Evidence the Bible Is God's Revelation
by Leland M. Haines
The Scripture's view of itself has been shows that Scripture claims to be inspired. The Christian should accept the Scripture's claim because if it errs in the matter of inspiration, the Christian would have no assurance that it does not err in other matters, including the Gospel message.
When this statement is presented to an unbeliever, he may say this proves nothing since the Scripture's claim may be wrong. Is there any way we can know for certain that the Bible is revelation from God? Is there adequate evidence that shows the Bible is God's revelation? Or are we free to choose or reject it according to our own judgment, without fear of being judged for our actions because we were not given evidence that the Bible is God's revelation?
There are sound reasons to believe that the Bible is God's revelation. Before going into them, let us state that although there are persuasive reasons to believe, they are not of a nature to "force" someone to believe. If a person is not open to a fair examination of the evidence, or if he has set his mind against knowing God, God will honor his disbelief and will not coerce him into believing.
The first type of evidence to be presented is connected with the nature of the Bible. Following are some evidences that show the Bible is God's revelation.
The Bible was written by about forty different writers over a 1,500-year period. Most of these authors did not know one another other because they lived in different locations or at different times. Even though widely separated by distance and time, the authors presented a consistent message. This unity could never have occurred unless the authors' words were inspired by God. Men do not naturally write with the harmony and unity found in the Bible. Men commonly build their own new views and tend to destroy the arguments of others when they write. This is so even when they live close together in location and time, and even more so when they are vastly separated. The only way to explain the Bible's unity is by the Bible's claim that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16) and that "the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:21).
The Bible, as stated earlier, is God's revelation given through historical events. This process of revelation means the Bible contains many historical references and records. None of the events recorded in the Bible have been proven wrong. Archaeological finds consistently confirm that the writers accurately recorded historical events. This could not have occurred if the Bible had been the mere imaginative work of men. Even today, with all the new processes brought about by science to retrieve data, secular books on history contain errors. None are written without errors. The Bible was written without these research aids, yet it did not contain errors, proving that it must have been written by inspired writers.
The Bible was written in a prescientific age, yet it is scientifically accurate (that is, the original manuscripts were without error; the copies we have may exhibit some minor errors) and does not reflect the scientific errors that existed at the time. This is not what one would expect from a book spanning the years the Bible was written. Men without divine guidance would have reflected the shifting opinions of the "science" of their day. Since the Bible does not reflect contemporary opinions, it must have come about through divine revelation.
Below are several examples of how the Bible's statements are scientifically accurate.
"He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing" (Job 26:7). This was written when men tried to figure out what supported the earth.
"It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth" (Isa. 40:22). This was written when many men thought the earth was flat.
"The host of heaven cannot be numbered" (Jer. 33:22). This was written at a time when many men tried to count the stars and were sure they could be numbered.
"The wind goeth (blows) toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the streams run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again" (Eccl. 1:6-7). This verse reflects the air motion in the atmosphere and the water cycle long before it was understood by scientists.
For more examples of health and hygiene, see McMillen's None Of These Diseases. This book shows that divine revelation had to be involved in writing the Bible because of its health and hygiene concepts.
The Bible's rules of health and hygiene reflect sound principles only recently understood by men. Many of these facts were not understood by the writers, but, as Wayne Grudem points out, the Bible is "remarkably free from affirmations that the sun goes around the earth, or that the earth is flat, or that the earth rests on a giant turtle or elephant, and so forth." If one compares the Bible to other books of the time, such as Papyrus Eber (a 1500 B.C. Egyptian medical book), it is very evident that the Bible is in a class by itself in its accuracy. McMillen observes, "Moses had so much faith in God's regulations that he did not incorporate a single medical misconception into the inspired instructions."
It is true that the Bible uses phrases such as "the four corners of the earth" (Isa. 11:12; cf. Rev. 7:1) and "the sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down" (Eccl. 1:5), but, as Moises Silva notes, these do "not constitute an affirmation regarding the shape of the earth: rather, it belongs to a class of acceptable expression found in all languages." These are the same conventional, ordinary expressions we use today when we speak of the sun rising or setting, of morning or evening stars, falling stars, etc.
The scientific method, when properly applied, does not show that there are errors in the Bible. This does not mean there are not areas where some see a conflict between the Bible and science. But these are mainly in the areas of "beginnings," or Genesis, where the scientific method cannot be applied. The scientific method can be applied only when experiments and observations can be made. This limits it mainly to chemistry and physics. Its application to biological and geological sciences is much more limited. It cannot be applied to areas concerning beginnings of life or so-called changes in life-form because man cannot observe the changes or conduct experiments. It is in these areas that many see a conflict between the Bible and science, but this is not the case because the scientific method cannot be applied to these areas. Thus the Bible is not antagonistic toward science or science toward the Bible.
