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Modernism & Miracles: Is the Bible Infallible, Inerrant, & Historically Accurate?

Modernism & Miracles: Is the Bible Infallible, Inerrant, & Historically Accurate?

Modernism, Miracles, and the Bible:
Is the Bible Inerrant and Historically Accurate?

Modernists, Liberals, & skeptics deny Bible inerrancy and infallibility. They doubt miracles, such as creation, the Virgin Birth, and Jesus' resurrection. Do the Scriptures contain errors or are they verbally inspired as the infallible, inerrant, revelation of God's will?

Modernists, Liberals, and skeptics question or deny that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. They claim Bible writers wrote by human wisdom and so may have included errors or inaccuracies in history or science. This leads to doubts about miracles, such as creation, the Virgin Birth, and Jesus' resurrection, then ultimately to denial of gospel doctrines such as the Deity of Jesus. Do the Scriptures claim verbal inspiration, so they are the infallible, inerrant, revelation of God's will? Is the Bible a true and accurate revelation of the will of God for man or might it contain human errors or mistakes?

Introduction:

The purpose of this study is to examine the teaching of modernism about miracles and to consider how Christians should respond.

I. A Description of Modernism

A. A Definition of Modernism

Modernism, as a religious philosophy, is believed to some extent by many (probably most) denominational preachers who claim to be Christians. Its adherents may differ widely in viewpoint, but we define its major concepts as follows:

Modernism is the belief that the Bible is not infallible but may contain errors or inaccuracies. It generally begins by claiming the Bible contains inaccuracies in history, geography, or science; then it expresses doubt about Bible accounts of miracles and prophetic predictions; then it ends by denying or questioning fundamental doctrines such as the Deity of Jesus, the sacrificial death of Jesus, the nature of God, etc.

Those who hold these views often hesitate to openly profess them. They may fear that their beliefs will shock their congregations, cause loss of support, or drive away potential converts. To hide their views, they may use Bible words, but with different meanings. To make the ideas clear, our quotations include open admissions, but most modernists are usually not this open.

B. Modernism and the Bible

 The New Testament is not infallible, but it is the church's guide and "norm." Of course it needs re-interpretation in every age, and especially today. (Anglican bishop Hugh Montefiore, via Ken Ham in "Back to Genesis," 6/93) 

There is no absolute certainty that Jesus did or said any one of the things attributed to him ... Almost everything we can know about him is to be derived from documents designed to present the Christ of the church's faith, not "how it actually happened." (Bishop John A.T. Robinson, via Worth, Gospel Anchor, 3/76, p. 2) 

I do indeed think that we can now know nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since early Christian sources ... are moreover fragmentary and often legendary... (R.H. Lightfoot, via Daniel King in Truth Magazine, 10/12/78, p. 9) 

[T]he Bible must be demythologized - that is, stripped of its fictional heaven-above, hell-below framework, and its message restated in ideas that make sense now. (Dr. Rudolf Bultmann, via Winnetka Ave. bulletin, 8/23/64)

Some modernists claim the Bible writers were "inspired" like poets and artists are inspired. Some ideas or emotions influenced them, but those ideas were human and subject to error.

Other people say that God just taught the men right ideas, but left them to express those ideas according to their human ability. Or maybe they spoke the truth in matters of religious faith and morals; but when they spoke about history or science, they may have erred.

Still others say the Bible accounts were written many years after the events occurred, so they are not historical facts but just mythical, legendary accounts handed down by church tradition.

All these views lead to the conclusion that Bible writers did not speak the infallible, actual words of God Himself, so they may be mistaken. Maybe we should reject parts as not being true.

C. Modernism and Miracles

The Garden of Eden is a 'myth,' i.e., a historical tale embodying spiritual truth ... it is exceedingly unlikely that there was a First Man and Woman. (Montefiore, op. cit.

