Christianity rests upon a foundation made up of three major pillars: God, the Bible, and Jesus. In that order.
The first pillar is the fact that there is a God. There is a creator of this universe, one who sustains our lives. He will be our future judge someday. The second pillar of Christianity is the fact that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is not something written by man. Man held the pen, but God inspired or moved the men in what they wrote.
The Second Pillar: The Bible is the Word of God
By the argument from above, we see that there must be a God, but who is he? Is he the God of the Bible, Allah from the Quran, Vishnu from Hinduism? We look at one possibility, the Bible? Can the Bible prove it is from God? If so, then the Bible reveals who God is.
The Bible itself contains countless claims of being inspired by God like this one,
[2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV] 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
It claims to be “breathed out” by God, meaning its origin and source was God and not just in the minds of humans. Though any book can claim this–claiming to be from God does not mean it is from God. We have to analyze this book and conclude for ourselves if the Bible could be produced by human means or if the book is supernatural and couldn’t be produced by human means.
Here are six characteristics of the Bible that altogether show that the Bible could not be written by humans alone. These six are contained in the mnemonic HICCUPS:
- H istorical
- I ntact
- C oherent
- C ogent
- U nexplainable
- P redictive all of these result in the conclusion that the Bible is,
- S upernatural
First, we ask, “Is the Bible historically accurate?”
The Bible claims that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and that God knows everything (1 John 3:20). So if the Bible is from God, that Bible has to be without error in its record. The Bible is filled with historical details that can be verified, from fact to locations to specific kings. Historians around the world, modern as well as ancient, agree that the Bible is historically accurate. Archeologists even use the Bible to locate lost cities and to know what they are looking for.
For example, atheists accused the Bible for being false for many years because of its inclusion of Pontius Pilate, the Roman official that oversaw the crucifixion of Jesus. There was no archaeological evidence that such a person existed. That is, until 1961 when the “Pilate stone” was discovered and verified the Bible’s account. An Italian archaeological team working at Caesarea found a stone tablet that measured 32 inches high, by 27 inches wide, by 8 inches thick. On this slab were the remains of this simple title: “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea”—almost the exact same title as the one given to him in Luke 3:1. As archaeology progresses and makes new discoveries, the Bible’s history becomes increasingly verified.
Even contemporary documentation verifies the Bible’s claims. You may not have ever seen Jesus but you can know he existed because there is so much evidence he did. The New Testament is written by eyewitnesses and secondhand accounts of Jesus, but also many non-Christian documents were written that mention Jesus at that time too. Roman historians like Thallus, Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Jewish history like the Talmud or the writings of Josephus all refer to Jesus. These were not believers–they were historians recording history.
If the Bible was not historically accurate then it could not have been written by an omniscient God who does not lie.
Second, we ask, “Is the Bible intact?”
Many skeptics claim that the Bible has been corrupted through the centuries and even rewritten at later dates so much so that who knows what the original Bible said. Is the Bible’s claim correct, that “the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Pet. 1:25)?
When we open the Bible, we are reading from a catalog of 66 books, some of which were written more than 3,400 years ago. The latest books of the New Testament were completed by 100 A.D., almost 2,000 years ago. All of the original documents that Old and New Testament writers produced have been lost or destroyed. Our Bibles are only composed based upon copies of copies of the original writings. The copying of the Bible was done by hand by scribes and many people have criticized the purity of the Bible because of this fact.
If you have ever played the game Telephone you understand the logic of this accusation. One person will begin by telling someone a secret, that person then tells someone else that same secret, and so on. By the time the message has passed through everyone the message is completely different. They apply this principle to the Bible and claim it is corrupt.
But if we applied this principle to all historical documents then history would become a very mysterious subject. When a history textbook speaks of Augustus Caesar, how do you know this Augustus really existed and that the account is true? You haven’t met Caesar and neither has the person who wrote the textbook. But those scholars have studied historical documents concerning the man. In that same way, the documents that made up the Bible may have been copied but they can be depended upon.
