Bible’s inspired,” but they have a different doctrine of inspiration. And we said that inspiration is not natural inspiration. It’s not a high level of genius that produces a book like this. It’s not thought inspiration. It’s not that God just gave them a general thought which they put in their own words – that would mean there were errors in the Word. And if you’ve got errors in the communication process, you can’t get the thought across.
Some people tell us the Bible is partially inspired, only the spiritual parts and all the history isn’t inspired. But if we can’t believe the part that we can verify in history, why would we believe the part spiritually that we can’t verify? And then others would say the Bible is inspired existentially; that is, it’s inspired when it hits you. You’re really the key. If you get a big message out of it, that’s inspiration. The reader is inspired rather than the Word of God itself.
Others say – and criticizing us, really, most of the time for the verbal plenary view of inspiration – that it’s mechanical dictation, that we believe that God just cranked out words and men wrote like robots, automatons, and we deny that. We say inspiration is the doctrine that teaches that the holy writings of God, Old and New Testament, inclusive and exclusive, are the very words of God in total, and every part is the very Word of God. This is all of the Word of God there is, all of this is the Word of God, and every word in it is the Word of God. And that covers it.
As a result of this, therefore, Scripture is infallible. That is, it does not lead you to wrong conclusions. It is inerrant, it has no mistakes. It is complete, nothing is missing. It is authoritative, that means it is binding on men. It is sufficient, that means it does not allow for any lack of information that is germane to godliness. And it is effective, it produces what God intended it to produce. And so we defined inspiration.
Now, I want to go to the second step tonight and I want to defend it. And we’re going to just kind of imagine that we’re in a courtroom tonight and we’re going to be putting the Bible on trial, as it were. And we’re going to call in some people to give testimony to the veracity and the truthfulness and the authoritative, infallibility of the Bible. We’re going to, in fact, hear from three different witnesses. The first is a multiple of people, the second is a single one, and the third, again, a single one. But there are three areas of testimony that are going to come into this courtroom tonight to corroborate the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.
Now, we’re going to begin, first of all, with the testimony of the Bible writers. That’s point number one. The testimony of the Bible writers, the first people that we want to hear from. And as I was studying this, I had to find a place to start. How do you go about defending the Bible? Well, the first place to start would probably be with the guy that wrote it, the human instrument, because he would probably have some opinion about what was going on, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, it would seem to me that the writers of the Bible should have some idea about what inspiration was. They must know whether they wrote this, whether it came out of their minds, or whether it came from God. So their testimony is extremely important.
Well, you know, as you begin to look at the testimony of these 40-plus writers who wrote over a period of 15 hundred years, living in such separation, had really no opportunity for corroboration in many cases, you find some startling and astounding things that are true regarding these men. The writers of Scripture, for example, were often unlearned men. Very often, they were the simplest kind of men without any formal education. They were not great classical philosophers. For the most part, they were not brilliant geniuses at high levels in some kind of enterprise.
They were basically simple people. Fishermen, farmers, tax collectors, and so forth. Yet these men – and this is the amazing thing – these men wrote with an absolute confidence that what they were writing was the Word of God. Now, that’s astounding. Several thousand times in the Bible, in one way or another, the men who wrote the Bible claimed to be writing the Word of God. You say, “Well, I don’t understand what’s so significant about that, it’s only a claim.”
But here’s what’s significant: When you study the Bible, you find that what is impressive about it is that there’s no self-consciousness about their claims. I mean if I were to sit down and write something that I would say, “Hey, folks, this is the revelation of the Word of God.” Now, you know, people would say, “Well I mean who do you think you are?” I mean there would be a certain self-consciousness. I would probably say, “Well, now, now, now, this may sound ridiculous, but this is the Word of God.”
Or you might say, “You know, you may find this very hard to believe, but God actually gave me these words.” You know, a simple farmer out of the middle of nowhere sits down and writes the Word of God – if he made it up, you know he’s going to put in a little bit of self-consciousness about it to try to defend his right to do this. You know, the amazing thing, all through the Bible there is none of that self-consciousness. There is none of that effort to try to convince us that this really is the Word of God, they just crank it out, make the claim, and that’s it.
And the absence of a defensiveness and the absence of a self-consciousness speaks of the fact that they weren’t trying to bolster their claim. They weren’t trying to get over some hump of credibility. They just confidently wrote it and signed it, and that was it. It just says “thus saith the Lord,” and away it goes, and there’s no disclaimer on it, there’s no self-consciousness about it at all. Such direct claims of inspiration on the part of writers are impressive in view of their limited backgrounds. For the most part, they had very limited formal education.
