THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD

The Foundation of Our Faith

 

 
By Gary Ray Branscome

 

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Matthew 24:35

 

          The Bible, from one end to the other, beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation, is the Word of God! It is not just a book that contains the Word of God, it is the Word of God. When Christ said, “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law,” He was telling us that every word, every letter, yea, every punctuation mark is only there because God’s wants it there (Matthew 5:18).

          There are a number of books that answer attacks made on Scripture, and deal with the doubts that Satan sometimes raises in the hearts of believers. In my opinion, “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” by Josh McDowell is one every believer should have. However, we do not need to prove that the Bible is God’s Word. On the contrary, it is God who convinces us that the Bible is His Word, as He works through that Word to bring us to faith, strengthen our faith, and keep us in faith (Romans 10:17, Isaiah 55:11). For that reason, faith in Scripture goes hand in hand with faith in Christ. Furthermore, the words, “No man can come to me, unless the Father who has sent me draws him,” tell us that we could never convince anyone unless God was working through us to convince them (John 6:44).

         

          Although the enemies of God have picked the Bible apart, held it to a much higher standard than any other piece of literature, and carefully examined every part of it in a vain effort to discredit it, they have not succeeded, and they will never succeed. Oh, I am not denying that they have found some passages that they can interpret to contradict either what the Bible says elsewhere, or perceived facts. But that proves nothing, because people can “interpret” the Bible to make it say anything they want. That is why we need to ignore all man made interpretations and concentrate on what the Bible explicitly says.

          Besides, those who think that they can prove the Bible wrong by finding contradictions only show their ignorance. The world around us is full of contradictions, or at least things that look contradictory to our puny finite minds. For example: The fact that we need Iodine in our diet seems to contradict the fact that it is poisonous. The fact that cold water sinks to the bottom seems to contradict the fact that ice forms on the top. And, the fact that positively charged particles repel each other seems to contradict the fact that positively charged particles bind together in the nucleus of an atom. Now, I could mention several more seeming contradictions in nature, but my point should be clear. We only see such facts as contradictory because of our ignorance, not because the facts are wrong. And, people only see contradictions in the Bible because of their ignorance, not because what the Bible says is wrong. Whenever all the facts are known the contradiction disappears.

For that reason, men need to stop being so arrogant, and give God the benefit of the doubt. If we see something in the Bible that seems wrong or contradictory to our puny sin corrupted mind, instead of arrogantly accusing God of making a mistake, we need to humbly admit our own ignorance, and give God the benefit of the doubt (Jeremiah 17:9, Isaiah 55:8). Sometimes, what appears to be a contradiction is only two ways of viewing the same truth (Proverbs 26:4-5).

 

The Cannon of Scripture

 

          The Bible tells us that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” explains that passage by telling us that it, “did not originate of old by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” and includes dozens of other passages which say something like, “Thus saith the LORD” or “The word of the LORD came to me,” all of which testify to the fact of its inspiration (2Timothy 3:16, 2Peter 1:21, Mark 7:13, Matthew 15:6, etc.).

          If the inspired writers sometimes recorded their thoughts or opinions, they did so only because God wanted those things written down, and moved them to write them down. In fact, when the Bible records the words of Satan, the written record of what he said is still the word of God, because it was God who had those words recorded in His book (2Peter 1:21, 1Corinthians 7:6-7, Matthew 4:5-6). However, the question of which books should be included in the Bible and which should not, is not left up to us. Just as God kept the original writings from error, He has kept them from being mixed together with uninspired books.

          Now I realize that the apocryphal books are included in some translations. However, they were never universally accepted, and were never part of Bible in its original language. They were never part of the Hebrew Old Testament, or the Greek New Testament. That is why the church has historically regarded them as apocryphal [i.e. questionable]. And, why the Council of Laodicea (in 363 AD) rejected them as uninspired.

          Nevertheless, because God knew that some of His children would be troubled by the question of which books belong in the Bible and which do not, He included a divine testimony to the completed cannon in His Word. And, that testimony is found in the book of Isaiah.

 

Amazing Isaiah

 

During the Middle Ages Jewish scholars noticed a difference in style between the first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah, and the last twenty-seven chapters. The first thirty-nine chapters are far gloomier, with the emphasis on the law, condemnation, and impending judgement. In contrast, the last twenty-seven chapters include many words of comfort, good news, and assurance of salvation. To give just one example: the word “woe” appears twenty times in the first thirty-nine chapters, but only twice in the last twenty-seven chapters.

