The Christian Teaching Explained
With all of the other religious books out there, why do Christians claim their book is the true Word of God? Reading the previous teaching explanations, especially Sin and Repentance, Forgiveness of Sins for All People, and Justified by Grace through Faith, will help the reader understand why believing that the Bible is the Word of God is so important. It’s one of the most important teachings for a Christian and it sets the stage for the rest of this website because of the One whom God tells us about: our Savior Jesus. For this reason, every other Christian teaching explained on this website will rely on the understanding that the Bible is the Word of God. And there’s a good reason for that, too. Every Christian teaching should come from the Bible.
The Bible is the Word of God because of something Christians call divine inspiration. Divine inspiration basically means that God spoke through the authors of each book of the Bible. The people God chose to write down his words were from all sorts of different backgrounds. Some were shepherds, some were kings, some were fishermen, some were close followers of Jesus, and some we don’t even know exactly. But no matter who was speaking the message or writing the book, the One who was really doing the speaking and the writing was God himself—the men were simply his messengers. The Bible explains it this way: “Prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
1 John 1:1
The Bible also describes divine inspiration in this way: “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture (or The Scriptures) is a name for God’s written Word. Every single sentence and every single word was constructed by God and “breathed” into the minds and the mouths of those who physically spoke them and wrote them down. Because of this, we can be confident our all-powerful God was able to direct each and every word without error so we could fully understand his love and his teachings. He was even able to make sure the mistakes that crept into the copies of his Word didn’t affect any of his teachings.
How did he speak to the original writers and how did they know what to write down? Sometimes God appeared to them physically in some way and gave them words (for example Exodus 3:1-4, 19; Acts 22:6-11). Sometimes he appeared to them in dreams (for example 1 Kings 3:5-15; Daniel 7). Sometimes he appeared to them in visions that may or may not have been dreams (for example Daniel 8, 10-12; Revelation). And many times we just don’t know. But we don’t need to know because in every case the Holy Spirit was behind it all, making sure that what needed to be said was being said.
Given by God, Powered by God
How do we know that a message came from God and not from someone who just claims it was from God? That’s what makes the Bible so special. Not only does God give the writers the words, but he also brings the message behind the words to life by working through them. As God himself testifies, “The word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). The Holy Spirit speaks directly to our souls through the words of the Bible. He exposes the sins our consciences know are there. He reveals our Savior who fully paid for our sins. He does it in a way that makes the message of the Bible seem like water for our thirsty souls, like the truth being confirmed deep down in our hearts.
That’s how one single book can be formed over a period of about 1,500 years and from over 40 different human authors. God has guided people to recognize the books that have His actual words because they’re more than just words. Each book, in one way or another, is giving the same message: the message that God loves us so he saved us. This message helps us realize that we’ve messed up and that God has saved us anyway. And that’s simply what the Bible is: the history of how God saved us and continues to help us because he loves us.
The Old Testament
“The holy Scriptures…are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 3:15
Before Jesus came to do the saving, this message was given to a people called the Hebrews, who eventually became known as the Israelites, and who later were called the Jews. God chose them to be the nation who would eventually bring the Savior all people on earth needed. He gave his message to them through his chosen leaders or through his chosen prophets and messengers. After they were written down, the Jews collected what God had said and grouped them together into what is called “The Hebrew Canon.” The word canon means a measuring stick or a standard to judge something by. The Holy Spirit helped the Jews recognize which books needed to be grouped together as the Word of God so they could be the standard of what was and what wasn’t God’s message.
Jesus himself supports the books included in the Hebrew canon, also called “The Old Testament Canon.” The Old Testament refers to the group of books written before the birth of the Savior. Jesus quoted the Old Testament writings many times. After he rose from the dead he also said, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). In Jesus’ day the Old Testament was divided into three main sections: the Teachings of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Here we see Jesus confirming that all of it came from God because it all needed to be fulfilled in him, the Savior.
The New Testament
Jesus also helped determine the New Testament canon, the books of the Bible written after the Savior had come. The first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were all written about the life of Jesus. Christians call these four books the Gospels. The word gospel means “good news” and it’s a word used to describe the message that Jesus has saved us from our sins. The Gospels include the major events of his life, important quotes and teachings, and information about his ministry (ministry is a term used to describe a period of service for preaching and teaching). Two of the Gospels (Matthew and John) were written by two of Jesus’ twelve disciples, the twelve men he chose to be his close followers and students during his ministry. The Gospel of Mark was written by a follower of one of Jesus’ disciples, and the Gospel of Luke was written by a follower of Paul, one of Jesus’ chosen apostles. The word apostle means “messenger,” and it’s a special title given to the men Jesus chose to lead and teach the first believers after he ascended into heaven.
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”
2 Timothy 4:2
Those are a lot of church terms, but the reason all of that is important is because Jesus told his disciples, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). This is how we can be confident that anything written by a disciple or an apostle is from God, because Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them. The easiest way for a Christian to know if a book should be considered a part of God’s Word is to ask the question: “Was it written by an apostle?” If a disciple, Paul, or a close follower of one of them wrote something, then we can be confident that those words and teachings were given by God because the Holy Spirit guided them with their teachings.
Yet there are still three New Testament writings that weren’t written by the apostles or their close followers. Two of those writings were most likely written by two of Jesus’ biological half-brothers, James and Jude, who became believers and leaders in the church after Jesus had risen from the dead. No one knows for sure who wrote the third, a book called “the letter to the Hebrews.” These three books are great examples of the fact that God has guided people to recognize which writings are meant to be included in his Word. It isn’t necessary that we know who the earthly authors of those writings were because the Holy Spirit has spoken through those writings and confirmed them as truth in believers’ hearts.
All in all, the Bible is God’s Word because God testifies that all of it is true. As the apostle Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Our souls testify that the Bible and its gospel message are true because through that message the Holy Spirit gives our souls new life. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). This new life of faith has helped Christians all over the world recognize the Bible as the very Word of God. The Holy Spirit has opened the eyes and awakened the souls of countless people and guided them to declare to God, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).