THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD
by Wayne S. Walker
The Bible claims to be "given by inspiration from God and…profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3.16). What does this mean? Most individuals who attach the name "Christian" to themselves and think of themselves as evangelicals, conservatives, or fundamentalists would say that they believe that the Bible is inspired and is God’s revelation of His will for mankind today, yet so few really believe it. What the Bible actually teaches is that it is the one and only method that God has chosen to reveal His will to mankind in this age. As we look at an examination and comparison of the different ways that God has revealed Himself in past eras and in the present time, we will learn that the New Testament affirms that the Bible is the word of God in a very exclusive sense.
First, God has revealed Himself in nature. God has always manifested Himself through His creation. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19.1). Even to the ancient heathens, "He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14.17). Thus the Gentiles were without excuse for their unbelief. "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made" (Romans 1.20, NIV). However, the universe does not reveal the mind or will of God, so God had to make this known by special means.
How, then, did God speak in times past? Hebrews 1.1 says, "God…spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets." In the beginning of human history, God spoke directly with such people as Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham (Genesis 2.16-17, 6.13-14, 12.1-3). Then, when He chose Israel as His peculiar nation, He communicated with them through the law which He gave them by Moses (Exodus 20.1-3ff, 2 Chronicles 24.14, Ezra 7.6). Later, as Israel began to depart from this law, God sent specially picked messengers called prophets to tell His people His will. Many times these prophets declared, "Thus says the LORD…" or "The word of the LORD came to me, saying…" (Isaiah 10.24, Ezekiel 6.1). However, we do not live in "time past."
How does God speak in these days? Hebrews 1.2 says that God "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son." The Son Himself declared, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Matthew 11.27). Therefore, we should not expect God to speak to us directly or to send a special prophet. Rather, we must depend upon the Son, who came from God, to give us knowledge of God’s will (John 1.1-14, 14.6-9). But since Jesus is not here alive as a human being on earth today, how does the Son reveal the Father? He sent the Holy Spirit to guide His chosen apostles into all truth (John 14.26, 15.26, 16.13). And they, along with other inspired messengers known as prophets, wrote the New Testament scriptures (2 Corinthians 3.6).
Therefore, God speaks to us today in the New Testament scriptures. The Spirit revealed certain things to these inspired men (1 Corinthians 2.6-16). Of these things Paul said, "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14.37). Thus, when we read what they wrote in the scriptures, we can have their understanding of the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3.3-5). Hence, we do not need the Father, the Son, or the Spirit to speak directly to our hearts today, or through prophets, visions, dreams, voices, experiences, feelings, or any other extra-scriptural means. Faith is NOT produced in this way. Instead, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10.17). This is "the faith which was once for all delivered…" (Jude v. 3).
Once the gate is open for God to speak directly to anyone in this period of time, no one can refute the claims of anyone else concerning a personal revelation from heaven. It is not a matter of what God can or cannot do. God can express Himself in any way He chooses. But it is a question of what He has chosen to do and what He has said. And He has said that pertaining to the complete and final revelation of His will to mankind and the sole source for knowledge of His plan for mankind in this dispensation, the Bible is the word of God. This fact then establishes the importance of our studying the evidences upon which we can have a firm belief in the inspiration of the scriptures. (—originally published in Truth Magazine; Aug. 12, 1976; Vol. XX, No. 32; pp. 13-14; rewritten for With All Boldness; November, 1994; Vol. 4, No. 11; p. 16)