Is the Bible Also the Word of God? Part 2

A picture of an English Bible open to John 1 speaking of the Word of God
If the Bible does not have the authority of the Word of God, how can we believe any of it, including what it reveals about the personal Word of God? John Snyder / CC BY-SA 3.0

by Peter Ditzel

In part 1, we saw that the growing belief that Jesus is the only Word of God, and the Bible is only the word of men, is like the unchecked growth of a cancer. This is because, by rejecting the written Word of God, this assertion sheds itself of the means God has given to check unsound doctrine and false belief. We also saw that the Bible and Jesus claim the written Scriptures to be the Word of God. The Scriptures testify about Jesus (John 5:39). If we cast off their authority as the written Word of God, how can we know anything with certainty about Jesus, the personal Word of God?

The claim that the Bible is not the written Word of God is an inconsistent, irrational muddle that can lead only to complete skepticism.

Martin Luther faced people whose teaching went so far beyond Scripture that he recognized it was actually contrary to Scripture. When they insisted that he accept their claims of direct, divine authority from the Spirit but could offer no objective proof of their authority, Luther exclaimed, “The Lord rebuke thee, Satan.” When they then shouted, “The Spirit, the Spirit,” Luther responded, “I slap your spirit on the snout” (Henry Worsley, The Life of Martin Luther, v. 1 [London: Bell and Daldy, 1856] 366-67). Those who deny the Bible as the Word of God are wolves, and we must slap their snouts. Why? Wolves are dangerous.

Jude warned the saints to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (verse 3) because of “certain men who crept in secretly” and were “turning the grace of our God into indecency” (verse 4). Later, of these same people, he wrote, “These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit” (verse 19). We have such people today who tear down the written Word of God because it authoritatively tells us how to live and because it rejects certain behavior. Most certainly, we believers are under grace and God does not impute sin to us (see Romans 4:7-8). But Jude could not speak of turning the grace of God into indecency if there were no such thing as behavior that, while not imputed as sin, is indecent for Christians.

In 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, Paul wrote,

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are expedient. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be brought under the power of anything. “Foods for the belly, and the belly for foods,” but God will bring to nothing both it and them. But the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

Because we are no longer under the law, all things are lawful. But not all things are expedient or profitable. Paul specifically says that the body is not for sexual immorality. So, although all things are lawful because we are not under the law, there remains such a thing as sexual immorality for Christians. God does not impute it as sin to us, but it is what Paul calls “unprofitable.” In 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul adds a little more information: “‘All things are lawful for me,’” but not all things are profitable. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things build up.” We are to avoid sexual immorality because it does not build us up. But, of course, these are Scriptures that those who don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God can just toss away because the Scriptures don’t agree with their agenda.

Are these people at all concerned about preserving “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)? If they are, I wonder how they would suggest we do this if we reject the words the saints wrote to preserve and pass down that faith to us?

Belief in the Bible Is an Axiom of the Faith

A foundational axiom of Christianity is that God has revealed all that we need to know for our faith in His written revelation—the Word of God—that we call the Bible. The faith to believe this is a gift from God. As Jesus’ sheep, when we hear or read the Scriptures, we recognize them as the Word of God—the voice of the Shepherd (John 10:27)—and we follow Him by following the Scriptures.

None of this is provable to nonbelievers. In this way, it is like the character, Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) in the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. When Neary has a close encounter with an alien spaceship, the aliens telepathically put a calling into his mind. He finds no way of getting anyone who has not had such a calling to understand what has happened to him or to believe him. The only person who understands and believes is Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon) because she has also had a close encounter and calling. The only proof of their calling comes at the end after they have arrived at Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, when the aliens return and take Roy away with them.

