Evidence of Biblical Authority

What is authority? Google’s dictionary defines “authority” as “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.” How does this fit into biblical authority?

During the twentieth century the Bible lost much of its credibility. Secular scientists battered the Bible through attacks on the Creation story in Genesis 1. Other “intellectuals” tried to destroy the Bible’s authority by saying there is no historical evidence to support the biblical account of history. Additional “experts” tried to plant a seed of doubt regarding prophecy in the Bible.

Belief in the Bible is an exercise of faith. Of course it is! However, belief in the Bible can be affirmed and bolstered based on evidence of the Bible’s correctness. After all, if the Bible really is God’s book, it should be accurate when compared to physical evidence. In this way we can test for evidence of the Bible’s authority. Two often used “tests” are historical accuracy and fulfilled prophecy.

Historical Accuracy

Is the Bible a storybook or a reliable record of historical events? This is very important. If the Bible is a storybook consisting of made-up stories, then it is not any better than fiction. But the Bible has proven again and again that it is not fiction. Archeological discoveries continually confirm the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Archaeologists have found hundreds of examples of historical accuracy. Let’s look at a few examples.

(1) The Tel Da Inscription — Archaeologists doubted the existence of King David, the second king of Israel. But in 1993 an inscription was found in Tel Da. The inscription contained the phrase “house of David.” This simple inscription helped confirm the existence of King David.

(2) Moabite Stone — In 1868, archeologists discovered a tablet written in the Moabite language. This tablet described the Moabite account of a battle that took place between Moab and Israel during the ninth century before Christ. This battle is described from the Israelite perspective in II Kings, chapter 3. The Moabite Stone provides extrabiblical evidence for the historical accuracy of the Bible.

(3) Nebi Yunus in Nineveh — The ruins of Nineveh were discovered Austin Henry Layard in 1846 and 1847 AD. One site is known as the Nebi Yunus (translated as “Prophet Jonah”). Both Christians and Muslims believe this is the tomb of the prophet Jonah. For several centuries the Nebi Yunus mound was untouched. It was covered by an Islamic shrine to the prophet Jonah.  In 2014 the mosque was destroyed by ISIS. Archaeologists finally were able to examine the site. Recent excavations confirm the dating of the site to the time of the Assyrian Empire.

(4) The House of Omri — This royal house ruled the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the ninth century BC. A reference to “the house of Omri” appears in three ancient inscriptions. First, the Mesha Stele bears a Moabite inscription of “the house of Omri.” It was written about 840 BC by Mesha, ruler of Moab. Second, King Hazael of Damascus wrote on the Tel Dan Stele that he killed the two kings, one from the house of Omri. Third, the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser names Jehu as a “son of Omri.”

These are only a few examples where archaeology verified the accuracy of the Bible. What about prophecy? How does it affect biblical authority?

Fulfilled Prophecy

The Bible is packed with prophecy. Experts estimate there are more than 1800 prophecies in the Bible. More than 300 of these prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Let’s look at a couple of these prophecies.

(1) God’s Promise to Abram — In Genesis 12: 2-3, God gave the following promise to Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation: “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. . . . and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (ESV) Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophecy. (see Galatians 3: 8)

(2) Jesus’ Death on the Cross — Psalm 22 contains several prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus on the cross.

  • verse 1 — [Jesus said] “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (ESV) (Matthew 27: 46; Mark 15: 34)
  • verses 7-8 — “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads, ‘He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’” (ESV) (Matthew 27: 39-42; Mark 15: 29-32)
  • verse 15 — “my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” (ESV) (Matthew 27: 33-34; Mark 15: 23)
  • verse 16-17 — “a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet . . . they stare and gloat over me;” (ESV) (Matthew 27: 39; Mark 15: 16-20)
  • verse 18 — “they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (ESV) (Matthew 27: 35; Mark 15: 24;)

(3) The Place of Jesus’ Birth — Matthew 2 : 3 “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” (ESV) (Micah 5: 2)

(4) The Voice Crying in the Wilderness — Matthew 3: 3 “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” (ESV) (Isaiah 40: 3) (see Matthew 11: 10-11)

There is a difficulty arising from these examples. Skeptics can say, “These are set ups. You either find a passage of Scripture that describes an historical event or you change the event to fit the passage of Scripture.” Can we find an answer to this criticism?

