The Bible is God's inspired revelation of the origin and destiny of all things. Here heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. It is the traveller's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter.
The Bible is the power of God unto eternal salvation and the source of present help, for body, soul, and spirit (Romans 1:16; John 15:7). Christ is its grand subject, man's good its design, and the glory of God its end. It is a mine of wealth, the source of health, and a world of pleasure.
The Bible is God's will or testament to men in all ages, revealing the plan of God for man here and now, and in the next life. It will be opened at the judgment; and it will last forever. It involves the highest responsibility; will reward for the least to the greatest of labor; and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
The Bible is the record of God's dealings with man in the past, present, and future. It contains His message of eternal salvation for all who believe in Christ, and eternal damnation for all who rebel against the gospel.
As a literary composition, the Bible is the most remarkable book ever made. It is a divine library of 66 books, some of considerable size, and others no larger than a tract. These books include various forms of literature, history, biography, poetry, proverbial sayings, hymns, letters, directions for elaborate ritualistic worship, laws, parables, riddles, allegories, prophecy, and all other forms of human expression.
The Bible is the only book that reveals the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts binding, its histories true, and its decisions immutable. It contains light to direct, spiritual food to sustain, and comfort to cheer. Man should read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy; he should read it that it might fill his memory, rule his heart, and guide his feet in righteousness and true holiness. He should read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully, mediatively, searchingly, devotionally; and study it constantly, perseveringly, and industriously, through and through - until it becomes a part of his being, generating faith that will move mountains.
The term "Canon of Scripture" means the complete collection of books which are regarded as of Divine authority. The word canon in in Greek means a straight rod, rule, or measure. As applied to Scripture it means the rules by which certain books were declared to be inspired and accepted as such. The points governing which should be rejected are given below.
The Canon of Scripture was at first, gradual and not created by ecclesiastical authority. The beginning was was made by Moses. In David's time the office of recorder was established and detailed records were kept by all the kings of Israel. The final collection of writings and the Canon of the Old Testament was completed during the time of Ezra, Nehemiah (Ezra 7:6; 8:1-8), the Great Synagogue and Simon the Just (about 292 B.C.). At least the Old Testament Canon of Scripture was completed by the time of the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament accepted books into Greek (294-289 B.C.).
After the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A.D., the Sanhedrin moved to Tiberius and later to Jammia, a small town 13 miles south of Joppa where, in 90 A.D. the Canon of the Old Testament was again decided upon, the apocryphal books (most of which were written the last 3 centuries B.C.) being rejected from the Jewish Canon of Scripture. This list of Old Testament books called the Palestinian Canon has been universally accepted by the Protestant Church.
Many New Testament Scritptures prove that the present Canon of Scripture of the Old Testament was accepted in the days of Christ and the apostles (Matthew 21:42; 22:29; 23:33; Luke 11:51; 24:27-32, 44; John 5:39; 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). Not once is there a reference to a controversy over the Old Testament Canon. It was a settled suject at that time, and should have never been brought up again by any church in this age.
Formation Of The New Testament Canon - Of the 8 authors who wrote the 27 books of the New Testament not one ever suggested that he was adding to a collection of holy scriptures (Luke 1:1-3; John 20:30-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-9; 1 John 1:4; 2:1, 7, 12, 25; 5:13; 2 Peter 3:13-16; Jude 3; Revelations 1:11-19); nevertheless, the New Testament books written by the apostles and other inspired men were soon held to be as sacred and inspired as the Old Testament books; and together, they became the rule of faith for the church.
In the formation of the New Testament Canon, 20 out of 27 books were univesally accepted immediately as genuine. Only Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, James, and Revelation were questioned by some. The main objections were that Hebrews did not bear the name of its author; 2 Peter differed from 1 Peter in style; the writers of James and Jude called themselves servants instead of apostles; and the writer of 2 and 3 John called himself an elder instead of an apostle. the book of Revelation was questioned because of its peculiar character. After deliberate examination, however, these books were also received as a genuine and authentic. By the beginning of the 4th century all 27 books of the present New Testament had been received by most churches; and by the end of that century they had been received by all churches without further doubt. There being many in those days who were writing novels and fantasic stories about Jesus Christ, His life and His parents, and other Bible characters it became a problem for the early church to decide which books were inspired. The question was finally settled at the Council of Nice, 325 A.D., Hippo, 394 A.D., and Carthage, 397 A.D. One can therefore whole-heartedly reject the so-called "lost books" of the Bible and the Apocrypha, as being uninspired.
