Essential Teachings 2: The Bible   by Steve Weston  

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At the end of the previous article dealing with God Himself it was proposed that the Bible itself can be taken as a striking proof that there really is an Almighty God. We will now address this proposition, exploring the miraculous nature of this book to confirm that the only explanation for its existence and content is the one it claims itself - that God Himself is its ‘author’

. no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21).

But first of all, what is the Bible? Actually, it is not a single book, but a library of 66 books, divided into two parts - the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Here are some statistics:

        Old Testament                                          New Testament

                    39                            Books                           27

             30 (approx.)                   Writers                         8/9*

                 3,500            Years of history covered            100

                 1,000                  Span of writing                     50

*the exact number depends on who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews.

In all, 66 books written by about 40 different authors over 1600 years (including 500 years of 'silence' between the last book of the Old Testament and the first book of the New Testament). Given such a large number of writers over so many years, it ought to be all too easy to find errors and contradictions. But that just isn’t the case, and the substantive absence of such "errors" and "contradictions" necessarily leads us to the conclusion that all these writings come from a common source that has never changed.

To underscore this statement, we will consider two examples where several authors, separated by centuries of time, present a single, coherent message.

  1. Melchizedec

It is in Genesis 14 that we encounter this character for the first time. Abram (later renamed Abraham) has just freed his nephew Lot who had been taken prisoner. Here is the account:

After (Abram’s) return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. And the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself." (v17-21)

Let us first note that the storyline of v17 is picked up in v21, and that verses 18-20 are a kind of parenthesis that has nothing to do with the main story. This man Melchizedek appears briefly, speaks to Abram, and then he disappears. One wonders why this intervention by a stranger who seems to have nothing to do with the story about Abram and the king of Sodom? Why this little ‘aside’ that seems to interrupt the main storyline?

1,000 years later David wrote Psalm 110 which is quoted several times in the New Testament referring to Jesus Christ (Matt 22:41-44, Acts 2:34). In this psalm we read as follows:

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (v4)

This passage provides an additional detail about this mysterious man. Initially we discovered that he was a king. But now we learn, in a psalm that speaks prophetically of Jesus Christ, that he was a priest. But the same question remains, what is the significance of this enigmatic character, Melchizedek?

Another 1000 years on, and we find the solution to both our questions. It is in the Letter to the Hebrews that we find a third and final reference to this man:

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. (7 :1-3)


What an extraordinary passage! This writer refers to the other two passages to demonstrate that Melchizedek was king and priest. We have no idea about the details of his life – who were his parents, when was he born, who succeeded him - and yet he is used as pointing forward to an aspect of Jesus Christ's mission as a king and priest. How is it possible that these 2 Old Testament writers knew about the significance of this tiny event in Abraham's life? The obvious explanation is that they were "carried along by the Holy Spirit" of God and that the entire Bible is not a work of purely human origin but comes from one divine source. And if this is so, a second conclusion also jumps out: the extraordinary nature of the Bible is one more proof of the existence of God.

  1. Abraham

We have just considered a small event in the life of Abram/Abraham. Let us now focus specifically on this great character, as recorded in the Bible. It is the story of a man who lived approx. 4,000 years ago, in the region now known as the Persian Gulf, who was invited by God to leave his native land to settle in an unknown region, the modern land of Israel. He received far-reaching promises from God, including the following:

The great biblical commentary on this man can be found in Genesis 15:6: and (Abraham) believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.


The following details in this man's life are important to our line of enquiry:

Abraham's name appears 73 times in the New Testament; we will just consider 3 references:

  1. Matthew 22:23-33

The Sadducees tried to set a trap for Jesus to justify their belief that there is no resurrection (v. 23). In his response Jesus quotes an Old Testament passage that refers to the time, around 500 years after Abraham, when God said to Moses: "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (vv. 31-32; Exodus 3:6).

Abraham inherited nothing before his death (see Acts 7:5), so that promise was not fulfilled during his lifetime. In order to inherit as promised, it follows that he must live again, that is, be raised from the dead. Hence the significance of those words "I AM the God of Abraham..." : God did not abandon Abraham - He remembers the one who was his "friend" (James 2:23) - and He has not forgotten His promises. At the very heart of God's promises to Abraham is therefore the absolute certainty that Abraham will live again ie will be raised from the dead.

  1. Hebrews 11:8-19

With this “certainty” in mind let’s look at our second passage. In Genesis 22 God had asked Abraham to sacrifice the son for whose birth he had waited twenty-five years. The record shows us that Abraham was ready to obey God. But he had told the servants who accompanied them on the first part of the journey to the place chosen by God: "The young man and I will go there to worship, and then we will come back to you" (v. 5).

How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction - that he is willing to kill his son, and yet believe that he will return, accompanied by Isaac? This New Testament passage provides the solution:

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named”. He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back."(17-19)

Abraham, having understood that he himself was to be raised from the dead, was therefore fully convinced that, even if his son Isaac had to be sacrificed, he too would be raised so that these promises could be fulfilled. The two texts, separated by 1500 years, each contribute to the whole story - yet another compelling piece of evidence that the whole biblical story comes from one source, God.

  1. Romans 4

This 3rd passage deals with the same themes - the faith of Abraham, and the resurrection from the dead. But it also invites us to consider another striking characteristic of the Bible. Romans 4 is devoted entirely to the subject of Abraham, in particular to his conviction that God's promises to him were true and certain. God had told him that he was going to have a son with his wife Sarah, although they were both too old for this to be possible, humanly-speaking. Consider what we read in verses 21-22: "...he was fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness.".

Note that the writer quotes the verse from Genesis 15 already mentioned above. But now, see how this passage continues:

"But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification". (23-24)

An historical record, about a man who lived 4000 years ago, has been written and preserved through centuries of time for "us" - for us readers!

We can, therefore, recognise that the Bible has a personal message for all men and women. The Bible is not only a source of information, like a textbook; it also, crucially, invites us to participate individually in the story it tells, in the great plan of salvation for mankind that God is carrying out. The Bible is a living and dynamic work of literature – unique amongst the countless volumes of literature in our world. Through the pages of this extraordinary book God is speaking to us. But are we ready and willing to listen to Him?



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