The Evidences of Inspiration

B.C. Goodpasture

The evidences of the inspiration of the Bible fall into two classes—namely, external and internal. Josephus and Philo, learned Jewish authors, testify that the Jews always regarded the Old Testament as a product of holy men writing under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. From the very nature of the case however, the chief arguments in favor of the divine origin of the Bible are largely internal. This fact does not militate against the arguments in favor of inspiration. If the contents of a given bottle were in question, the best way to find out the truth would be to make a careful analysis of what was in the bottle. The internal evidence would be more conclusive than any kind of external evidence that could be produced. If the nature of a nugget of metal, which many thought to be gold, was in question, the best way to arrive at the fact would be to examine the nugget itself. In like manner we have a book, the Bible, which we claim is inspired. Does it bear the marks of inspiration? Will it stand the acid test of internal investigation? We have a right to examine this book to see whether or not it bears the marks of divine origin. It has nothing to fear from the most rigid investigation.

The Bible’s Anticipation of Religious Errors

As an evidence of its divine origin, we mention the fact that the Bible has anticipated and answered every major departure from the faith which has been made during the past nineteen hundred years. Only an example or two can be cited. The Roman Catholic Church has denied the cup to the “laity,” the rank and file of its members. Jesus, as if in specific anticipation of this error, said at the institution of the Lord’s Supper: “Drink ye all of it” (Matt. 26:27). He did not mean, as some modern cranks have foolishly contended, that they must drink the entire contents of the cup, the fruit of the vine; but that each one must drink of it. The disciples so understood him. It is said that “They all drank of it” (Mark 14:23). Again, Paul said: “The Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons…forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received” (1 Tim. 4:1-3). It is a matter of common knowledge that the Romish Church has forbidden marriage to its leaders and commanded its members to abstain from meats at certain seasons. In doing this, it has followed the “doctrines of demons.” Some so-called “Protestant” churches ape the “Mother of Harlots” in abstaining from meats. All such practices have been anticipated and condemned. By no human wisdom or ingenuity could these errors have been foreseen and answered. The only adequate explanation is inspiration.

The Bible’s Scientific Foreknowledge

The Bible is abreast with the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. Yet the Bible was not written as a treatise on science. It was written in the language of the people addressed at the time it was produced, yet it contains no statement of fact which is at war with scientific truth. The order of events in creation as enumerated by Moses, is in agreement with the latest scientific pronouncements. Jeremiah said that “the host of heaven cannot be numbered” (Jer. 33:22). The ancients thought, however, that the stars could be numbered. They thought that they had counted them. Now no astronomer ever hopes to know the number of the host of heaven. How did Jeremiah know this? Job said many centuries ago: “He stretcheth out the north over the empty space and hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). How did the Uzzean sage know that there is a vast stretch in the northern heavens which is without stars? How did he know about the law of gravitation and the forces by which the earth is held in its proper place? He spoke far in advance of scientific discovery. He had no modern telescopic equipment, and he was not a world traveler. Whence came this accurate knowledge concerning the heavens and the earth? Isaiah used language which contemplated the rotundity of the earth. He said: “It is he that sitteth above the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers” (Isa. 40:22). Isaiah had never, like Magellan, sailed around the earth. He had access to no modern maps or geographies. How did he come into possession of such knowledge? Jesus used language which took into consideration the fact that people live on a round earth, a sphere. He said that when he comes the second time two men would be in the field; one would be taken and one left. Two women would be grinding at the mill; one would be taken and one left (Matt. 24:40). And in that night two men would be in one bed; one would be taken and one would be left (Luke 17:34). Normally, at the time Jesus spoke, persons were in the field by day, in bed by night, and ground at the mill by twilight. Jesus meant, then, that when he comes it would be daylight at some places, twilight at others, and at still other places it would be night. This could happen only on a round earth. How did Jesus know this? He lived and died in Palestine—he was seldom outside that country. He lived in sight of the Mediterranean Sea, yet never mentioned it. There is no evidence that he was ever on its waters, yet he speaks of conditions which will prevail when he comes again in such manner as to show that he knew that the world is round. How did he know it? How did he and the others quoted in this connection know about matters of science so far in advance of their times? The only answer is that they knew by inspiration of the Almighty.

