Course: History and Authenticity of the Bible
Let’s have a word of prayer and begin.
Father, thank You so much for this privilege, for this school, for what it stands for, for the many people out sharing the gospel and using the word; and I pray, Lord, that You would prepare us well by the things that we have studied. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Aren’t you all wondering what we’re going to study today? Well, we’re going to find out whether or not you learned anything. It’s going to be a summary of the course. The whole thing on this course in the midst of the details, the overall objective can be lost. What are we trying to do in the course History and Authenticity of the Bible? We’re trying to get you, from an apologetical point of view, to know what you believe about the Scriptures and to be able to defend it. And so what we’re going to do, in this first hour today, is we’re going to take a summary of the course, first of all giving you a definition. It’s a little more detailed because in your notes you have a definition of inspiration. This is simple a definition on the Bible itself, a “We Believe” type statement.
And then we’re going to give you seven statements that hopefully somehow have been caught by you during this course. I’ve already shown it to a number of people and it’s interesting their reaction. I wish all of God’s people believed what we’re teaching. And there’s not a word in here about the King James, but it’s implied. What fascinated me by these seven statements are the people who have not been in our course, who are pastor types, who take a look at it, all of a sudden realize the implication of it. That’s why we want to make sure that you understand what we have been saying in this course. So let’s take a look at it.
Statement Number One: First of all, the definition: “We believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible and God-breathed word and final revelation of God.”
It is not the majority position of Christians that the Bible is inerrant. That might surprise you, but it’s not. It’s definitely not their view that it is infallible. And it’s definitely not their view that it is a God-breathed word. They use a channel going through men and that qualifies what they believe about it. And they definitely don’t believe it’s a final revelation from God. See, the more you analyze what that definition is, the more serious it gets.
“The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and God-breathed word and final revelation of God.” Now I consider two passages that are critical to this view. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21. Those two are critical. I would add a third verse for the definition and that’s Revelation 22:18-19. And as you know, there are other verses that support those passages. But the two main ones that we want you to know and you really should try to get them down so you can quote it.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for correction, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Now 2 Peter 1:20-21 says,
Knowing this first that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation…but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.
Let’s see if we can break this definition down and see how critical it is to the applications that we will make in our ministries with people. First of all, we believe that this definition refers directly to the original autographs. Now is it possible that it could refer indirectly to other than the original autographs? The answer is yes. But this definition refers directly to the original autographs written in Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic portions and words) and does not refer to any apocryphal or non-canonical literature.
First of all, this view it means you’re not a liberal theologian. You have eliminated the possibility of any other Bible books having been written. So you’re not a Mormon. You’re also not a Jehovah Witness in this view either. The interesting thing to me is that this view is going to isolate you in this world. Hopefully, evangelicals believe this view. But I’ve seen evangelicals question it continually. I believe that the original autographs, which we do not have, are the inspired, inerrant, infallible and God-breathed word and final revelation of God. Now we haven’t said everything yet, but that’s a start right there.
No Apocrypha—so goodbye fourteen apocryphal books in the Catholic Bible! No non-canonical literature. “Can you give me an example?” Sure: The Epistle of Barnabus and Shepherd of Hermes, both of which are in the Codex Sinaiticus. There is a lot of non-canonical literature. How do we interpret canonical literature? And that is referring to the canon, the standard by which books are accepted. So church history has confirmed over and over again which books are canonical and which books are not.
We gave you an example in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Whenever they quote Scripture, they say, “It is written.” But that phrase is never used for any literature in the Dead Sea Scrolls that is not Scripture. And so, once again, even in the Dead Sea Scrolls we have evidence of the difference between canonical Scripture—that which is accepted and known to be from God and that which is non-canonical. It might be interesting reading. It might be interesting history. But it is not on the level with the word of God. It’s not inerrant, inspired, and infallible.
Now when you say it is “inerrant, inspired, and infallible” that means there are no errors in this Book, right?—in which language of the Book? So you see, that’s why it says, point one, “We believe” the definition refers directly. We’re not saying that translations into English, which have messed up the original meaning of the word, are inerrant because they’re not. They’re certainly well preserved and we hope that they come out basically reflecting the original language. But it’s the original autographs of that Bible. And hopefully that has been established in this course. Okay?
