From my earliest childhood, I recognized the Bible as a very special Book.
In Sunday school, as well as in our home, the Bible had a place given to no other book. While I cannot recall my father ever reading a newspaper at the dinner table, it was our family custom to read a portion of Scripture and have family prayer each day. Even before I could read I was taught to memorize short verses of the Bible. Later I joined with the rest of the family in reciting almost daily some portion of Scripture that we were learning together, such as Psalm 1, Psalm 23, or Psalm 103, which were favorite Psalms. The Bible was presented to me as a Holy Book, the Word of God.
Giants in My Life
In my middle teens we moved to a new city and situation. For the first time, I came in contact with some of the great Bible teachers of the last generation. Dr. William F. McCarrell, then pastor of the Cicero Bible Church, held a Thursday night Bible class which I attended regularly, which was my first exposure to verse-by-verse expository preaching. Other famous Bible expositors also preached in our city during my high school days: R. A. Torrey, H. A. Ironside, A. C. Gaebelein, Paul Rader, William Pettingill, and Lewis Sperry Chafer, the first president of Dallas Seminary.
While I did not completely understand all their teaching, one fact was very clear: They all believed the Bible to be the Word of God and trusted it implicitly as setting forth divine Truth. If the Bible taught a doctrine, it was true. As great biblical truths gradually unfolded to me, the Bible became like a trusted friend, tried and true, which could always be depended on to tell the truth.
I was also introduced for the first time to the Scofield Reference Bible and had begun to read the Bible daily. With the help of Scofield notes I began to comprehend something of the tremendous scope of biblical revelation.
Dealing with the Critics
While I was dimly aware of the fact that there were others who denied that the Bible was the Word of God, I was not confronted with detailed arguments against the Scriptures until enrolling in college. There I read and evaluated the viewpoints of critics who blatantly denied the trustworthiness of the Word of God.
In Bible courses, questions of whether books should actually be included in the Bible were faced, along with questions about authorship, date of writing, and textual problems. Was the Bible indeed the Word of God? Here, struggling with a mass of contradictory information, I enjoyed the clear thinking and cogent scholarship of Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, president of Wheaton College and teacher of my Bible introduction courses there. His skillful handling of various problems made it clear that a person could believe the Bible to be the Word of God and do so on intelligent and logical grounds. I discovered that some of the finest biblical scholars in the world, while fully acquainted with all the attacks that have been made on the Bible, still found the Bible absolutely trustworthy as the Word of God without error.
In the years that followed, which included the years of study at Dallas Seminary and graduate studies in philosophy at Texas Christian University, I found no cogent reasons to depart from my original conclusion that the Bible was indeed God's book, inspired of the Holy Spirit and supernaturally kept from error.
The Bible is God's declaratory revelation to man containing the great truths about God, about man, about history, about salvation, and about prophecy that God wanted us to know. The Bible could be trusted just as much as if God had taken the pen and written the words Himself.
Forty Years of Hands-On Experience
In more than forty years of preaching and teaching scriptural truth, I have been impressed with the comprehensive evidence supporting the conclusion that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, absolutely accurate in its statements — a book that can be trusted to teach us spiritual truth. Many large volumes have been written in support of the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, but certain facts stand out in my own experience.
First of all, the Bible clearly claims to be inspired of God. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."* Peter expressed the same concept in 2 Peter 1:21, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." These direct statements of the inspiration of the Bible are confirmed by dozens of references throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is "the Word of the Lord" and "thy Word," an assertion made in various ways over one hundred times in the Old Testament alone.
In the New Testament, Christ and the apostles, whenever they quoted the Bible, quoted it as absolute authority and often indicated that the writers of Scripture had been guided in what they wrote by the Spirit of God. Illustrations of this are found in Matthew 22:42-43 and in frequent quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament. For instance, in Acts 1:16 Peter quotes from Psalm 41:9, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas."
One of the most dramatic texts comes from the lips of Christ Himself: "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matt. 5:18). In this reference Christ is referring to the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet — and the smallest part of a letter that would change its meaning. It would be difficult to have a stronger or more detailed statement of the absolute truth of the Bible than that which came from the lips of Christ Himself.
To Attack the Bible Is to Attack Jesus Christ
This points to an important conclusion: Those who attack the written Word of God also attack the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ. If the Bible is in error, then Christ is in error, too. The two stand or fall together. It is for this reason that evangelical Christians are so insistent that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God and that the authors were guided by the Spirit so that they wrote the Truth without any error.
Even a casual reader of the Bible becomes impressed with the uniqueness of the Bible.
Where in all the world could sixty‑six books be collected from more than forty authors, be written over a period of more than sixteen hundred years, and yet form one united and continual presentation of divine truth? If the Bible is not inspired of God, it would be a greater miracle than its own inspiration. The unity of Scripture is one of the convincing evidences that the Bible is not a natural book, but a book which God Himself directed and produced through human authors.
Most Christians, while unfamiliar with many of the technical arguments for the inspiration of the Bible, are convinced that the Bible is the Word of God because of what it has done in their own life. The influence of the Bible on millions of those who have put their trust in it is an attested fact of history. Those who have been moral wrecks and victims of drink and drugs have been marvelously redeemed through the power of the Word of God. They have been made new into intelligent, useful citizens and members of the church. The power of Scripture is described in Hebrews 4:12, "The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
The Bible Changes Lives ... and Cultures
Wherever the Bible has been consistently applied, it has dramatically changed the civilization and culture of those who have accepted its teaching. It has raised women from debased slavery to a position of honor, love, and purity. The Bible has recognized, on the one hand, man's innate sinfulness and depravity, and on the other hand, the value of human life and the dignity of humanity. In civilizations where even a small portion of the population were consistent Christians, it had the effect of influencing the entire social and political structure. No other book has ever so dramatically changed the individual lives and society in general.
If the Bible is indeed the Word of God, those who read it are confronted with moral decisions. The truth of the Word of God must first be believed and comprehended, and this requires careful Bible study, proper methods of interpretation, and understanding how one portion of Scripture casts light on another. If the Bible is indeed the Word of God, it is as essential to our spiritual life as food is to our physical life. The Bible should be read every day, and its truth allowed to cast its light on our path.
The Bible Is Special in Every Way
The Bible, however, is more than a book to be admired and revered, more than a book to be placed in a special category as a holy book. Its moral commands and its spiritual values demand commitment. You cannot really believe the Bible without the Scriptures leading you to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. The comprehensive sweep of the Bible, as it looks at history from God's point of view and then presents the glorious future that is awaiting the child of God, gives the Christian a life of meaningful activity, a system of values that transcends the materialism of our day, and a glorious hope in a world where there is much hopelessness.
The Bible was written for men as they are, but points the way to what men can be by the grace of God. In direct proportion as we meditate on it and profit by our study of Scripture, so our spiritual lives will grow, our lives will become fruitful in the service of the Lord, and we will be preparing for our eternal destiny.
In a day of great confusion and uncertainty about the future, the Bible gives its plain revelation as to where we are in God's program and where we will be going.
No other book can do more for those who put their trust in its truth.
No other book is inspired of God, given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, revealing God's truth without any mixture of error.
The Bible is as trustworthy as God Himself.
*Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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