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Why do many churches use the Bible as
their sole source of teaching?

Christian churches of an evangelical base generally use the Bible as the sole authority for their beliefs and practices because they accept the Bible as God's inspired, infallible Word. The foundation for this belief comes from the combination of many overwhelming facts:

(1) The Testimony of Scripture. The Bible itself, claims to be the truly inspired word of God. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). The term "inspiration" comes from the Greek, THEOPNEUSTOS, which means "God breathed." Elsewhere, the scripture says, "For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21).

(2) The Testimony of Jesus. Jesus endorsed the reliability of the scriptures by repeated claims that God was the author, that they were authoritative, and continually quoted from them (Matt. 19:4,5, Matt. 24:37-38, Luke 4:1-13, Luke 17:28-31, John 6:49, Luke 24:27). If one has confidence in Christ's infallibility, one must also bring an equal weight of confidence to the credibility of the Bible from which He based His teachings.

(3) The Bible's Harmony. One of the most unique characteristics about the Bible which shows a divine origin, is its unity despite its diverse, composite structure. It was composed by dozens of different authors who lived hundreds of years apart, who spoke different languages and lived in different cultures. Yet the Bible speaks with complete harmony from Genesis to Revelation, and conveys one consistent theme throughout: God's redemption of man.

According to Christian apologist, Josh McDowell, this remarkable trait of scripture is retained throughout, even though it was:

    (a) Written during a span of 1,500 years.
    (b) Written over 40 generations.
    (c) Written by over 40 authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, etc.
    (d) Written in different places — everywhere from dungeons to palaces.
    (e) Written at different times — sometimes in war others in peace.
    (f) Written during different moods — sometimes in joy others in sadness.
    (g) Written on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe)
    (h) Written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek)

To illustrate the phenomenal harmony of scripture, McDowell tells the story of his encounter with a sales representative of the "Great Books of The Western World," a series of writings by some of the great philosophers of ancient and modern times. He challenged the representative to take just ten of the authors, all from the same walk of life, the same time period, the same place, the same language and pose to them one controversial subject. Would they agree? The gentleman paused, then replied, "No! You would have a conglomeration." However the Bible is far more complex and does agree. It is a harmonious book covering many intricate and controversial issues. This fact points to an all knowing, all powerful God behind its construction and composition.

(4) The Survival of Scriptures. There is no other literature in history that has been more of a target of destruction than the Bible. Yet, it has miraculously withstood every challenge to its survival — unquestionable evidence of divine preservation. The Bible has been attacked by atheistic philosophies, higher criticism, modernists, liberal theologians, rationalists, humanists, scientific skeptics, communists and every conceivable brand of critic. And not only has it survived the determined and aggressive assaults, it has consistently triumphed over all its enemies.

The noted theologian, Bernard Ramm, writes in his book, Protestant Christian Evidences; "No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles letters of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? with such venom and skepticism? with such thoroughness and erudition? upon every chapter, line and tenet? ... Yet the Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions."

An example of the way the Bible outlives its critics: during the 18th century, the French infidel Voltaire confidently boasted of the eventual extinction of Christianity and the Bible. However, only fifty years after his death the Geneva Bible Society actually used his own press and house to produce scores of Bibles.

In 303 A.D., Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict pronouncing the obliteration of Christianity. "... an imperial letter was everywhere promulgated, ordering the razing of churches to the ground and the destruction by fire of the scriptures, and proclaiming that those who held high positions would lose all civil rights, while those in households, if they persisted in their profession of Christianity, would be deprived of their liberty." And yet it was his successor, the emperor Constantine the Great, who issued the "Edict of Milan" only 10 years later, which ordered the cessation of persecution against the church (and the Bible) and legalized Christianity.