As Christians, we cannot prove our calling to the nonelect. Only other elect believers will understand. In the decades immediately following Jesus’ Resurrection, elect people heard the Word of God preached, and they believed. Over the years, the assembly of believers, the ekklesia, came to recognize certain writings as being consistent with the Old Testament Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus, and these they bound as also being the inspired Word of God. Today, elect believers also recognize the writings, known as the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, or the Scriptures, as being the Word of God. This written Word of God testifies to the Good News that Jesus brought and accomplished by His atonement on the Cross. It does this through the foreshadowing in the Old Testament; the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, teachings, Passion, and Resurrection; the instructions and exhortations of the apostles; and the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Those who teach that the Bible is not the written Word of God are rejecting God’s inspired (divinely influenced and filled with the Spirit) words. They knock out from under themselves the foundation on which they stand (if they ever did stand). It is difficult to see how those who reject the written Word of God can be believers. Their message can only be an offense to little ones seeking to know Jesus (Matthew 18:6). Thus, unless there is repentance, the future of such teachers looks very bleak.

What Denying the Bible as the Word of God Leads To

Jesus Christ is absolutely central to our faith. There is salvation in no other name (Acts 4:12). Yet, if we are to know of Jesus, what He taught, and what He accomplished, we must accept the inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, and authority of the written Word of God.

To say that Jesus Christ is the only Word of God may sound good or pious or Christian. But it is none of these. It is an abominable and treacherous lie. As we’ve seen, Jesus Himself recognized the written Scriptures as the Word of God.

By rejecting the written Word of God as God’s inerrant, infallible, and authoritative revelation to us, the hustlers of this lie can proclaim a Jesus who is anyone or anything they say! Without the Bible defining who Jesus is, what He said, and what He did, Jesus can be anything they make Him to be and they can make Him seem to teach anything they want Him to teach. Christianity becomes the make-up-your-own-Jesus game.

Do you want Jesus to be a pot-smoking, multiracial, transgender who taught universalism? Fine! Who can contradict you when you believe that the Bible has no authority over you and that you can cherry-pick from it what appeals to your subjective opinions and reject the rest? My example might be extreme, but you understand my point. Who can argue with such nonsense? There’s no common ground. It’s like trying to reason with spoiled children playing a game and making up the rules to their benefit as they go along.

Those who claim that only Jesus is the Word of God and that the Bible is not the Word of God remove the means God has given us for knowing who Jesus is and what He taught. They give us no sound criteria for why they extract some Scriptures from the Bible while keeping others. They seem to base these decisions entirely on their own subjective feelings. Thus, they create a false Jesus and a counterfeit gospel. With these, they lead astray spiritual babes who are seeking the truth.

Because they cannot give a consistent defense for why they hold some Scriptures and reject others, their position logically collapses in skepticism. Thus, when they speak of Jesus, even when they call Him the Word of God, they instantly contradict their own framework.

Hold Fast to the Bible

God has given His people a revelation of His mind. It is not a complete revelation of His mind, but it is everything we need to know in this life. The knowledge God gives us in this revelation is truth, and it is entirely consistent with God’s total knowledge. From this, we can know what God knows on the matters He reveals. God has not given us a mere analogy of truth, but the truth (John 17:17). When we accurately understand this revelation, our knowledge and God’s knowledge coincide on the concepts revealed.

Jesus Christ is the personal Word of God. As such, He is “the very image of his substance” (Hebrews 1:3). The Bible is the written Word of God and the means that God today uses to speak to us by His Son (Hebrews 1:2). Those who reject the Bible as being the Word of God destroy any reason we have for believing what it tells us about God’s Son, the personal Word of God. They reject all revelation God gives us in the Bible for knowing what is that narrow gate and restricted way (Matthew 7:14) and for discerning sound doctrine from fables. If we do not accept the Bible as the authoritative, written Word of God, any and all fables and every “wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) can grow unchecked like cancer. Notice Paul’s words to Timothy:

If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn’t consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such.
1 Timothy 6:3-5

How can we know the right doctrine from the “different doctrine,” what are the “sound words,” what are “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and what is “the doctrine which is according to godliness” if we reject the Bible as the authoritative Word of God? We cannot. To say that Jesus is the only Word of God and reject the Bible as the Word of God is complete apostasy from the faith and one of the most serious errors of our times.

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