In summary, the scientific accuracy of the Bible clearly shows that the Bible was written by men inspired by God.
The Bible contains many prophecies that show God has revealed Himself through the Bible. To understand this point, we must first understand what is meant by prophecy.
First, by prophecy we mean predicting future events that cannot be determined by use of scientific, sociological, or psychological principles. Second, prophecy is not vague guesses of what will occur in the future, which could be fulfilled by any of several later events. Prophecy specifically foretells events that one would not expect to occur with the explained details. Both these qualities allow prophecy to be used as strong proof that the Bible is the end result of God's revelation.
Prophecy receives major emphasis in the Bible; it is used as proof that one spoke for the Lord. An example of this is Moses' telling Israel that "the Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." They were told that the Lord "will put [His] words in [the Prophet's] mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." They were to listen to this Prophet and obey him (Deut. 18:15-18).
The Lord knew the people would think to themselves, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? Many would claim to be prophets; how could one tell who was speaking for the Lord and who was not? They were told, "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deut. 18:21-22). Thus the outcome of prophecy will show its source. If the event or events did not occur, the prediction was from men. This principle was used several times to prove who did not speak for God (Isa. 41:21-24, 26; 43:9, 10; 48:14; Jer. 37:19; Lam. 2:14) and to prove who did speak for God (Isa. 42:9; 45:21; 46:11; 48:3-5).
Approximately one-third of the Bible deals with prophecy. Many of these prophecies have been fulfilled, while the others will be fulfilled in the future. It is beyond this book to go into details of these fulfilled prophecies other than to mention a few. Ezekiel prophesied the destruction of Tyre (26:1-28:19). This was fulfilled by Nebuchadrezzar's army destroying the mainland part of this city and by Alexander the Great later destroying the island portion. Ezekiel also prophesied against Tyre's sister city, Sidon. He said she would suffer tribulation and wars, but no mention is made that she would be destroyed. The city has suffered but it still stands today (28:23).
Isaiah and Malachi prophesied against Edom (Isa. 34:6-15; Mal. 1:3, 4). Once a land of people and activity, Edom today is a desolated area. Ezekiel prophesied against one of the greatest ancient kingdoms, Egypt (Eze. 29). Today it is essentially desolate compared to its once greatness and remains "a base [most lowly] kingdom" and has never been exalted since, as his prophecy stated (vs. 14, 15). Daniel prophesied about Babylonia's King Nebuchadnezzar, four kingdoms, the length of the desolation of Jerusalem, and later-day troubles. Some of these have been fulfilled; others are yet to be fulfilled. These are just a few involving the chosen people and neighboring nations.
The New Testament has many descriptions of how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. Matthew and other New Testament writers point these out. Brunk gives details how Jesus fulfilled 59 Old Testament prophecies. His pattern of fulfilling Old Testament prophecies gives proves that He was the Christ sent from God to redeem man.
These are only a few of the fulfilled prophecies that clearly show the Bible is God's revelation. The reader may wish to read the author's Christian Evidence  or Brunk's Fulfilled Prophecies.
Jesus' Ministry and Signs
There are many prophecies concerning Jesus' birth and youth in Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth; and the writers of the Gospels show how these were miraculously fulfilled. During John's ministry Jesus approached him, asking to be baptized. Immediately after Jesus' baptism, "the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him; And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:16, 17; cf. Mark 1:9-11). This was clear evidence to those witnessing Jesus' baptism that there was a special purpose behind His coming. John spoke of Jesus' baptism saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1:32-34).
The first of the special signs done by Jesus was at a marriage celebration in Cana. The party was out of wine, and Jesus' mother told Him about it. Jesus responded that "mine hour is not yet come," and He appeared reluctant to solve their wine shortage problem. But His mother told the servants, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." There were six stone jars there, and Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water. When the servants drew out of the jars, they found the water had turned into wine. "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him" (John 2:1-11).
It is beyond any book to present all the miraculous signs Jesus did to show that He was the Son of God (John 21:25). All totaled, the four Gospels specifically mention in detail some thirty-five miracles and briefly mention many more. And these represent only a small portion of Jesus' miracles. As John wrote at the close of his Gospel, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book" (20:30). Some of these other signs are mentioned in the other three Gospels, but many are not. As John wrote, "there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21:25). The reader can find detailed descriptions of many of Jesus' works in the author's Christian Evidence.
