Submitted by Matt Costella
[The following article, written by Dr. William Evans, briefly describes the role the Holy Scriptures should play in the life of the church and of individual Christians today. When so many people—believers and unbelievers—are undermining the importance and sufficiency of God’s Word, it is more important than ever that true believers hold a high view of the Bible.]
One of the prominent characteristics of the “latter days” is that there shall be a departure from the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Whether we are living in the “last days” or not may be questioned by some, but that many persons (preachers included) are leaving the old landmarks of Christian belief there can be no reasonable doubt. It seems as if the simple sound of the gospel were not sufficient; a gospel with variations is sought. It may not be out of place, therefore, to draw the attention of thoughtful Christian people to what may be considered false notes in present day belief.
A Wrong View of the Bible
Wrong views of the Bible affect a man’s views of other phases of truth. You can usually tell what a man thinks of the person and work of Christ by what he believes about the Bible—particularly the New Testament. The converse of this is true also—a man’s faith in the Bible usually tells the tale of his faith in Christ. A limited view of the inspiration of the New Testament usually means a limited Christ for a Savior. The New Testament is the Book of Jesus Christ. Outside of it any reference to Christ is very brief and meager indeed, and this brief mention is sometimes called an interpolation. The New Testament is “The Book of… Jesus Christ.” He is its beginning, its middle, its end. Any limited view, therefore, of the New Testament, necessarily means a limited view of Christ, His person and work.
Christ and the Bible
It ought to be considered as unchallenged fact that what the Bible was to Jesus Christ, that it should be, and no less, to the Christian. Can the Bible mean any less to the Church than it did to the Church’s Master? Can what was indispensable to the Redeemer be dispensed with, and that seemingly so easy, by the redeemed? Ought not the Church to be of the same mind with its Master with reference to the Scriptures? Do we ask what was Christ’s estimate of the nature and value of the Scriptures? We need not be in doubt one moment as to that. He refers to them as “the Word of God” as distinguished from the “traditions of men” (Mark 7:9,13). He appeals to them as authoritatively settling questions of religious belief in the words “What saith the Scripture?” He regards the Scriptures as deciding His own conduct and course of action as is set forth in His replies to Satan in the temptation, each time repulsing the adversary with the words, “It is written” (Matt. 4). Thus did Christ regard the Scriptures as the Word of God, and as the ultimate rule in matters of faith and practice. He regards all Scriptures as of equal authority (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16). He spoke of them as having a vital message regarding Himself and as being an authoritative revelation of the mind of God. Can the Scriptures mean any less to the Christian than they did to Christ? Of less value and authority to the Church than to the Church’s Master? Certainly they ought not.
Christ Versus the Critics
It is interesting as well as instructive to notice that Christ, in setting His seal of approval on the truth of the Scriptures, mentions expressly the very things in which the destructive criticism of today would shake our faith. We are told by critics that Moses did not write the Law. Christ says Moses did write it (Luke 24:27, 44): “These are the words… which were written in the law of Moses… And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets” (cf. Luke 16:31; John 5:46, 47). We are further told that the book of Jonah is not historical, but allegorical. Jesus refers to it as a fact of real history and uses it as a type of the great historical fact of His own resurrection (Matt. 12). The garden of Eden, Adam and Eve are said to be “mythical,” but strange to say Jesus refers to Eden as a real place and Adam and Eve as real persons (Matt. 19:3‑6). The story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt is said to be “unhistoric.” Jesus refers to it as a real, historic event from which we do well to learn a very important lesson (Luke 17:32). The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is said “not to have taken place.” Jesus plainly tells us it did take place (Matt. 11:23, 24). Thus, by a seemingly strange coincidence, we see that the very things the critics say are not true, inspired or historic, are the very things on which Jesus Christ set His seal of approval, thus certifying to their reality and historicity. Are we to believe the destructive critics, or Christ‑which? The Christian should not hesitate as to whom he will choose as his final authority.
Was Christ Mistaken?
It is suggested that Jesus Christ in His state of humiliation may not really have known any better; that He simply accommodated Himself to the popular belief of the times regarding these matters; that He accepted popular tradition as being truth. This view of things plunges the believer into a sea of grave doubt. If Jesus did not know the truth of these things‑whether Moses wrote the law, or the historicity of the destruction of Lot’s wife, of Sodom and Gomorrah, or whether Adam and Eve were real persons, or Jonah was mythical or real‑then what becomes of His omniscience? Then He did not know all things (John 21:17; 16:30). Any theory of “self emptying” which robs Christ of omniscience, particularly respecting matters on which He is expected to speak with authority, certainly robs Him of deity. Again, if Jesus did know the truth regarding these matters and preferred to give an imaginary account; or, knowing them to be fictitious, palmed them off on the people as true, then what becomes of His honesty, or His claim to being “the truth”? (John 14:6). Is it not much better, yea, and much easier, and certainly more in accord with what we know of the character of Christ, to accept His statements at their face value as being true to facts? Certainly it is.
The Bible in Its Own Behalf
There is a tendency today to look upon the Bible with suspicion whenever it takes its place on the witness stand to speak in its own behalf. This attitude should not be assumed towards any reputable witness, much less towards the witness and Word of God. Its testimony should be listened to without prejudice and with an absence of or any predisposition to doubt its veracity. It should at least be given credit for being honest in its statements. Yet how seldom is such a hearing given to the Bible today by the critics. It is looked upon with suspicion. Its veracity is challenged ere it takes its place upon the witness stand. It is called upon to do what no witness is asked to do—prove its own integrity and its right to be heard. The Bible’s own claim to inspiration, veracity and historicity ought to be considered with presumption of sincerity and honesty at least in its favor. What has the Bible to say about itself? Does it claim to be an inspired record of God’s mind and purpose, a final authority in matters of faith and practice? Does it claim reality and historicity for the facts it records? Does it claim to be a writing by men who were inspired by God and thus fitted to accurately convey the thought of God to man in words he could understand? Here is an account the Bible gives of itself: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”… “No Scripture is of any private interpretation … holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21). It calls itself “the Word of God” (Mark 7:9, 13; 1 Thess. 7:13), “the words of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 2:13); the “Revelation of [given by] Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). We take the Bible in hand and read, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” that is to say, “All Scripture is God‑breathed,” the breath of the Almighty is in it. To illustrate what this means, let us go back in thought to the garden of Eden and witness the creation of man. Here before us we see the inanimate form of man lying on the ground as lifeless dust. We see God breathing into that form of clay the breath of life, and, behold, we have a living soul, a man! What is man? Dust in‑breathed by deity—that is man. And when that divine breath is withdrawn from man you have nothing but dust, yea, corruption. Just so is it with the Word of God. There is a human element in it. The divine mind is expressed in human words. Men wrote the Scriptures—not ordinary men, but men in‑breathed by God the Holy Ghost. And when you take that divine in‑breathing out of the Word of God you have nothing left but literature, only literature. It is the supernatural and divine element in its composition that differentiates the Bible from all other books in the world, that places it in a class all by itself, and gives it a spiritual quality which no other book ever written possesses.