Nazareth was hard by a Roman garrison where the soldiers were German mercenaries ... Hence Jesus must have been the child of a German soldier! ... Such an interpretation has been made of His life, and who can deny that such a conjecture could be true? (Nels F.S. Ferre, via O'Neal in Vanguard, 6/9/77, p. 9)

According to Redbook Magazine, Episcopal bishop James A. Pike claimed that Joseph was probably the physical father of Jesus. (per O'Neal).

The Resurrection, for example, was no more than recovery from apparent death ... At the Transfiguration, an unknown friend of Jesus, hidden in the morning mists, called out in the hearing of the apostolic three "This is my beloved Son." (H.R. Mackintosh, via Willis, Truth Magazine, 8/1/74, p. 3) 
Neal Buffaloe [a member of the Lord's church] said, "One must accept all of evolution or none. And the evidence for organic evolution is overwhelmingly convincing ... either the Genesis account of the 'days' is non-literal or it is false." (via O'Neal, Truth Magazine, 10/26/78, p. 9)

Andre Resner, Bible professor at Abilene Christian University, said regarding the dream in which an angel told Joseph that Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit:

A dream that was real, yes, but still a dream. Could it have been a message from God? Or, could it have been his own imagination, his wanting to believe her so much that his subconscious produced a nocturnal justification for marrying her, even in the face of such an outlandish excuse! (via Willis in Preceptor, 7/93, p. 4)

Such quotations can be multiplied. Many prominent and not-so-prominent preachers clearly do not believe that Bible accounts of miracles should be taken as historic truth. What conclusions should we reach about such views in light of the Bible evidence?

II. The Importance of Bible Miracles

A. Bible Statements about the Purpose of Miracles and Prophecy.

Miracles and fulfilled prophecy are major proofs that the God of the Bible is the true God.

Isaiah 41:21-23 - God rested His claim to be the true God (in contrast to idols) on His ability to predict the future.

Isaiah 42:8,9 - He refused to allow idols to receive the glory that is due Him, and claimed He is the true God because He declared events before they occurred.

To deny the accuracy of Bible accounts of miracles and prophecy is to deny one of the major proofs that the God of the Bible is the true God. If we deny that God empowered men to do miracles and to predict the future, what reason do we have to we believe He is the true God? Why not instead worship some idol or serve no god at all?

Miracles and fulfilled prophecy are major proofs that Bible writers spoke for God.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 - If a man falsely claimed to be a prophet to speak for God, he should die. One proof of a false prophet was if his predictions of the future did not come true. Consider what this means for Bible writers. If their attempts to predict the future were in fact inaccurate, then they should be rejected as false teachers.

Acts 14:3 - Bible writers claimed that signs and wonders done by their hands bore witness that they spoke God's word. But if those miracles may not really have happened, how can we know their message was from God?

Mark. 16:20- Bible writers said their miracles confirmed that their message was from God. What reason do we have to believe, if the miracles never really occurred?

To deny the accuracy of Bible accounts of miracles and prophecy is to deny the foundational evidence that the Bible writers were spokesmen for God. Those who undermine the historic nature of Bible miracles are destroying the foundation of their own faith and of the faith of all who accept their views.

[Jeremiah 28:9; Hebrews 2:3,4]

Miracles and prophecy are major proofs that Jesus is the Son of God.

Luke 24:25-27,44 - Jesus claimed that He fulfilled predictions from the Old Testament. If this is not true, why should we accept His claims to be true?

John 20:30,31 - The Bible record of Jesus' miracles is the basis of our faith. We believe that He is God's Son and that we have eternal life through Him, because we have the eyewitness testimony of His miracles recorded for us in the Scriptures. If those records are not accurate, how can we believe and be saved?

Acts 2:22,25-36 - Jesus' apostles claimed that His miracles, His resurrection, and His fulfillment of prophecy prove He is Christ and Savior. If we deny the miracles and prophecies, how do we know who He really is?

