The original writings of the Bible are, in fact, God’s infallible Word. However, in the face of such myriads of beliefs—all claiming the Bible as their source, most people dismiss the real authority of the Book that God has inspired.
Both Catholics and Protestants use the Bible as the basis for what they believe and teach. Various translations and versions of the Bible are available, and these differing accounts do reflect the bias of those organizations and individuals who have authored them.
However, the Bible transcends both language and translation issues. For example, consider the record found in Acts 2, where the disciples on the Day of Pentecost were led by God’s Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. In particular, note what occurred for those who heard this message:
“Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we HEAR, EACH IN OUR OWN LANGUAGE IN WHICH WE WERE BORN? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamhylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–WE HEAR THEM SPEAKING IN OUR OWN TONGUES THE WONDERFUL WORKS OF GOD'” (Acts 2:7-11).
God, who caused different languages to arise (Compare Genesis 11:1-9), has also made it possible to understand His truth in the language of our birth! In addition, Jesus has commissioned His Church to preach the Gospel all over the earth (Compare Matthew 24:14). The Word of God has been translated and published in written form throughout the earth in our time!
Aside from those who flatly reject the Bible as myth, many people claiming to practice Christianity dismiss the Old Testament (as well as some books of the New Testament, such as the Book of Revelation)—all part of the enduring Word of God (Compare Isaiah 40:8). In fact, many who embrace Jesus as their Savior have never read the prophetic Scriptures about His first appearance, and they are likewise unaware of the dramatic prophecies concerning His return that are recorded throughout the Bible.
Add to this the fact that people READ INTO the Bible what they want to believe. A very striking example of this is found in the observance of the Sabbath. Some choose to follow the line of thinking originated by the Catholic Church that the Sabbath has been changed from the seventh day to the first. They quote Scriptures to justify this position and reject the commandment of God; the example of Jesus Christ; and, the practice of the Church of God as documented in the New Testament. (For a more detailed account of this, please read our booklet: “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”)
How then can we know what is true and what is false?
THE BIBLE PROVES ITSELF! Human interpretation is not the final authority when it comes to the Word of God. But that is exactly how those, who selectively pick and choose what they want to believe, view the Bible. It is also the position taken by so many who simply reject the Bible.
Jesus Christ made an utterly profound statement in answer to Pilate’s questioning: “Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice’” (John 18:37).
Jesus Christ bore witness of the Word of God and that included the Holy Scriptures—the Old Testament. The prophecies of His birth, death and resurrection proved to be true!
Truth—as opposed to falsehood and deception—was the focus of what Jesus taught. He made this statement to the Jews of His day—many of whom were the religious leaders of the nation: “‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:32).
Jesus very poignantly stated that the religious practices of the Jews did not stand in the truth—that they were no longer following the Word of God:
“‘Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God’” (John 8:43-47).
In another encounter, some of the scribes and Pharisees challenged Jesus: “‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread’” (Matthew 15:2).
The response by Jesus went straight to the heart of why these religious leaders were not teaching the truth: “He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?’” (Matthew 15:3). Jesus adds this powerful indictment: “‘Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”’” (Matthew 15:7-9).
In Matthew 23, Jesus very specifically reveals the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees—the ones who were the religious leaders and who claimed to derive their authority and practices from the Word of God. In verse 3, Jesus pinpoints the problem: “‘…they say, and do not do.’”
Because they were unwilling to obey what God commanded, these people did not understand what was true in God’s Word. Caring more for what people thought of them, they lost their fear of God.
Christ reveals to us an important key for the proper understanding of the Word of God. He says in John 7:17: “‘If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.'” Christ adds in John 13:17: “‘And if you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.'”
Proving what is true in the Bible must begin with a reverence for God: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10). Psalm 119, verse 100, adds: “I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.”
In a discussion with His disciples, Jesus asked what the public said about who He was. He then asked that question of them, and Peter answered: “’…You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:16). In Christ’s response, we find this stunning statement: “’…Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father, who is heaven’” (Matthew 16:17).
Jesus speaks of knowledge that is REVEALED! This transcends knowledge that one might gain in reading any other book! To really understand the Bible, which is, by its own claim, the Word of God, understanding must come from God Himself. Paul taught this same truth to the Church:
“And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written:
“‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’
“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the
Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:4-14).
Following His resurrection, Jesus continued to teach His disciples the true meaning of God’s Word. Luke records an account in which Jesus explained prophecies from the Old Testament to two of His disciples that even they had not understood:
“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Jesus appeared to these two men for the very purpose of revealing understanding to them. This account continues: “Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He OPENED THE SCRIPTURES TO US?’” (Luke 24:30-32).
After this occurrence, Jesus met with several more of His disciples. In preparation for the work He gave His followers to accomplish, Jesus provided this vital element: “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).
These disciples had undoubtedly read the Scriptures. At that time, Judaism was the vibrant religion of the nation. Synagogues existed throughout the region, and the Temple served as the focus of Jewish life. Yet even with this rich background, the true understanding of the Messiah had to be revealed!
Another account of revelation is found in the story of Philip being sent to preach to a faithful man from Ethiopia. Reading from Isaiah, this man was at a loss to understand the meaning: “So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:34-35).
Paul understood that the Church of God had been given a special understanding and responsibility to preach the truth of God’s Word: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).
Preaching is a grave responsibility, and it is not something that should be done by those who just decide, on their own, to preach— to represent God and to explain His Word: “And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was” (Hebrews 5:4). James offers this caution: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).
Here is what God says as an absolute prerequisite for not only preaching but for understanding His truth: “’…But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And WHO TREMBLES AT MY WORD’” (Isaiah 66:2).
An example of this kind of attitude is found in the record of individuals in Berea who had the Gospel preached to them by Paul and Silas: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES daily to find out whether these things were so”(Acts 17:11). The fruits of this approach were that many believed the Gospel! (Compare Acts 17:12).
By this example left for us, we understand that we must check up in our own Bible whether what is preached is true or not. A lie cannot be proven; however, people can be deceived. Paul warns us of those who would lie—of those people who would even falsely claim their authority from the Word of God:
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transform himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
The Bible also reveals a way for us to NOT be deceived but to prove what is only true: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”(Isaiah 8:20).
Jesus prayed for His followers, and He asked God to set them apart: “’Sanctify them by Your truth. YOUR WORD IS TRUTH’”(John 17:17). Paul reminded Timothy to stay anchored to God’s Word:
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. ALL SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:14-16).
However, there are those who set themselves apart FROM the Truth, and this kind of approach was to become prevalent just before the return of Jesus Christ to the earth: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in LATTER TIMES some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
Note this further warning from Paul to Timothy:
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
Jesus answered His disciples when they asked about the time of the end, and He began His answer with this somber warning: “‘…Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, “I am theChrist,” and will deceive many’” (Matthew 24:4-5); Also: “‘For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect’” (Verse 24).
Only the truth is contained in God’s Word (Compare Titus 1:2), even though the Bible may report about lies of Satan, demons or people. But the Holy Scriptures make it also clear, of course, that we are not to follow those lies. Only the truth to be embraced by us can be proven from the Bible! Nonetheless, God has clearly revealed that liars would arise and claim that what they teach is true. That has happened and it continues to happen, but we must use God’s Word as the true measure.
Here is a vital key for each of us to use to prove what is true in the Bible: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Lead Writer: Dave Harris