Following an essay I submitted just the other day, this is the second of four doctrines which the Christian faith teaches which must be true—or I renounce my faith and walk away from the Church. I do this because I demand that my faith be true and not invention. Here is number two.
If the Bible be ONLY a good book—oh, a very good book to be sure, and a most rewarding read—if the Bible be a book which speaks only to things religious and be on a par with books similar, say, the Koran or Bhagavad Gita—if the Bible’s inspiration be that of Shakespeare or Milton which prior generations have read to great advantage, or even a Homer or an Aeschylus who has stood the test of time—if Plato or Aristotle surpass the Bible in wisdom or knowledge—if the Bible be full of maxims and stories which teach much good for living but neither more nor less than even one contemporary…
If the Bible be not the word of God which teaches us His ways—if the Bible be not a reliable and infallible record of how God has revealed Himself to a people for the purpose of redeeming the same—if the Bible be not that book which contains God’s laws and instructions for man to obey with rewards for obedience and punishments for the contrary—if the Bible show not man the way of salvation—in short, if the Bible be not that which it claims itself to be but instead be full of man’s opinions with which any man may heartily disagree, or contain downright errors which men of conscience must dismiss—then I renounce the Christian faith.
All we know about God that is worth knowing comes through his special revelation, otherwise known as the Bible. Without it we are left to learn about him from what is called general revelation, that is, the world. Granted, there is much one can make of God by observing the world—that He is a God of order, power, and clearly a great being. But what of His goodness? The same wind that brings the refreshing breeze brings the mighty hurricane; the same cloud that brings the rain brings the flood. The world is full of “acts of God” and “natural causes” which wreak disasters on mankind. One could just as well intuit from the world that God is as evil as He is good, and many have! To sum, without Scripture we know virtually nothing about what God requires of us or how we shall come to be acceptable unto Him. We are left with paganism, creating our own gods and inventing religion after our own delights.
And what of that salvation which comes through His Son, Jesus Christ? We know nothing of God’s saving grace through his Son’s work apart from Scripture. Extra-biblical sources tell us that he died and that his followers claimed that he rose from the dead. Other ancient stories from spurious sources tell us all kinds of amusing anecdotes about Jesus and his apostles which the Church rightly refused from her list of sacred books in the New Testament. In short, we know nothing apart from Scripture about God’s sending His Son, his sacrificial and atoning death, redemption through his blood, and salvation by grace through faith—not to mention his exaltation to the Father’s right hand where he ministers as our High Priest, the work of the Holy Spirit in birthing us anew unto saving faith, the institution and work of the Church, our Lord’s Second Coming, and a host of other doctrines we find in the pages of Scripture alone.
Someone may counter, “Well, what of the Koran or Bhagavad Gita or even the Book of Mormon? Are they not also holy books just as your Bible?” I’ve not time to read the holy book of every religion out there, nor is there need. I am demanding that Christianity be true, not Islam. But the very grandeur of the Scriptures, the heavenliness of its doctrines, the symmetry and harmonious relations of its parts, its very coherence as a book written by over forty authors covering fifteen-hundred years—all of this and more speak to its being of divine origin.
And here I shall make a confession: The Christian knows that the Bible is true by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit enlightening his eyes to its truth. Only the believer has this inner witness as one born of the Spirit. Even so, I cannot but testify that this is the word of God, though the Bible needs not my testimony—and for that, I am grateful.