in Theology & God

Would God Let His Word Be Corrupted?

Considering God’s Revelation

With the variety of religions, there are a variety of documents, teaching various versions of spirituality and meaning for life. They all have views of God and claim to teach the truth about reality. A person who takes an intellectually honest look at the various teachings is forced to conclude that either many of them are wrong and only one is right, or all of them are right to some extent. The problem with the later option, is that you would have to admit that God let’s his revelation of truth become corrupted at the hands of men. I would like briefly provide some reasons why the Bible is God’s communication to us, and why it is reasonable to believe that it is uncorrupted by the hands of man.

The Miracle Stamp of Approval

Jesus raised others from the dead and then his grand finale was raising himself from the dead. These miracles are unrivaled by the leaders of other religions. For example, Mohammed and Buddha, leaders of the two largest world religions, did not perform any miracles that I am aware of, and certainly didn’t perform the degree of miracles that Jesus performed—especially raising himself from the dead.

Today, people treat lightly the idea of a miracle, making everything under the sun seem miraculous, however, miracles, in the biblical sense, are supernatural acts of God intended to authenticate the message. Jesus taught that the purpose of his miracles was to cause people to stop, hear his message and turn from their ways—repent—and believe in him.

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. (Luk 10:13 NAS)

The apostles made similar statements with regards to their miracles.

The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles. (2Co 12:12 NAS)

Keep in mind, these are not the same as the counterfeit-miracles performed by false apostles such as Benny Hinn, or other television miracle workers that you hear of today. The miracles performed by Jesus and the apostles were openly recognized by many, documented and survived challenges by critics.

The miracles performed by Jesus and the apostles are strong evidence to support the claim that they were prophets of God, revealing the message that God wants us to hear. God does not leave us to simply blind faith. Miracles throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament provide evidence of a God who has acted throughout history to make himself known in big ways. The Old Testament and the New Testament have the mark of authenticity from a God who uses His supernatural, omnipotent power to authenticate His message.

Jesus Stamp of Approval

If you consider that Jesus was a prophet sent by God, then you must also consider that Jesus used Old Testament scripture extensively in his ministry as a prophet. He rebuked those who did not know it well. The Sadducess and Pharisees were two groups that tried to use the Scripture against Jesus. They did not succeed, in fact, Jesus openly rebuked them.

The Sadducees escaped no more lightly. Their supposed rationality was met by the fierce and scathing denunciation, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matt. 22:29; cf. Mark 12:24). Jesus was not content with the Pharisees’ knowledge of the letter of Scripture but was concerned that there should be genuine spiritual understanding. In speaking to the Sadducees, He makes it plain that such understanding does not come by study of Scripture enlightened only by human reason; it comes through knowledge of the Scriptures that has been illuminated by the power of God.1

Jesus had a mind that was saturated with the Old Testament scriptures. His teachings contain not only direct quotes, but allusions to truths taught throughout the Old Testament.

“As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:29) recalls Joel 3:13; “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” (Mark 8:18) is from Jeremiah 5:21; and “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48) is from Isaiah 66:24. In the Sermon on the Mount, the phrases “the meek . . . will inherit the earth” and “the pure in heart” are not original to Jesus but come from the Old Testament (Pss. 37:11; 73:1). “Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:23; cf Luke 13:27) is from Psalm 6:8. “Children will rebel against their parents . . .” (Matt. 10:21, 35; Mark 13:12; cf. Luke 12:53) is from Micah 7:6. In one of Jesus’ rare items of ecclesiastical legislation (Matt. 18:15-20), He invokes Deuteronomy 19:15, “that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” The parable of the wicked husbandmen (Matt. 21:33-41; Mark 12:1-9; Luke 20:9-16) recalls Isaiah 5. The Mount of Olives discourse (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) is full of Old Testament language. “They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within” (Luke 19:44) echoes that fiercest of imprecatory psalms. Psalm 137.

The total impression that these and many other allusions in the Gospels give is that the mind of Christ was saturated with the Old Testament. As He spoke, there flowed out perfectly naturally a complete range of uses varying from direct quotation to unconscious reflections of Old Testament phraseology. There is no trace of artificial quotation of Scripture as a matter of pious habit. Jesus’ mind was so steeped in both the words and principles of Scripture that quotation and allusion came to His lips naturally and appositely in all sorts of circumstances.2

Someone might say, well, he was certainly steeped in it, but did He really believe that it was the inerrant word of God? Jesus often prefaced Old Testament quotations saying, “it is written”, which can also be translated, “it stands written”, or we could interpret Jesus telling us that it“is the permanent, unchangeable witness of the eternal God, committed to writing for our instruction3

Jesus also commonly use the word scripture and God interchangeably. He did not see any difference between the words written in Scripture and the words of God himself. They were one in the same.  “To our Lord the Old Testament was true as history; it was of divine authority, and its very words were inspired by God Himself.”4

Preservation and History

Critics might quickly point to minor differences between version of the Bible, or difference between copies of the original manuscripts. The term used to communicate the uncorrupted nature of the Bible is “inerrancy”. This means that the Bible communicates the truth, without error in the original manuscripts. Of course, we currently do not have original manuscripts, but the number of copies and the accuracy relative to each other give us ample reason to believe that the original manuscripts were indeed the inerrant Word of God.