(5) “Jew” As a Byword Among the Nations — We can find several Bible verse as examples of this. Zechariah 8: 13 says, “you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel.” (ESV) “Byword” is defined as “a notorious and outstanding example or embodiment of something.” (see also Deuteronomy 28:37; Psalm 44: 14; and Joel 2: 17)

So, in other words, Zechariah 8: 13 says the name of Judah and Israel shall be used as a curse word. Does this prophecy match the evidence? Yes. Sadly, many people around the world use the word “Jew” as a curse word. This prophecy came true. No one could “manipulate” this byword into existence.

Conclusion

Even in this age of secularism, science, and skepticism there is evidence of the Bible’s continuing authority. As Billy Graham said, “The Bible has stood the test of time because it is divinely inspired by Almighty God, written in ink that cannot be erased by any man, religion, or belief system.”

The Bible — God’s Word

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here too, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully.  It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

Gideon Bibles Have This Statement on the Cover Page
The Word is part of discipleship

Many people in all countries around the world believe the Bible is a special book. The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book (more than 3000 languages). In addition, more copies of the Bible exist than any other book.

Why? Christians believe the Bible is God’s truth and contains God’s plan for the salvation of every person on earth. God is the source of the Bible, that is, the Bible is divinely inspired. The Bible also provides the information needed to become a Christian, to grow and mature as a Christian, and to live the Christian life according to God’s standards. The Bible says this in II Timothy 3: 16-17, which says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV)

Divine Inspiration of the Bible

What does the Bible mean by “breathed out” or “inspiration?” The Greek word for “breathed out by God” (that is, inspiration) is “theopneustos” (θεόπνευστος). This word is used only one time in the entire New Testament. Some scholars believe the apostle Paul invented this word. Many translations render that word as “inspired by God.” In other words, God wrote the Bible. And because these words come from God, they have divine authority over our lives.

In addition, verse 17 states the purpose of Scripture. Scripture (the Bible) provides everything we need to make a Christian complete and equipped for the Christian life.

The Battle for the Bible

But many people choose not to believe that the Bible exists as God’s uniquely inspired Word. These people often rebel against the teachings of the Bible. They do not like the Bible. They feel the Bible intrudes on their free will. Therefore, they oppose the Bible. Their opposition includes inventing arguments designed to destroy the credibility of the Bible.

Is the Bible the word of God? Of course, we answer this question only by faith. We can neither prove nor disprove that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. However, we can provide evidence to support our claim that the Bible is of divine origin.

What sorts of evidence can we provide? The answer to that question fills dozens of books on Christian apologetics. But for this blog we will briefly examine evidence in three areas.

  • Authority — What gives the Bible authority? If the Bible contained examples of events in history and these events were verified again and again by the latest archeological evidence, would truth like this provide the Bible with some authority? And if the Bible contained prophecies that came true centuries after the prophecy was made, would true prophecies demonstrate biblical authority?
  • Power — If the Bible really exists as God’s special book, should it not have some kind of special effect over the people who read it? But the Bible, in fact, does change people who read it and believe its teachings. The Bible also has a positive effect on societies that follow it.
  • Transmission — Can we trust the words of today’s Bibles? How can we know the text of the Bible matches the text of the original manuscripts? Skeptics claim the original texts were changed by scribes either by accident or on purpose. Is this true? In addition, how do we know if the words and deeds of Jesus really took place. Let’s look at some of the evidence.

Providing evidence cannot prove the Bible is inspired by God. However, if a divine book from God does exist, we would expect the history contained in its pages to match the facts discovered by archaeologists. Right? And if the book contained prophecy of future events, would we not expect some of those prophecies to be fulfilled?

In addition, shouldn’t we expect the ethics in God’s book to have power to change our society? God’s book also should have the power to transform lives and bring people back to God. And if this Book had such power, wouldn’t we want the accurate transmission of this book across the centuries?

