Picking up where I left off in Part 1, this post is Part 2 in a series of reflections on why I trust the Bible.
4. I trust the Bible because the Bible tells me to. Isn’t this a circular argument? Yes, but every appeal to authority is a circular argument. We cannot escape it. If the Bible is the highest authority because it is the Word of God, then there is no greater authority to which I can appeal to justify my belief in the Bible. Perhaps you have heard someone say:
God said it.
I believe it.
That settles it.
Sounds kind of like what I am saying here, but not really. The authority of the Bible is not contingent upon my belief in it. If the Bible is God’s Word, then the first and last propositions are true whether or not I believe them. In other words,
God said it.
That settles it.
When God speaks, his creatures must listen and obey. He has spoken in the Bible, so I believe the contents of the Bible. The Bible tells me that God cannot lie, therefore his word is trustworthy.
- Psalm 19:8 (ESV) — 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
- 2 Samuel 7:28 (ESV) — 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.
- John 17:17 (ESV) — 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
5. I trust the Bible because the gospel revealed in the Bible confounds human wisdom. The Bible is about God’s plan of redemption revealed climatically in the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gospel revealed in the pages of Scripture testifies of itself that it is not a human invention. How so?
In every man-made religion, human beings must “do” something in order to achieve salvation, eternal life, exaltation or whatever other reward that particular religion holds out as the hope for humanity. In other words, all man-made religion is self-made religion. Be a good person; do acts of charity; perform spiritual duties; make sure your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds and you will earn heaven. Even cultic religions like Mormonism that try to incorporate Jesus into their religious system, still fundamentally factor in the individual’s performance as the basis of their final exaltation (see 2 Nephi 25:23 for example).
Only in the Bible do we find a gospel that removes human works from the foundation of justification, thereby leaving no ground for boasting. The gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 that the gospel is the news that Jesus Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures and that he was buried and he rose from the grave. How do our works fit into that gospel announcement? They don’t. The gospel is all about what Jesus has done for us. Through his life, death, and resurrection Jesus Christ has the power to extend eternal life to all who believe in him. We have no grounds for boasting. The sole basis of our justification is faith alone in Christ alone.
No human being would ever invent a message that has at its core the following: “Everyone is unrighteousness; we have all sinned beyond self-repair; we can do nothing good; we all deserve hell, and there is nothing we can do to pull ourselves out. Our only hope is to turn away from ourselves and believe that Jesus has done everything for us. Our salvation is entirely dependent on his grace.” The natural inclination of every human heart is to self-justify. We want to pay our own debt; we want show how morally virtuous we are; we want to take pride in our religious efforts. But the gospel revealed in the Bible tells us that if we are to be right with God, we must simply come to the cross with the empty hands of faith. We must give Jesus all of our sin and he will impute to us all of his righteousness through faith (Phil 3:9). This is not man’s gospel (Gal 1:11–12). This is the wisdom of God as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18–31:
1 Corinthians 1:18–31 (ESV) — 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
I trust the Bible because the Bible reveals this gospel. More yet to come.