To deny or doubt the validity of the miracles and prophecies in the Bible is to totally undermine the basis of our faith. If we cannot be sure these records are accurate, how do we know any of the Bible is true? How do we know the God of the Bible is the true God and Jesus is His Son? In short, why should anyone even want to be a Christian? And why would anyone claim to be a preacher of the message of Jesus if he does not believe these evidences?

Consider now the Bible teaching specifically about several fundamental Bible miracles.

[John 5:36,39; Acts 2:22,25-36; 3:14-26; 17:2,3]

B. Bible Teaching about Creation.

Many Scriptures throughout the Bible affirm the doctrine of creation.

Genesis chap. 1&2; Exodus 20:11 - Not only did Moses record the account of creation, but he later affirmed that God made heaven, earth, and everything in them in six days.

Psalm 33:6,9; Jeremiah 10:12 - David and Jeremiah confirmed that the heavens and earth were created by the command of God.

John 1:1-3 - John affirmed that Jesus existed in the beginning with the Father, and that all things were made through Him.

Matthew 19:3-9 - Jesus Himself quoted and confirmed Moses' account of the creation of the first man and woman "at the beginning."

Many other similar passages can be cited (see many other verses below).

So, the Bible claims repeatedly throughout its teaching that the world was created by God. These claims were confirmed by Jesus Himself. If we deny this, we deny the accuracy of Jesus and of multitudes of Bible writers. If the Bible is wrong about this doctrine, why claim to believe in Jesus or in any of the Bible?

Creation is another major proof that God exists.

Romans 1:20 - God's power and Godhead are clearly seen by the things that are created.

Psalm 19:1 - The heavens declare God's glory and the firmament shows His handiwork.

Acts 17:24-31 - Creation is one of the major evidences Paul used to establish to idol worshipers that the God of the Bible is the true God.

To deny creation is to deny another major proof that God exists. To in any way undermine the doctrine is to undermine faith in God. Why bother to claim we believe in God if we deny the evidence for that faith?

The principle that living things were created to reproduce after their kind is the basis for avoiding religious error and for our assurance of eternal rewards.

Genesis 1:11f,21f,24f - The creation account repeatedly states that God made the plants and animals to reproduce after their own kind.

Matthew 7:15-20 - Jesus confirmed this principle and used it as a test to identify false teachers. To cast doubt on the creation account is to cast doubt on the word of Jesus.

Galatians 6:7,8; 1 Peter 1:23-25 - The gospel uses this creation principle to illustrate how we are born again by the gospel, and how we can have hope of eternal life.

But if creation is not true and, given enough time, organisms can change into completely different kinds, then we have no way of recognizing false teachers and no way of knowing that obeying the gospel will really lead to eternal life.

Again, when we undermine the Bible doctrine of creation, we undermine faith in Jesus and our own hope of eternal salvation. Why even claim to be a Christian?

Creation establishes man's unique nature in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26-28 - The Bible teaches that people are special to God, different from animals, because He created us in His image.

James 3:9,10 - This principle is repeated in the New Testament and used as the basis for teaching us to treat one another properly.

But if we evolved from the animals, then we have their same basic nature, and there is little or nothing special about us. Who could tell what purpose there is for our existence? And why should we not conclude that death is the end of our existence just like with animals?

If modernism is true and man was not created, then we have no reason to believe we are in the image of God. The effect of modernism is to undermine or deny the Bible teaching of life after death, the purpose of life, the nature of man, and man's unique relationship with God. Why even profess to serve God?

[Psalm 8:4-8; 1 Corinthians 11:7]

Creation is the basis of marriage as a Divine institution.

Genesis 2:18-24 - At creation God ordained marriage and gave basic rules to govern it.

Matthew 19:4-9; Ephesians 5:31 - Jesus confirmed the creation of the first man and woman and of marriage. He based His teaching regarding marriage on that original creation teaching. Paul then reaffirmed that creation account and enlarged on the conduct of husband and wife.