There are now more than 5,686 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Add over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9,300 other early versions (MSS), and we have close to, if not more than, 25,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence today. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers and attestation. In comparison, Homer’s Iliad is second, with only 643 manuscripts that still survive. The first complete preserved text of Homer dates from the thirteenth century.5

Comparison between these copies has shown accuracy in transmission that is unrivaled by any other document of antiquity. We would expect to see this form a document that claims divine origin and that is what we see with the Bible. It has the mark of the hand of God, using his omnipotent power to preserve the text in the Bible throughout history. Jesus had confidence the transmission of the Old Testament. The apostles and early church had confidence in the transmission of both the New Testament and Old Testament. Historical evidence gives us further confidence of accurate transmission and preservation of His Word.

Church history also shows the communication of the core truths of the Christian faith throughout the ages. There have certainly been points of dispute over the teachings of Scripture, but at each point, the church has responded to attacks by explaining what it believes so that the attacks cannot take root in within the church. Early Church creed and confessions are examples of attacks being thwarted by accurate and concise explanations of doctrine. The Reformation is an example of the church going through a major correction, where the corruption introduced by the Catholic church was corrected by the Protestant Reformers. A thread of truth can be traced through the history of the church, where we can see the tradition, or truth taught by Jesus and the apostles passed throughout the centuries for us today. This is he hand of God, powerfully working in the events of man, so that His truths are preserved for those whom he graciously chooses to reveal himself.

The Appeal to Reason

A God who let’s his revelation of himself, become corrupted, is not a God at all. If you believe that all paths lead to God, that all paths contain truth that God has revealed to man, then you do not believe in a perfect, all-powerful, mighty, sovereign God who is capable of both creating and governing the universe according to His purposes. You believe in a god who doesn’t have the power to protect his message; you believe in a god who has totally failed to communicate truthfully about himself.  A god such as this is no god at all and there seems little reason to believe in a god who is unable to preserve even his own revelation of himself. What can I expect from such a god for my life? Will that god be able to bring hope when he can’t even help himself!

It’s fascinating how many people are quick to affirm God has destiny and purpose for their lives, but do not at the same time affirm that such a God can preserve his revelation. God not only has destiny in mind for individuals, but He has destiny for His revelation towards us.

God has certainly used all His amazing powers to preserve His revelation of Himself. The same God who is capable of creating this universe and human life is able to preserve His revelation of Himself. The revelation that He has shown in the Bible is the one that I have found to show this mark of authenticity and contains evidences of being the Truth revealed by God.

Many people consider Jesus to be at the very least a prophet who died on the cross to show His love for us. But consider, do you think that God would send Jesus as a prophet, and would allow for the story to become corrupted so that people don’t understand the truth about Jesus? If you think that Jesus really was God incarnate, it is even more crazy to think that God would not preserve the story of His own incarnation against corruption! Man could easily fail to preserve the manuscripts, but nothing is impossible with God. No, the teachings of Jesus have been passed down faithfully in the church, not because man is very good at copying manuscripts but because God has used His supreme, unrivaled power to preserve the manuscripts at the hands of men. God is known to use man as a means of bestowing grace on humanity, and this is one of his crowing achievements. The preserved, revelation of Himself. The very Word of God.

Concluding Remarks

When you read the Bible. Do not read it as a skeptic, considering the words to be mere words of man. You will not experience it’s power; you will not experience the transformative effects it can have both on your spirit and your life. Read the Bible as if it is the very Word of God. Words from your Creator that have been preserved for you. Read the Bible as if God is speaking to you today.

I have read the Bible in this way for years and despite the fact that it was written in a time long ago in a foreign culture and land, there are often verses that stop me in my tracks and demand attention. It is as if God is speaking through His Word, into my life today. Yes, this is what He does. He is not a God of the dead, but a God of the living. He has always been in the business of breathing new life into dead souls. The crowing achievement, Jesus death and resurrection is an example of conquering death once and for all, releasing those who believe from the death-grip of sin and providing the gracious gift of eternal life for those who believe.

Endnotes

1. Norman L. Geisler, ed., Inerrancy (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1980), 11 Chapter titled, “Christ’s View of Scripture”, written by John Wenham

2. Ibid., 22.

3. Ibid., 15.

4. Ibid., 21.

5. Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson, 1999), 34.

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