In 1947, a number of ancient documents were found by accident in a cave on the northwest side of the Dead Sea. These were the Dead Sea Scrolls which make up one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all times. Hundreds of Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts and a few Greek fragments were found and are believed by scholars to have been written between 200 B.C. and the first half of the first century A.D. The most notable and pertinent group of documents found in the caves of Qumran near the Dead Sea is the collection of Old Testament books. Every book from the Hebrew Bible was accounted for among the scrolls except the book of Esther.
Before this discovery, the latest Old Testament manuscripts dated only to about AD 1000. How well preserved would you think the Old Testament was between 200 B.C. and A.D. 1000? If you would believe the skeptics you would think none of the original was present in the newer copies. But when scholars compared the modern day Biblical text with the newly found scrolls from more than 2,000 years ago they show the corruption to the text is pratically nonexistent. They serve as proof that the Old Testament text has been transmitted faithfully through the centuries. One person said, “Since it can be demonstrated that the text of the Old Testament was accurately transmitted for the last 2,000 years, one may reasonably suppose that it had been so transmitted from the beginning.”
And the New Testament is the same. There are over 5,300 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament in existence today, in whole or in part, that serve to corroborate the accuracy of the New Testament. (Compare this to only 643 copies of Homer’s Iliad.) Some of these are separated from the completed New Testament by only 300 years. We have records of early Christians writings about the New Testament from 90-160 A.D. The records are so many and their quotes of the New Testament are so often that their writings could reconstruct the entire New Testament if it were ever lost. Their quotes of the New Testament of their day are identical to the New Testament we have now.
If the Bible is from God and it has not remained intact–but instead was corrupted, then we would not be able to depend upon it to reveal to us that God’s message.
Third, the Bible is also coherent.
The Bible is made up of a library of sixty-six books, written by more than forty different people. Over a span of 1400 years. It was impossible for the writers to get together and compare their notes. They lived at different times and in different places. Yet, they tell different parts of one story. Even that alone is incredible. The Bible contains sixty-six books that tell one story. It is the unfolding drama of God’s redemptive plan from creation to the present time and through eternity. This continuing story provides evidence that these sixty-six books are inspired, just as the writers of the information claim.
Most people who read the Bible in the 21st century rarely stop to think about the 66 different books that compose the sacred Scriptures. Because the 66 books fit together so perfectly, it is easy to consider them to be one organic unit. To say that the writers of the Bible were diverse would be an understatement. Yet, though their educational and cultural backgrounds varied extensively, and though many of them were separated by several centuries, the 66 books that compose the Bible fit together perfectly. To achieve such a feat by employing mere human ingenuity and wisdom would be impossible.
If the writers of the Bible conflicted in their message then it would suggest it was not written from a single author, God. If the Bible is written with a single source, God, then it should form a single coherent message.
Fourth, the Bible is cogent.
That is, relevant and convincing by virtue of forcible, clear, or incisive presentation. History is filled with evil actions committed and constant warfare over mostly unimportant issues. Humans have always needed a moral guidance that the Bible sufficiently provides by revealing a good God who gives righteous commands to follow. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that the Bible is useful to teach, to rebuke, to correct, and to train in righteousness.
Throughout history humans have always sought after understanding of the universe, of themselves, and of their purpose. The Bible reveals the narrative that mankind fits into, that a personal God created mankind and loved them despite their disobedience. God’s Son died for mankind and people can be reconciled to their Maker through faith in Christ. The Bible is not just a story of Jesus–it is our story. It shows who we are and who we can be.
The Bible is the most published and read book in history because it speaks to mankind. It shows mankind at its best and worst. It provides a path for humans to travel on with a destination they understand. The Bible is a literary masterpiece even if it was not inspired.
If the Bible is written by God, the Creator of the universe, then shouldn’t it be powerfully persuasive and reveal mankind’s purpose or their destiny? Who would believe the Bible was written by God if it was lackluster and didn’t give us direction? If the Bible is written by God it should be cogent.
The facts so far may not prove that the Bible is inspired by God. But they are required for the Bible to be inspired by God. How could something written by an all-knowing, all-powerful being not be historical, intact, coherent, or cogent? These characteristics establish a solid base for our analysis of the Bible before we move onto the supernatural characteristics of the Bible.
The fifth quality of the Bible is that it is unexplainable.