The most important sign that Jesus was the Christ is His death and resurrection. The Bible teaches that Jesus came into the world to redeem man through His death and resurrection. His resurrection is the major proof of His Messiahship. As Paul stated, He was "declared [designated] to be the Son of God . . . by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4).
Jesus prophesied of His death and resurrection. We have already mentioned the sign of Jonah. Jesus told the Jews at the time of the first temple cleansing, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The Jews thought He was speaking of the temple building, but He was speaking of His body. After "he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had said" (v. 22).
Soon after Peter's confession that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus told the disciples that He "must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matt. 16:16, 21; cf. Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). He repeated this to them in Galilee (Matt. 17:22, 23; cf. Mark 9:30-31; Luke 9:43-44; Luke 17:25).
During Jesus' last week with the disciples in Jerusalem, He told them, "Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified" (Matt. 26:2). Soon after this He told them that they would "be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee" (Matt. 26:31; cf. Mark 14:27, 28; Zech. 13:7). The most serious falling away involved Judas's betrayal, which fulfilled "that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me" (Matt. 27:9, 10; cf. Jer. 32:6-15; 18:2, 3).
"Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father," Jesus had a special supper for the disciples (John 13:1). He took bread, broke it, and passed it out saying, "This is my body." He also took a cup, telling them this was "my blood of the new testament, which is shed for the remission of sins." He then said that it was written, "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again. . . ," referring to His death and resurrection (Matt. 26:26-32). He also told His disciples that He was going away and that they could not follow Him (John 13:36-38). Jesus told them, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but ye will see me: because I live, ye shall live also" (14:18-19). Soon after this Jesus told them, "I go my way to him that sent me. . . . A little while and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me. . . . I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: and go to the Father" (16:5, 16, 28).
Not only was His death foretold, but so were some special circumstances surrounding it, giving additional proof of His Messiahship. John gives two instances that occurred at the Crucifixion to show how Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. He writes that the soldiers divided Jesus' garments into four parts, but not his tunic, because it was seamless. "They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which sayeth, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots" (John 19:24; cf. Ex. 28:32; Ps. 22:18).
Since the Jews did not want the bodies (Jesus and the two criminals crucified with Him) to hang on the crosses over the approaching Sabbath day, they asked Pilate to break the men's legs to hasten their death. This request was granted, "But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith there came out blood and water. . . . For these things were done that the scripture might be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced" (John 19:33-37; cf. Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20; Zech. 12:10).
When Jesus was dying, bystanders derided Him, telling Him to save Himself, and if He could, they would believe. He did not come down, but He stayed there and died (Matt. 27:39-44). His resurrection was an even bigger proof than His coming down from the cross could ever had been.
Special circumstances happened at the time of Jesus' death. Matthew writes, "From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. . . . the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." These signs had an immediate affect on the centurion and soldier who were watching: "they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:45, 51-54; cf. Mark 15:33-41; Luke 23:44-54).
After Jesus' death, since the Sabbath was near, His body had to be removed quickly from the cross and buried. Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body and was given permission to remove it and place it in a tomb. Joseph removed the body and wrapped it in the customary Jewish linen burial shroud but did not anoint it with the normal amount of customary spices and ointments. The body was then placed in Joseph's own new tomb, which was near by (Matt. 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42).
The Empty Tomb
The Pharisees, remembering that Jesus had said, "After three days I will rise again," asked that Pilate place a guard at the tomb. This was done so that none of the disciples could steal His body "and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead." Pilate granted the request, saying, "Ye have a watch [a guard of soldiers]: go your way, make it as secure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch" (Matt. 27:62-66). These guards were in all probability not needed since the disciples had fallen away and were scattered, and therefore it was very unlikely that they would have stolen His body.
Several times Jesus told the disciples that He would die and rise again, but they were slow to understand what He was saying. Luke writes that when the apostles were first told of His resurrection, "their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not" (Luke 24:11). Perhaps this was due to so much happening that week. Jesus and the disciples started the week with their triumphant entry into Jerusalem and ended it with Jesus' crucifixion. The shock of these events must have caused them to forget and not to think clearly about what was taking place. Their falling away was also foretold, as was mentioned earlier (Matt. 26:31; 17:12, 22-23; 20:17-19; 26:2; cf. Mark 14:27-28; Luke 17:25). This falling away undoubtedly resulted in their not understanding what Jesus had told them several times, that He would "be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matt. 16:21; cf. Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22).