In some large family Bibles there is a section of 14 books called the Apocrypha - a group of spurious books that were rejected from our present canon of Scripture because they did not pass the tests required of inspired books:
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God..." - 2 Timothy 3:16 KJV
The word "inspiration" or "God-breathed" is the Greek word theopneustos. It means that special influence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of holy men, which qualified and enabled them to make an infallible record of divine truth concerning the will of God to man.
The purpose of inspiration is to secure truth and unity in record and not sameness of words or statements. Revelation discovers new truth; inspiration super-intends the communicating and recording of that truth. We have examples of inspiration without revelation (Luke 1:1-4); of inspiration including revelation (Revelation 1:1,11); of inspiration without illumination (1 Peter 1:11; 1 Corinthians 14:13-19); and of revelation and inspiration including illumination (1 Corinthians 2:12-16; 14:30).
We find lies of Satan and men, false doctrines; and many sins listed in Scripture. Inspiration simply guarantees that these lies were told; these fallacies were taught by certain men; and that these crimes were committed, but it does nto make these lies and fallacies the truth or place God's sanction upon the crimes. One must find out whether Satan, evil men, or God is speaking in Scripture. God is not responsible for what others have said just because He causes what they did say to be recorded by inspiration. All God guarantees is that these things were said and done as they are recorded. Only what God says or teaches is truth which He requires men to obey.
To degree were writers inspired?
The Spirit used the factulties and abilities of the writers to record things, past, present, and future. He gave direct revelations, guided them to choose records of men, and superintended the writers in all their work until we now have a perfect and infallible record of the origin and destiny of all creation.
Christianity is a revealed religion, the record being contained in the sacred Scriptures. Much of the Bible is a revelation. Man could never have known about ages of the eternal past, Lucifer's past, the creation of the spirit and material worlds, the future eternal ages and many other things related to God's plan for man except by direct revelation of these things throught the Holy Spirit (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:3; Colossians1:26, 2:3; Revelations 1:1). The many hundreds of prophecies are a direct revelation of things to come, where god alone could give (Acts 15:18; Ephesians 2:7; 3:9-10; Revelation 1:1).
Revelation discovers new truth while inspiration superintends the communication and recording of it. Revelation guarnatees that what God has revealed is truth; inspiration guarantees that not only all revelation, but all other records of Scripture are truth - that what is recorded actually happened, as recorded. All the Bible is inspired whether each passage is a revelation or not (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Futhermore, inspiration records with equal accuracy the language of God, Satan, angels, demons, and men; but it does not place all that is said on the same level. For example, when Satan, evil spirits, or men are recorded as speaking lies to deceive, inspiration only records what was actually said; it does not affirm that what was said was truth. No lie can be truth, but inspiration can faithfully record both.
The ignorance of man regarding his origin, past, and eternal future; his lack of knowledge concerning the will of God; and the fact that all philosphers have failed to construct a complete, coherent and adequate religion - these things make revelation absolutely necessary.
The Bible is God's final revelation to man. Such a mode of divine revelation ceased with the book of Revelation. God has given no new or further revelation since John penned the last part of the Scritpures. His complete will for man and for the ages are unfolded therein, and if one appears with the claim that he has received new revelation, he can be classed as an imposter!
It should be noted, moreover, that the light and truth break forth from the Word. We do not expect a new revelation! We are not looking for some new star to arise in the East. We do not expect that any revelation will ever be given to men which will supersede the Bible. All that a guilty sinner can ever need, all that an inspiring saint can ever anticipate, are hidden away in the Divine Library.
Let it be remembered that God the Holy Spirit never progresses outside the written Word. God is always causing fresh truths to break forth from His Word, but He does not add to the "faith once for all delivered to the saints."
The forcible words with which John closes his book make a fitting conclusion, not only to the revelation he received at Patmos, but to the whole substance of revelation as it is found in the sixy-six books forming the Bible:
Within the Word of God we have the divine plan of ages, and this plan can be fully understood by every Spirit-taught believer. All that God would have us know regarding the past, present and future history of the earth and of men has been recorded for us, and ours should be the evergrowing desire to study the Word of Truth, in order that we may be able to rightly divide it as the occasion requires.
To many, the Bible is a strange, mysterious Book, simply because they have failed to discover the keys that unlock its pages, and the wonderful treasures of the divine purpose remain sealed or hidden. And how applicable is the Lord's Word to Ephraim, "I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing" (Hosea 8:12).
We can fully understand why the ungodly find nothing to instruct them in the Scriptures, and discard them as "a strange thing." They are spiritually blind, and therefore cannot behold the beauty of the Bible. How appalling it is to realize that a great number of professing Christians count God's law as a "strange thing," as did Ephraim. Dr. Graham Scroggie says: "It is to be feared that the sad neglect of the Prophetic Scriptures, on the part of very many, is directily due to a disbelief of their supernatural element, and an unwillingness to recognize that in the Bible is revealed a divine plan of the ages." What awful enemies disbelief and ignorance are to the child of God!
