More controversial than the Da Vinci Code and more unthinkable than most modern scholars would dare to imagine, this is what I believe is the sinister and shocking truth concerning the truth of the Bible…
1 Why do I believe the Bible?
Because of the conviction, given by the Holy Spirit, that it is true and trustworthy.
2 Why is this claim believable?
Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled in the new. There are hundreds of examples of prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Jews do not all believe the New, so the idea of it being orchestrated to make the authenticity of Jesus believable is simply not on their agenda. This argument is a real clincher for me: just comparing His life to Isaiah’s prophecies or what is written in sundry Psalms is either the most incredible coincidence that ever was, (unless tornadoes really do sweep through trailer parks designing the next generation of BMWs) or it was God’s foreknowledge of the future put into action, a logical outcropping of a God who exists beyond the constraints of this Universe (which He created) and therefore beyond time.
New Testament Prophecy is continuously fulfilled. The way things are is accurately portrayed by the New Testament imagery of the end times. People often mock prophecy as just lucky or probable but there would have been serious repercussions had anything been proved false.
2b The Law
The law is fair, good and simple in its concept, though broad and incredible in detail. It has two simple rules:
- obey and honour (this is how love is shown) the Lord your God. This makes sense in conjunction with an all-good God, who is the right focus of all honour and worship in the Universe. He is worthy and always right, so in honouring Him, no wrong can be done (not that people can not either have wrong ideas about honouring him or can not be dishonest in claiming that they do so).
- Love your neighbour as yourself. This ideal is also marvellously logical: if I need or enjoy something, then so do my fellow humans. So in all things that are good, I should share them, and in all things that are evils I would not want to befall me, I should not visit them on others.
The example of the Ten Commandments is just one part of this glorious whole. They are concise and brilliant and divinely inspired. I was once told by people who were certain it was true that similar laws were present in ancient Babylon prior to the Law being given. This is an interesting claim, and I think it is fairly easy to show it is spurious. Several commands revolve around there being one God to whom all honour is due, in particular, the God of the Jews. No other society would have thought that up, and certainly the Babylonians had many “gods” to whom they at one point added the God of the Jews. So maybe they had the same other eight commandments. “Honour thy mother and father… and thou shalt live long in the land I shall give you”. This command contains a promise that surely only God can fulfil, that His Power ensures secure dwelling for his people if they honour (love and look after) their parents. Again, there is a logical connection between the decay of a society and its defeat and displacement, but there is little hope that this prophesy/promise should be encoded in any law: “If you’re a bad little boy we’ll send you to Bulgaria”. It was not something intended to be enforced by the state, but a fact generated by the action of God. So maybe seven commandments were copied. “Thou shalt not covet”? How in any country could this possibly be enforced? The law is a perfectly logical example of how to live happily (not eyeing things that are not yours and continually seeking greedy gain which does not satisfy, instead being grateful for what God has given), but imagine the legal headache: “I was not coveting his car; I was just looking at it!” How could coveting ever be proven unless it was theft, which was a separate prohibition? OK, so maybe the six commandments were copied from Babylon. No adultery… maybe this was in another country’s law, but many cultures that have not had Judeo-Christian influences accept adultery as a matter of course. No bearing false witness? A prohibition against lying probably existed in the courtroom scenes which this statement conjures up but a general law against lying in society? Again, this would be unenforceable, if only because of the workload. Maybe five commandments then? Keep the Sabbath day holy, is hard if you have no reason to celebrate the Sabbath (God’s holy day of rest after six days of creation) and no concept of holiness as pertains to the rightness, goodness and separate uniqueness of the Awesome God of the Jews. We’re down to four commandments left. Factor in a forbidding of taking the Jewish God’s name in vain, and we are down to three, though admittedly other cultures adopted this respect for the Jewish God when they had seen Him in action. Certainly a forbidding of theft and murder would be expected in any civilised society, though there are notable exceptions, even today, involving cunning re-definitions of taking the life of someone who is both not at war and who has committed no crime worthy of death. If that kind of thinking implies that the whole of Old Testament wisdom is counterfeit and copied, it does not bear any resemblance to any possible reality. There is a judging of the heart and soul going on with these laws that does not particularly benefit the lawyers or the system, except if the existence of the Law-Giver is real and His promises come true and His knowledge of the human condition is accurate and insightful. I score the Babylonians 3/10 (with generous assumptions about their custom of marriage). Current English society would score less, as murder (abortion and soon they want euthanasia) is legal and marriage customs are barely tolerated rather than encouraged or let alone enforced. Since money is the society’s “god”, the society’s only reasonably consistent rule is “no stealing”. Britain would thus score 1/10. It hardly makes the case that Old Testament laws are just “obvious” and all societies would end up with them. Instead it is remarkable evidence of divinely inspired Law.