Statement Number Two: Now, number two. One thing do you remember when we discussed this we had a lot of questions about that day in class? I’m just reminding you that we believe that inspiration refers to the writings and not the writers. Now there are lots of evangelicals that don’t believe that. Or they believe that the writers are also inspired. First of all, you have non-believers who believe that Shakespeare is inspired. So some of the writings of the Bible are inspired like Shakespeare. No. Inspiration refers to the accuracy of the Bible because it is the breathed-out breath of God and because God guaranteed its accuracy. He controlled the writers so that what was written was what He intended and totally accurate in every sense of the word. That doesn’t mean I’m interpreting it right or that I’m translating it right, but this view refers to the writings.
When it says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” the word “Scripture” is the word graphe in Greek, from which we get in English graphic arts—that which is written. So we believe inspiration refers only to the writings, not to the writers. We believe Paul and Peter could make mistakes, but not when they wrote Scripture. The Holy Spirit insured that they didn’t—(cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21).
Statement Number Three: Now number three and here’s where it gets a little more difficult, and isolates us further from other people who call themselves Christians. “We believe that the thirty-nine books of the English Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the English New Testament”…now stop right there before we go on! It is not proper to say “thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and twenty-seven books of the New Testament.” That is not proper. Why? Because the Bible was originally written in Hebrew at twenty-two books, even though they are exactly the same as the thirty-nine we have in English. It was an English Bible that put together the listing. So, let’s be very accurate when we talk to people about what we believe. I’ve had people do that to me and say, “Well you say there are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament. I heard the Hebrew Bible only has twenty-two. So which is it?”
So here’s the view: “We believe that the thirty-nine books of the English Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the English New Testament [now watch this language] which have been translated from the original languages.” I didn’t say “the original autographs.” Why? We don’t have them. Plus the fact that English came multiple years later. But they were translated from the original languages.
“We believe they represent a complete and final, written revelation from God.” Is everybody with me? You understand? This is really a serious point that hopefully has been developed through the course. But if you don’t know that Christians are going to attack you on that, welcome to the ball game because they don’t believe it. A lot of people don’t.
Just recently I made that statement in the pulpit was immediately questioned by people afterwards.
They said, “I think you made a mistake in your sermon.”
I said, “What’s that?”
They said, “You seem to imply that the Bible is a complete and final written revelation from God.”
I said, “No, I didn’t make a mistake. That’s what I believe.”
“Are you saying God can’t add any more?”
“No, God can do whatever He wants to do, but He’s chosen to tell us He’s done.”
“Well, what if we discover another book?”
“No, any discoveries of any other books aren’t going to change one thing.”
Do you see how narrow minded we are? We really are in this issue. We’re very narrow minded here. And that’s going to affect our relationship with people. Why?—because the next question is whether or not that English translation truly reflects the original languages. That’s a very serious subject which we tried to expose you to. Okay?
By the way, you are not a scholar on it. You’ve only been exposed to it. I just ran into a problem on that with a former student who was trying to make people believe he was a scholar now in textual criticism. No, you’re not. You are just exposed to the problem of the different changes in Greek and so forth. You are not a scholar. That takes a lot of study, intensive study on textual criticism. And so don’t do that. What we try to do is give you enough information that you know where the problem lies. Now if you want to hit that a little bit more, you’re going to have to do a whole lot of study. Okay?
Statement Number Four: Now, number four is where the debate is among evangelical scholars, not liberals, evangelicals. Here’s where the debate is. It says, “We believe that no author of Scripture gave his own private interpretation, but was directly controlled by the Holy Spirit of God.”
The number one thing people will say to me after hearing that is, “Oh, you believe in mechanical dictation.” No. I believe in Spirit-controlled dictation. They weren’t robots, but the Holy Spirit controlled what they were to say. You see, the Bible is filled with dictation, word for word right off the mouth of God… “thus saith the Lord”…and word for word. When we say “the writers didn’t dictate,” that’s a lie! They did dictate. They took it down exactly as they were told. As a matter of fact, most of the writers were given information that they had no knowledge of or had any idea what it was talking about. It was dealing with stuff that would be in the future of their historical time frame. So they didn’t know what it was talking about, so they had to put it down exactly like God said.
