How We Know the Bible Is God’s Written Word

Imagine the following conversation between the two of us:

  • Me: “I have a book, and this book should be the rulebook and the guidebook for everyone on planet Earth.”
  • You: “What makes the book so special?”
  • Me: “The book is so special because on page 1048 it says, ‘All of the words of this book are inspired by God.’”
  • You: “But if I reject the entire book as being God-inspired, won’t page 1048 be a part of what I’m rejecting?”
  • Me: “You can’t reject the book as being God-inspired.”
  • You: “Why not?”
  • Me: “Because on page 1048 the book says, ‘All of the words of this book are inspired by God.’”
  • You: “But don’t you understand? I’m not even giving the words of page 1048 credit for being inspired by God.”
  • Me: “You have to.”
  • You: “Why?”
  • Me: “Because on page 1048 the book says, ‘All of the words of this book are inspired by God.’”

The problem with my defense of the book’s authority is obvious, isn’t it? No book should be considered God-inspired and authoritative simply because it claims to be God-inspired and authoritative. This standard even applies to the Bible.

Yes, in 2 Timothy 3:16 the Bible does say of itself:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. (N.K.J.V.)

The skeptic, however, would call that no more than the Bible bragging on itself. That’s why no verse from the Bible, not even 2 Timothy 3:16, can conclusively be used to say that the Bible is inspired by God. After all, if someone rejects the Bible as a whole, even 2 Timothy 3:16 won’t impress them. Therefore, we must use evidence from outside the Bible to back up the Bible’s claim of divine inspiration. And the truth is, there are four pieces of such outside evidence.

The first piece of outside evidence is archaeological finds. In scores and scores of digs, archaeologists have unearthed evidence that verifies the Bible’s record of human history. In many instances, these finds even went against the commonly held beliefs of the day. This much is clear: If the world of archaeology had ever brought forth undeniable evidence that the Bible’s record of history is wrong, the Bible would have been discredited long ago. But it hasn’t happened. In showdown after showdown, involving site after site, the Bible and archaeology have gone head to head, and the Bible is still standing.

The second piece of outside evidence is fulfilled prophecy. It’s one thing for a book to make predictions about the future. It’s quite another thing for all of those predictions to come to pass. Saying it simply, the Bible currently holds a perfect record in the fulfillment of its prophecies. As a matter of fact, the prophecies from the book of Daniel concerning the kingdoms of Babylon and Medo-Persia were fulfilled in such incredible detail that skeptics have argued that Daniel must have been written after all that history occurred. Daniel’s prophecies, however, are just some of the hundreds of Bible prophecies that history has authenticated. Of course, it’s true that there are many Bible prophecies that haven’t yet been fulfilled. But those prophecies all center around the so-called “end times,” which means that the times of their fulfillment haven’t come around yet. Based upon the Bible’s track record, though, the fulfillment of those prophecies will surely take place right on schedule.

The third piece of outside evidence is internal consistency. Frankly, logic would tell us that there should be errors and contradictions in the Bible. How can a book written over a period of 1,500 years by some forty different writers, many of whom did not have access to the others’ writings, be internally consistent? To further complicate the project, the writers also came from vastly different parts of life. Some were scholars, but some were fishermen. Some were kings, but some were peasants. Furthermore, the Bible’s books weren’t even written in the same language. 99.9% of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with the remaining .1% being written in Aramaic), while 100% of the New Testament was written in Greek. Then, as if all of this didn’t hinder the project enough, the books of the Bible were written on three different continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe). Obviously, all of these problems are killers of internal consistency. Nevertheless, the words of the men who wrote the Bible all agree. The question is: How did those men pull that off if they didn’t do their writing under the inspiration of God?

The fourth piece of outside evidence is changed lives. The plain fact is that no other book ever written has impacted lives as powerfully as the Bible. People with Bibles in hand have crossed oceans to share the book with strangers. People have abandoned civilizations to live among backward tribes just so they could learn those tribes’ languages and translate the Bible into those languages. People have chosen to be executed rather than say that the common people didn’t need the Bible. People have gone to hotel rooms to commit suicide, only to read a Bible they found in a nightstand and leave that room with a whole new outlook on life. Truth be told, even the skeptic probably knows deep down that the Bible is somehow different than all other books.

Alright, now, once you have these four pieces of outside evidence to authenticate the Bible, you can go to the Bible and let the book speak for itself. And what you will find is that the Bible really does claim to be nothing less than the written word of God. It claims that God used human writers as vessels to write His own words. This claim is made in two distinct ways.

First, in many places the Bible says that it was written by men whose spoken words were the very words of God. Here are seven examples of this truth (all from the N.K.J.V.):

1. In Exodus 4:12, Moses says that God said to him, “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

2. In 2 Samuel 23:2, David says, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.”

3. In Isaiah 51:16, Isaiah says that God said to him, “I have put my words in your mouth.”

4. In Jeremiah 1:9, Jeremiah says that God said to him, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.”

5. In Ezekiel 3:4, Ezekiel says that God said to him, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.”

6. In 1 Corinthians 2:13, Paul says, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches.”

7. In 2 Peter 1:21, Peter says, “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Second, the claim is made in the hundreds of instances where the Bible says that the writer is simply penning down the words of God. One example of this is Exodus 24:4, which says:

And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. (N.K.J.V.)

Another example is Jeremiah 30:2, which says:

“Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you.’” (N.K.J.V.)

Bible scholar James Brookes tells us that expressions such as “God said…,” “The Lord spoke, saying…,” “The Word of the Lord…,” and “The Lord commanded…” occur 680 times in Genesis through Exodus, 418 times in Joshua through Esther, and 1307 times in Isaiah through Malachi. This doesn’t even take into account Job through Song of Solomon or the entire New Testament.

And then there is also the aforementioned famous verse from 2 Timothy 3:16, which again says:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God… (N.K.J.V.)

The words “All scripture” cover every single word of the Bible. You see, the Bible doesn’t just contain God-inspired words in a few places here and there. The truth goes deeper than that. All of the Bible’s words are God-inspired. Scholars calls this “plenary” (full, complete) inspiration.

So, to sum up, how do we know the Bible is God’s written word? We know it because of evidence from outside the Bible and from inside the Bible. The outside evidence allows us to trust what the Bible says about itself, and that trust leads us to the Bible’s own inner evidence. And once we understand all of this evidence, we should realize that the Bible is the one book by which we should guide our lives. This is why we preach and teach the Bible. This is why we make so much of the Bible. This is why we continually open up the Bible to find God’s standards, commandments, and truths for living. You ask, “Why is the Bible so important?” It’s because when everything is said and done, it really is God’s written word to mankind.

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