The Bible’s Impartiality

Another evidence of the divine authorship of the Bible is its utter impartiality in the delineation of human character. When uninspired men are writing about those whom they eulogize and adore, they are prone to leave unmentioned things which are uncomplimentary and sinful. But not so with the writers of the Bible. Moses, the great lawgiver, deliverer, and prophet, is one of the most colossal figures in all history. He is the most highly honored character of the Old Testament. His name alone of the Old Testament worthies is associated with that of the Lamb in the song of the blest (Rev. 15:3). Yet the Bible relates the sad story of Moses’ sin at the rock and his consequent inability to enter the land of promise. David sinned, and the Bible records his sins. Peter sinned, and the tragic story of his thrice-repeated denial of his Lord is faithfully given. If men, apart from the moving of the Holy Spirit, had been writing about these men, they would either have left their sins unmentioned or would have “written them down.” We cannot account for such fairness and frankness in the portrayal of heroic characters except upon the ground of divine authorship.

The Bible’s Aloofness From Human Curiosity

As an additional proof of its inspiration, we suggest the fact that the Bible does not cater to human curiosity. It never stoops to satisfy the curious meddlesomeness of man. This is not true of books written by uninspired men. The Bible often leaves unrecorded that which men would like to know. It is said that upon one occasion Jesus wrote twice upon the ground (John 8:1-8). This is the only instance of his writing. What he wrote would be news of the first quality, yet we do not know what he inscribed on the sacred soil of Palestine. It is significant that the Bible does not contain one book—not even one sentence—from the pen of Jesus. His childhood and youth are passed in almost complete silence. From the age of twelve to his baptism at the age of thirty we have no word from his lips. How different if men had been writing about him apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Bible mentions several persons who were raised from the dead. Yet none of these brought back any word concerning what they saw and experienced beyond the veil. Their tongues were tied and their lips were locked concerning the great beyond. How different it would have been had men been writing according to the dictates of their own nature and learning. They could not, or would not, have foregone the pleasure of speaking some word to gratify the longing and anxious curiosity of men. Impostors have ever sought to solve the mysterious and tell of the world to come. Even the silence of the Bible is intructive. It, as well as its speech, is an argument in favor of its divine origin.

The Bible’s Remarkable Unity

Again, the unity of the Bible is a mark of its superhuman origin. It is composed of 66 books, written by about 40 different persons, under a variety of conditions and in widely separated countries, during a period of 16 centuries. Yet it is one book not only in form, but also in purpose, subject matter, and development. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” It was written to make men wise unto salvation. Each writer has made a distinct and fitting contribution to the whole. This can be accounted for only on the ground that a superior Intelligence directed these men to write what they did. “If,” as Everest remarks,

…forty sculptors, living in different countries, scattered through sixteen centuries, and belonging to several schools of art, should fashion, without knowledge of each other or concert of action, as many different parts of a marble statue, and if at the end of these centuries it should be found that these portions exactly fitted one another and resulted in a work of art the most perfect and the most sublime, then all would recognize the miracle, and that there was a presiding Intelligence more enduring and more exalted than man. Such are the circumstances under which wrought the forty sacred writers, and such was the result of their Labors—the Bible. Its inspiration alone accounts for its unity.

The Bible’s Prophecies and Their Fulfillment

Finally, we cite its prophecies as a conclusive evidence of the divine authorship of the Bible. Impostors have generally steered clear of prophecy. They have been afraid to jeopardize their reputations by making predictions. When they have yielded to the temptation to prophesy, they have invariably been embarrassed by what followed. On the other hand, the writers of the Bible have made frequent predictions, not one of which has failed of fulfillment, in due season. There are three kinds of prophecies in the Bible—namely, those which have been fulfilled, those which are in the process of being fulfilled, and those yet to be fulfilled. Obviously the first two classes are all that can now be used as evidence of inspiration. From these two classes we select a few examples.