(5) Enduring Acceptance. The Bible continues to be the best selling book in history. No other piece of literature can compare to its widespread acceptance. It has managed to survive the continual attacks of critics, and its popularity has not been eroded by time or persecution. The Latin Vulgate Bible was the first major book printed on the Gutenberg press in the 1450's, and since then more than seven billion copies have been printed. No other book comes close to its popularity and circulation. It has been translated, entirely or in part, into nearly nineteen hundred languages or dialects.

Scores of great historical figures have accepted and staked their honor upon their confidence in the Bible. The great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, wrote, "There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any other profane history." The father of our nation, George Washington, wrote "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." Abraham Lincoln said, "I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book." And another notable president, Woodrow Wilson, made this profound statement: "When you have read the Bible, you will know it is the Word of God, because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty."

The uniqueness of the Bible's long-standing acceptance by millions, both great and common, and its durability throughout the centuries attests to its divine origin and preservation.

(6) Manuscript Accuracy. The Bible has more manuscript evidence supporting its reliability and accuracy that any ten pieces of ancient literature combined. According to McDowell, there are over 5,300 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, over 10,000 of the Latin Vulgate, and at least 9,300 other early versions, and we have more than 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence today.

No other document of antiquity even comes close to such numbers or attestation. In comparison, another ancient writing, Homer's Iliad, is second with only 643 manuscripts that still survive. The accuracy of translation and the massive amount of manuscripts in existence, gives tremendous credence to the divine authorship and preservation of the Bible.

(7) Scientific Accuracy. Despite efforts to the contrary, no fact or discovery of science has ever disproven any of the claims of the Bible. In fact, the progress of science only continues to confirm the scriptures' accuracy.

For example, long before man knew anything about bacteria, God commanded the Israelites to remove human waste and bury it outside the camp (Deut. 23:12-13). This prevented the spread of deadly disease. Had this direction been followed by the people of Europe in the middle ages, the infamous black plague, which spread from the open sewers flowing freely in the city streets, would not have killed thousands.

As we know from history, it was 15th century explorers that discovered that the world wasn't flat as had been thought, but the Bible had already declared that the earth was round (Isa. 40:22).

Before the invention of the telescope, gazers tried to count the number of stars that filled the skies, such as Ptolemy who established the number at 1,056. Today, we know that such estimates were futile, but as far back as 600 B.C. the prophet Jeremiah revealed that the number of stars were innumerable (Jer. 33:22).

Perhaps one of science's most amazing testimonies of its interface with the Bible is contained in a document found in the Bodleian Library of Oxford, England. The following statement was signed by eight hundred of Great Britain's scientists: "We the undersigned, Students of the natural sciences, desire to express our sincere regret that researchers into scientific truth are perverted by some in our own times into occasion for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity of the Holy scriptures. We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God written in the book of nature, and God's Word written in Holy scripture, to contradict one another."

(8) Prophetic Accuracy. The fulfillment of Bible prophecy is one of the greatest proofs of the authenticity of God's Word. There are hundreds of prophecies in the Bible which list specific detail in regard to persons, places, events and times, and history has repeatedly shown such prophecies relating to the past were fulfilled in the most exact of terms (as they will also for future events).

An example of such involves the 6th century B.C. prediction of the overthrow of the city of Tyre (Ezek. 26:1-21). Seven specific things were predicted, and each were later fulfilled to the letter during the 4th century B.C. The mathematical probability of this happening by mere chance has been calculated to be 1 in 75,000,000.

Perhaps the most amazing series of prophetic fulfillments involves the numerous Messianic predictions concerning Christ. The Old Testament contains 332 specific prophecies which were fulfilled by Christ. These not only bear proof of His divine authenticity, but they also help substantiate the divine authorship of the Bible.

