By Lewis Sperry Chafer & John F. Walvoord
The Bible is a most unusual book! Called "The Bible" from the Greek word biblios meaning "a book," its unusual character is due to the fact that it is the Word of God even though written by human authors.
Two lines of evidence support this conclusion: (1) internal evidence the Bible's own claim concerning its divine origin; and (2) external evidence—the nature of the facts given in the Scripture which support its supernatural character.
In hundreds of passages, the Bible declares or assumes itself to be the Word of God, from Deuteronomy 6:6-9 to Revelation 22:18.
The constant assumption of the writers of the Old Testament, the writers of the New Testament, and Christ Himself is that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
For instance, Psalm 19:7-11 declares that the Bible is indeed the Word of the Lord and lists six ways His Word transforms human character.
Hebrews 1:1-12 affirms that God spoke in the Old Testament through the prophets and through His Son in the New Testament.
The Bible can only be rejected by rejecting its constant claims to be God's Word.
The Bible supports its claims to be the Word of God with abundant evidence. Here are only a few:
1. The continuity of the Bible. One of the most amazing facts about the Bible is that though it was written by more than 40 authors living over a period of about 1,600 years, it is nevertheless one book, not simply a collection of 66.
Its authors came from all walks of life - kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, physicians statesmen, scholars, poets, and farmers. They lived in different cultures, had different experiences, and often were quite different in character.
Yet the Bible has a continuity which can be observed from Genesis to Revelation. The Old Testament unfolds themes such as the nature of God, the doctrine of sin, and the doctrine of salvation.
One of the continued themes of the Bible is the anticipation, presentation realization, and exaltation of the perfect person—the Lord Jesus Christ To account for such an amazing book with its continuity of development by natural means would demand a greater miracle than inspiration itself.
Accordingly, believers in Scripture, while recognizing human authorship of the various books, account for its continuity by the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
2. The extent of biblical revelation. In its unfolding of truth, the Bible is inexhaustible. Like a telescope it sweeps the universe from the heights of heaven to the depths of hell and traces the works of God from the beginning to their end.
Like a microscope the minutest details of the plan and purpose of God and the perfection of his creation are revealed. Luke a stereoscope, it places all beings and objects, whether in earth or in heaven, in right relation to one another.
Although many books of the Bible were written in the early days of human knowledge when its authors were not aware of modern discoveries, what they wrote has never been contradicted by later discovery, and ancient writings of Scripture are amazingly adapted to modern situations.
In extent of its revelation, biblical truth goes far beyond human discovery, reaching as it does from eternity past to eternity future and revealing facts which only God could know. No other book in all the world even attempts to present comprehensive truth as the Bible does.
3. The influence and publication of the Bible. No other book has ever been published in as many languages and for as many different peoples and cultures as the Bible itself. Its pages were among the first to be printed as printing presses were invented. Millions of copies of Scripture have been published in all the principal languages of the world, and every written language has at least some portion of the Bible in print
Although skeptics like the French infidel Voltaire have often predicted that the Bible would be obsolete within a generation, it continues to be published in increasing numbers in more languages than ever. No other religion has been able to offer any written revelation comparable to Scripture.
In our day, the influence of the Bible continues to be transforming. To the unsaved it is the "sword of the Spirit," and to the saved it is a cleansing, sanctifying, and effective power.
The Bible continues to be the only divine basis for law and morality.
4. Subject matter of the Bible. The supernatural character of the Bible is seen in the fact that it deals as freely with the unknown and otherwise unknowable as it does with that which is known. It describes eternity past, including creation before man was even in existence. The nature and works of God are revealed. In biblical prophecy, the whole program for the world, for Israel, and for the church is unfolded, culminating in that which is eternal.
On every subject presented, its statement is final, accurate, and timeless. Its comprehensive nature has made its readers wise in truth that is related both to time and eternity.
5. The Bible as literature. Considered as literature, the Bible is also supreme. It contains not only graphic history but detailed prophecy, beautiful poetry and drama, stories of love and war, the speculations of philosophy as over against the finality of biblical truth. The variety of its authorship is matched by the variety of its subject matter. No other book as literature has so enthralled readers of all ages and of all degrees of intelligent scholarship.
6. The unprejudiced authority of the Bible. The human authorship of the Bible has not resulted in prejudice in favor of man. The Bible unhesitatingly records the sin and weakness of the best of men, and graphically warns those who rely on their own virtues of their ultimate doom. Although recorded by human pens, it is a message from God to man rather than a message from man to man.
Such a book could not be written by man if he chose to write it, and man would not choose to write it apart from divine direction.
7. The supreme character of the Bible. Above all else, the Bible is a supernatural book revealing the person and glory of God as manifested in His Son. Such a person as Jesus Christ could never have been the invention of a mortal man, for His perfections could never have been comprehended by the wisest and holiest of this earth.
Because of the combination of human and supernatural qualities which enter into the Bible, a similarity may be observed between the Bible as the written Word and the Lord Jesus Christ as the living Word.
They both are supernatural in origin, presenting the perfect blending of that which is divine and that which is human. They both exercise a transforming power over those who believe, and are alike allowed of God to be rejected by those who do not believe.
The untainted, undiminished divine perfections are embodied in each. The revelations which they disclose are at once as simple as the mental capacity of a child, as complex as the infinite treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge, and as enduring as the God whom they reveal.
This stirring description of God's Word is taken from the book, Major Bible Themes, by Lewis Sperry Chafer, revised by John F. Walvoord. The revised edition is copyright 1974 by Dallas Theological Seminary, used by permission. You may order your copy of this explanation of 52 Bible doctrines by using the bound-in envelope.
Lewis Sperry Chafer was the founder and first president of Dallas Theological seminary, Dallas, Texas He was an internationally known Bible teacher and lecturer. Dr. Chafer served as professor of systematic theology at DTS and author of several books on bib1ical themes.
John F. Walvoord, chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, is one of America's most respected evangelical theologians. The author of more than two dozen books, Dr. Walvoord was a student under, assistant to, and colleague of Lewis Sperry Chafer. He succeeded Dr. Chafer as president of Dallas Seminary in 1952 and served in that role until 1986, fiftieth anniversary of his service at the seminary.