2c The Beginning
Numerous have been the criticisms of the Genesis part of the Bible, perhaps because this is where God as Father may be first encountered and questioned. I do not write this to convince hardened evolutionists that there is a God and that He made the world in six days, but to show the simple truth of the matter. God made the world. It is an essential claim to His Fatherhood of the human race. There is no room for any belief in anything like the God of the Bible who is not a creator.
First I will briefly examine a creation myth. There was nothingness, no time and no space, nothing in which anything could exist, a complete absence of all things. Then a huge ball of energy exploded called the Big Bang and the world existed. Does any of this strike you as unsatisfactory? It does me. As argued previously, the God of the Bible gives clear indications that he exists beyond our time, both by direct claims as to the alterations of time, and by foreknowledge of the future. He alone could have “lit the fuse” for the universe to begin, existing in His own time construct. It is at this point that the “scientific” arguments can become conciliatory, claiming there could have been a “First Cause”, who is a bit like God but takes no interest in our affairs now. Although this ignores the Biblical and historical evidence that He certainly has taken an interest in our affairs. Why would scientists make such an arbitrary claim? Because, like all human beings, and despite their intellect, they would rather not believe in the real God. Again, the Bible points this out: “the fool” [morally deficient person] “says in his heart, there is no God”. It is our moral corruption, not our intellect, that persuades us away from God. There are a few desperate alternatives to Big Bang Theory. One is Steady State, in which the universe has always been and will always be, with fresh energy and matter continuously created to take the place of the old. Alternatives include an infinite number of repeats of the Big Bang, followed by a Big Collapse then another Big Bang etc. Either this is claiming that the end of the universe caused the beginning (a somewhat silly idea: can something pop into existence then cause itself? I doubt such effects have ever been observed by anyone, scientist or not), or again that the universe has always been here. This has the same problem as Steady State theory. It depends on a universe that has existed for ever. Think about this. Let’s go back an infinite amount of time (i.e. for ever). How long do we have to wait for humans to show up? For ever. It would not matter how patient we were or how long we lived: humans would never show up. We would never exist. The idea that a supposedly scientific theory (that is: one that looks at evidence) leads to the conclusion of the non-existence of humanity or indeed anything that has not been around for ever is quite ridiculous.
As a dabbler in physics, I studied the initial conditions of the big bang theory. Every now and then there is a claim made to tumultuous applause that the problems of design (yet another problem) have been sorted out. One problem was that the universe had expanded at just the right speed for matter and so on to develop without immediately crunching back down under gravity. I remember as a child being taught that scientists had solved this problem using some sort of complicated field theory: the right balance was almost inevitable! Problem solved, said the friendly scientist to the media, and through the media, to thousands of easily influenced children such as myself. At university I had a look at these fields and the reasons given for the universe exploding at just the right speed. Guess what? To ensure just the right conditions, a very finely tuned field needed to exist. Scientists had not solved the problem of a universe that seemed designed for people to live in. They had just hidden the truth from the common man. Will they ever solve the problem of a universe that seems designed very precisely for us to live in? Common sense says no. Just as nothing can come out of nothing (so Someone or something created the universe), so randomness and disorder do not create order and carefully balanced systems. Science itself dictates (as one of its few universal rules) that disorder (entropy) increases as time goes on. So, where science would lead us to believe in a well-ordered carefully created world with a cause outside of itself, scientists are desperately trying to convince themselves, and the rest of us, that the world came out of nothing, luck made thousand-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten, and out of complete chaos came order, life, and eventually humanity. This view is utterly unhinged as a theory. But it is a good smokescreen to disguise a deeply held contempt and terror of a real God with real demands on people.