In the book, Science Speaks, Professor Peter Stoner used the mathematical principle called "the Law of Compound Probability," to assess some of the prophecies relating to Christ. Simply stated, this law is used to calculate the odds against a "chance" fulfillment of such predictions when compounded by a specific set of conditions, requirements, or qualifications. His findings were carefully evaluated by the American Scientific Affiliation, and were found to be sound and convincing. By this method, he was able to show evidence that would rule out coincidence, chance or human manipulation in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

Stoner started by calculating the probability of one individual who could precisely fulfill only eight prophecies relating to Christ. He computed the odds at 1 in 10 (17th power), the same as 1 followed by 17 zeros. This is the equivalent of covering the entire state of Texas 2 feet deep in silver dollars, specially marking one of them, and instructing a blindfolded man to pick the right silver dollar on the first try.

Dr. Stoner then computed the odds of one individual that could fulfill just 48 prophecies relating to Christ. He calculated the odds at 1 X 10 (to the 157th power) — or 1 followed by 157 zeros. This figure is astronomical and beyond human comprehension, but Christ fulfilled over 300 distinct prophecies, proving the divine authorship of scripture beyond any doubt.

(9) Archaeological Evidence. The discoveries of archaeology have consistently, and continually verified the reliability of the Bible. There has never been a discovery which has contradicted a scriptural reference, and to this day, ongoing research continues to show that the Bible was correct about its references to historical figures, civilizations and cities. Nelson Glueck, the renowned Jewish archaeologist wrote, "it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference."

During the excavations of Jericho archaeologist John Garstang found something so starling that a statement of what was found was prepared and signed by himself and two other members of his team. In reference to these findings, Garstang said, "As to the main fact then, there remains no doubt: the walls fell outwards so completely that the attackers would be able to clamber up and over their ruins into the city." Why so unusual? Because the walls of cities do not fall outwards, they fall inwards. And yet in Joshua 6:20 we read "...the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city every man straight ahead, and they took the city."

(10) Sacrifice of Martyrs. Millions have laid down their lives in defense of the Bible. Foxes Book of Martyrs describes scores of believers who historically endured banishments, torture, confiscation of property, and imprisonment rather than to deny their confidence in the Holy Scripture. William Tyndale was tried as a heretic, strangled and burned to death in 1536 for translating the Bible into the language of ordinary people. John Hus was burned at the stake in 1415 because he taught that the Bible was the only inspired and reliable message from God to man. If the Bible was a mere book, without the attestation of such remarkable internal and external proofs, persons would not have been willing to throw away their lives for a book of fairy tales. Among other evidence, the Bible has spoken to men's hearts and changed their lives, therefore they know it is true and have been willing to die for it.

(11) The Resurrection of Jesus. Christ's resurrection confirmed that Jesus is who He claimed to be, and that His own statements regarding scripture are reliable. The fact of the resurrection can be proven by many "infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3). The appearance of Christ after the resurrection was verified by more than 500 eyewitnesses (1 Cor. 15:6) who touched, spoke to, and ate with him. The number of witnesses, together with the circumstances and various appearances provide powerful proofs that the resurrection was not a hoax or plot. These witnesses were of high moral integrity and many were executed for their defense of the resurrection. Authorities claim more evidence of the resurrection than any other event in history.

(12) Personal witness and Transformation. When one reads the scripture, it speaks to the heart and bears witness to our inner, spiritual man. This attests that it is a communication of God designed to speak to the heart of man — and that message changes and transforms lives. The Bible has produced the same life changing effect upon the lives of millions all over the world, despite whatever differences of sex, age, nationality, culture, social class, vocation, intellect, or religious background. Millions of born again Christians are a testimony of the transforming power of God's Word.

Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh McDowell
The Victor Bible Sourcebook, Stephen D. Swihart
None Of These Diseases, Dr. S.I. McMillen

This article is from the book, What People Ask About the Church, authored and copyrighted © by Dr. Dale A. Robbins, 1990-2015, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA - Nashville, TN. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982. You may download this article for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. Many of our writings are also available as free pdf tri-fold pamphlets, which can be downloaded for reproduction from our Online Catalog. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain quantities of this title in other formats, email us.