They were in no position to do exalted writing. How could such men ever pen something as magnificent as this? How could common men ever come up with anything to touch this? Why, do you know that all over the world throughout history people have studied this for its literary value alone? It shows a genius that’s not matched in any other writings in the history of the world. You mean a bunch of farmers got together and did it on their own? A bunch of fishermen? How could men have known such great truths? How could they have made such unbelievable claims of speaking for God if God had not truly spoken through them?
You know, when Peter and John were in Jerusalem and they were preaching, I mean they were firing out all kinds of fantastic things. And Peter went before the Sanhedrin, you know, and he gave them that wonderful message, and they were expecting to bring him on trial and he really put them on trial. He said, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there’s none other name under heaven given among men whereby you must be saved,” and they couldn’t believe it, and they said, “Wait a minute. How can these people know so much? They’re ignorant, unlearned Galileans. What do they know?”
But Peter didn’t go in to the Sanhedrin and say, “Now, I realize we’re ignorant, unlearned Galileans, and you’re not going to believe this, but could I speak to you from God?” None of that. There is just an air of infallibility. There is an air of authority. Thiessen said, and I quote from him, “How could uninspired man write a book that commands all duty, forbids all sin, including the sin of hypocrisy and lying, denounces all human merit as insufficient for salvation, holds out as man's only hope faith in the atoning death, physical resurrection, and present intercession of Christ, condemns all men to hell for all eternity who reject this one way of salvation and persist in sin?” End quote.
You mean somebody was a hypocrite and wrote a book about hypocrisy and said all hypocrites spend forever in hell? No. Men don’t write books that damn themselves. The Bible is the library of 66 different books written by 40-plus authors over 15 hundred years. All of the authors, with perhaps the exception of one and maybe two, were Jews. All of them are writing out of the Jewish background and yet the Bible has universal appeal.
Two Bible writers were kings, two were priests, one was a physician, two were fishermen, two were shepherds, Paul was a Pharisee and a theologian, Daniel was a statesman, Matthew, a tax collector, Joshua, a soldier, Ezra, a scribe, Nehemiah was a butler, and on it goes. All different people, all different times, all writing with the same authority, brought together a whole, never contradictory, developing the same perfect theme, and that whole is the Word of God.
The Bible contains history, and when it contains history, it’s right. It can be historically verified. And we’ll get into that in our later study. The Bible contains science, and when the Bible talks about science, the Bible is right. The Bible says, “He hangeth the world on nothing,” and the Bible is right. The Bible talks about medicine, and it gives laws of health far back as Exodus. And, you know, doctors today can verify that particular prescription for a healthy life. The Bible talks about ethics. The Bible talks about practical wisdom. And all throughout history, these things have been verified as true.
Now, the writers claim to be inspired of God, they claim to be writing from the breath of God, and if that’s true, then it’s easy to understand the Bible. Do you know that? And if in fact God did write this, it’s easy to understand it. Now, if He didn’t write it, man, is it hard to understand this. You know why? Could you believe 40 different guys in 40 different times all writing their own thoughts agreed? Could you believe that all those people wrote 66 books over 15 hundred years and all came out with the same answer to everything? Now, you may not want to believe the Bible, but if you don’t believe God wrote the Bible, then you tell me who did. It is astounding.
I mean it wasn’t until William Harvey that we discovered that the circulatory system was what kept you alive and the Bible, in the oldest book, it says the life of the flesh is in the blood. Then there was Herbert Spencer who came along about 1903 and made the great categorical discovery that everything in the universe fits into five categories: time, force, action, space, and matter. That was the categorical discovery. And he said that everything that’s in existence can be put into that category, one of those five. And everybody said, “Wonderful Herbert, you’ve done it again.” Well, it was wonderful of Herbert.
Moses did it in the first verse of the Bible. “In the beginning,” that’s time; “God,” that’s force; “created,” that’s action. I’m not a scientist, you realize that. The heavens, that’s matter; the space and the earth, that’s matter. First verse in the Bible. Took Herbert until 1903. The Bible has a lot of interesting things to say scientifically. It’s right. Oh, the higher critics used to say, “Oh, the Bible can’t be true. The Bible can’t be true. Why, it says such and such and such, and that never happened,” and then somebody discovers an archeological dig and there they find that the Bible was right. Now, if God didn’t write it, you tell me who did.