So now I turn to the Bible: is it supported by the observed facts? Does it describe the universe as we see it? The description of creation in Genesis is beautiful and poetic. But that is not enough. Could it be true? Could the world have been made in literally six days? Science has said a conclusive no. Science indicates a vastly longer time-scale for the events of creation. And though scientists do not always seem as impartial as they claim, this one is a genuine mistake. Whereas science looks to repeatable experiment to understand natural causes, the creation account, if it does refer to a literal six day creation, is clearly not natural: it is a miracle. People do not commonly get formed out of clay: they have babies. If stars are being created now, it is in nebulae: they do not appear because someone says “Lights on”. Creatures and plants do not seem to appear from nothingness as though formed by an invisible creator: they spread seeds and give birth to eggs or live young. They divide and propagate themselves by many means. So in terms of something observed everyday, something which science can actually inform us about, we should not believe that the Bible will be confirmed scientifically when it talks of miracles, or of the miracle of creation.
For a simpler example, look at the story of Jesus turning water into wine (this is not necessarily alcoholic as the Greek makes no distinction between grape-juice and wine- this probably allowed Greek husbands to protest that they had only been for a cup of grape-juice with a clear conscience). The wedding guests had their fill of one of the finest wines ever tasted (according to the expert at the time). If a modern-day scientist had teamed up with some wine connoisseurs, taken samples of this wine and analysed it, there conclusion would have gone something like this: excellent juice, clearly recently squeezed from the best grapes around. They may even have come to some conclusions about the condition and location of the vineyards the grapes came from. In all of this they would have done quite correct science and been entirely unbiased. However, the wine had been water standing in stone jars ten minutes previously. They would have been utterly wrong in every conclusion.
Water turning to wine does not ordinarily happen. That is the whole point of what a miracle is: it is a show of God’s power over and above the natural order of things, an exception to the rule. Looking at fossils and measuring Big Bang background radiation might well make it seem as though the universe is many millennia old. These were not put there to annoy scientists or fool us: these evidences could only be valid if we did not have a miraculous creation. As it is, the Genesis account is of exactly that kind of creation: a miraculous one. The scientist in attempting to determine truth has made a fatal mistake: to assume science is the only tool that can be used to determine truth. What of reliable witnesses? In the courtroom, along with forensic evidence, the witnesses are cross examined, and the purpose of this is to get the truth out of them. There could be no more reliable witness than the Almighty, and no more reliable source of His words than the Bible, which He has clearly spoken through in the aforementioned prophecies. This position is far more consistent than any godless explanation for the universe, though again, out of fear, ignorance and a general desire to smokescreen the reality of God, it is most often mocked or ignored out of hand.
2d About us
As well as being good, solid morality, the law is like a mirror. The Bible will, if we let it, tell us more about ourselves, perhaps more than we would care to know. To give an example, Paul writes of his frustrations in trying to do good. It seems that whenever he sets out to do good “evil is at [his] side”. It seems that we as human beings err on the side of evil even when we intend to be good. Indeed, many of the great crimes of humanity have had good intentions behind them, intentions which quickly became corrupted and twisted by evil. Do robbers intend to become killers? No, but they do. Does the school bully start his day thinking: I hope I can really hurt someone? I doubt it, but he does. When Hitler’s Nazis reformed Germany and rescued it from the economic crisis and he was man of the year in Time magazine, many Germans were innocently serving a great leader. Did they intend to become party to the racism, the totalitarianism, the death camps and the war that scarred the world so deeply? Again, for the vast majority, no. And yet these things happened. Worse yet, we know each of us personally that we can not do good of our own accord, until a new nature is put on us. This is a horrifying statement. It seems we act as though we are under some curse. According to the Bible, we are (as in the results of the fall in Genesis), and the only remedy is the blood of Jesus. Both Christians and non are under the effect of a “wretched” state of being, in which our nature and instinct and entire being are bent on evil as a pre-Christian, and the Christian must try to “put to death” his or her old way of life (“the sinful nature”). Jesus cleans us, but as Paul writes he is still being dragged down by the dead version of himself, the part of him that still rebels against his Creator. Who can rescue him but Jesus? That is his conclusion of the matter. And urgently it must be ours.
