Is the Bible God’s word? How in the world could you possibly know such a thing? It is often touted that even if God exists, you would be a lunatic to think He has spoken to you, or that you know what His will is. Is this so, or can we know that the Bible is actually the word of God?
There is much that has been written on this subject. I’ve read many books explaining the number of manuscripts, how early the attestation to the events recorded is, and how carefully scribes transcribed the documents. These are good and useful things to know. However, they don’t tell us that the Bible is God’s word, only that we can be sure the Bible has been accurately transmitted. We can know with like 98% accuracy that the Bible we have in our hands is the same that was written down thousands of years ago. This isn’t a minor detail, but I want to know if this accurately transcribed book is actually God’s word.
The Old Testament and the Resurrection
It may seem like a strange place to begin, but it seems to me that the Resurrection is the strongest evidence that the Bible is God’s word. If Jesus rose from the dead of His own authority then his teachings are vindicated. That is to say, if Jesus was resurrected then He was who He said He was – God’s Son – and can be trusted. The rest of the miracles he performed also attest to this. Moses, Elijah, and other prophets performed miracles to authenticate their messages as being sent from God. How could you know the prophet was from God? He performed miracles. Jesus’ greatest miracle was His own resurrection. Only God could do such a thing.
Since Jesus can be trusted, we can now look at what He had to say about the Scriptures.
Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20
Jesus says that those who teach and obey the Old Testament will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus’ entering the world and ushering in a new era, a New Covenant, doesn’t abolish the Old Covenant, but doesn’t leave it unchanged either. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and all its prophecies.
So, Jesus clearly teaches that the Jewish scriptures we know as the Old Testament are God’s word. He put a stamp of vindication on this teaching by rising from the dead. How can you know the Old Testament is God’s word? Jesus rose from the dead.
The New Testament
The argument for the New Testament, by nature, must be different than the Old Testament for the obvious reason that the New Testament had not been written yet! The New Testament was written after Jesus’ resurrection, so how could the resurrection be evidence for the divine inspiration of the New Testament? The argument for the New Testament would look like this:
- Jesus rose from the dead.
- Jesus commissioned the disciples to speak for him.
- Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples’ teaching.
- The disciples wrote down what Jesus did, said, and taught.
- These teachings should be considered the word of God.
If Jesus rose from the dead and uniquely commissioned the disciples to speak on his behalf, then it seems to me that the New Testament documents should be considered the word of God.
More could be said, obviously, but the point is to show that when it comes to the divine inspiration of the Bible, the Resurrection is a solid argument to lean on. From here we can give evidence for the resurrection. It’s important to notice that this isn’t an independent argument. It is dependent on the Resurrection. When initially faced with this question, one might be tempted to fall for the skeptic’s claim that there’s no way you could defend such a position. But remember that our beliefs do not exist independently for the most part. Our worldview is a web of beliefs, all connected in some way. Some are built on independent evidence, others are based on more fundamental beliefs. The resurrection is attested to by historical evidence. Our belief that the Bible is God’s word stems from the Resurrection. Because the evidence for the Resurrection is solid, so is our belief in God’s word. We can rely on the Bible as a source of understanding, correction, and wisdom. We can know more about God through what the Bible reveals. And we can know all of this with good reason because Jesus rose from the dead.