A Peculiar Glory

Is the Bible True?

Author: John Piper
Publisher: Crossway
Genre: Christian Living
Book Review
| Bibles.net
5/5
Reading Difficulty: Easy
In this book, Piper gives a clear, engaging, and beautiful defense of the doctrine of Scripture. His writing is well-researched, convincing, and comes from a place of love and concern. You will discover the authority, historicity, and beauty of the Word of God.
Chapter
| 7 Minutes
CHAPTER 8

A Shared Concern with Jonathan Edwards

Is the Bible True?

Is the Bible true? Completely true? All of it. Is it so trustworthy in all it teaches that it can function as the test of all other claims to truth? Since I have argued that the Bible’s own view of itself is that it is the word of God, not just the word of man, that question now includes: Is this claim true? Is the Bible the true word of God?

When rightly understood, does it teach anything that is untrue? And, of course, when we ask that question, we are keeping in mind that much of the teaching in the Old Testament (such as laws pertaining to food and circumcision and sacrifices and purification rituals that set Israel off from the nations) has been fulfilled and brought to an end by Christ and does not apply to us today the way it applied to Israel in Old Testament times.

Verbally Inspired, Infallible, without Error

Keeping all that in mind, we are asking, Is the Bible, as an expression of God’s truth, infallible? Is it inerrant? Which leads to the related question, Does the Bible have final authority in our lives? Should we try to bring all our thinking and feeling and acting into line with what the Bible teaches?

My answer goes like this, which is from the affirmation of faith that governs Bethlehem College and Seminary and the desiringGod.org website, as well as the church I pastored for thirty-three years and other sister churches:

1.1 We believe that the Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God, and without error in the original manuscripts.

1.2 We believe that God’s intentions, revealed in the Bible, are the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture.

In other words, yes, the Bible is completely true. Yes, its claim to be the word of God is true. Yes, when rightly understood, it teaches nothing untrue. It is thus without error. Therefore, as God’s true, inerrant word, it has full authority over our lives. And so, yes, we should endeavor to bring all our thinking and feeling and acting into line with what the Bible teaches.

The Most Urgent Question

How do we know this? It is an urgent question. It’s not like saying, “How can I know the moon goes around the earth?” Or, “How can I know Abraham Lincoln existed?” The reason those questions are not urgent is that whether you believe them or not has almost no effect on the way you live. The answers to those questions do not determine where you will spend eternity—in heaven or in hell.

But according to the Bible, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36 ESV). And the apostle Paul said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 ESV; cf. Romans 10:9).

This is why a record of Jesus’s deeds and words was written down: “These are written so 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 ESV).

In other words, the Bible teaches things vastly more important than the moon’s revolutions or the existence of Abraham Lincoln. It teaches the way to escape the wrath of God and enter into eternal life. And it claims to teach the only way. It depicts a totally authoritative Jesus who says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV). And it makes the radical claim that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 ESV).

So the question of whether the Bible is true is urgent—for everyone. Our eternal destinies depend on whether we believe the good news of this book. And our way of life depends on it as well.

In a rare moment of public disapproval, the apostle Paul reprimanded the apostle Peter for not acting in accord with his own teaching: “I opposed him to his face . . . when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:11, 14 ESV).

In other words there is “conduct” that is “in step with the truth.” This is what the Bible teaches (see 1 Thessalonians 4:1). The teaching of this Book shows the way to eternal life and shapes the way we live in this life. Therefore, knowing whether the Bible teaches the truth is of ultimate importance.

The Place of Historical Reasoning

There was a season in my life when I spent much of my mental energy on demonstrating, with historical reasoning, that Christ rose from the dead, and that his claims are true, and that the Bible is true. I was, and am, deeply thankful for the scholars who helped me see the historical credibility of the New Testament in those days.

Those scholars are being faithful to the words of Luke that tell us Jesus gave visible, historical evidences for his bodily resurrection: “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3 ESV).

They are following in the steps of the apostle Paul, who argued for the truth of the gospel by pointing out to those who were not eyewitnesses of Jesus’s resurrection that some five hundred eyewitnesses were still living, if any should care to confirm the truth in that way. He said

that [Jesus] was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:4–8 ESV)

What turned my focus (not my approval or my interest) away from historical reasoning as a support for faith was the realization that most people in the world—especially in the less-educated, developing world—have neither the training nor the time to pursue such detailed arguments in support of their faith.

And yet the Bible assumes that those who hear the gospel may know the truth of it and may stake their lives on it—indeed must stake their lives on it. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25 ESV).

Content taken from A Peculiar Glory by John Piper, ©2016. Used by permission of Crossway.
The original title of this chapter is: A Shared Concern with Jonathan Edwards.

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John Piper
John Piper is founder and lead teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God; Don’t Waste Your Life; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.

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Crossway
The purpose of Crossway has been, from its founding as a not-for-profit ministry in 1938, to publish gospel-centered, Bible-centered content that will honor our Savior and serve his Church. Crossway seeks to help people understand the massive implications of the gospel and the truth of God’s Word, for all of life, for all eternity, and for the glory of God.
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