And then there’s prophecy. How you going to deal with that? How you going to deal with it when you go to the city of Jerusalem and you stand there and you see the Eastern Gate all sealed up, and then you read the prophet in the Old Testament that said this gate would be sealed up, and there it is sealed up? Or how do you handle the prophecy that Babylon would be destroyed and Babylon was the greatest city in the world?
That kind of a prophecy would have been pooh-poo’ed as an irresponsible statement. As I said before, that would be like saying the Boy Scouts are going to knock off New York. I mean it just couldn’t happen. Babylon couldn’t be destroyed and you know what? It was and is and it isn’t anymore. If God didn’t write this book, you tell me who wrote it. You got a worse problem, if God didn’t write it, trying to figure out this mystery because this is a toughie. But if God did write it, it’s easy to understand, right?
Now, let’s look at these writers. What did they claim? Let’s look at the Old Testament writers. Did the Old Testament writers think they were writing the words of God? Let’s call into our little courtroom here the Old Testament writers and hear what they have to say. Thirty-eight hundred and eight times they said that they wrote the Word of God. Now, do you think they were trying to get a message to us? Three thousand eight hundred and eight times, they refer to their words as the very words of God. Once would be enough – 3,808 times is plenty. If you had a trial and you brought in 3,808 witnesses, you probably would have a pretty substantial case.
Someone even tallied the actual claims to inspiration – I mean, the very actual claims – and they said there are 680 of them in the Pentateuch, there are 1,307 in the prophetic books, 418 in the history books, and 195 in the poetic books. And that totals at least 26 hundred explicit claims that they were writing under the inspiration of God.
After the giving of the law, Moses said, and I quote, Deuteronomy 4: “You shall not add unto the Word which I commanded you, neither shall you diminish from it.” This isn’t my word. Don’t you add anything to it and don’t you take anything away from it, Deuteronomy 4:2. Listen to Deuteronomy 6:1: “Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you.” He says these are from God “that you might fear the Lord your God and keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you.” In other words, Moses said, “I’m only telling you the Word of God.”
Verse 6: “And these words, which I command ye this day, shall be in thine heart. Thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children, shall talk of them when ye sittest in thine house, when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up, shall bind them for a sign upon thine hands, and they shall be as frontless between thine eyes, and thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house and on thy gates.” These are God’s words and these are to be treated with sacred care. “This is the Word of God,” says Moses. And again in Deuteronomy 12:32, “Whatsoever thing I command you, observe to do it. Thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it.” “You cannot add to the Word of God,” said Moses.
In Amos 3:7, the prophet says, “Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, but He reveals His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Amos says God reveals what He’s going to do under the prophets, revelation from God.
What about the New Testament writers? Did they believe what the Old Testament writers believed? Did they really think they were writing the Word of God? Did Paul really think that when he wrote his letters? Well, first of all, what did they think about the Old Testament? What did the New Testament writers think about the Old Testament? Did Paul think the Old Testament was inspired? Listen to this, there are at least 320 direct quotes in the New Testament directly out of the Old Testament. Three hundred and twenty times New Testament writers quote the Old Testament.
Now listen. At least one thousand times, they refer to the Old Testament. So there you have it. They believed that the Old Testament was the revelation of God. They directly quoted it 320 times and referred to it at least a thousand times. In Romans 15:4 – listen to the words of Paul: “For whatever things were written in earlier times were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Paul says whatever was written back there was written for our learning. It was Scripture and it was written to give us hope. Peter said, “Holy men of God wrote as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit.” Peter believed the Old Testament was inspired.
The writer of Hebrews says, “God who at sundry times and diverse manner spake in time passed unto the fathers by the prophets.” The writer of Hebrews believed the Old Testament Scripture was the Word of God. James – James describes the authority of the Old Testament when he says in James 4:5, “Think ye that the Scriptures speak in vain?” In other words, he’s saying you better believe what the Old Testament says.
Paul gave witness to the perfection of the Old Testament when he said regarding the law of God in Romans 7:12, he said “The law of God is holy, just, and good.” And he said he loved the law of God, he delighted in it. The author of Hebrews does the same thing. He presents the word as living, effectual, penetrating, and he goes so far as to say it judges us; we can’t judge it.
