Is the Bible a “Human Book”?

“I begin with the Bible as a collection of human books, so I begin with its humanity. In my observation a lot of religious people begin with, ‘This is God’s holy book. Why did God write it down this way?’, instead of, ‘This is a human book.’” (Rob Bell) The author of the previous statements is a well known writer who has made his fame denying basic truths of Christianity.

If the Bible is first a human book, then it has to be viewed as a collection of religous thoughts that changed with the culture and grew as its authors became more sophisticated. If the Bible is first God’s book, then it must be treated as God’s revelation to man. If the Bible is God’s book then it has to be evaluated and understood on the basis of the claims it makes for itself. What does the Bible say? Does it claim to be primarily Divine or human in origin? Is the Bible a collection of great religious teachings or revelation from God?

The Bible claims to be God’s book. Hundreds of times the Bible uses phrases like, “The Lord said”, “God said”, “God spake” and “The Lord Commanded”. Thousands of verses in the Bible claim to be direct quotes of God. This does not include the hundreds of verses that are direct quotes of Jesus. Even those books which do not claim to quote the audibly spoken words of God claim to be the truth of God given for His people. The books of the Bible claim to be God’s Words. (Exodus 20:1; Isaiah 30:8-9; Jeremiah 30:2) Biblical authors also claimed that other authors were writing the words of God. (Daniel 9:2; Zechariah 7:12) Jesus Himself said that all the Old Testament is the Word of God. Luke 24:26-27, 44) The Bible claims to be of Divine origin, the words of God given to men through the prophets and apostles. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21)

Men were the human agents who wrote down God’s truth. God used the personalities and abilities of these men to write His Word. Every book of the Bible bears the marks of its human authors. The apostles and prophets wrote in a cultural context to real people in actual places at a specific time of history. However, these men were not writing according to their understanding and opinions of God’s nature. They were writing what God revealed.

God’s revelation through men was progressive. He did not reveal everything about Himself at once. He did not deposit on earth a completed book. He gradually taught men who recorded in writing His Word for His people. (Exodus 17:14) After man sinned, God began to reveal, a little at a time, His plan for man’s salvation. As sinful man forgot God, God began to teach, a little at a time, the truths men forgot. The Bible is not the record of man’s evolution in religion. The Bible is God’s progressing revelation of Himself, a revelation that culminates in the incarnation of God the Son. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

The Bible is clear about its claims. It is God’s Word, true and accurate in all it teaches. The Bible is not accurate in light of the cultural views or scientific opinions of its day, or accurate in respect to the spiritual lessons in view. The Bible is absolutely accurate. The events described in the Bible are genuine historical events that happened like the Bible describes. The source of this accuracy is God. For example, Jesus told the disciples He would send them the Holy Spirit who would bring to remembrance all the things Jesus had said to them. (John 14:26) God the Spirit was the active agent ensuring the historical accuracy of the gospels. The gospels’ records of Jesus teachings are certainly what He taught because the Spirit brought them to the disciples memory. All the facts of the Bible are accurate because God revealed them to men and secured the accurate transmission of truth.

The Bible is clear about its origins. It is from God. Treating the Bible as a human book denies its validity as the Word of God. Other approaches sound sophisticated and smart, but are really nothing more than the old deception of Satan, “Hath God said?” Yes. God has said. The record of what God said to men is recorded in the Bible.

What is Inspiration

The Bible is authoritative in all Christian religions. Jesus taught His followers to search the Scriptures because they teach of eternal life. (John 5:39) The Bible claims to be the Word of God, inspired by God and transmitted through holy men. The claims of the Bible should not lightly be brushed aside. If the Bible’s claims are true then it is the only way by which men will receive the knowledge that brings salvation.

The nature of the Bible is of the highest importance. The Bible specifically claims to be inspired by God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed”. What does this mean? How inspiration is defined affects how one sees the Bible as the Word of God. The nature of inspiration directly impacts the nature of the Bible.

As it is commonly used inspiration describes the process of stirring a person to an action, decision or expression. A sunset inspires someone to write a song. Love inspires a man to write a poem for his wife. The courage of another inspires a young lady to aspire to great things. This understanding of inspiration is not what is meant by the statement, “the Bible is inspired by God.”

The authors of the Bible were not moved by their contemplation of God to pen great spiritual truths.The greatness of God did not motivate certain men to the highest form of theological self-expression.

The Biblical teaching of inspiration is summed up in 2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” God directed men to write His Word. The words of the Bible are the words of God written through the instrument of Godly men. The nature of inspiriation is such that the Bible can accurately be described as the words of men and as the Word of God.

For example, the words of the Psalms are David’s and God’s. Acts 1:16 says exactly this. “This Scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake.” David knew the Holy Spirit was speaking through Him. His last words to Israel are recorded in 2 Samuel 23, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by men, His word was in my tongue.”

Biblical inspiration does not mean the authors of the Bible acted as robots who mechanically recorded what God dictated. Biblical inspiration teaches that God used the character, personality, ability and intellect of each author to pen His Words. God worked through the mind of men, but the Bible is not limited to what the men could have known. God revealed truth to His messengers. Whether they wrote prophecy, history or the nature of humanity the Biblical authors words are accurate and untainted by error.