This means that we believe that God spoke directly to the writers. Hello? This is going to isolate you further in the Christian world because most of them do not believe this. They believe the Holy Spirit kind of guided them like He guides us. I believe the ministry of the Holy Spirit in controlling the writers of the Bible is not like He controls us. They were holy men of God. The word means “separate.” They were separated from normal people in this regard. It was a special ministry of the Holy Spirit that did not allow freedom of private interpretation. Yet most people believe they were interpreting things, especially in the gospels. No they weren’t at all. They may have put the facts down in a different order, but they were not giving any private interpretation. The Bible says so. 2 Peter 1, “No writing is of any private interpretation.” That’ pretty strong. They were moved or directly controlled by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21).
I believe the key foundational issue of all the doctrines of Christianity is the view you have of the Bible. Everything else is up for grabs because it’s all based on what the Bible teaches. So if you start undermining this Bible, everything else will crumble. It’s the foundation under it. That’s why a lot of schools no longer take a stand anymore on issues that they once did. Why?—because they long ago changed their view on the Bible.
A student’s voice: “I was wondering how that explains like a lot of books say, “This sounds like Pauline theology; this sounds like Johannine theology.” How does that explain that?”
Well, I don’t do much explaining of that. It sounds to me like Spirit-led theology. I know what they’re doing. They mean that the vocabulary and style of the writer is being reflected in that. But you know I see a danger in that. That’s a part of what they teach at liberal seminaries. There is not a Pauline theology versus a Johannine theology. There is a vocabulary and style of Paul and there is a vocabulary and style of John. The theology is of God and the Holy Spirit. Do you follow what I’m saying? It’s technical, but how you say that…just the fact that you asked the question is Freudian for: “We’ve got a problem.” Do you understand me? In other words, you wouldn’t be asking a question had you not read it or heard it. And the point is if you don’t tell people what you believe, then right away you can start concluding things. Somehow Paul came up with his own framework. This was the problem Martin Luther had over the book of Romans and the book of James. It’s important to understand this because it affects everything in the Christian life.
Statement Number Five: “We believe that God has preserved [the doctrine of preservation] we believe that God has preserved the integrity and accuracy of His word by the careful copying of the text.” Now, how do I know it was careful? One easy way is to compare it to any other extant literature. In spite of all the variations in New Testament manuscripts, there is nothing like it in the history of the world. We have more evidence as to what the text was than any other document before the ability to print. So before A.D. 1450, there is no comparison. So we’re not intimidated by anyone’s view on this. There was the careful copying of the text, almost miraculous in the case of the Old Testament.
Let’s go to the second part of that statement. How do we know He’s preserved it?—by the abundance of manuscript evidence available to us. The largest number of extant copies of any other document beside the Bible is the writings of Demosthenes. There are 200 extant copies, meaning “in existence before printing.” But in the Bible, we have 5,553 Greek manuscripts. We have over 10,000 now, Old Latin and Latin and another 8,000 of other kinds of languages. There is no book in the history of the world that could compare with the Bible in this regard. None whatsoever!
So, how has God preserved the integrity and the accuracy of His Word? “By careful copying of the text, and by the abundance of manuscript evidence available to us.” The average unbeliever doesn’t even understand that issue and has never even considered it.
Statement Number Six. “We believe that the Bible is sufficient for all matters of faith and practice and that the authority of the Bible is greater than any church, tradition, creed, ritual, person or decision of church councils.”
This guy told me that under the same things that I attacked, tradition, creed, church councils, that I am anathema. Those same councils pronounced me anathema for stating that the Scripture is a higher authority over the leaders of the church chosen by God to interpret it. And I say to you, “What difference is there between the Catholic and the Mormon?” The Mormon says, “The Bible is the inspired word of God as it is correctly translated and interpreted.” And that can only be by the Mormon bishops and not by the people. Do you understand?
It’s Reformation time again. We need another reformation among the organized, quote “Christian” churches. Because we now have, even in so-called evangelicalism, we have people who decide that their view is the correct one—that they somehow become the authority. “Dr. So-and-so said that. Dr. So-and-so said this.” Hey, they’re not the authority and neither am I. It’s the Bible and God! He’s the authority. We’re not the authority. We fought a Reformation over this, the authority of Scripture. That’s the heart of the Reformation. And I think we are due for another one, frankly.
People are getting away acting like in this narcissistic, experience-oriented culture of ours, like: “What’s the big deal? David, why are you getting so upset? I mean people don’t really care about that.” That’s my point! People don’t care about it and we’re seeing a gradual undermining. Paul said, “In the last days they will not endure sound doctrine.” He actually said, “They would give themselves to myth and fable, rather than the authority of God’s word” (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3). Well, that’s what we got going now.