Now, there are many illustrations in the New Testament of how New Testament writers used the Old Testament and how they referred to it. Now look at Acts 7:38, just to show that these things are everyplace. Well, you have to go to 37 first. “This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like me. Him shall you hear. This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him in Mount Sinai and our fathers who received the living oracles to give unto us.” God wanted to give His word. He gave it to an angel, who gave it to a man, who gave it to us. That’s the sequence.
Now, it goes further than that, just to give you another illustration, Acts 13:34. “And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said in this way, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore, he saith also in another psalm, thou shalt not allow thine holy one to see corruption.” David said that but here, it is a attributed by Paul to God. So in one reference of the Old Testament, David speaks; in the New Testament Paul says God said. It is God who speaks. It is David who speaks. It’s the same thing. That’s inspiration.
Now, it goes on in the book of Acts. I’ll just give you one more, 28:25, the last page of the book of Acts. “And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed after Paul had spoken one word.” Here’s what he said, listen. “Well spoke the Holy Spirit by Isaiah the prophet.” Now, again, it is the Holy Spirit speaking through a human instrument.
Now, there, just in a simple look, I gave you five indications that the New Testament writers, the New Testament preachers, believed that the Old Testament word of men, the word of the prophets, was in fact the Word of the Holy Spirit – and there are many more. They’re all written by men in the Old Testament, all spoken by men in the Old Testament, all attributed to God in the New Testament.
And this is interesting. Genesis 12, I think might serve. Genesis 12: “And the Lord said unto Abram, ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, bless thee, make thy name great, thou shalt be a blessing. I will bless them that bless thee, curse him that curseth thee, in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.’”
The thing you should notice is prior to the Abrahamic Covenant, the Bible says, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram.” Who said this? The Lord did. Now, to show you an interesting little comment on that, Galatians 3:8, listen to what it says: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abram, saying, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed.’” Now here, Paul says the Scripture says it. In Genesis 12, it said who said it? God said it. Now, watch this: Whatever the Scripture says – what? God says.
And very often in the New Testament – and there are other illustrations of it – when you look at a scriptural passage, it is indicating to us in the New Testament that this is what Scripture says, and if you compare it in the Old Testament, you’ll find it’s what God said. You know why Paul did that? The only reason that we could ever allow for Paul to do that was because he habitually in his mind identified the voice of God with the written Scripture. You understand that? The reason Paul would call a statement by God the statement that Scripture says is because he in his mind equated the Word of God with what? Scripture. That’s basic.
Beloved, when you open the pages of that Old Testament, you are reading what God says. Is that exciting? I mean, that’s a communication. Now, there are also other examples where New Testament writers refer to Old Testament. Let me give you another thought. Do New Testament writers ever say that other New Testament writers are inspired? What about that? Is there any testimony from New Testament writers to other New Testament writers? There is, there definitely is. Let me give you one.
You ready for this? First Timothy 5:18, this is interesting. First Timothy 5:18, and you’ve probably read this verse many times and never thought of it in this light because maybe you never looked it up. Listen, verse 18: “For the Scripture says,” and here’s Paul and he quotes it, “thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the grain.” Now, you know what that principle is? That’s the principle that comes from Deuteronomy 25:4. So what is Paul is saying about Deuteronomy 25:4? What does he call it? Scripture. Now you say, “What’s the point of the verse?”
The point of the verse here is pay the preacher. Don’t muzzle the ox that treads out the grain. In other words, if you want the ox to do the job, you’ve got to stick something in his mouth, feed him. That’s the point of the passage. But he says this, “And the Scripture says thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads,” and the Scripture says, “The laborer is worthy of his reward.” You want to hear something interesting? You say, “What Scripture says that?”
Now listen to this. Luke 10:7. Now, hold on to that thought, you got it? He says the Old Testament Deuteronomy 25:4 is Scripture and so is the New Testament Luke 10:7. Here is New Testament writers corroborating New Testament Scripture as Scripture. And that’s a quote from Luke 10:7. Paul calls Luke Scripture. Isn’t that exciting? And so when Paul says all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, later on in his second letter, he not only means all Old Testament, he means Luke and everybody else that’s New Testament Scripture. So he calls both Old Testament and New Testament Scripture.
Let me give you another one – this is really exciting. Second Peter 3:15. Tremendous statement. And Peter’s going along here and he says “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” Aren’t you glad that the Lord is patient? Aren’t you glad that the Lord hasn’t brought judgment? It isn’t because He can’t, it’s because He’s gracious isn’t it? Not willing that any should perish. So the longsuffering of our Lord means salvation. The longer the Lord tarries, the more can come to Christ.