Genuiness Defined - By genuiness we mean that the books of the Bible were actually written by the men whose names they bear, or that there is sufficient proof of their authorship, and that they were written at the time claimed.
Authenticity defined - By this we mean that the Bible relates truthfully the matters it deals with, and that the contents are as origninally written.
Claims Of The Bible Itself
Testimony Of Secular History
The events of Bible history were well known among all nations. Happenings of the New Testament., having come to the knowledge of the then known world, were referred to by various secular authors of the first 4 centuries of the Christian era. Jerome, in 392 A.D., mentioned about 50 other authors as making quotations about and referring to New Testament events. They belonged to all parts of the world, but they agreed on one thing - that the Jewish Scriptures were genuine and authentic, referring to them as a distinct volume universally received as such. No event in ancient history can produce more that a fraction of the evidence by which the Bible in its entirety is sustained as genuine and authentic.
No original MS. can be produced due to the perishable material written on, such as paper and vellum (skins of animals). However, because of the dry climate of Egypt and Palestine, many thousands of copies - whole books or parts thereof, have been preserved for us. It is not necessary to produce original MSS to prove the genuiness and authenticity of the Bible any more than it would be necessary to produce the orignial Declaration of Independence to prove the many copies we have contain the statements of the original. Scholars are willing to admit the genuineness and authenticity of other writings if there are as many as 10 copies of the originals to be found. On this basis of the Bible can be proved genuine and authentic thousands of times.
Since the catalog of these MSS was made there have been many new discoveries of whole books and portions of the Bible - the Dead Sea scrolls of Isaiah and other ancient writings, for instance. Some Bible texts have been found which are at least 100-200 years earlier than the above. Besides these Greek MSS there are many in Syriac, Coptic, Latin, and other languages, of both testaments, some dating back to the 3rd century, B.C. In 1897 literally tons of papyri were found in the Nile valley about 120 miles south of Cairo, thousands of pieces being written in the language of the New Testament. In another discovery there were at least 1,000,000 papri; and of these many thousands have never been edited. Other collections have also been located, some dating back to 100-600 A.D., and new discoveries are being made all the time. A recent report says that there are about 5,000 Greek MSS of the N.T. in all, and from 20,000 to 30,000 in other languages besides 100,000 to 200,000 quotations in the writings of the early church fathers.
Besides these there are many more dating back from the 6th to the 10th centuries which space will not permit the listing of.
These are collections of the gospels and epistles for reading in churches, some dating back from the 7th to the 10th centuries. They help in determining the exact text. Of these are more than 1,000 of the gospels and 300 of the Acts and epistles.
These are quotations of the Bible by early Christian writers - those of the first 3 centuries. They help in determining the exact text, filling the gap between the time of the apostles and the earliest MSS of the 4th century. If the N.T. were destroyed it could be practically reproduced from these quotations of the early church fathers alone.
The many ancient versions of Scripture in many languages, dating from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. add much to the proof of the genuiness and authenticity of the Bible.
The Bible text as we now have it is the same as that passed down through all these sources from the earliest times, so there should be no quiestion in the mind of anyone regarding the genuiness and authenticity of the Scriptures.
Our English Bible is the result of 1,200 years of work by all kinds of learned men. Portions were translated from the Vulgate, the Latin Version, beginning as far back as 700 A.D., when Aldehelm translated the Psalms into Saxon, Egbert translated the four Gospels sometime later. In 735 A.D. Bede tranlsated parts of the Scripture into Saxon. King Alfred undertook a translation of the Psalms but died in 900 A.D. before it was finished. Elfric translated the Pentateuch and some of the historical books in the 10th century. Nothing else was done about translation from then to the time of John Wyclif, who made the first complete English Bible from the Vulgate in 1380 A.D. The next was a New Testament by William Tyndale in 1535 and the Pentateuch in 1530. In 1535 Miles Coverdale made the first complete printed English Bible. Then came the Geneva Bible in 1560 A.D., followed by Bishop's Bible in 1563 and revised in 1568. The Roman Catholic Church came out with the Douay version of the New Testament in 1582 and the whole Bible in 1609 which has been used by that church up until now. In 1604 King James authorized 47 men to make a complete translation of the Bible from the original languages. It was finished in 1611 after 7-8 years of diligent work. It has been the most popular and accepted version of the English speaking world from that day until now. There have been several revised versions since then, and a number of Bibles in the so-called modern English, but none have been as well accepted and as lasting as the King James Version - and perhaps never will be.