All four Gospels give accounts of women coming to the tomb on the first day of the week and finding their Lord risen. Apparently, each account gives only a part of what occurred that morning, thus these accounts are not identical. They can be put together to give a more complete picture if each piece of information is treated as true. In the following narrative we will fit these pieces together. In some cases not enough information is given to know for sure how the pieces fit together. We will mention where this occurs.
Jerusalem has a warm climate, and the women probably believed that corruption would soon set into the body, so they hurried to the tomb early on this first day of the week to properly prepare Jesus' body for burial. Matthew writes it was "as it began to dawn" (28:1). Mark has "very early" (16:2). Luke stated it was "very early in the morning" (24:1), and John mentions that they came to the tomb "early" (20:1). Mark says that "they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun," but John states, "it was yet dark." These latter statements are both correct; it depends on what the authors were writing about. The trips to the tomb could have started in darkness, and the women could have arrived when it was light. Or as John writes, Mary Magdalene may have arrived when it was dark and, seeing the tomb opened, left and told Peter and John about it. Then when she returned again, it was light.
Mark writes that the women discussed on their way to the tomb, "Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" A large disk-shaped stone had been rolled in front of the tomb's opening, and it was too large for these women to roll back. Matthew explains, "There was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenace [appearance] was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" (Matt. 28:2-3). It was not just moved down the groove or track, but "the stone [was] taken away from the sepulchre" (John 20:1). Thus these women found the tomb open when they arrived there.
As John wrote, Mary Magdalene ran "and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him" (John 20:1-2). We are not told how this event fits into the activities reported in the other three Gospels. Apparently Mary Magdalene did not stop to investigate the open tomb but ran and returned after talking to Peter and John. Then she investigated further when the other women were present, as Matthew's and Mark's accounts indicate.
The Gospels and Paul tell of several instances where Jesus was seen by His disciples and others in addition to the above sighting at the tomb. Luke writes about an instance that occurred on the road to Emmaus that same day. On this road two disciples
talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Are thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body; they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:13-27
They then went to the village and He went with them to their home. "As he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight" (v 30).
John writes that
after eight days again his disciples were within [the house], and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be with you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and trust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 20:26-29
"After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; . . . Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing." The others decided to go along. And when they were out in the boat, "Jesus stood on the shore. . . . Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord!" (John 21:1-7).
Luke writes in Acts that "he [Jesus] shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
Paul summarized Jesus' appearances for the Corinthians, writing,
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose on the third day according to the scriptures; And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me, as of one born out of due time. I Cor. 15:3-8
When one considers that the apostles fell away and were scattered during Jesus' trial and crucifixion, and the radical change that took place after His resurrection, there can be no doubt of His resurrection. Matthew writes that the Jewish leaders paid the guards to tell the people that the disciples stole Jesus' body (Matt. 28:11-15). This could hardly have been the case considering the disciples' falling away. They would never have come back to the tomb and taken the body of the one whom they rejected.
All men can die, but Jesus' resurrection makes Him unique among men. It offers absolute proof of His Messiahship. And we have ample evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead. He appeared several times to the disciples, and this completely changed their lives and caused them to preach the good news, as Jesus had commanded them (Matt. 28:16-20).
The above arguments give evidence that God has revealed Himself to man through Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. These reasons are adequate, but they will not force an unbeliever to follow Christ. God has not chosen to remove man's free will and the need to accept the gospel by faith. Reason can help prepare one to accept the gospel and can suggest that in all probability the Bible is inspired, but faith is still needed. Only the Holy Spirit can remove all doubt and produce faith in an unbeliever. Christians can only help in this by expounding the Scriptures, thus providing the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to produce faith (John 15:26; 16:7-8; cf. Rom. 10:14-17).
In summary, God has revealed Himself through His Son and has presented us with an accurate and reliable Word telling of these events. This Word can be trusted and relied on since the Holy Spirit guided its writing and its preservation during years of copying, and it is the only source by which man can understand God's plan of redemption.
1 S. I. McMillen, None of These Diseases, Old Tappam, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1970, p. 15.
2 Ibid., p. 18.
3 D. A. Carson, and John D. Woodbridge, editors, Scripture and Truth, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983, p. 53.
4 McMillen., op. cit., pp. 9-10.
5 Carson and Woodbridge, op. cit., p. 153.
6 Menno J. Brunk, Fulfilled Prophecies, Crocket, Ky.: Rod and Staff, pp. 67-147.
7 Harrisonburg, Va.: Sword and Trumpet.
This is Chapter 4 of The Authority of Scripture, © copyright 2000 by Leland M. Haines