          Now because a seventy-two-book translation was being used at the time this division in the book of Isaiah was discovered, no one saw a parallel between that division, and the division of the Bible into a thirty-nine-book Old Testament, and a twenty-seven-book New Testament. It was not until after the reformation began producing translations that went back to the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts (which did not include the apocrypha) that a parallel could be seen.  The Keil-Delitzsh Commentary has this to say about that parallel.

 

“It [the final 27 chapters of Isaiah] commences with a prophecy, which gave to John the Baptist the great theme of his preaching. It closes with the prediction of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, beyond which even the last page of the New Testament Apocalypse cannot go. And in the center the sufferings and exaltation of Christ are proclaimed as clearly, as if the prophet had stood beneath the cross itself, and had seen the Risen Saviour.” (Volume 7, Page 130)

 

Notice that there is not only a parallel in the number of chapters, but there is also a clear parallel between the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, and the fortieth book of the Bible (Matthew), and between the sixty-sixth chapter of Isaiah, and the sixty-sixth book of the Bible (Revelation). Furthermore, once we realize that the last book of the Hebrew Old Testament is Second Chronicles, not Malachi [because the books are in a different order] we can also see a parallel between the thirty-ninth chapter of Isaiah, and the last book of the Hebrew Old Testament. You can call that parallel coincidence if you want to, but If you believe that God is all knowing, then you must believe that He knew that parallel would exist before He moved Isaiah to write the first word. And, if He knew that parallel would exist, then He planned it that way.

 

The Literal Meaning of God’s Word

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          Throughout history, those who have a spirit of error have assumed that the Bible cannot be taken at face value, but must be explained. And, every false prophet who ever tried to use the Bible for his own self-advancement has stepped forward claiming to have the only right explanation. Nevertheless, they are all under a satanic delusion. The words, “we have not written anything to you, other than what you read” tell us that the only meaning God wants you to get from His Word is what the words plainly say (2Corinthians 1:13). Because the inspired writers have used “great plainness of speech,” We do not need man-made explanations, we only need to believe what the Bible says (2Corinthians 3:12).

          Historically, the plain, grammatical meaning of the words has been called the “literal” meaning. However, today many people confuse the “literal” meaning with the surface meaning, and assume that those who take the Bible literally ignore every figure of speech. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The “literal” meaning of the words is the same meaning that the words have when they are used in everyday conversation. And, the words, “we have not written anything to you, other than what you read” tell us that the literal meaning is the meaning that God wants us to get from His Word (2Corinthians 1:13). If a particular passage needs explanation, God will provide it in His Word. And, if some of the Bible’s statements seem hard to understand, instead of making up explanations, we need to learn the doctrine taught in passages so clear they need no explanation, and interpret the hard to understand passages in the light of that doctrine.

While the guidance of the Holy Spirit is vital to a correct understanding of what the Bible says, any enlightenment that truly comes from the Holy Spirit never adds anything to what the Bible says (Proverbs 30:6). For example: someone who is lost can read the words, “Christ died for our sins,” without having any idea of what those words mean. However, instead of giving us an explanation of those words, the Holy Spirit simply gives us faith to believe what they say. The minute we receive that faith, the meaning of that passage is perfectly clear. Instead of giving us an explanation, the Holy Spirit simply opens our eyes to see what the words plainly say. The same holds true for every other verse of Scripture. Because the Holy Spirit has told us that “no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation,” He will never give anyone their own private explanation (interpretation) of a passage (2Peter 1:20). And, because the Bible means just what it says, it is important to allow the literal meaning of the words to stand unless Scripture itself indicates otherwise, and to only call something a figure of speech if it actually is a known figure of speech. [Isaiah 66:2, Psalm 107:11]

 

Conclusion

 

          God did not cause the Bible to be written for His own entertainment, and Christ did not come into the world for no reason. On the contrary, Christ came into the world to save sinners, and the Bible was written to testify to that fact (John 5:39). Furthermore, that testimony is twofold. The law shows us our sin and need of salvation, while the gospel gives us God’s promise of forgiveness in Christ. In that way, God works through both law and gospel to bring us to faith in Christ (Romans 10:17). Man’s word will not produce the necessary conviction. It is only because the Bible is the Word of God that it convinces us of our sin, and gives us the assurance of forgiveness in Christ. Therefore, we need to realize that those who attack Scripture, and try to undermine what it says are not just people with another opinion. Like Judas, they are doing the devil’s work!