If the creation account is not true history, then Jesus and the Bible writers are wrong again. And marriage is a human institution having no Divine regulation.

[1 Corinthians 11:8,9; 1 Corinthians 15:22,45,47; 1 Timothy 2:13]

The creation account is the basis for the doctrine that people have fallen under the curse of sin, needing salvation by the blood of Jesus.

Genesis 1:31; 2:16,17; 3:1-6,16-19 - The creation account clearly teaches that people were created "very good," but fell into sin. This brought a curse on the earth, including death.

2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14 - The gospel expressly confirms the creation account of the first sin.

But if evolution is true, then man is not a fallen creature at all but is progressively improving. Further, death is not the consequence of sin but existed all along as a necessary step in the process of man's development from the animals.

And if man has not fallen under the curse of sin, why do we need Jesus as our Savior or His death as our sacrifice for sin? Why do we need the gospel message? Why can we not just solve our problems by evolving to perfection? This is why so many evolutionists have accepted philosophies like atheism, humanism, Nazism, communism, the occult, or the New Age movement.

In short, if the Bible account of creation is not true, the Bible is not just a good book, but is filled with lies and inaccuracies. There can be no middle ground. Rather than professing to follow it while picking what we wish to believe and ignoring the rest, we should just reject the whole thing.

[1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Hebrews 2:14,15;]

C. Bible Teaching about the Virgin Birth.

The Bible accounts of the virgin birth affirm Mary conceived without a man.

Matthew 1:16 - A whole genealogy of men (vv 1-16) were "begotten" by other men. But the account carefully distinguishes Jesus' birth, saying Jesus "was born" of Mary, whose husband was Joseph. It carefully refuses to say Jesus was begotten by Joseph. [Luke 3:23]

Matthew 1:18 - Mary was found with child before she and Joseph came together.

Matthew 1:19,20 - An angel told Joseph not to put Mary away. If it was his child, why would he consider putting her away, and what grounds could he have?

Matthew 1:25 - Joseph knew her not until Jesus had been born.

Matthew 1:22,23: Luke 1:27, 31,34 - She was a virgin; she had not known a man.

Luke 1:28,30,42,43,48 - An angel and an inspired woman both told Mary that she conceived because she was blessed and highly favored by God. God was with her.

But if Mary conceived by Joseph or by any other man, she was guilty of the sin of fornication, which keeps those who practice it from entering the kingdom of heaven (Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8). If so, where is the blessing and honor in it for Mary? How could God be "with her"? Did God bring His Son into the world by such a sin?

The Bible claims this was revealed by an angel to Mary and to Joseph (and the account nowhere says Mary was dreaming). If this is not reliable as historic fact, why believe anything the Bible claims to be from God? Why believe that any of the men in the genealogies ever lived? In short, why profess to be a follower of Jesus at all?

The virgin birth fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.

Matthew 1:22,23 - The birth of Jesus to Mary fulfilled the promise of Isaiah 7:14 that a virgin would conceive and bear a son. To deny the virgin birth is to deny a major Old Testament prophecy as a proof that Jesus was Christ.

We have seen that fulfilled prophecy is a major proof that Jesus was Christ and Savior, and that God exists. If we deny this prophecy, why claim to believe in God or Jesus at all?

The virgin birth was a miracle to prove Jesus was Christ, the Son of God.

Luke 1:31,34 - Mary conceived as a virgin though she knew not a man (Matthew 1:22,23; Luke 1:27; Isaiah 7:14).

Matthew 1:18,20; Luke 1:35 - She conceived because the power of the Holy Spirit came on her. What was conceived was of the Holy Spirit. This was stated by an angel.

Luke 1:35 - He is the Son of God because He was born by the power of the Holy Spirit. Had he been conceived by a man, how would this indicate He was the Son of God.

Matthew 1:21 - He would save people from their sins. If the account is not accurate, why should we believe He can save us from sin?