During the time of the Bible, medicine and science were horribly ignorant. What passed for medicine in those days would horrify us. Today we have the best scientific understanding and best medical practices then ever. However, the Bible presents completely accurate information concerning the fields of medicine and science; this knowledge is far more advanced than the knowledge present at the time and that which was available to the civilizations it was given to.
The Law of Moses in the Old Testament was written by Moses, who received the best education in Egypt (Acts 7:22), but his writing possesse far more superior medical knowledge than he could have known. The Pentateuch contained the most advanced, flawless medical prescriptions that had ever been recorded. Furthermore, every statement that pertained to the health and medical well-being of the Israelite nation recorded by Moses could theoretically still be implemented and be completely in accord with every fact modern medicine has learned in regard to germ spreading, epidemic disease control, communal sanitation, and a host of other medical and scientific discoveries.
For example, today we understand the value of blood concerning health, but for a long period doctors believed that blood would be contaminated and cause sickness so they would use leeches to draw out the blood or a practice known as bloodletting where the veins and arteries located just above the elbow were opened, and the patient’s arms were bled to expunge the contaminated blood. This practice led to the death of George Washington in 1797, just over 200 years ago. But in 1450 BC Moses wrote, “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). It took 3,000 years for medical knowledge to catch up to the Bible!
Another example, you probably believe in germs and washing your hands, but that is a fairly new understanding. In 1847 an obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis observed that 18% of pregnant women died of labor fever in his hospital. But this rate dropped to 3% if the woman used a midwife instead of the advanced medicine available. Semmelweis saw doctors perform autopsies and wash their hands in a bowl of bloody water, dry their hands with a shared towel, and proceed to work with the still-living women. This may be disgusting to us but these doctors did not know of the existence and danger of germs. Semmelweis ordered everyone in his ward to wash his or her hands thoroughly in a chlorine solution after every examination. In three months, the death rate fell from 18% to 1%.” But 3,000 years before the Bible wrote about the practice of sanitation. The Old Testament says if you touch a dead body you are unclean for seven days and have to wash yourself twice before you are considered clean. That is the concept of quarantine!
How could such an ancient document reveal knowledge that was so recently discovered? How could Moses have known this information when writing? The answer is the awesome, omniscient God revealed this truth among many to us through His inspired Word.
If the Bible is written by an omniscient God shouldn’t there be parts of it that show a level of understanding beyond mankind’s ability? But if there are portions that are purely unexplainable then perhaps it is not written by man alone.
The sixth quality of the Bible is that it is predictive.
The Bible contains predictive prophecy, predictions of future events; this is a specific subset of the unexplainable elements in the Bible. These prophecies demonstrate knowledge of the future. It is fair to say, if the Bible can predict the future repetitiously, in detail, without being wrong, then it proves to be supernatural and from God.
Does the Bible predict the future repetitiously, multiple times. Any person can accidentally get something right on accident once. Can a person intentionally predict something is going to happen multiple times? Does the bible predict in detail? Anyone can simply predict, “Something bad is going to happen to America.” And that person is going to be right. The predictions have to be detailed. Does the bible predict without being wrong? If I sit down and write down 10,000 possible things that could happen to America, I will probably get one right. But then I have 9,999 predictions that were wrong. If the Bible is truly written with knowledge of the future, then all the prophecies need to be accurate.
Even God acknowledges the prophecies have to come to pass, Deuteronomy 18:21-22. A single false prophecy indicated a prophet was not from God. On the opposite side, Jeremiah 28:9 says when a prophecy comes to pass it indicates he is speaking God’s words. If the Bible is written by prophets who are speaking words from the omniscient, all-knowing God, then the Bible should demonstrate knowledge of the future.
Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre’s fall serves as an example of supernatural foreknowledge. The book of Ezekiel begins “in the fifth year of King Johoiachin’s captivity,” which is 597 B.C. Chapter 26 is eleven years after this, so 586 B.C. This chapter contains a prediction of the city of Tyre’s destruction.
The the maint part of the city of Tyre was a half mile off shore on a small rocky island. It was considered impregnable; its geography was so that no one could enter the island if they did not want you to. Ezekiel’s prophecy predicted (1) many nations would come against Tyre; (2) the inhabitants of the villages and fields of Tyre would be slain; (3) Nebuchadnezzar would build a siege mound against the city; (4) the city would be broken down and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” (5) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” and (6) the city would never be rebuilt. The history recorded of Tyre’s fall matches exactly what the Bible predicted.