You see, that’s why reading the Bible brings lots of insights to your viewpoints. There are things being said by all of us that simply are not true. This is a simple thing. This guy said, “The book of Revelation insists that every knee shall bow and every tongue should confess” (cf. Romans 14:11; Isaiah 45:23). He said that with a lot of authority. There’s just one problem, it’s not in Revelation. Do you understand what I’m saying? People say, “What difference does it make? At least it was the general Bible.” Do you understand? That’s how sloppy we are right now. It doesn’t make any difference to anybody any more. So we can quote stuff like “It’s in the Bible” and nobody knows! “Well, that sounds like Scripture, you know!”
“We believe that the Bible is sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. And that the authority of the Bible is greater than any church tradition, creed, ritual, person, or decision of church councils.” Well, we are really now isolated. Is there anything left? Well, among those of us who are now left, we’re going to lose some more on this next one.
And what we believe is that “eternal salvation”—now, I didn’t say whether you could lose your salvation there, did I? All I said was “eternal salvation.” After all, we do believe it is forever, don’t we? Even if you think you can lose it. Okay?
Statement Number Seven: “We believe that eternal salvation and Christian maturity are results which only the Holy Spirit of God and the Bible itself can produce.”
In some recent publication that I’ll not mention, it specifically says that “Christian maturity is developed by accountability groups.” Now, I believe in being accountable to people. Don’t misunderstand me. Whatever the Bible says I should do in that, however, is the truth. But I want you to know that nobody grew in Christ by an accountability group. Would an accountability group, where you met with a given amount of Christians to pray and read God’s Word, may that help to stimulate, motivate you to look into the Word, which in fact will produce the maturity? Yes! Are you mature because you go each week? No. Are you mature because you know six people who know you? No. No, you’re not. Do you understand? It’s really interesting.
There’s another one I read in a Christian magazine. “It’s impossible to have strong Christian maturity without a good nurturing marriage and family.” You know, they didn’t know what they said. I thought to myself, poor single people. They’re totally left out. There’s no way you can become mature. Isn’t that interesting?
Here’s another one. In a well-known Christian magazine, “Arguments in a marriage can be helpful to growth and understanding of God’s purpose and plan.” Now I shouldn’t have isolated the statement. I should have told you all about it. How sometimes by argument, confrontation we can really, finally, I guess be overwhelmed with the fact we don’t know anything and we need to come to the Lord. I just want you to know that the statement is incorrect. Why? Because the Bible tells us that arguments don’t do that—(cf. 2 Timothy 2:23-24). The book of Proverbs is against arguments and tells you what’s wrong with them (i.e. Proverbs 13:3; 17:14; 20:3). Why you shouldn’t start them! Why you shouldn’t even get started in them! (cf. Proverbs 18:19). “Don’t even start them,” it says.
And this article was talking about how people if they really just shared their view in marriage and get it all out, they can become closer. No. That’s a lie too! The Bible tells us that arguments build barriers. They’re like the bars of the castle (cf. Proverbs 18:19). Some people say, “Well, we fight because it’s so much fun to make up.” No. No, what’s happening is that these are the seeds of destruction and one day you’ll wake up and find out you’re really far from each other in terms of intimacy.
Here’s another one. This is a Christian magazine. This is justifying the importance of talking about your sins to find out why you did them. Interesting article! It says that “the reason why a lot of people don’t grow in Christ is because they don’t discover why they did what they did. So they remain in this bondage, which needs to be broken.” And I read the article and I thought, “This is well done. There’s just one problem. It’s not true! It’s not true at all.”
But see, that’s what I’m talking about. And when we read number seven that “Eternal salvation and Christian maturity are results which only the Holy Spirit and the Bible can produce,” we just narrowed ourselves down in the Christian world.
Now, please understand that I’m not on any crusade to tell them all. I don’t sit down everyday and say, “Boy, I got to write a letter to that guy or this magazine….” Hey, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. When I read a book, I don’t expect the book to tell me everything that I want to know about the subject or to be right. I’m just going to learn. Every man’s my teacher. So what? Don’t get ticked off, but know what you believe.