To deny the virgin birth is to deny that the Holy Spirit did a miracle here to prove Jesus was Christ. If we reject this evidence, what evidence would we accept? Why claim to believe in Him at all if we deny the proof of His claims? If the Bible is not reliable here, why believe it about anything? The result of such denials is to lead to complete rejection of the authority of the Bible and of Jesus as God's Son.

D. Bible Teaching about Jesus' Resurrection

The apostles testified that the resurrection was a historical event.

Acts 2:22-24,32 - The apostles repeatedly publicly testified that Jesus had been raised and they had personally seen Him alive. They openly, deliberately volunteered their testimony for the specific purpose of confirming that the resurrection was a historic fact. (See chap. 3,4, etc.)

1 Corinthians 15:14,15 - The apostles themselves said that, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then they should be viewed as false witnesses. The integrity of the apostles as witnesses goes hand-in-hand with the truthfulness of the resurrection as a historic event.

Modernists question or deny the resurrection, yet want to avoid concluding that this means the apostles are false witnesses. The apostles themselves deny the possibility of such a middle-ground position. If Jesus did not arise, the apostles are false witnesses. If the apostles are honest witnesses, then Jesus rose from the dead.

The resurrection is a major proof that Jesus is God's Son.

Acts 2:23,24,29-32,36 - Because of the apostles' testimony regarding Jesus' resurrection and other miracles, we can know assuredly that He is Lord and Christ. But if we cannot know He was raised, what assurance is there that He is Lord and Christ?

Romans 1:4 - He was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. But if He was not raised, why should we believe He is the Son of God?

John 20:24-31 - Jesus' signs, including the resurrection are written so we may believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing we may have life in His name.

The resurrection is the greatest miraculous proof of Jesus' claims. If we deny the resurrection, what reason do we have to believe in Him at all?

[Luke 24:44-46]

The resurrection is foundational to salvation from sin through Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4,14,17-19 - The resurrection is a foundational fact in the gospel by which we are saved. If He was not raised, our faith is vain, we are still in sin, and we are most pitiable.

Romans 10:9,10 - To be saved we must believe that God has raised Jesus from the dead.

If we accept the views of the modernists, we no longer have a saving faith but are still in sin!

[1 Peter 3:21; Colossians 2:12,13; Romans 6:3-5]

The resurrection assures us that we will be raised and receive eternal life.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 - Christ is the firstfruits from the dead. He shall make all men alive.

Acts 17:30,31 - All men should repent because they will be judged by Jesus. The assurance of this is that God raised Him from the dead.

1 Peter 1:3,4 - Through Jesus' resurrection we are begotten to our inheritance in heaven. But if there is no resurrection, why should we believe we will be raised and rewarded in heaven?

Imagine a patient who is taken in for major surgery. Afterward the doctors report to his relatives that they had to amputate his brain, heart, and, lungs, but the surgery was a success and the patient is doing just fine! This is what modernists wants us to believe about the gospel. They have sought to remove every vital proof that God exists, the Bible is from God, and Jesus is God's Son, yet somehow they want us to believe our faith is still alive and well!

The Bible says that, when we deny these miraculous proofs, our faith is already vain. We are of all men most miserable!

[1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]

III. The Importance of Bible Accuracy

Why does it matter whether or not we view the Scriptures as being infallible and inerrant?

A. Bible Writers Claimed Their Records Were Accurate and Inspired.

Bible writers repeatedly claimed their message was from God.

Jeremiah 10:1,2 - Hear the word which the Lord speaks. Thus says the Lord...

1 Corinthians 14:37 - The things I write are commands of the Lord.

Ephesians 3:3-5 - The things Paul wrote were made known by the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 4:15 - We say by the word of the Lord.

1 Timothy 4:1 - The Spirit expressly says.

We could never list here all the innumerable examples of such claims. The very nature of these claims is such that they must be true or else the men who made them are lying or mentally deranged. The inevitable conclusion that follows from modernism is that Bible writers are either so wicked or so confused that no one should trust them in any capacity as religious teachers.