Evidence and Faith

As I wrote earlier in this blog, no one can prove or disprove whether the Bible is the Word of God. And this evidence does not prove divine authority for the Bible. But this evidence can silence the critics and give people reason to believe. But the final step for believing in the Bible remains your step of faith.

Prayer Is Talking with God

How difficult it is to write about prayer. Why? Because there is so much to say. For example, American author E. M. Bounds wrote more than six hundred pages on the subject of prayer. So, of course, this post only can touch on a few areas regarding prayer.

First of all, prayer is talking with God. Do not forget this. Prayer is not about me. It is not about you. Prayer is all about God. But God is holy and almighty and so far beyond our ability to comprehend. We are insignificant as we stand before Him.

How Can We Approach God?

So how can we approach such a holy and powerful God? We approach Him with awe, and reverence, and confidence.

Awe — Moses said in Exodus 15: 11, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” The presence of God should fill us with awe and wonder.

Reverence — Isaiah 6: 3 says, And one [seraphim] called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” When this happened, the temple was filled with the glory of God. Strange creatures (seraphim) flew around the room. Isaiah fell to his knees in reverence. Reverence means “deep respect” or “veneration.”

Confidence — Did you expect to see this attitude? How can we draw near to God with confidence? This is contrary to reverence and awe, isn’t it? Well, God wants our respect and worship but He does not want us filled with fear and panic when we come before Him. The Bible says in Hebrews 4: 16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (ESV)

Why confidence? Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something. It is having firm trust in this Someone. How can we know we can trust God? Because God is our loving Father. He sent Jesus to die for you and for me. By this we are assured that God loves us.

The apostle Paul spoke of this assurance in Romans 8: 31-32, which says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (ESV) To Paul, this logic confirmed God’s care for us. If God did not spare His own Son but sent Him to die for our sins, it makes sense that God will freely give us all good things.

Tips for a Consistent Prayer Life

OK, God wants to hear from us. We know this. How can we come to Him regularly and consistently? Here are a few practical suggestions:

Have a set place and time — Setting aside a specific prayer time can help to create a regular and consistent prayer life. King David prayed in the morning. In Psalm 5: 3 David wrote, “O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” (ESV)

Also have a designated place for prayer. Your prayer space should be quiet and secluded. It should be a place when you will not be interrupted. Jesus selected a quiet, secluded place to pray on the night before He chose the twelve disciples. The Bible says in Luke 6: 12, “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” (ESV) The Bible also tells us that Moses (Exodus 24: 18), Elijah (I Kings 19: 8-9), and Peter (Acts 10: 9) met with God in secluded places.

Designate a space that will become your special meeting place with God. And get in the habit of praying at the same time every day. The power of a habit helps to reminds you to come to God in prayer.

Use a prayer list or organizer — For a long time I resisted using prayer lists. But I have found no better way to remember my responsibility to others when I pray. Prayer lists also help you get organized. However, you must resist the tendency we have to turn the prayer list into a mere list of names. As you pray for each person or item on your list, think of that person or item and of their prayer need. Remember, you are presenting that person by name to the holy God of heaven and earth.

The apostle Paul kept long lists of the people for whom he prayed (see Romans 16: 3-16). He asks the churches to pray for their fellow Christians. Ephesians 6: 18 says, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” (ESV) Supplication means asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.

The Old Testament prophet Samuel also took prayer very seriously. He said to the people of Israel in I Samuel 12: 23, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” (ESV)

Listen for God’s voice — Listening earns the reputation of being the most important and least remembered part of prayer. After presenting your requests to God, continue quietly in a prayerful mood for a few minutes. Remember, God often speaks in the quiet voice of peaceful stillness. Quietly and reverently wait upon God.

Much more will be said about listening for God’s voice in future blogs. But remember, prayer is talking with God. It is a conversation with the Lord God Almighty. However, a place before His throne is reserved for us by Jesus Christ. Approach God with reverence but also with confidence. The Lord God Almighty exists also as your Father who loves you.