Watch this: “Even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you” – now listen, he says this, I’m just telling you what our beloved Paul said – “as also in” – how many of his epistles? - “all his epistles. “Speaking in them of these things, which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,” watch this one, “as they do also the” – what? – “other Scriptures.”
Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. What is Peter saying? He’s saying all the epistles of Paul do what the other Scriptures do. What is he then saying about the – all the epistles of Paul? That’s other Scripture. That’s Scripture. Here is one of the great statements on New Testament inspiration. Peter said, “All of Paul’s epistles are inspired just like the other Scriptures.” That settles the issues doesn’t it? For Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, that’s pretty good.
The credibility of the gospels is accorded already in the passage we saw in 1 Timothy 5:18 where Luke is credited as being Scripture. So you’ve already got the credibility of the gospels, you’ve already the credibility of all of Paul’s epistles, and now, we just took care of 1 and 2 Peter. You see, the New Testament is very careful to substantiate itself.
Listen, the Apostle Paul gave testimony time and time again about his inspiration from God. Galatians 1:11, he says, “I made known to you, brethren, the gospel which was preached by me is not after man.” No, sir. “Neither received I it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” What I say to you, God gave me. God gave me. Verse 16, “He revealed His Son in me. I conferred not with flesh and blood.” The message came divinely. Listen to his own statement in Ephesians 3:3. “How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery.” In other words, God gave me this thing Himself by revelation.
And he makes this claim over and over again. Another example that might help you to see it is 1 Corinthians 11:23. We read that Scripture when we have communion. It says, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you.” “Now, what I’m to tell you about communion, I received” – from whom? From the Lord. Was he around when the Lord was on earth? No. That’s revelation. Paul claimed to be inspired of God, and that isn’t just a once-in-a-while claim, he claimed it over and over again. First Corinthians 15:3, “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received.”
In other words, again, he says, “What I’m telling you is what I received from the Lord.” This is a typical statement by Paul. In fact, in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing because when you receive the Word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men but as it is in truth, the Word of God.” “What I said to you,” 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “you accept it as the Word of God.” Now, that’s either a monumental ego or it’s the truth.
You know that wonderful passage about the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:15? Listen to what he said. “For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together.” “This we say unto you by” – what? – “the word of the Lord.” Again, he claims an inspiration, that God is speaking through him as He did through David and the Old Testament prophets. In Colossians 1:25, “Of which I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you to fulfill the Word of God.” And gain, his only purpose was to manifest the Word of God, to fulfill the Word of God. The mystery which was hidden from ages and generations now made manifest through him.
And so over and over, Paul makes this claim. In 1 Timothy 4:1, he says, “The Spirit speaks clearly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith.” Well, who was the Spirit speaking to? To him. The Spirit speaks. He could open his mouth and say, “The Holy Spirit is now saying to you” because that was true. They weren’t his words; they were the words of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Paul says in Titus 1:3 that in due time, “God manifested His word through preaching, which is committed unto me.” (“God’s Word coming through my mouth.”) And it goes on and on and on like this in Paul’s letters.
What about John? I mean he wrote the Gospel of John, 1, 2, and 3 John, Revelation. Well, you know what John has seven times? He has a double signature in all of his first two and three chapters at the end of those letters to the churches. It says, “These things saith He.” And then John writes the letter, and you know what he says at the end? “Let him hear what the Spirit says to the church.” John said, “It’s coming from Jesus Christ through me,” and when it was all done, he said, “This is the message of the Holy Spirit.” John claimed inspiration.
And John, writing in Revelation 19:9, said, “These are the true words of God.” In Revelation 21:5, he says, “These words are faithful and true.” And even at the very beginning of the book of Revelation, “Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of this prophecy.” At the end of Revelation, “If you add anything to them, shall be added to you the plagues that are written therein.”
Now do you see, people, the testimony of the Bible writers? Is it clear? They believe they wrote the Word of God.
Let’s go to the second witness. The Lord Jesus Christ, point two. What did Jesus think about Scripture? That’s very important. I want to know what He thought, don’t you? I trust Him. I want to know what His view of Scripture was. I’m going to just fire off with a whole bunch of things, so try to get them down as you can.