[1 Corinthians 2:10-13; John 16:13; Matthew 10:19,20; Galatians 1:8-12; 2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Luke 10:16; Isaiah 1:2; Matthew 1:22; Ezekiel 1:3; Acts 1:16; 28:25; Hebrews 1:1,2; Hosea 1:1,2; Jonah 1:1; Micah 1:1; Zech 1:1]

The writers claimed everything they wrote was from God.

They did not claim to write some truths from God and some from their own wisdom.

Joshua 1:7,8 - Joshua should observe all that was written in the book.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - All Scripture is inspired and profitable to furnish to all good works.

2 Peter 1:20,21 - No Scripture is of private interpretation; for prophecy never came by will of man, but men spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit.

It will not do to say that some Scripture teaches God's will, but other Scripture originated by human will. If the writers spoke the truth, then it is all revealed from God so it is all authoritative. If it is not all from God, then we should reject the writers entirely as fakes and pretenders.

[Exodus 24:3-8; Deuteronomy 17:18-20]

The writers claimed God gave them the very words they wrote.

God did not just give the ideas and let the men choose the words to express them.

Exodus 24:3,4,8 - Moses gave people all the words the Lord spoke.

Deuteronomy 18:18 - God put His words in prophet's mouth.

2 Samuel 23:2 - The Spirit's word was on my tongue.

1 Corinthians 2:4 - Paul did not preach in words of human wisdom. As a result, their faith would stand, not in man's wisdom, but in the power of the Spirit. Note the conclusion: If the writers wrote some things by human wisdom, then our faith would be in man, not in God.

1 Corinthians 2:10-13 - The message spoken was given to inspired men by the Spirit. Then they spoke in words taught them by the Spirit not by man.

The only proper view of Bible inspiration is that every word is exactly the word God wanted ("verbal" inspiration). To deny this is to simply deny that the writers themselves spoke the truth, so why believe anything they said?

[Isaiah 51:16; 59:21; Jeremiah 1:4-9; 30:1-4; 36:1-4; Ezekiel 3:4; Zech. 7:12; Exodus 4:14-16; 7:1f]

The writers denied they wrote by human wisdom and said that those who do so are false teachers.

Modernists say, in effect, that there may be errors in Scripture because the writers (at times) spoke by human wisdom. What do the Bible writers say about this?

Jeremiah 14:14 - If a man claims to speak a message from God when God did not really speak to him, then the message is just his own idea, and that man is a false prophet. He deserves to be punished and rejected as a prophet (v15). [23:16,26; Ezekiel 13:2-7,17]

Matthew 10:19,20 - Jesus told the apostles the Spirit would give them what and how to speak. So it was not the men who spoke, but the spirit of the Father spoke in them. But if the men did in fact speak by human wisdom, then this means Jesus Himself spoke a falsehood here.

Galatians 1:8-12 - The gospel Paul preached did not come from man but was revealed from Jesus. To preach another gospel is to be accursed. So it follows that preaching a message that was human in origin would bring the curse of God on the Bible writers.

2 Peter 1:20,21 - Prophecy never came by will of man, but holy men spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 22:18,19 - If men add their teachings to the book, God will add the plagues written. Note that men were not forbidden simply to write something entirely human. They were forbidden to take a message from God and then add something human to it.

If modernists are correct that Bible writers sometimes wrote their own human ideas, then according to what the Bible writers themselves said, they must be false teachers, liars, condemned of God, and worthy to be punished. In that case, we should not accept their writings as having any authority at all!

[1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:4,5; Ezekiel 3:26f; Numbers 22:35; chap. 23; Deuteronomy 18:18-22; Matthew 15:9]

The conclusion of the claims of Bible writers is that Scriptures is inerrant.

Modernists claim there are errors in the Scriptures. But if every word is from God, then there cannot be errors, because God is infallible and makes no errors.

