Is the Bible just another book?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted August 29, 2016

I will argue that the Bible is not just another book, that, in fact, it is unique because it is God-breathed. I shall marshal three main arguments to make my case: the internal evidence, the external evidence, and presumption.

THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE

First, the Bible’s attributes reveal its divine nature.

Its self-description – It claims to be divine revelation and refers to itself as the Word of God, the Oracles of God, and the Sword of the Spirit.

Its honesty – It presents a realistic and unflattering view of the people whom it chronicles. What Gentile king would have permitted a chronicler to describe his murderous and adulterous behavior as did the revered Hebrew King David?

Its unique teaching

God: It presents God as eternal, infinite, sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, flexibly just, and absolutely holy. No other god in all of human history compares with him. Moreover, unlike other gods, the God of the Hebrews does not indulge his people. Rather he blesses them if they are obedient and curses them if they are disobedient. In consequence of the latter case, he has caused them to be subjugated, massacred, and plundered by their enemies and then dispersed throughout the world.

The World: It condemns the world as an evil thing because it hates and opposes God.

Mankind: It also presents man and all his doings as inherently evil – a picture that had to have had a divine rather than human origin.

Sin: Man regards sin as a mistake or a misfortune and seeks to minimize its severity and significance. The Bible describes sin as lawlessness and open defiance against the Creator of Universe, and it strips man of all excuses and emphasizes his culpability.

Punishment of Sin: Just as he minimizes the importance of sin, so man attempts to minimize the punishment for sin – witness the objections to capital punishment for murderers, rapists, etc. But God asserts that, from his point of view, eternal punishment for sin is just, and he will judge the world according to the prescriptions and proscriptions in his Word (e.g. the Ten Commandments).

Salvation: Just as he wants to minimize the importance and consequences of sin, so man wants control over the expiation of sin: he will counterbalance the vice of his sins with the virtue of his good intentions and good works. But God asserts that “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.”[1] Every man is depraved and cannot save himself. He can only accept salvation as a free gift from a God of mercy and grace.

 Saviour: The person, character, and work of the Lord Yeshua (Jesus in English) is without parallel in the whole realm of man’s literature.

Its significance – It deals with the character and fate of the world and all its inhabitants in both time and eternity.

Its omniscience – It reveals the end from the beginning. It contains countless prophecies that were made centuries and even millennia prior to their fulfillment.

Its unity is astonishing in view of the fact that it consists of 66 books written in three languages by at least 44 writers over thousands of years.[2]

Its completeness – It tells us everything we need to know. Nothing is left out.

Its adapability – It can be translated into any language and yet retain its power to enthrall, convict, convert, sanctify, etc.

Its hidden attributes – It contains a startling phenomenon, of which most of its readers are unaware. Neither the Hebrews nor the Greeks had numerals. Instead, each letter of their alphabets carried a numerical value. As a result, not only every letter, but every word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book in the Bible carries a numerical value. Over the millenia, the study of these numerical values has been called by various names. In ancient times, it was called gematria by the Jewish rabbis. In modern times, it was called Bible numerics by Christians such as E.W. Bullinger (1837-1913), an Anglican theologian, and Ivan Panin (1855-1942), a Russian mathematician. It is called theomatics by Del Washburn, an American architect who took the investigation into numbers in the Bible to a new level by using the computer. In addition, it is called the Bible code by Dr. Eliyahu Rips, an Israeli mathematician who discovered patterns of letters which form names and sentences that describe current and possibly future events thousands of years after they were put down on paper. Regardless of the nomenclature or nature of the investigation, these studies have revealed that extraordinary numerical patterns and their associated meanings are running throughout the Bible – from Genesis to Revelation. Of course this phenomenon has generated much controversy among scientists and scholars; to admit that it exists identifies God as the author of the Bible, because the chance of the phenomenon occurring without divine direction is zero.

THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCE

Second, the Bible’s effects reveal its divine nature

Its universal appeal – It touches people of all races, all cultural backgrounds, all geographical areas,

Its freshness – No matter how often one reads it, one experiences familiar delights and new insights.

Its inexhaustible depth – If approached with appropriate reverence and prayerful expectations, each reading plumbs new depths.

Its prophecies fulfilled – Again, it reveals the end from the beginning. For instance, there are at least 44 prophecies regarding the Messiah (Christ in Greek) recorded in the Tenakh (Old Testament) which Yeshua fulfilled during His life. That is how His disciples, who were familiar with the Tenakh, knew that He was, is, and ever will be the Messiah, the Holy One of Israel.

Its power to change lives – It stimulates conviction, conversion, and sanctification through doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

Its influence – on individuals, families, churches, and states, as well as on the arts, such as literature, painting, sculpture, music, etc., and on sciences and technology, where its has inspired and guided countless scientists and engineers in the search for understanding

Its indestructibility – It has been ridiculed, banned, and burned by countless opponents through the centuries, but it is now more widely translated, transmitted, taught, trusted and treasured than ever before in history. This indestructibility is nicely captured in a poem entitled The Anvil – God’s Word by Anonymous.

Last eve I passed by a blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then, looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
“Just one,” he said, and then, with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”

And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

PRESUMPTION

Lastly, the Bible has presumption in its favor. In assessing the Bible, one cannot ignore the testimony of literally billions of people whose lives have been transformed by what lies between its covers. Surely common sense must tell you that something unique lies there. Surely curiosity must prompt you to ask, why do so many people regard the Bible as Holy Writ, as divinely inspired, as bearing the authority of God? Consider the testimony of just seven of them:[3]

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), one of history’s greatest investigators into the mysteries of both Bible and Universe, said, “There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history.”

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), one of history’s greatest thinkers, said, “The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”

George Washington (1732-1799), one of history’s greatest statesmen, said: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Sir Frederick William Herschel (1738-1822), one of history’s greatest scientists, said, “All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more and more strongly the truths contained in the Sacred Scriptures.”

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), one of history’s greatest social commentators, said, “The Bible is the truest utterance that ever came by alphabetic letters from the soul of man, through which, as though a window divinely opened, all men can look into the stillness of eternity, and discern in glimpses their far-distant, long-forgotten home.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), another of history’s greatest statesmen, said, “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book.”

Henry Jackson Van Dyke (1852-1933), a gifted writer, teacher, and diplomat, said with heart-warming and poetic eloquence, “Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of all the world with familiar feet and enters land after land to find its own everywhere. It has learned to speak in hundreds of languages to the heart of man. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life. The wicked and the proud tremble at its warnings, but to the wounded and the penitent it has a mother’s voice. It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that Love, Friendship, Sympathy, Devotion, Memory, Hope, put on the garments of its treasured speech. No man is poor or desolate who has this treasure for his own. When the landscape darkens, and the trembling pilgrim comes to the Valley of the Shadow, he is not afraid to enter; he takes the rod and staff of Scripture in his hand; he says to friend and comrade, ‘Goodbye; We Shall Meet Again’; and, confronted by that support, he goes toward the lonely pass as one who walks through darkness into light.”

*     *     *

Given the internal evidence, the external evidence, and presumption based on the testimony of billions of your fellow men and women, you must allow for the possibility that the Bible is the Word of God written, of which the Savior said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word shall not pass away” (emphasis mine).[4]

 © 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

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[1] Romans 3:12.

[2] Forty-four books of the Bible were written by known authors; twenty-two, by unknown authors.

[3] See “Notable Sayings About the Bible” in Halley’s Bible Handbook (1927), Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI, 1965, pp. 18-19.

[4] Mathew 24:35, Mark 13:31, and Luke 21:33.

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