In Josh. 6:26 we read that after Jericho had been destroyed, it was predicted that the man who rebuilt the city would lay the foundation with the death of his firstborn son and set up the gates with the death of his youngest son. Time moved on. Five hundred fifty years passed. This was too long a time for the man who did the predicting to have anything to do with the fulfilling. H’iel presumed to rebuild Jericho. When he laid the foundation, his first-born son, Abiram, died; and when he set up the gates, his youngest son, Segub, died—exactly as it had been predicted centuries before (1 Kin. 16:34) The length of time and the number of details involved render it impossible to explain this prophecy apart from inspiration. Again, we read that a man of God came from Judah to Jeroboam as he stood by the altar to burn incense, and predicted that a descendant of David, Josiah by name, would burn on that altar priests and the bones of men in his efforts to destroy idolatry and restore the worship of the true God. (1 Kin. 13.) This was a highly detailed and circumstantial prophecy, yet three hundred fifty years later it was fulfilled to the letter. (2 Kin. 23:15-20.) The author of this prediction could have had nothing to do with its fulfillment. He died soon after the prediction was made. Besides, the fulfillment came centuries later. How did the man of God know so far in advance that a certain man, Josiah by name, of the royal family, would do these specific things on Jeroboam’s altar? Again, we answer, inspiration is the only adequate explanation.

When Frederick the Great, of Prussia, asked his court chaplain to give him in one word the evidence for the inspiration of the Bible, he answered: “The Jews.” This was not a bad answer. The Jews do furnish strong evidence of the supernatural origin of the Bible. In Deuteronomy 28 Moses gave a very detailed prediction concerning the future of the Jews. He told them that as long as they were faithful to the Lord they would be prosperous in the land, and that no enemy could stand before them. But if they proved to be unfaithful, he warned, they would be removed from the land and severely punished. The punishment and the captivities which they would bring upon themselves were vividly described. Moses even went so far as to describe the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent misfortunes of the Jews. He predicted that the Lord would bring against the Jews a nation from afar, as swift as the eagle flieth, whose speech the Jews would not understand; that this nation would besiege Judea and Jerusalem in all their gates until the walls were destroyed; that in the siege the inhabitants would suffer unparalleled misfortune; that the delicate women of Jerusalem would devour their own children by reason of the famine; that great numbers of the Jews would be killed in the siege, that multitudes, till no man would buy them, would be carried to Egypt and sold into slavery; that they would be removed from Palestine and scattered among all the peoples of the earth; that they would be oppressed and despoiled; that they would find no rest day or night, but be anxious and troubled everywhere; that they would be a byword and proverb among the nations. Josephus’ description of the siege and overthrow of Jerusalem is the best commentary on that part of the prediction which has to do with the destruction of the holy city. The later history of the Jews is in exact fulfillment of every feature of the Mosaic prophecy. Jeremiah said: “I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full end of thee.” (Jer. 30-11 ) The ancient Assyrians are gone, the Babylonians are gone, the Old Roman Empire has perished; yet the Jews are still here. They are a living monument to the genuineness and inspiration of the Old Testament prophecies. How could Moses have foretold the destruction of Jerusalem fifteen hundred years before it came to pass or related the misfortunes of the Jews down through thirty five centuries to our day except by divine inspiration? How did Jeremiah know that the Jews would survive even in the fires of persecution, and all their ancient foes? We can account for the Bible only on the grounds that its writers spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. The Bible has been in the fiery furnace of human investigation for these many centuries, yet it emerges without the smell of fire upon its garments. It has stood the acid test of practical experience. It has never failed when fairly tried. We have seen it in the forum of public discussion, we have seen it at the bedside of the dying, we have seen it at the graves of the dead; yet we have never seen it weighed and found wanting. It is God’s Book.

A glory guilds the sacred page

Majestic like the sun;

It lends its light to every age;

It lends to all, but borrows none.

   Send article as PDF   

Author: Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *