The Bible Is a Different Kind of Book
Instead of us trying to figure out God, the Bible is God telling us about himself. It may sound odd to say that “God revealed himself” through what’s essentially a collection of documents written by various men in ancient times. While some portions of the Bible were specifically dictated by God himself, most of it was written by humans using their own words.
However, those words were not merely their own. In numerous places throughout the Bible, we find the claim that these are the words of God. Sometimes God spoke directly to individuals, who then wrote down what he said (Jer. 1:1–2; Ezek. 1:3; 2 Pet. 1:20–21). More often the authors wrote in their own name, but God was the one inspiring the very words they wrote (2 Tim. 3:16). Author and long-time pastor John Piper explains it this way: “The Holy Spirit worked in and through the human authors so that the words were really their own way of writing, but expressed God’s meaning with the words he willed for them to use.”1
Most of the biblical authors were not just scribes writing down the words God dictated to them. When you read these writings—especially the New Testament—you can see their unique personalities and styles. Luke writes in refined, educated Greek. Some of the former fishermen use rather bad Greek and employ the Hebrew expressions with which they would have been more familiar. Paul uses extremely long and complicated sentences, and as an educated man, is skilled at addressing both Greeks and Jews with terms and analogies familiar to their cultural contexts.
Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit was actively working in and through their writing so that their very words were inspired by God. “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul writes that “all Scripture is breathed out by God.” He was speaking of the Old Testament scriptures here, but in other places he himself specifically claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 7:40). In 2 Peter 3:15–16, Peter calls Paul’s writings Scripture, putting them on the same level as the Old Testament.
The Bible is both divinely inspired and written in human words. This is a marvelous grace of God! He has shown us himself yet in human language and words we understand. Because of that, we can read, study, and communicate this truth about him to others. Praise God!
The Truth Can Stand
This is written with the assumption that the Bible is in fact what it claims to be—that is, the true and divinely inspired word of God. If it’s not, Bible study would be pointless or even dangerous. But if the Bible is God’s word, then studying and knowing it is one of the most important things we could ever do because it allows us to know God himself.
This assumption is not a groundless one. I don’t just believe in the Bible because it’s what I’ve always known—or because it’s practical to do so—and neither should you. We should believe what we do because it is really true.
That’s why it’s okay to ask questions like, “How can I know the Bible is really the word of God?” Our faith isn’t baseless—there are good and convincing reasons to believe the Bible. Asking questions won’t destroy your faith; in fact, looking for answers can actually strengthen your faith, because the answers are there to find. Christianity isn’t a religious system that collapses if you think about it too hard. The truth can stand up to the toughest questions.
The Most Convincing Argument
If you’re already a believer, it’s likely there will come a time when you’ll have to wrestle with why you believe what you believe. If you’ve never understood why it makes sense to believe the Bible, my prayer is that you will. There are many good reasons to believe the Bible is true. Unfortunately, there isn’t room here to go into them all or to give extended explanations. However, perhaps the most convincing argument is the Bible itself.
John Calvin writes that “Scripture bears upon the face of it as clear evidence of its truth, as white and black do of their color, sweet and bitter their taste.”2 If this is true, we don’t need to read a lot of long, complex books before we can know for ourselves that the Bible is really God’s word. We can see it for ourselves as we read and study. The Westminster Catechism, a document from the seventeenth century laying out Christian beliefs, argues, “The scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God, by . . . the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God.”3
But if the Bible is God’s word, then studying and knowing it is one of the most important things we could ever do because it allows us to know God himself.
This is the point of John Piper’s excellent book, A Peculiar Glory. God’s glory is manifest in the Scriptures, revealing itself in every command, every narrative, and the way they all fit together in the broad story of redemption. “This pervasive aim of the Scriptures to glorify God, in what they teach and how they teach it, reveals the handiwork of God in the writing of the Bible.”4 The way Scripture glorifies God is the best evidence for its truth.
This glory is everywhere in Scripture, but we won’t see it until God opens our eyes to see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Our eyes are blinded to his beauty and perfection; his Spirit has to do a work in our hearts before we can see it. But as our eyes are opened, we behold God in the meaning of these words and see a kind of glory that’s displayed by no other book, no other doctrine in this world.
Countless books have been written about the Bible’s truthfulness. Scholars and pastors much more learned than we are have dealt with subjects such as supposed contradictions in the Bible, historical proofs, the resurrection, and difficult topics such as how evil can exist. Books like this can be very helpful in strengthening our own faith and explaining it to others.
1. John Piper, A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 75.
2. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), 69.
3. The Westminster Catechism quoted in John Piper, A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 13.
4. Piper, Peculiar Glory, 211.
This article is adapted from Transformed by Truth: Why and How to Study the Bible for Yourself as a Teen by Katherine Forster.
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- An Open Letter to Pastors about the Teens in Their Congregation (Katherine Forster)
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