Evidences Of The Divine Inspiration Of Scripture
By J. C. Ryle
A general vague belief that the Bible is an inspired book is common among Christians. Many, no doubt, could not explain what they mean, but whether men know it or not, their belief is well founded. It rests on a collection of facts which no intelligent, educated and honest-minded man can deny.
Depth, Fullness, Richness
There is an extraordinary depth, fullness, and richness in the contents of the Bible which is supernatural and above man.
There is a complete gulf between it and any other book that ever was written. It throws more light on a vast number of most important subjects than all the other books in the world put together. It boldly handles matters which are beyond the reach of man, when left to himself.
It treats of things which are mysterious and invisible – the soul, the world to come, and eternity, depths which man has no line to fathom. All who have tried to write of these things without Bible light have done little but show their own ignorance. They grope like the blind: they speculate, they guess, they generally make the darkness more visible, and land us in a region of uncertainty and doubt.
The Bible alone gives a reasonable account of the beginning and end of the globe on which we live, a true picture of man, and just views of God. The Bible alone shows us a reasonable and satisfactory remedy for the spiritual wants and necessities of dying men and meets the cravings of conscience by revealing a Saviour. The Bible alone explains the state of things which we see in the world around us. There are many things on earth which a natural man cannot explain.
The Bible can tell him that the world lieth in wickedness and that it is vain to look for perfection in the present order of things. The Bible will tell him that neither laws nor education can change man’s heart…that human nature is fallen, and that the world he works in is full of sin. The Bible will tell him that a time of perfect knowledge, perfect justice, perfect happiness and perfect peace is coming, but the Bible will tell him that this time shall not be brought in by any power but that of Christ coming to earth again.
Now all these are things which men could find nowhere except in the Scriptures. We have probably not the least idea how little we should know about these things if we had not the Bible. We hardly know the value of the air we breathe, and the sun which shines on us, because we have never known what it is to be without them. We do not value the truths upon which I have just now been dwelling, because we do not realize the darkness of men to whom these truths have not been revealed.
Unity and Harmony
It is another fact that there is an extraordinary unity and harmony in the contents of the Bible which is supernatural and above man.
We all know how difficult it is to get a story told by any three persons, in which there are not some contradictions and discrepancies…but it is not so with the Bible. Here is a long book written by not less than thirty different persons. The writers were men of every rank and class in society. One was a lawgiver. One was a war-like king. One was a peaceful king. One was a herdsman. One had been a publican, another a physician, another a Pharisee, two were fishermen….
They lived at intervals over a period of fifteen hundred years, and many of them never saw each other face to face – and yet there is a perfect harmony among all these writers! The style and writing may vary, but the mind that runs through their work is always one and the same. They all tell the same story. They all give one account of man, one account of God, one account of the way of salvation, one account of the human heart…you never detect any real contradiction or contrariety of view.
Wisdom, Sublimity and Majesty
It is another fact that there is an extraordinary wisdom, sublimity, and majesty in the style of the Bible, which is above man.
Strange and unlikely as it was, the writers of Scripture produced a book which even to this day is utterly unrivalled. With all our boasted attainments in science and art and learning, we can produce nothing in literature that can be compared with the Bible. Even at this very hour in the present century, the Book stands entirely alone. There is a strain and style and tone of thought about it which separates it from all other writings.
There are no weak points, motes, flaws, or blemishes. There is no mixture of infirmity and feebleness such as you will find in the works of even the best Christians. “Holy, holy, holy” seems written on every page.
To talk of comparing the Bible with other “sacred books,” so called, such as the Koran or the Book of Mormon, is positively absurd. You might as well compare the sun with a flashlight, or a diamond with a bit of glass. To talk of the inspiration of the Bible as differing only in degree from that of such writings as those of Homer, Shakespeare or Milton is simply foolish. There is a gulf between the Bible and any other book which no man can fathom. Turning from Scripture to other works, you are in a new atmosphere, and feel like one who has exchanged gold for base metal, and heaven for earth.
It is another fact that there is an extraordinary accuracy in the facts and statements of the Bible which is supernatural and above man.
Here is a book which has been before the world for more that 1800 years, the busiest and most changeful period the world has ever seen. During this period the greatest discoveries have been made in science, and the greatest alterations in the ways and customs of our human society…. There is hardly a thing in which faults and weak points have not been discovered, and hardly an institution which has not been through a process of reforming, amending, changing.
But all this time, men have never discovered a weak point or a defect in the Bible. Infidels have assailed it in vain. There it stands – perfect, fresh and complete, as it did when it was written many centuries ago. The march of intellect never overtakes it. The wisdom of wise men never gets beyond it. The science of philosophers never proves it wrong. The discoveries of travelers never convict it of mistakes.
Are the islands of the Pacific laid open? Nothing is found that in the slightest degree contradicts the Bible account of man’s heart. Are the ruins of Nineveh and Egypt ransacked and explored? Nothing is found that overturns one jot or tittle of the Bible’s historical statements.
How shall we account for this fact, that so large a book, handling such a vast variety of subjects, should be found so free from erroneous statements? There is only one account to be given of the fact – the Bible was written by inspiration of God.
Meets Man’s Spiritual Needs
It is another fact that there is in the Bible an extraordinary suitableness to the spiritual wants of all mankind.
It exactly meets the heart of man in every rank or class, in every country and climate, in every age and period of life. It is the only book in existence which is never out of place and out of date. Other books after a time become obsolete and old-fashioned. The Bible never does.
Other books suit one country or people and not another. But the Bible suits all. It is the book of the poor and unlearned no less than of the rich and the philosopher, and it is equally valued by the converted in every part of the world.
It is the only book, moreover, which seems always fresh, and evergreen and new. For many centuries it has been studied and prayed over by millions of private Christians, and expounded, explained and preached upon by thousands of ministers. “Fathers,” “Schoolmen,” Reformers, Puritans and modern divines have incessantly dug down into the mine of Holy Scripture, and yet never exhausted it. It is a well never dry, and a field which is never barren.
It meets the hearts and minds and consciences of Christians in the present century as fully as it did those of Greeks and Romans when it was first completed…. It is still the first book which fits the child’s mind when he begins to learn the things of God, and the last to which the old man clings as he leaves the world. In short, it suits all ages, ranks, climates, minds, conditions. It is the one book which suits the world.
Effect on Condition of Nations
Last but not least, it is a great fact that the Bible has had a most extraordinary effect on the condition of those nations in which it has been known, taught and read.
Which are the churches and religious bodies on earth which are producing the greatest results by spreading light and dispelling darkness? Those which make much of the Bible, and teach it and preach it as God’s Word. Those who teach the traditions of the church or philosophies which do not honor the authority of Scripture or skeptics or friends of mere secular teaching – cannot show us spiritually renewed lives throughout the world as the fruit of their principles. We only can do that who honor the Bible and reverence it as God’s Word. Let that fact also be remembered. He who denies the inspiration of the Bible, let him explain that fact if he can.
I place these six facts about the Bible before my readers, and ask them to consider them well. Upon any other principle than that of supernatural and divine inspiration those six facts appear to me inexplicable and unaccountable. The men who wrote the Bible have given the world a volume which for depth, unity, sublimity, accuracy, suitableness to the wants of man, and power of influencing its readers, is perfectly unrivalled!
How can this be explained? There is only one answer – the writers of the Bible were divinely helped and qualified for the work which they did. The Book which they have given us was written by inspiration of God.
– From Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly.