The Bible claims to be more than an accurate history. It makes claim to be a message
from the Creator of the Universe. Such claims are extraordinary and require evidence
to support them. There are several directions from which this evidence can come.
One kind of evidence of inspiration is that the Bible contains information which
could not have been available to human beings by ordinary processes. Among these
is knowledge of the future. The Bible contains predictions of events which were future
at the time they were written but which have since happened. Many of the predictions
in the Bible were fulfilled only shortly after they were written; these were of importance
at the time that the prophets wrote, but provide little proof nowadays because of
the difficulty of showing the date at which they were given. However, the Bible also
contains long-term predictions, mainly about the history of the nation of Israel.
These long-term predictions are important evidence.
The oldest parts of the Bible were written in the Middle Bronze Age and the most
recent parts were written during the early Roman Empire. The understanding of nature
of the different writers of the Bible would be much different from a modern understanding
of the way the universe works. The Bible is written in a manner which was comprehensible
to a Bronze Age farmer but which is not obviously wrong to a modern scientist. No
other ancient book manages to do this. How could the writers of the Bible know what
scientific discoveries would be made many centuries later?
The Bible was written over a matter of some 1400 years. There were over 35 different
writers. These came from a wide range of background; among them were: peasant farmers,
kings, fishermen, a tax collector, scholars and civil servants. They wrote in three
different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. An equivalent project to producing
a book like the Bible would have been to write a book with a collection of writers
from dark-ages chieftains to modern scientists, including a wide variety of backgrounds.
In spite of these problems the Bible has a single message, both in general terms
and in specific detail. The same picture of God, of life after death, of human nature
and of future hope are found throughout. This indicates a guiding intelligence who
could control the writing over many centuries, many backgrounds and many thousands
of miles. Only God could do this.
Jesus Christ was far more than a prophet, but among the other things he was, he was
certainly a prophet with a message from God. One of the unusual things about Jesus
is that one can show that he is authoritative without having to rely on the Bible
to do so (see pages on Jesus). However, it is very clear that Jesus described the
Old Testament as a message from God, not once but over and over again. The most telling
statement is “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither
will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31). Thus,
if one accepts that Jesus had authority from God for his teaching one must accept
that the Old Testament is inspired by God.
Jesus also promised his disciples that they would receive the Spirit from God. This
was to show them what to teach and to say. The Apostles wrote the New Testament.
The witness of Jesus is that there would be spirit-inspired people to write the New
Testament and to decide whether those who wrote records should be considered as inspired
and authoritative. Thus Jesus underwrites both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
What it Means
The fact that the Bible is a message from God means that it is a book that deserves
attention. However, it doesn’t mean that any organisation that claims to interpret
the Bible has any special position. It is up to us to read the Bible and understand
its message for ourselves.