In last week’s message I addressed the issue of biblical authority, which I believe is terribly understated in today’s world. Modern people wonder why they should believe in the authority of an ancient book which to them has no relevance in today’s world.
According to the Judeo-Christian faith, God has chosen to reveal himself primarily by means of a permanent written document called the Bible. As a just, wise and omnipotent God, he has deliberately chosen to surrender what would seem to be his greatest advantage, the power to compel belief.
God has chosen not to overwhelm us or enslave us by his awesome power. If we were forced to “love” him, it wouldn’t be love. Instead, he has provided the written word and he invites all people, on their own free will, to come and seek him and his truth, which is laid out in the scriptures. But this leads to a legitimate question—even if one concedes that the Bible is historically accurate and that it has not been altered as it has been passed down through the generations, how do we know it is a divine book? What makes it divine? What sets it apart from all other ancient history books or books on philosophy?
Christians believe the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God because Jesus validates it. Jesus confirms that God has chosen the written, recorded word as his primary means of communicating his thoughts and his will to mankind. Christ clearly puts his stamp of approval on the Old Testament. On ninety-two occasions, he supports a position by first saying, “It is written,” and then he quotes from the Old Testament to prove the point. And the reason he did this is because he considered the Old Testament scriptures to be the written word of God and therefore the ultimate authority in life.
Jesus could have come along and said, “Don’t accept the Old Testament scriptures.” Or he could have pointed out errors that he saw in it. Instead, he confirmed the truth of the Old Testament.
Christ also appointed the apostles, who were witnesses to his life, ministry, and Resurrection. One of their primary roles was to record what they had seen and heard. Clearly as his representatives, the apostles were ordained to tell the story of Jesus and expound upon his teaching. Their writings are what eventually became known as the New Testament record.
So, the really big question is not simply “Is the Bible the word of God?” but rather “Is Jesus the son of God?” If he is indeed the son of God, then this would mean he has the authority to authenticate the scripture as God’s truth. The Bible tells us that Christ came into the world in the flesh. In John 1: 14, we learn that God became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory. In Hebrews 1:3 we learn,
He is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of God’s nature.
While being tried for blasphemy, Jesus stood before the High Priest and was asked, “Are you the Christ? Are you the son of the most blessed one?” He replied, matter-of-factly, in Mark 14:62,
I am and you shall see the son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of Heaven.
Either that statement, as incredible as it may sound, is true or it’s false. There’s really no other position you can take when somebody makes a claim like that.
If it’s not true, if Jesus is not God in the flesh, then what are we to make of him? What are we to make of this historical person who led such an extraordinary life? History clearly indicates he was not a mythological figure. Was he just a great moral teacher? Was he a magician? Was he an illusionist?
On the other hand, if he was the Christ, the Messiah, the son of God, what would that mean? It would mean quite literally everything. It would mean his entrance into the world would be the turning point in history. It would mean his teaching about life, death, and eternity would be true. Furthermore, it would mean Jesus would have the authority and power to confirm that the Bible is the living word of God.
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author. Portions of today’s blog are taken from Richard’s book, Reliable Truth: The Validity of the Bible in an Age of Skepticism.