|Volume 18 Number 4 April 2016||
Ernest S. Underwood
I preached my first sermon on the second Sunday of August in 1959. If I had the choice to make again, I would most assuredly make the same one again. The privilege has been granted to me to meet and associate with the very best people in the world – New Testament Christians, and I do not blink when I say that. This does not say nor imply that there are not many good people in the world who have good morals and ethics. It does say that there are no better people inhabiting this planet than those who through faith, have obeyed from the heart the glorious Gospel of Christ and were added to God’s Book of Life and to His church. It is true, however, that some of these have chosen to renounce their kingdom citizenship and have become entangled again in the evils of the world.
We sincerely ask the question, “If this world continues for yet many thousands of years, will there be a better people than those who are true children of God, those who have submitted to the authority of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit?” Without hesitation I would reply with a resounding, “No!” In the ranks of these righteous ones are those of great education and of great influence among men and women. Also in these ranks are those that we generally refer to as “common folks.” These are those who labor every day among their fellow men, and as they do so, they leave the sweet aroma of a true follower of Christ. Like all other true Christians, they are “the light of the world.” I humbly and thankfully place myself among such who, too, are depending upon the promises of God.
In these years of preaching I cannot recall the many times that I have been in one way or the other asked the question that serves as the title to this article. On one occasion, as I was later told by a very large man who asked me this question about his grandmother, that if I had given him the answer that another had given him he fully intended to “throw you [me] through the window.” My answer was, “I could answer your question, but you would not understand why I answered it in the way that I did.” I then asked him to allow me to study with him, and he agreed to do so. About six or seven months later I had the privilege of baptizing him into Christ, and I didn’t get thrown through a window. He later became a deacon in the church.
In examining this question in the context that it is usually asked, let us notice a few things.
That the Lord has given to each of us the right to make certain judgments is biblical. In John 7:24 Jesus Himself said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” The only way that any man can give righteous judgment is to use the “righteous” authority that is the Bible. By this rule, we do not give righteous judgment if we tell anyone that he is saved by faith alone, or by anything alone. One does not give righteous judgment when he promotes any unscriptural role for women in the church, when he defends the use of mechanical instruments in worship to God, when he promotes the “one church is as good as another” idea or a host of other inventions of men.
Righteous judgment is to give an appropriate Scripture reference to questions that come our way. These Scriptures tell us, “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.) Such judgment will be without partiality.
[Editor’s Note: Christians are obligated to provide biblical answers to religious questions about the Christian faith (1 Peter 3:15). As such, we are comparable to being mailmen from God, delivering messages from heaven. Yet, it is not the Christian’s job or prerogative to decide the eternal disposition of any soul – either in heaven or in hell (James 4:1). Scripture reveals the eternal peril of sin generally (Romans 6:23) and does so specifically as well (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), but it also provides the solution that will enable sinners to escape spiritual death (1 Corinthians 6:11). Yes, Christians ought to acquaint the lost with the Gospel (Acts 8:20-22), and yet, we must do so in the spirit of love (Ephesians 4:15). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Can We Trust the Bible?
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV). Nevertheless, a very common charge made against the Bible today is, “You can’t trust the Bible. It’s full of all kinds of contradictions and errors.” You may have heard this kind of thing from a friend or coworker. Maybe you have even heard this stated on TV, but is it true? Is the Bible an unreliable book full of errors and contradictions? To answer this question, let us look at some of the more commonly cited “proofs” for the assertion that the Bible contains contradictions and errors.
Some, in an attempt to prove the Bible contains contradictions, will point to the number of horse stalls that Solomon is said to have had in 2 Chronicles 9:25 (4,000) and 1 Kings 4:26 (40,000). On the surface this does appear to be a contradiction, but is it really? The 4,000 mentioned in 2 Chronicles is most likely speaking of horse stables while the 40,000 mentioned in 1 Kings is speaking of individual stalls. If each stable housed 10 stalls, then that would account for the supposed contradiction.
Another supposed contradiction has to do with John 20:12, which mentions two “angels,” and Luke 24:4, which mentions two “men.” Those who present these texts as contradictions ask us, “Were there two men or two angels at the tomb of Jesus?” Again, there is absolutely no contradiction here at all. It is important to recognize that one text may simply state what someone saw and another may explain the event. For example, in Genesis 18:22, we are told that “two men” went down toward Sodom. In the very next chapter, we are told that those two men were angels (Genesis 19:1). This is not a contradiction or an error; angels often appeared in human form throughout the Bible. One text mentioned that they appeared in human form while the other tells us that they were actually angels.
What can we say about the inspiration and reliability of the Bible in a positive way? The first thing to note is that the Bible itself claims to be the inspired Word of God. In the King James Version, the phrase “thus saith the Lord” is found 415 times. Jesus and the New Testament authors believed the Old Testament was God’s inspired words (Mark 12:10; John 2:22; Acts 8:32; Romans 11:2).
We see a similar claim for the New Testament. Jesus claimed to speak the words of God (John 8:46-47; 18:37). The apostle Paul also viewed his own writings as Scripture (1 Corinthians 14:37-38). The apostle John thought that what he taught was from God (1 John 4:6), and the apostle Peter viewed Paul’s writings as equal to the inspired Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Of course, the fact that the Bible claims to be the Word of God doesn’t necessarily make it so, but we do need to take the claim seriously. Eminent scholar John Warwick Montgomery said, “Historical and literary scholarship continues to follow Aristotle’s eminently just dictum that the benefit of doubt is to be given to the document itself… This means that one must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualifies himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies.”
It’s one thing for the Bible to claim to be divinely inspired, but quite another to prove it. Here I present only two examples to show that the Bible is reliable and divinely inspired. The first is that the Bible contains remarkable scientific foreknowledge. For example, God told Abraham to administer circumcision on the eighth day of a child’s life (Genesis 17:12). Why on the eighth day? We now know that this is the best day to circumcise a child because the body produces high levels of vitamin K and prothrombin relative to the eighth day, which are blood clotting agents.
The second is that the Bible contains remarkable future predictions, hundreds and even thousands of years before the events took place. For example, Psalm 22:16 spoke about the Christ to come that His hands and feet would be “pierced.” This psalm foretold of the kind of death the Christ would experience, and it mentions the piercing of his hands and feet, a clear reference to crucifixion. However, crucifixion was not a common practice at the time in history when Psalm 22 was penned. Not only that, but the Jews themselves didn’t practice this kind of thing. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later when the Roman Empire came into existence that we find crucifixion becoming a common practice. Yet, the Bible predicted that Jesus would be crucified. These are only two examples out of the many proofs that could be given for the Bible’s reliability and inspiration.
It’s clear that the Bible claims to be the inspired Word of Almighty God from beginning to end. We can trust the Bible because when it speaks about geography, it’s reliable. When it mentions rulers and empires, it’s reliable. Science has shown there is divine foreknowledge contained within it. Prophecies found hundreds and thousands of years before Christ find their fulfillment in him. There is more than enough evidence to prove that the Bible is trustworthy, reliable and authoritative. We can have confidence that the Bible truly is the Word of God.