[The following is a tract by my pastor, Gary Carter. While I’ve done some editing to it (e.g. the quote from the 1689 Confession), with his permission, the writing is still very much his. The tract is written in response to the question, “How do you know the Bible is the word of God?”. Although this isn’t a full-blown apologetic, it does get to the heart of the matter: the convicting and convincing power of the Bible. You can view a PDF of this post HERE.]
THE POWER OF GOD ATTENDS THE BIBLE
You may be wondering, “How do you know the Bible is the word of God?” First of all, it says it’s God’s word. “Thus saith the Lord,” (or “This is what the Lord says”) and other similar statements occur hundreds of times in the Bible. “But, how will I personally know this?” God’s power will accompany the reading and the hearing of the Bible and will prove to you that it is God’s word. As the word of God created the world (Genesis 1), in the same manner God’s word creates faith in us. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” (Gen. 1:3). “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts….” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
“But, you are saying you will only know it is true, if you believe it.” No, I am saying more than that. I am saying that the Bible “forces” (or convinces) you to believe it is God’s word, just as soaking wet clothes convinces you to believe it is raining. There is a power that attends God’s word that works faith in our unbelieving hearts. It is the power of the Living God. We are brought to the place where what the Bible says is so convincing that we cannot deny it. What is more, we gladly embrace what it says. Admittedly, God may have to deal with us in a very personal and awakening manner to fix our attention on the truth of the Bible. Some may be brought near to death (this was my case), others may have their dreams and hearts crushed. But, it is still God using His word to work faith in us. When this happens to you, you will have to say, “The Bible is the voice of the Living God! It has come with power in my heart and has made me a new person. I am a believer because of the divine, creative power of the word of God working in me.”
OUR CONSCIENCE PARALLELS WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
Our conscience (that “inner voice” convicting us of right and wrong) teaches us there is a great God who made us and the world. The Bible teaches the same thing: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). When we contemplate the world and ourselves, our conscience teaches us that we all do things that are wrong; we don’t live for the God who made us, but for ourselves: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We willfully oppose God and His ways, and when we consider our coming death, we fear we will face a Maker who is displeased with us. We fear the punishment that we know we deserve. The Bible teaches us that what we fear is true: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
To keep from thinking about God as our judge, we may ignore the Bible and treat it skeptically, because it brings all of these painful thoughts to our minds. The Bible speaks of these realities in a more forceful way than our conscience does (“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”; Heb. 4:12). To intentionally divert our thoughts from these things, is to say in reality, “I know what the Bible says here is true, but I want to avoid it.” Others try to consistently skip over these serious statements in the Bible and only look at the many blessings and promises. This is like only dealing with the healthy parts of our body, while we ignore life threatening diseases elsewhere.
THE BIBLE REVEALS CHRIST TO US IN A PERSONAL AND SAVING MANNER
Most of all, the Bible reveals the Lord Jesus Christ to us in a profound way. While reading and hearing the Bible preached, we become convinced that Jesus is God who came to earth, died on the cross, and arose again for the forgiveness of sins (John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Peter 3:18). We come to know and feel that He is alive and dealing with us in a personal manner. He calls us to come to him for forgiveness. He promises the forgiveness of sins for all who genuinely believe in Him, because He died on the cross in the place of sinners: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). He promises He will not cast out those who come to Him in faith (Jn. 6:37). He promises to shepherd us all of our lives, through all our trials, until we enter heaven (Psalm 23). He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27). This is how we come to trust the Bible as God’s word. The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) provides a wonderful summary of these things:
We may be moved and persuaded by the testimony of the church of God to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation [in Christ], and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the word of God; nevertheless, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority of the Bible, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts. [Chapter 1, Paragraph 5]
We must come to the point where we say, “Yes, Lord Jesus, I believe you. I hear your voice in the Scriptures. I need you to forgive me. I give my life to you. I want to be your servant, your friend, and your child.” Then, at that point, you can honestly say that God has worked faith in your heart by the words of the Bible, which are the words of the Living God who has come and dealt with you personally about your soul, and you have dealt with Him rightly. You can then say, “I am His and He is mine.”