For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Jesus and the Bible

“The Bible is true.” 
“Oh, yeah? Prove it!”

What would you say? How would you go about “proving” the truthfulness of the Bible?

When I was young, my pastor taught us that it was true because it was inspired by God. He said “2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that Scripture is ‘God-breathed’ and is the very Word of God. God worked in the lives of the writers of Scripture so they said exactly what he wanted them to say. They are his words. Because God cannot lie, all the words in the Bible are true and reliable.” He went on to give a detailed and good defence of the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible. 

Many of my friends were excited about what they were learning, but I was a little bit troubled. I knew that his presentation wouldn’t satisfy someone who wasn’t already convinced of the authority of the Bible. “The Bible is true because these verses in the Bible tell us so” is a circular argument. 

The Bible is a Supernatural Book About Supernatural Events

The Bible contains many stories that are miracles. A talking donkey, men walking around inside a blazing furnace, instantaneous healings, and a resurrection from the dead. These things are reported as historical facts. If one is to believe in the truth of the Bible, one must accept the idea that there is a God who intervenes at times in what happens on earth. A person must accept the idea that miracles are possible.

To try to “prove” the truth of the Bible to someone who rejects the idea of the supernatural is pointless. After all, we are trying to demonstrate the supernatural nature of the book itself! Their assumptions need to be challenged. When faced with such a person, it is best to begin by having the person read the Bible for themselves.  Most people haven’t read it and their arguments against the book are second-hand. God has a way of speaking through the book to people who read it honestly. If we can get them to read it, the Holy Spirit will often open their eyes. Sometimes it is also helpful to challenge the flaws inherent in their naturalistic thinking. If they begin to crack open the possibility that God exists and miracles are possible, the crack will be a place where the gospel seed can be planted.

The Bible Records the Words of Jesus Accurately

One of the remarkable things about the Bible is that it is considered to be fairly reliable, even by secular writers. Archeologists frequently use the Bible and find it to be accurate geographically and historically. Unlike other religious texts like the Book of Mormon, the Bible is useful in historical research. While rejecting the supernatural elements, the secularist affirms the reliability of New Testament authors as recorders of what Jesus taught. For Christ’s followers this is important because we want to be led by him in our understanding of the world. 

This is what breaks the “circular reasoning” for the believer. The Bible records accurately the words of Jesus. This is not in itself a claim for divine authority. There are many documents that truthfully record events. However, since Jesus is God in the flesh, then those accurately recorded words have divine authority. As his followers, we trust his judgment as to the reliability of the Bible.

Jesus Taught that the Scriptures are True

But what did Jesus say about the truthfulness of the Old Testament?

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Matthew 5:17-18

Jesus taught that the Old Testament was absolutely true. Everything in it was reliable and everything that it prophesied would come to pass. He accepted its authority and taught others to accept it as well. 

It is fascinating that Jesus specifically referred to passages deemed “impossible” by today’s anti-supernaturalists. He used them as a foundation for his teaching.

  • He accepted the truthfulness of there being a literal Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5).
  • He accepted the truthfulness of the existence of Cain and Abel (Matthew 23:35).
  • He accepted the truthfulness of the catastrophic flood and Noah’s and animals’ survival on the great ark (Matthew 24:38).
  • He aspected the truthfulness of the account of Jonah being swallowed by a great fish and being vomited onto land after three days (Matthew 12:40).

It is undeniable that Jesus taught the truthfulness of the entire Old Testament. 

There are some who would argue that Jesus merely adopted the common understanding of the times because he didn’t want to challenge everything that they wrongly believed to be true. This ignores the fact that Jesus frequently corrected the assumptions of the day. “You have heard that it was said, but I say…” is common gospel refrain (Matthew 5:17-48). He was not afraid to straighten out wrong thinking. Much of what he taught was counter-cultural, so this idea has little merit.

The teachings of Jesus were accurately recorded. He taught that the Old Testament was completely reliable and truthful. Because we know what he taught, and because we believe him to be God, we can trust what he said about the Old Testament. It is the Word of God and God cannot lie. 

Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

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