This is where I see the compromise in this generation. Instead of following what God says, we’re into this, “Well you know, you don’t want to hurt people and what harm is it? We do need to tolerate people and show love, you know.” Well, the kind of love I understand doesn’t compromise with sin and wrong. Now I’ve got to learn how to lovingly say that. That’s a part of my problem. And I’ve got to follow the Bible on that. I’ve got to learn how to be kind and not to be attacking and critical and all of that sort of thing. And yet, at the same time, I want truth. Do you? It’s only the truth that can set us free. And I think this is our problem right now and we don’t see it. That’s why I’m trying to take some time with it.
The importance of our course is not seen here in this classroom. The importance will be after you leave and you’re out there mingling with people and hearing these viewpoints and reading these articles and listening to these programs and asking yourself, “Do I really believe that the Holy Spirit and the Bible are totally sufficient for eternal salvation and Christian maturity or do I need something else?”
After church recently a guy came up to me and he said, “Would you be my mentor?”
You know, Paul said ‘The things that thou hast, commit to faithful men who should be able to teach others also’” (cf. 2 Timothy 2:2). I understand all of that, but what does that mean, mentoring? Didn’t Paul say follow me because I follow Christ? Isn’t the real Mentor Christ?
It’s interesting to me. There is almost a worship of people in our generation. In the very generation that’s critical of heroes, to me it’s a dichotomy. I can’t understand it. Sociologically or philosophically, I don’t understand it. We’re very critical of leadership whether it’s political, sports figures, whatever. We’re critical of them, yet at the same time, there’s this desire to worship people or to feel that the people that we need are somehow going to do for us what the Holy Spirit and the Bible are just inadequate to do.
If you were on a desert island, had no church, no accountability group, could you grow in Christ? Well, according to these groups, no. It’s impossible. Listen, all you need is the Spirit of God and the Word. That’s all you need, really it’s the counsel of the Lord that will stand. I believe that God has everything you need to hear about every problem in your life right in this book. I believe that. The only time I go for counsel—and I do frequently—is when I’m lost. I can’t find it. I don’t know what I’m talking about. And so I’ll ask somebody who I respect for their spiritual wisdom and maybe they’ll give me a key or a verse that I was overlooking or whatever. Now I want to go study it, because I want to make sure what they told me is true. Is everybody following this? I’m really making an issue out of it, by intention! Please don’t go out of here and not think that the study of the Bible and what it is does not affect your life. Oh yes, it does. Something is really wrong! And I happen to believe God about this generation and I believe this generation is leaning toward mythology more than theology. We are listening to things that aren’t true and believing it.
Do you understand me? What’s happening? It’s going to affect every area of your life, every application, every counseling situation, every decision you have to make. You’re going to have to decide: “Do I believe what God said in the word or am I just going to follow what everybody says is okay to do?” And many times people get offended when they say something and I say, “What verse was that?”
“Well you don’t have to have a verse for everything.”
You know, class, I’ve heard this kind of stuff over and over again and I don’t want to mess around with your brain or your lives. And I don’t want to just sugar-coat anything over. I know what it is to experience the hardness of Satan’s attacks and strategies in getting you to compromise here and there. Don’t. You follow this Book. Your eternal salvation, your Christian maturity is totally dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit and this Book. There isn’t any other way. There never has been. There never will be. Watch out because the majority of Christians around you are not going to take that view.
Now what we hopefully learned in this class are the following main issues. We learned about six issues in the class. Now they may not have come together for you like this. That’s why I want to leave you with it, so you see it.
One is Revelation, which is the problem of communication. How God has communicated to us. Remember there was a whole section in your notes dealing with that.
Inspiration is always a problem of accuracy.
Canonization is a problem of recognition. How do we recognize what is the word of God? And we gave you several things under that which I think the test asks you for as well.
Illumination is a problem of understanding. We need the Holy Spirit.
Interpretation is a problem of study because it isn’t up to us to put our interpretations in the Bible. It’s up to us to find out what is the interpretation God intended in that passage. That requires study and then rightly dividing to interpret the word of God based on study.
Application is a problem of change. You can read all of this, but if you don’t apply it, you don’t obey it, no change takes place. That’s why we want to make sure that you understand what we have been saying in this course and realize the implication of it and hopefully that has been established, okay?
Father I thank You for this privilege we have to study Your word. And we pray we shall always regard it as a privilege. And I just pray God that you would guide the students in the usage of their time. I pray You would give them wisdom. Lord I pray again that You would use this time to encourage us in learning the word of God. We thank you for it, in Jesus’ name. Amen.