Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 12, 1968
NUMBER 32, PAGE 1-3a

Do We Really Believe The Bible

Roy E. Cogdill

Most people are sincere in thinking that they believe the Bible. They would certainly be very much offended if they were accused of not believing it. Yet there are very certain indications many times that we do not have the faith in the Bible as the Word of God that we need and must have, if we stand approved before God. What does it mean to really believe the Bible to be the Word of God? We have been writing about the reality of our religion and certainly this one point is necessary in testing the reality of our religion.

If we really believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we must accept it as the infallibly inspired revelation of God to man. This is what the Bible claims for itself and if it is not so, the Bible is not worthy of believing at all. Moreover, the individual who does not accept it as such has no foundation upon which to rest his faith in anything that it teaches.

When one admits to himself that there might be a single mistake in the Bible, he has destroyed the possibility of believing what the Bible says about anything. If it contains one mistake, how may we discover what that mistake is? Could it be in the existence of the one true and living God that the Bible is wrong? Or could it be in the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God that the Bible is mistaken? Is it possible that the Bible is wrong in its teaching that man has an eternal spirit in the image of God Himself? A soul that needs to be saved? Maybe the Bible is wrong, if there is any mistake at all in it, in the doctrine of sin and salvation from sin or the hope of eternal life in the world to come! How would we learn what the mistake is, if there should be one in the Bible? We would have to depend on the wisdom of man to discover that mistake and in that case the wisdom of man would sit in judgment on the Word of God. Besides, if God has made one mistake, how do we know that He has not made many others? Moreover, if God is subject to mistakes, He cannot be the God of the Bible, who is infallible and all-wise, so the end result would be no faith at all.

When the testimony of a witness is impeached relative to one matter then it is rejected with reference to all things. If the Bible is to be believed at all, we must be willing to believe all of its testimony. If we impeach its testimony in one point, then we must reject it in its entirety or be guilty of inconsistency in our attitude toward it. The fact is, if we do not believe all of the Bible, then we do not believe anything just because the Bible says it but we accept just what suits us and that is no faith in anything except our own wisdom and judgment.

One reason for believing the Bible is because of its claims and one of its claims is inerrancy--that it is the perfectly inspired revelation of the mind of God and is therefore perfect and without error. No human work would make such a claim. No man would dare lay his writings or work out in front of all mankind and say that there is no mistake in it of any character. But that is what God has done in His Word.

Paul declared, concerning the things that God has prepared for them that love Him, "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." Thus inspiration is the revealing of God's mind concerning man in words of God's own choosing. God accomplished this through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Paul said the Holy Spirit came, "That we might know." Without revelation we cannot know the mind or will of God, or the nature, origin, duty, or destiny of man. Human wisdom has never discovered even the dot of an "i" or the cross of a "t" concerning the spiritual and eternal things revealed by God and never will. The way of man is not in himself (Jeremiah 10:23).

Revelation, then, is the work of the Spirit of God and if there is any mistake in it, it is God's mistake! But if God makes mistakes, He is not the God of omniscience and power which the Bible reveals. In fact, if He is subject to mistakes, then He is no more perfect than man and therefore is no God at all. This all resolves itself to one conclusion and that is — if one faith is as good as another, then no faith is as good as any! Either we believe what God says about everything or we do not believe what God has said about anything.

But do you have that kind of faith in the Bible as the Word of God? Are you willing to accept what the Bible says on every point? Will you allow the Bible to answer every question, resolve every issue, solve every problem, determine every decision and decide every duty? Will you abide by what God has said when it disputes what you think; when it is contrary to what you have been taught by your father and mother? When it disputes what your church teaches or the doctrines of your creed? When it means that you will have to change your position or practice or even your affiliation? So many of us think we believe the Bible but our faith in it has reservations! We will believe what the Bible says if it does not demand too much of us! So many times we hear people say, "Oh, I know the Bible says that — but, my father and mother taught differently." When we use such an expression, it indicates that if the Bible does not agree with the way we want the matter to be, we will not believe it. SO but — with its implications in such a case means — I do not believe it, even though the Bible does say it — even though it is in language that cannot be misunderstood.

A few years ago in Canada, a lady visiting in a home where I paid a call on a sick person, stopped me as I was leaving and told me that she had been attending the meeting that I was conducting in the town and after she had complimented me and told me that she enjoyed hearing me speak she then said, "Though I do not agree with some of the things you teach." I thanked her for the compliment she had paid me and then said, "Whether or not you agree with me is unimportant, but whether both of us agree with the Word of God is supremely important. May I ask, what I have preached that you do not believe is the truth'?" She said, "I do not believe baptism has anything to do with salvation." I replied to this with the question, "Well I am sure you know that the Bible says that it does and rather specifically and pointedly in just so many words. The passage is in I Peter 3:21 and it reads like this, The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

I read the passage to her and then looked directly at her with the question, "Will you tell me that you do not believe what the Apostle Peter said in that passage?" She did not answer. I repeated the question and she still would not answer. I then directly challenged her faith in the Bible by saying, "You will not say you do not believe what this passage plainly says, I ask you then, are you willing to tell me that you do believe it?" She would make no reply to that either.

This is just what has been experienced many, many times. When people who think they believe the Bible come face to face with the decision to either accept what the Bible says in the most simple words possible and give up what they have formerly espoused, or reject what the Bible says and excuse themselves for being an unbeliever, they take the latter course and the reason they do is that they really do not believe what the Bible says. They sincerely think they do but in reality they do not for they are not willing to let what the Bible declares settle the question.

Paul declared, "Every scripture is breathed of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Tim. 3:15) Either this is so or it is not true. If it is true then to reject anything the scripture says is to reject the actual "breathing out" or speaking of God Almighty. How can men do so and really believe the Bible is what it claims to be?

Again Paul speaks concerning the divine origin of the scriptures and says; "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." (Eph. 3:3-5)

But people so often excuse their unbelief of the Bible by saying that we all do not understand it alike. They forget that if we understand it at all we must understand it alike or else believe that it is ambiguous or even duplicitous? Do they mean that they believe God's Word is susceptible of different and even contrary meanings? This is rank unbelief in itself. It accuses God of failing to reveal His Word in language plain enough to be understood and certain in its meaning and either charge is blasphemous in character. The Bible is a revelation or it is not one and if it cannot be understood and is not certain and definite in what it teaches, then how can a knowledge of God's will and man's obligations to God be learned much less be believed? The Bible binds upon man the obligation to know understand, and believe what it reveals to be the mind and will of God. If God has made us responsible for knowing the truth and has not revealed it plainly enough for all to understand, then God is guilty of injustice and unrighteousness toward man! Moreover what God has said about His Word is not true!

Jesus said, Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) Again He said, "I thank thee, O Father Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." (Luke 10:21)

Paul enjoined the Ephesians in these words, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17)

God's Word reads alike to all men. It says the same thing to all. It has been revealed in language plain enough to understand if we approach it without idols in our hearts and are willing to take it at face value and believe whatever God has said.

— 35 W. Par, Orlando, Florida