First of all, He acknowledged that He was the theme of all Scripture, didn’t He? That He was theme of all of it. In John 5:39, you remember Jesus said to the Jewish leaders, He said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life.” And then He said, “And these are they which bear witness of me.” So first of all, Jesus taught that He was the theme of all Scripture. Revelation 19:10 says that Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The Bible is all about Him. In Luke 24:44, going down Emmaus Road, the Bible says that He opened the Scriptures from the law and the prophets and the writings and taught them the things concerning whom? Himself. Not only did Christ teach that He was the theme of all Scripture, but He said He came to fulfill all Scripture.
In Matthew 5:17, He said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law of the prophets. I came not to destroy, but to fulfill.” In Matthew 26:24, He looked at His cross and this is what He said: “The Son of man goes forth” – listen – “even as it is written of Him.” He commanded Peter to put away a sword, and He said to him in Matthew 26:54, “Put that sword away. How then should the Scripture be fulfilled?” In other words, He came to fulfill Scripture. His view of Scripture was it was all about Him, and every detail had to be fulfilled.
In fact, in John 10:35, He made a staggering statement that, for me, it closes the case forever. In John 10:35, Jesus simply said this: “Scripture cannot be broken.” What did He mean? Violated. Scripture cannot be violated. What did He mean by that? If God said it, it’s true. It’ll happen. In fact, He even compared the duration of Scripture to the duration of the universe, didn’t He? He said, “It’s easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail,” in Luke 16:17. He compared the quality of endurance of the Word to that of the universe. Luke 18:31, “All the things that are written through the prophets shall be accomplished.”
What was Jesus’ view of Scripture? He believed it was the Word of God and it was going to fulfilled. And you know He even believed the very words. I mean the very words. Look at Matthew 22:32 and I’ll show you just an illustration. We could show you others. Look at this one. Matthew 22:32. Oh, these old Sadducees were always arguing about the resurrection. And they said in verse 24, “Master, Moses said if a man dies and has no children, his brother should marry his wife and raise up seed unto his brother.”
Now, there was a guy with seven brothers and the first one, he married, the wife died, and having no issue left his wife unto his brother and all these single brothers marry this woman and all die. They couldn’t have been too smart. They must have known something was going on. But then they said, “In the resurrection whose wife shall she be?” Ha-ha, see? Thought that was real funny. Seven husbands, whose wife is she going to be when they get up there?
Jesus said, “You do err not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” “You do err" – what? - “not knowing the Scriptures.” “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven as touching the resurrection of the dead. Have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God saying ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” And the whole argument turns on the verb “am.” “I am the God of Abraham,” the present tense verb, eimi, is the issue in the passage.
They were worrying about the future and how it was going to be over there. Jesus said, “Don’t you know that it says that God said ‘I am the God of Abraham’?” The present tense emphasis on the verb. God is the God of the living by the virtue of His name. Not “I will be the God Abraham. Some day when you get here, I’ll be your God.” No, no. The very fact of the verb tense is the argument that supports Jesus’ statement. He is the God of the living. So, you see, Jesus was very concerned with even the construction of the verbs in the Word of God.
And, incidentally, I think you ought to remember, too, that Jesus put all Scripture on an equal basis with His Word. He didn’t just say, “What I say is true.” He said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” He acknowledged the power of the Word. When He was tempted by Satan three times, He replied with quotes from Deuteronomy, didn’t He? He quoted and referred to the Scripture. He said over and over again, “Have you not read?” “Did you never read?” “Is it not written?” “It is written.” How many times have you heard those phrases in the mouth of Jesus?
He quoted again and again from the Old Testament. On the cross, He recited the fulfillments of prophecy. Psalm 22 said that when Messiah died on the cross, He would cry out. He would cry out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus, nailed on the cross, cried out “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” You can find it in Psalm 69, Psalm 31 that He would thirst, it says in the Psalms, and Jesus cried out, “I thirst.” Consciously fulfilling the prophecies. He believed in every word of the Old Testament.
To give you another interesting insight, I think this is important. Jesus corroborated the great truths of the Old Testament. Did you know that Jesus confirmed the creation of Adam and Eve? He said in effect that what the Old Testament says about Adam and Eve is true. Matthew 19:4, “Have you not read” – “Don’t you know your Scriptures?” - “that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female?” Now, do you see he corroborates the Genesis account? I don’t understand how anybody who believes in Jesus Christ and believes in the truthfulness of the statements of Christ could ever believe in progressive creation or theistic evolution. Jesus didn’t believe in it.