Though the Bible was written by men in the unique style of each man every single word of the Bible is exactly what God wanted written. God did not inspire general concepts and leave the authors to express them as best they could. God worked in the prophets and apostles so they wrote exactly what He wanted. Every word of the Word of God is of God.

The key truth of the doctrine of inspiration is this: everything in the Bible is from God. Though the books are clearly written by individuals every part, every word, every line, every sentence, every paragraph and every book is God’s perfect Word written down by men under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Are the words in the Bible written in red more important?

The first red letter edition of the Bible was printed in 1901. The first red letter New Testament was printed just 2 years before in 1899. The idea to print the words of Jesus in red is credited to Louis Kopsch. He was the editor of a Christian magazine and committed to the distribution of the Word of God. He hit upon the red letter idea in hopes of encouraging people to read the Bible. The first red letter editions printed in red the words spoken by Jesus and any passages in the Old Testament that Jesus later quoted. Today most red letter Bibles only print in red direct quotations of Jesus.

The majority of Bibles today are red letter editions. With large blocks of red ink the four gospels have a distinctive appearance. An unfortunate side effect of this printing innovation is readers who treat the red letters as more important than the rest of the Bible. The red letters become the lens through which the rest of the Bible is interpreted. In cases where there appears to be contradiction, the words of Jesus are given the priority in resolving the contradiction.

This seems reasonable. The words in red are direct quotes from Jesus. The rest of the Bible is what God said through men. Shouldn’t we give priority to the words of Jesus?

While the argument sounds good because it gives Jesus the most important place, it misunderstands the nature of inspiration. The doctrine of inspiration teaches that the entire Bible are the words of the Son of God. The things Hosea wrote are no less God’s Word than the things Jesus said. Inspiration is described in 2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Biblical inspiration refers to the process by which God’s Words were written down by God’s prophets and God’s apostles. The human authors of the Bible wrote exactly what God told them to write. This does not mean God dictated to them what to write. The authors of the Bible were not like secretaries typing up a letter as dictated by the boss. God spake His Word using the personality and intellect of the men. The writing style of Paul is very different from that of Peter. God used these men in such a way that they wrote in their own style but still wrote exactly what God intended to be written.

All of the Bible claims to be the very words of God. How many times does the Bible say, “The Lord said”? Are the quotes of God the Son on the earth less important than the quotes of God the Father from heaven?

Jesus Himself spake the words of the Old Testament as if they were as authoritative over Himself. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness He responded by quoting the Old Testament. Jesus was showing that the Word of God was the authority over His life. He did not assert His own superiority, but declared His humble obedience to the Bible.

Jesus quoted the Old Testament in His own life. While on the cross Jesus cried out the words of David from Psalm 22. The words of David were prophetic of Jesus. Are those words more true than the rest of the Psalms because Jesus said them?

The Bible cannot be split into various parts with some more important than the others. The Bible is all the Word of God, equally true and important no matter who is being quoted, or it is not. Emphasizing any section as greater than the rest is a dangerous path which inevitably compromises the authority and perfection of the Bible.

Is the Bible Accurate in its Predictions?

The claims of the Bible provide an ample basis on which to test Scriptures’ reliability. Possibly the greatest avenue for verifying the veracity of Scripture is in prophecy. No other religious book in the world contains the amount of future telling contained in the Bible. The vast number of prophecies in the Bible provide abundant opportunity to determine if the Bible is trustworthy.

The standard for testing Biblical prophecy is set by the Bible itself. Deuteronomy 18:22 sets the bar as it can be set. If a prophet claims to be speaking the Word of God his prophesies must be completely accurate. If the prophecy fails just once then the prophet and his message is not of God. Since the Bible claims to be of God it must be right all the time. Have the prophecies of the Bible failed even one time?

The Bible contains many fulfilled prophecies. These prophecies are often very specific in their nature. For example, the prophecies of Jesus birth tell of his family (He would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David). They tell of his birth place (Micah 5:2) They tell of the tragic events surrounding Jesus’ birth (Jeremiah 31:15) The Bible tells when Jesus would be born. The Bible foretells Jesus’ birth and the events surrounding His death. It prophesies the kind of death He would suffer, the abuse He would take, His betrayal, His burial and His resurrection.

The Bible contains specific prophecies about the rise of kings and kingdoms. The Bible prophesies the defeat of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible prophesies how long the people of Judah would be captive in Babylon. It tells of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the year when the rebuilding would take place. The Bible foretells the rise of the Persian empire, the reign of Cyrus and his role in rebuilding Jerusalem. Through the prophet Daniel God revealed that Medo-Persia would overthrow the Babylonian empire and then would itself be overthrown by the Greek Empire. Scripture tells of the destruction of Edom, Tyre, Sidon and Nineveh. All happened just as Scriptures foretold.

The complete list of Biblical prophecies fulfilled cannot be given in a brief article. Over 300 specific prophecies of Jesus were fulfilled in his first coming. Dozens of specific prophecies about Israel and the other ancient nations have all been fulfilled. Many of the prophecies are very specific. The huge number of Biblical prophecy fulfilled is more than coincidence. The Bible is exactly what it claims to be, the Word of God.