Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 8, 1951
NUMBER 39, PAGE 2-3a

Infallible Proofs

Pat Hardeman, Tampa, Florida

There are some proofs which man can offer that are only probable, but the proofs presented in this article are entitled "infallible" because of the source from which they are derived. Paul states three proofs of the great salvation in Hebrews 2:3, 4: "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation; which (1) at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and (2) was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (3) God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"

1. It began to be spoken by the Lord. The deity of Jesus is the authority underlying this first proof of Christianity. If the Lord spoke it we can be sure that it is infallibly true. God "hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Christ's virgin birth, his miracles, matchless moral character, unequaled teaching, death and resurrection declare him to be the son of God. (More later on the specific proofs of the deity of Christ) Further his divine offices of prophet, priest and king combine to give authority to the great salvation he authored. (Heb. 5:8, 9) Paul in Heb. 1, exalts Christ who spoke the great salvation by ascribing to him the following prerogatives, and powers: (1) Heir of all things. (2) Creator of the worlds. (3) Brightness of God's glory. (4) Express image of his person. (5) Sustainer of all things. (6) Sacrifice for our sins. (7) On right hand of majesty. (8) Superior to all angels. With these things true of him, there is no escape if we neglect the salvation he began to speak. But, someone objects, how do we know we have his revelation of the great salvation? It was in answer to this question that the next two infallible proofs were offered.

2. It was confirmed unto us by them who heard him. Acts 1:2, 3 and Acts 10:39-42 declare that the apostles were the only ones who heard Christ when he spoke the great salvation (cf. Mark 16:14-16; Matt. 28:18-20) It was their office to confirm that which Christ spoke. Jesus said: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." The question arises immediately: Were the apostles qualified and competent witnesses. The answer is, yes, because they were perfectly competent judges of the facts. They had both adequate faculties and sufficient opportunities to know the truth of their testimony. The faculties they possessed—the usual powers of men of common sense—would not have been sharpened and enhanced at all by great learning or worldly wisdom. Any person with common sense and without bias is as able as any other person to judge whether the dead are raised, one walks on the water, the tomb is empty, or the multitudes are fed.

Further the apostles had sufficient opportunity to know the truth by three years companionship with Christ, daily witness of his miracles, his appearances to them after the resurrection and the power which he promised and gave to them. We know that the apostles were not deceived in their testimony because they believed in Christ against all those motives which usually govern mankind. Their Jewish prejudices were constantly at war with his declarations and actions. After Pentecost they accepted poverty, shame when they knew that the expected secular glory would never come. Now they did not possess sufficient credulity to move them to believe against all these motives, and their incredulity is evidenced by Christ's upbraiding them: "0 fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken." (Luke 24:25)

We also know that the apostles were not deceivers because:

1. It would have been impossible for them to accomplish this design concerning facts of such public notoriety.

2. We know that they were not deceivers because if they were deceivers they were deceivers against all those motives which have hitherto influenced the human race. What possible good could come to them from this type of deceit? What good could have come even from their claim to work miracles, which, incidentally, would have failed the first time they tried to perform miracles in public. They certainly could expect no good in the future life as a reward for lying, and they condemned lies in everyone else.

3. It is incredible that deceivers such as these would have had the objectives that are evident in the New Testament. The apostles lived and taught as deceivers never lived. One has only to compare their lives and their teachings with such men as Hume, Bolingbrook, Voltaire, and Rousseau to see the superiority of their lives and teachings.

4. The apostles committed this testimony to so many persons that if it had been an imposition it must have been detected.

5. The apostles spoke the prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem several years before it happened.

6. According to all laws of the human mind it would have been impossible for the apostles to invent the character of Christ and to ascribe to him all the attributes contained in the New Testament.

7. The truth of the apostolic testimony is further proved by the institutions and memorials, such as Christian worship, the Lord's Supper, and the act of baptism. (Rom. 6:1-6)

8. Further the testimony of the apostles has the air of sincerity and frankness. Their own faults and reproaches are recorded; their unbelief and other sins are frankly admitted. Further, harmony, simplicity, and impartiality characterize their writings. So we may conclude that the apostles told the truth about the great salvation which Christ spoke, and have literally confirmed it unto us.

But, someone asks, how can we be sure that the New Testament, as we have it, contains the pure apostolic testimony? Let us outline briefly some proofs we have of the genuineness and integrity of the New Testament books. The books of the New Testament were written by persons whose names they bear. We know this for the following reasons: (1) The writers of the New Testament books described the state of affairs among the Jews, Romans and other peoples exactly as that state of affairs is revealed by secular history. The persons mentioned in the New Testament and their character, the classes mentioned and their characteristics, the customs of the Jews and their peculiarities, are all verified by the descriptions of Josephus, Philo, Cicero, Tacitus, Ulpian, Marcion, Tertullian and Celsus. All attempts men have made to write as though they lived centuries earlier have ended in failure because of anachronisms and an air of unreality in the whole. Virgil's Anead and Bengorians History of the Jews (written in the 9th century while the author professed to have lived in the 1st century) are notable examples of this failure. So the New Testament writers lived in the first century. (2) Further the books of the New Testament are quoted, often by name, by both Christians, heretics, and infidels at such early periods as to put their genuineness beyond doubt. Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Papias, Irenaeus, Tatian, Origen and Marcion are just a few of those who made these quotations. (For a fuller list see McGarvey's Evidences of Christianity, and Thiessen's Introduction to the New Testament.)

But has the apostolic testimony reached the present day uncorrupted? There are many proofs that we have the pure apostolic testimony. These proofs of the integrity of the text can be found in any good text on Introduction. (1) The passages quoted by ancient writers are often in the same words as our present New Testament. Where these quotations differ the differences have been accounted for on grounds other than a corruption of the text. (2) The reverence with which the early Christians regarded the scriptures prevented them from willfully corrupting them. (3) The early sects watched over the conduct of others with a jealous, prying attention. These also prevented changes in the text. (4) At an early time, copies of the New Testament were spread in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Africa, Egypt and throughout the world. (5) There were many early translations of the New Testament into the several languages. (6) These books were publicly read throughout the whole world. (7) The thousands of manuscripts which we now possess reveal that the text of the New Testament is substantially the same that the apostles delivered to the saints in the long ago. (8) Many fragments from the papyri, inscriptions on early monuments, a thousand other remarkable and wonderful facts—unite to declare that the apostolic testimony is uncorrupted.

3. But there is a third infallible proof. God bore the apostles witness in signs and wonders and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his own will miracles inaugurated the great salvation; providence has preserved it. The only evidence that anyone has ever offered or can offer against the miracles through which God bore the apostles witness is the atheistic prejudice that "miracles simply do not occur." All the reliable laws governing historical testimony declare that the miracles of the New Testament occurred in the manner the apostles described. These signs and wonders and divers miracles nut the final seal of God's divine authority on the great salvation, and climax the many infallible proofs for the divinity of the Christian religion. Let us not forget these infallible proofs, for they are our mainstay.


Yes, there are two sides to most arguments, but the big job is to make the other person see that his side is the wrong side.