He says, “Haven’t you read that God created them male and female?” God made a man and He made a woman and He said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” And He corroborates God’s monogamist design for marriage as well that came in Genesis. Jesus substantiates the truth of the book of Genesis. And, you know, people say, “Well, it wasn’t a really a man. It was really a woman. It was kind of a little allegory” and all that. You couldn’t believe that and believe the credibility of the Word of Jesus there in Matthew 19. Jesus believed in the real creation as recorded in Genesis, and He substantiates it.
You know, another thing that people have kind of denied throughout the years is the flood, they don’t like the idea of the flood. So that’s a convenient thing to deny. Jesus believed in the Noahic flood, did you know that? Yes, He believed the Old Testament record in Genesis of Noah. Matthew 24:37, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark.” You think Jesus believed that was an allegory? No, He believed it was fact.
And so Jesus supported the creation, He supported Noah and the flood, He supported the role of Abraham and his faith - yes, the Old Testament said Abraham was justified by faith and Jesus supported that very thing in John chapter 8 when He says, in verse 56, regarding him: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see to my day. He saw it and was glad.” His hope and anticipation in the coming Messiah.
Jesus, in John 7, confirms circumcision as taught in the Old Testament. Jesus confirmed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s wife as recorded in the Old Testament. Jesus mentions in Luke 17 the salvation of Lot. In Mark 12, the call of Moses. In John 6, He talks about the manna that was provided the children of Israel in the wilderness. And in John 3, He refers to the brazen serpent lifted up in the wilderness by which Israel was healed. Over and over – and that’s only a few, friends. Over and over Jesus agreed and confirmed the authority of the Old Testament record.
Now, I want you to know something. If Jesus believed the Old Testament, I’m with Him. I believe it. Jesus established the sufficiency of the Scripture to save men. One of the most interesting statements that He ever made is in Luke 16:29. He said, “They have Moses and the prophets” – what? - “let them hear them.” They don’t need a special thing. They don’t need a resurrection. Let them hear the prophets. That’s enough to bring them to the truth. And in Mark 12, He showed that the error for everything is the failure to know the Scripture.
Mark 12:24 and 27 says, “Is it not for this cause that you err, that you know not the Scriptures?” Jesus said you err because you don’t know them. If you knew them, you would not err, and therefore Jesus assigned the Scriptures the ability to keep a man from error, a righteous quality.
Give you an interesting statistic. One-tenth, one out of ten, of Jesus’ words were from the Old Testament. Out of the 18 hundred verses reported in the New Testament quoting Jesus, 180 of them come from the Old Testament. He believed it. He who is the truth, He who is the word, knew, believed, and submitted to the inspired writings with no reservations. Now, I’ll tell you something, friends, if He did, I’m willing to.
You’ve only got three possibilities. Number one, there are no errors in the Scripture, okay? That’s a possibility. Ready – this? Number two, there are errors, but Jesus didn’t know about them, and that’s why He was so strong on the Old Testament. There are errors, but He didn’t know about them. Thirdly, there are errors, He knew about them, but covered them up. Now, that’s the only choices you have. One, there are no errors. Two, there are, but Christ didn’t know them – and if He didn’t know them, then He isn’t God, and if He isn’t God you can throw the whole thing away. Or He did know them, but He covered them up – then God isn’t holy, is He?
If you’re going to have a holy God and a holy Christ, you’re going to believe in the Word of God. The belief in the deity of Jesus Christ demands a belief in the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture.
I’ve got one more witness we’re going to call: the Holy Spirit. The first two are objective; this one’s subjective. Now listen to this. The belief that the Bible is inspired of God is not the result of intellect. It’s not the result of a decree. It’s a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. Would you agree to that? Reasons and premises for the authority of the Bible must come from outside the Bible. And you can have a lot of outside arguments, but you’ll never believe the Bible until the Holy Spirit does His work in you. You know why? Because – here’s our argument – we believe the Bible’s true because the Bible says it’s true.
Now, if you’re a logician, you’re going to say that’s a circular argument. “I don’t believe the Bible’s true because I don’t believe the Bible when it says it’s true.” Now, that’s a good point. If you don’t believe the Bible, you’re not going to believe the Bible when the Bible says the Bible’s true. Before you’ll ever believe the Bible’s true, you’ve got to believe the Bible, and that’s the work of the Spirit. When somebody accepts the Bible as the Word of God, it’s the work of the Spirit that caused it to dawn on him. It’s the best phrase I could think of.