Deuteronomy 18:18-22 - The test of a prophet is this: if he makes a mistake in prophetic utterance, he is not from God. Don't fear him. Modernism says we should try to sort out the truth from the error in his message. But the Bible says we should conclude that God did not send the man at all, so we should totally reject his message. He is a false teacher.

Psalm 119:128,142,160 - All God's precepts are right.

John 17:17 - God's word is truth.

Titus 1:2,3 - The word was manifest by God, who cannot lie.

Revelation 21:5 - The words written are true and faithful. [19:9]

The claims of the Scriptures themselves will not allow us to accept the middle-ground of the modernist. To claim to believe in the Bible and to follow Jesus, while claiming there are human errors in the Bible, is to contradict the Bible itself.

Christians must believe that there are no errors at all in the Bible writings (it is "infallible and inerrant"). The man who says there are errors in the Bible is saying that he is not a true disciple of Jesus at all.

[Numbers 22:35,38; 23:5,12,16,19,20; Psalm 19:7-9; 33:4; Romans 3:4; Hebrews 6:18; Psalm 147:4,5; Job 37:16; 1 Peter 5:12; Galatians 1:20; John 10:35; Jas 1:25; Revelation 19:9]

B. Faith in Jesus Requires Us to Accept the Accuracy of Scripture.

Modernists say they are followers of Jesus, but they don't necessarily believe that everything in the Bible is true. But consider what this view says about Jesus Himself.

The Bible is the only way to really know who Jesus was or what He taught.

How can you know Jesus is God's Son and a true prophet without appealing to Scripture? In fact, what good would it do you to believe in Jesus without the Scriptures, since you would have no idea what He did or did not teach?

John 21:24; 19:35; 1 John 1:1-3 - John said that the things he wrote about Jesus were written as an eyewitness of things he had personally seen, heard, and witnessed.

Acts 1:1 - Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, said that he had written a "former account" about all that Jesus began both to do and to teach - referring to the book of Luke. In Luke 1:1-4 he said that he wrote this record from the testimony of eyewitnesses, so that we could know the certainty of what we believe.

2 Peter 1:16-18 - Peter claimed that they did not follow cunningly devised fables when they taught about Jesus, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. They heard the voice of God speak at the Transfiguration (commanding them to listen to Jesus). These evidences recorded in the New Testament serve to confirm that the Old Testament Scriptures were from the Spirit (vv 19-21).

John 5:39,46,47 - These eyewitnesses tell us that Jesus said that the Scriptures testified about Him and that Moses wrote about Him (in prophecy).

Luke 24:25-27; 44 - He explained that the things the prophets wrote about the Christ were speaking about Him!

John 20:28-31 - Jesus allowed men to call Him "Lord and God," and He said all others should believe this too. There is no middle ground. We either accept this as true, or we do not accept what Jesus claimed for Himself.

How can we know whether or not His claims are true? The eyewitnesses wrote the evidence in the Scriptures. On this basis we can believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and thereby receive eternal life.

So the men who wrote the record of Jesus' life and teachings say they were guided by the Holy Spirit and wrote many things as eyewitnesses. They further claim that Jesus Himself said the Old Testament prophets spoke about Him. Why claim to follow Jesus, when you do not accept as true the only evidence we have about His teachings? And how can you follow a man when you have no idea at all how He lived or what He taught?

[John 12:48-50; Matthew 28:18; Acts 17:2f; 18:28; etc.]

Jesus confirmed the teachings of the Old and New Testaments

Matthew 15:3,4 - Jesus Himself confirmed that the Scriptures were from God. He quoted the Law revealed through Moses and said it was what God commanded.

Matthew 22:29-32 - He said the Scriptures were spoken by God. If we believe Jesus, we must believe that the Old Testament writers spoke the very words of God so accurately that we can make arguments based on the tense of a verb! [Matthew 19:4-6; 22:43; 4:4; John 10:35]

John 16:13 - Jesus likewise promised the men who penned the New Testament that the Spirit would guide them into all truth. [John 14:26]

Matthew 10:19,20 - The Holy Spirit would give them what and how to speak.

