How do we know the Bible is God’s words, not something made up by men?
Six reasons why I think the Bible is God’s words, not men’s.
- The remarkable and 100% accuracy of prophecies – the bible has over 1,800 prophecies, some concern Jesus’ first coming and many concerns His second coming. Prophecies about his first coming includes his place of birth, his virgin birth, his ministry, his death and resurrection, etc. There are also many prophecies about the Jews being scattered all over the world, and later be gathered and restored in their original promised land. These prophecies are being fulfilled in our generation. On my website you can read my notes on several biblical books which are rich in prophecies: the books of Daniel, Isaiah, Revelation and Ezekiel. Week after week we are amazed at the remarkable accuracy of biblical prophecies.
- The historical and geographical accuracy of the bible — the bible records human history dating back all the way to creation until about two thousand years ago during the Roman empire. All biblical historical recordings are verifiable with human recorded history as well as archaeological discoveries. For example, the life and times of Jesus are verifiable to be accurate with writings of historians such as Josephus. The geography recorded in the bible is also totally accurate. If it is written by human some of these historical or geographical recordings are bound to be inaccurate.
- The bible is accurate scientifically long before man discovered the scientific proofs. For example, long before man realize that the earth is round, prophet Isaiah who lived 2,700 years ago already declared “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth " (Isaiah 40:22) . Long before man discovered DNA which limits species of living organisms God already declared “according to their kinds" (各從其類). Long before man discovered gravitational fields(引力場) God already told us that " He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. " (Job 26:7), etc.
- The remarkable structure of the Bible: its 66 books were written by over 40 writers who were spread out over nearly 2,000 years. The individual writers did not know what they wrote will be a part of the bible. Yet the messages are consistent, and they do not conflict. In fact, we often use one scriptural passage to explain another (以經解經). Christians understand why there is such consistency — every author was inspired by the Holy Spirit who is the actual author.
- The impact the Bible has on man — It remains the best seller for thousands of years, and many lives have been changed because of the contents of the Bible. It is the primary way we get to know God, human origin, the fall, the redemption and the future of humans. It provides comfort to many who are suffering and in darkness. It lays the foundation of human laws and living. It is the only book that is relevant throughout the ages.
Finally, Jesus himself quoted extensively from the Old Testament, so did the apostles. Jesus and the apostles acknowledged that the Bible is divine.
Are our lives planned in advance by God?
I think you are asking about God’s predestination versus man’s free will, a very difficult subject indeed. If God predestined (pre-planned or foreordained) our lives, then there is no free will on our part. Worse yet, we no longer need to take responsibility for our actions such as sinning and non-believing in God because God already pre-planned or pre-programmed me as such. Then I am no more than a human robot. Theologically, when it comes to salvation, there is the conflict between Calvinism and Arminianism, which may not have a satisfactory solution until we see Christ face-to-face. Calvinism believes man is totally depraved so no man can seek after God unless God selected him before the creation of the world, and until God puts such desire in him. Arminianism believes even fallen man has free will and man is free to make decisions including choosing Christ and accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. Are we predestined, or do we have free will?
The bible tells us we are predestined and chosen before the foundation of the world (" For he chose us in him before the creation of the world … he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ …. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…"– Ephesians 1:4,5,11;) Yet the bible does talk about man choosing to leave sin and accept Christ: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."" (Roman 10:13) Jesus even taught in Matthew 11:12 that those who want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven needs to strive “violently" to enter. So there is no question that predestination and free will both exist. Man, with our limited wisdom cannot hope to resolve it. But let me tell you how I resolve it in my own mind:
There is no question salvation is entirely God’s work (as Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3 clearly indicates). God not only predestined, He is all knowing so He knows who His sheep are. But we human beings do not. The only time we find out that our names are in the Book of Life is after we become a Christian. There is no excuse not to share the gospel because do not know who are predestined to be saved. Yet when we respond to the gospel, we are exercising our will as we repent and accept Christ. But our actions are within God’s plan so God is never surprised. My apparent exercise of my free will to accept God is in fact enabled by the Spirit as an act of grace from God. So ultimately it is God’s work in me as I exercise my free will to accept and to love Him.
This is about all I can explain. It is a mystery which will be resolved when we are before Christ.