The Holy Spirit has to get us over the hurdle of the effects of sin. You know, when Adam fell, the human race got messed up. We became not stupid, but hostile. We’re not stupid, so that it’s hard to understand truth; we’re hostile, so we don’t want to accept truth, okay? “Men did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” Romans 1 says. And so the preaching of the cross comes along, and it’s foolishness. “The natural man receiveth not the things of God.” So in order for him to stop being hostile, in order for his abnormal, depraved mind to receive the truth of God, it has to be remade by the Holy Spirit, doesn’t it?
So it’s impossible by argument, it’s impossible by preaching alone, to cause anybody to believe the Bible. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. His testimony is not the objective outside testimony, it’s the subjective inside. And I’ll be honest with you and you be honest with me, you believe the Bible because that’s just the way you feel inside, right? That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. You say, “Does that mean evidence is useless?” No, doesn’t mean evidence is useless. Peter said in 1 Peter 3:15, “You ought to have an answer to give to every man for the reason of the hope that’s in you.” Right?
And you know that Paul, in the book of Acts, went around reasoning, alleging, and proving. You say, Well, now wait a minute, if the Holy Spirit does it on the inside, what good does this do?” Now listen and watch this: The witness of the Spirit is a witness to something. Okay? You’ve got to have something there that he can witness to. If no preacher proclaims the message, then there’s nothing in the man’s mind for the Spirit to witness to. The Spirit cannot produce belief in Christ if the sinner hasn’t heard about Him, and the Spirit cannot produce belief in the Word of God until somebody has heard the Word of God. “Oh,” you say, “are you sure about that, John?”
Well, I’m as sure as Paul who said, in Romans 10:14, this – listen: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” Now listen: “And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not” – what? – “heard. And how shall they hear without a preacher?” See? So then, verse 17 says, “Faith comes by hearing.” You see, when the evidence is presented, then the Holy Spirit has something to witness to.
Beloved, the ultimate testimony, then, is the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Well, I don’t know about you, but the testimony of the Old Testament writers, the New Testament writers, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, all defending the inspiration of the Bible, is a solid case for me. Listen to this command. Colossians 3:16. In response to what you’ve learned to tonight, we’ll you listen to this? “Let the Word of Christ” – what? – “dwell in you richly.” Oh, what a precious thing it is.
You know what your mind should be? Your mind should be a tablet where the Word of God is written. Let the Word of Christ – what’s the Word of Christ? This whole thing – this whole thing is all about whom? Christ. This is the Word of Christ. Let it dwell, enoikeō, let it be in you, at home in you, richly, pleusiōs, abundantly. I mean let this get in deep down and be at home in your life. Drink it in, eat it, feed on it. Then once you’ve done that, obey it. Obey it. “Be not hearers only but” – what? - “doers.” And listen, friend, after you’ve drunk it in and obeyed it, pass it on, will you? Will you share it?
Second Thessalonians 3:1 – I love this – “Finally brethren,” Paul says, “pray for us that the Word of the Lord may have free course.” Isn’t that good? Paul says, “I’ve got it in me and I’m obeying it. Pray for me that I can spread it.” Free course. Paul’s prayer was to hold forth the Word of life.
Boy, I’m telling you, if we really believed what Jesus said when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” where would be spend our time? The American Medical Association estimates the average American will consume in his lifetime 150 head of cattle, 2,400 chickens, 225 lambs, 26 sheep, 310 pigs, 26 acres of grain, 50 acres of fruit and vegetables. “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Man, we are giving it a good shot.
An outdoor bulletin board on a church in Quincy, Massachusetts, said this: “A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” You’ve got a real treasure, beloved, so do I. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. Let’s pray.
Lord, we thank You for the precious Word. For what it means to us, for how it speaks to us. We thank You, Father, for the fact that the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and makes it applicable to our hearts. We thank You, Lord, that the testimony of the writers is that this is, in fact, Your Word. Testimony of those, New Testament and Old Testament, and then that it is the testimony of Jesus Christ and the blessed Holy Spirit that this is the truth of God.
Father, we thank You. We thank You for giving the Word. We thank the Son for incarnating the Word. We thank the blessed Spirit for teaching the Word. Help us to drink it in, obey it, and pass it on. We’ll praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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