2e Back to Jesus
As already mentioned there are numerous prophecies that point to Jesus. They speak of a suffering Messiah. This does not encourage a man to rise up as a counterfeit and seek the persecution spoken of, and yet He does suffer this persecution, walking knowingly into the trap his enemies have set for Him. They look at “him whom they have pierced” which happened with nails and thorns and spear, they divide his garments, they disfigure him etc etc all in fulfilment of prophecy. These prophecies He knew, as He clearly warns his disciples that He must suffer and die and that they will desert Him. This would be the final total sacrifice that would render redundant the old system, which was but a foretaste of what was to come, where on an altar sprinkled with blood an unblemished lamb was sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins. Always the image was of blood and sacrifice. There would be no great military victory for the King, only the death of a sheep.
Some say that despite all this Jesus was determined to make the prophecies apply to him. There are a number of impossibilities here. For a start, the town of his birth was predicted, “in Bethlehem of Judea”, an event an unborn child could hardly fix. Secondly, his parents take him to Egypt, fulfilling the idea that “out of Egypt, [God] calls [His] Son”. This is not in response to prophecy, but the urgent warning of the angels to evade the murderous King Herod, who kills all the young children he can find in fear of a new king. Jesus also had to be of David’s line (which He was) and also to be a priest. He performed that final role of great High Priest on the cross as He willingly sacrificed Himself. The method by which he is also counted as being of the priestly caste despite not being a Levite involves more of an understanding of the one called Melchizedek in the old testament, whose role is more clearly explained in the new.
Suffice it to say that our helplessness in the face of our own corrupt nature mean we need a saviour, a sacrifice, something to appease God, something we can not give, and yet something that must come from humanity to God. He knew the answer: by coming down as a man and sacrificing Himself as the only truly perfect offering ever given.
3 Now prove the difficult bits
I have not set out to prove the Bible true. I have merely been convinced by the Spirit that it is so, as stated in the first paragraph. I can not prove it all. What is laid out here is reasons why so many parts of it are either very clearly true (sometimes by examination of the alternatives) or incredibly hard to disprove. This is what faith is: reasonable trust. If all the words that have come true show the Bible and its prophecies to be trustworthy, I ignore the remaining prophecies at my peril. If all the laws I can understand are good, then I must trust that the ones I do not understand are good too. If all that is written in this book is evidently the inspired Word of God, that includes the difficult parts I do not understand and the hard parts I do not want to believe, about God, about humanity, about myself and about all things. If the Bible is right about me, I must accept Jesus as my Saviour now and live accordingly with His Spirit, or face Him as Judge at the end. Heaven and Hell are described in the pages of the Bible. One is the most wonderful place that could ever be and the other is the most terrible place that could ever be. Each is eternal. To ignore the Bible is to court the most horrendous danger. This faith is no more unreasonable than trusting a friend who as far as you know has always proved trustworthy through many years of kindness and confidence.
Some would say that to bring up hell as a topic is uncomfortable. Indeed it is, but so is any warning. People do not rejoice when they are told the building they are in is on fire, but the warning is given nonetheless and without apology. All people die, and nobody knows for certain when their hour will come. It is best to prepare now, to make peace with God while He may be found, for He is more than willing to forgive, loving of His human creatures, and does not desire the destruction of a single evil-doer, but rather that we should turn and seek Him. “Seek and you will find” and “knock and the door will be opened.”
“[His] yoke is not heavy and [His] burden light.”
“He does not change like shifting shadows.”
“Faith is the gift of God.”
Feel free to comment on this post but do read the About page for guidance on suitable responses…