Luke 10:16 - He who hears the men who wrote the New Testament, hears Jesus; he who rejects the inspired men, rejects Jesus and rejects God Who sent Jesus. Here is a plain challenge from Jesus to those who reject what His apostles and prophets wrote. Jesus Himself says that such people have rejected both Him and His Father in heaven.

So, Jesus confirmed the authority of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Unlike the modernists, Jesus never once admitted any error in Scripture. Instead, He quoted and used it as God's word.

When modernists claim there are human errors in the Bible, they are denying the claims of Jesus Himself. They say, in effect, that Jesus taught error about the validity of Scripture. But true followers of Jesus respect the Scriptures like He did. They acknowledge that the Scriptures are an accurate revelation of God's will and an accurate record of Jesus' life and teaching. If one denies this, he simply is not a true disciple of Jesus and may as well admit it.

C. Only in the Bible Do We Have a Reliable Source of Religious Authority.

Unbelief is progressive. When people begin to doubt or deny the accuracy of the Scriptures, there is no basis for believing anything the Bible says. There is no logical stopping point. Almost invariably such people begin to question and deny more miracles and more doctrines, because they have undermined the foundation of belief.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - Bible writers claimed that the teachings, that they delivered from God and recorded in the Scriptures, are the reliable source of authority and guidance in religion. They said we must obey all that is taught, or we stand condemned (Acts 3:22,23; Matthew 28:18-20). They said we will be judged by the message Jesus revealed through them (John 12:48).

Galatians 1:8,9 - They taught, furthermore, that we should not follow human doctrines or anything different from what they received from God. [Matthew 15:9,13; 2 John 9-11; Colossians 3:17; Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12; 3:5,6; Revelation 22:18,19]

Modernism says there may be errors in Scripture, so we should follow only the parts that are truth. But how can we decide what is true and what is not? What standard or guide do we have?

Whereas the Bible writers expressly condemned following human authority in religion, the effect of the modernist approach is to leave us with no authority at all except human wisdom, human opinions, and human desires. One wonders if that was the goal from the outset. By casting doubt on Scripture, men leave themselves free to disregard God's word and do as they please.

Conclusion

The claims of the Bible writers are such that they will not let us take a middle ground, as modernists try to do. Either we must accept the Bible as completely God's word with no errors, or else we must completely reject it as having no authority in religion at all. But to compromise and say we believe some of it but not all of it, is to take a position that the teachings of the Bible itself will not allow. There is no point in even claiming to be a Christian.

Matthew 22:29 - What Jesus said of the Sadducees is also true of today's modernists: They are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. They doubt or deny portions of God's word, so they do not really appreciate Scripture. They doubt or deny miracles, so they know not the power of God.

The Scriptures and Bible miracles are true, and the way to know this is to consider the evidence God has provided in the Scriptures (fulfilled prophecy, unity, miracles, etc.). Do you believe in the Scriptures and the power of God? Are you allowing the Scriptures to guide your life?

Note: We have a number of other articles about the authority of Scripture on our web site. If you would like to study further, please see the related links listed below.

(C) Copyright 2012, David E. Pratte 
Local churches and individuals may, within limits, distribute this Bible study guide for free, but not for sale.  Web sites may link to this page but not reproduce it. For details click here for our copyright guidelines.

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Topics for further Bible study

The Claims of the Bible
Bible Inspiration: Infallible, Inerrant, Verbal
Evidences for God, Jesus, & the Bible
What Claims Did Jesus Make?
Bible Validation: How to Test It
Evidence for Jesus' Resurrection
Why So Much Religious Confusion and Disagreement?
The Preservation of the Bible
The Bible vs. Denominational Creeds
Divine Authority vs. Human Authority in Religion
Can We Understand the Bible?
Authority of Teaching of Apostles & Paul

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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