(1) many nations would come against Tyre; in 586 BC the king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged the city. In 392 B.C., the king of Egypt. In 332, Alexander the Great. Then, Ptolemy of Egypt until about 315 B.C. when Syria besieged Tyre for 15 months. So, Babylon, Syria, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Armenia, and Persia are but a sampling of the “many nations” that had a part in the ultimate destruction of Tyre.
(2) the inhabitants of the villages and fields of Tyre would be slain; the mainland of Tyre was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. and ultimately destroyed by the Greeks in 333 B.C.
(3) Nebuchadnezzar would build a siege mound against the city; this came to pass in 586 B.C. when the mainland city was besieged for thirteen years. The island was unaffected.
(4) the city would be broken down and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” when Alexander the Great was not allowed into the town he sought to destroy it. Because of Tyre’s unique geography it was almost impossible to get to the island. Alexander does something completely unthinkable; he commands his army to take the stones of buildings in the mainland city and to throw them into the sea to form a bridge toward the island. Alexander’s crazy scheme worked and the Greek army devastated the island. All people were either killed or sold into slavery.
(5) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” after so much destruction through the years, the inhabitants of the area relied upon fishing to sustain themselves.
and (6) the city would never be rebuilt; the mainland is now underwater like Ezekiel predicted, “When I make you a city laid waste, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you, and the great waters cover you” (26:19).
How could Ezekiel have predicted this so accurately and with such great detail? Ezekiel claims to have been written in the sixth century B.C. and the latest critics can suggest it was written in the fourth century B.C.. This proves that Ezekiel wrote about a specific, unpredictable historical account with fine detail before it occurred. Such a feat is beyond human means.
There are other examples:
- Isaiah predicted the kingdom Babylon would fall (21:9) to the Medes and Persians (ch 13) and it would be by a man named Cyrus. Cyrus was not even born until 150 years after this. His prediction came two centuries before Cyrus conquered Babylon (539 B.C.).
- There are over 250 prophecies about a coming Messiah, each with minute details of the life of Jesus. For example, Micah predicted he would be born in Bethlehem (5:2) or Psalm 22 predicts the Messiah’s crucifixion before crucifixion existed.
- Daniel predicts the kingdoms in succession, most of them by name, and each with details: Babylon would be conquered by the Medes and Persians, who would be conquered by Greece, who would be conquered by a greater fourth nation (Rome). This prophecy was written in 550 B.C. and began unfolding in 331 B.C. all the way into the first century A.D.
What kind of book records history hundreds of years before it happens? If a book had countless predictions of the future that were all in great detail and all came to pass, would you believe it if that book claimed to be written by God? How could mankind produce a book that is so predictive of the future?
The seventh quality of the Bible is a conclusion from the previous six, supernatural.
The Bible has to meet these qualities in order for us to reasonably conclude that it is supernatural. The Bible needs to be historical if it is written by an omniscient God. The Bible needs to be intact if we are going to depend on it to reveal God’s message. The Bible needs to be coherent if it is written by a single author, God. The Bible needs to be cogent if it is written by the Creator of mankind. The Bible needs to have unexplainable elements that mankind could not produce if it is written by an all-knowing God. The Bible needs to have predictive elements if it is written by a God who knows all things, even the future. With all of these qualities met, it is safe to say that the Bible can not have been written by humans and that it is supernatural in nature and origin.
If a book had all these qualities that demonstrated it could not have been produced by mankind, and that same book claimed to be written by God, would that not be evidence enough to support that claim?
The Bible is the most published book in history and yet so many people just keep it on the shelf without realizing these qualities or its significance. What will you do with this knowledge? Will you keep your bible on the shelf? Or will you read the Bible and learn what God wants us to know? How could we have a book written by God, the Creator of all the universe, and not read it?
Look back at 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If we believe the first part of the verse, we will believe the second part. If we believe the Bible is inspired, “All Scripture is breathed out by God,” we will believe it is the guide for our life, “…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.”