The Bible directly quotes God roughly 3,000 times and the New Testament writers quote the Old Testament as the word of God 320 times. Keep in mind that some of those references covered passages of scripture and not just one verse.
Also, Jesus claimed to be God, so all the “red letters” would be Biblical claims to be the Word of God. And roughly 10% of the red letters quote the black letters. As noted in “What did Jesus think of the Old Testament,” the references Jesus made to the Old Testament were varied and often cited the most controversial parts – Satan, Noah, Jonah, Sodom, etc. Jesus made zero corrections to the Old Testament, and He quoted from the Pentateuch (the first five books), Psalms, Jonah and others. He even said:
Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
I did some searches in my Bible software on a few phrases to see how many times they occurred. There were so many that I got tired after a while. Watch for them when you read the Bible. It is really quite amazing.
- The Lord says 198
- The Lord said 301
- The word of the Lord 239
- . . . declares the Lord 266
- . . . oracle 47
- I am the Lord 158
- Lord instructed 3
- Lord commanded 117
- Lord had commanded 24
- the Lord gave this command 1
- Lord gave 42
- Lord told 10
- Lord has told 4
- Says the Lord 103
- The Lord almighty says 47
- Says the Lord almighty 31
- The Lord almighty, the God of Israel says 1
- Lord spoke 25
- Lord revealed 1
- Lord then said 1
- Lord answered 23
- God said 54
- Lord had said 31
- Lord replied 11
- Holy one of Israel says 2
- Lord called 14
Then, of course, there is 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (Yes, I know some people think that doesn’t apply to the New Testament. I’ll address that in another post.) And Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture.
So the Bible makes an extraordinary amount of claims to be the Word of God and that it was transmitted to us accurately.
What’s the point?
Now before any skeptics or Liberal Theologians choke on their own rage yelling, “circular reference!,” let me point out that I’m not referring to these as my only proof that the Bible is God’s Word. I understand that claiming that the Bible is God’s Word because it says it is God’s Word wouldn’t be an adequate argument. We have other evidence for it being God’s Word.
Still, there are a couple important points one can draw from this huge amount of references.
If the Bible is God’s Word then wouldn’t you expect it to make that claim? In fact, if it didn’t make that claim wouldn’t you view that as a reason for it not being God’s word? And if it said it wasn’t God’s word then it obviously wouldn’t be God’s word. So the claims to be God’s word are a sort of necessary occurrence.
The second and main point of this post is only for Christians who claim the Bible isn’t all inspired by God, or that it was just what the Jews and Christians thought God was saying, or that it is somehow incomplete.
If you really think the Bible has upwards of 3,000 errors / lies in it, why pick it up?
How do you discern which parts belong there and which do not? You appear to believe in Leopard Theology, where the Bible is only inspired in spots and that you are inspired to spot the spots, or Advanced Leopard Theology, where God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.
Why should I trust your “inspiration” more than I trust the writings of the Apostles or their close companions, especially considering that every word they wrote has been scrutinized by believers and non-believers for 2,000 years? Why should I trust your views when you deny many of the essentials of the faith and often claim that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection aren’t necessary for people to be reconciled to God or to go to Heaven?
The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament make multiple warnings about sound doctrine and Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their false doctrines. And sound doctrine is found in the Word of God. Otherwise, what doctrines were the writers referring to?
From beginning to end, the Bible claims to be the Word of God. Is believing that a requirement for salvation? No. The criminal on the cross wasn’t a Bible scholar but he went to Heaven because he put his faith in Jesus.
But how even marginally educated Christians can hold a view other than the Bible being the Word of God is beyond me. The educated theological liberals who deny God’s word tip their hands that their beliefs are really just politics disguised as religion. I love Charles Spurgeon’s comment about these types and how he has “no more faith in their mercy than in their accuracy.”
Authentic believers are expected to trust that it is the word of God:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
Read it and enjoy it, knowing that the original writings turned out just as God and the human writers desired and that they have been accurately transmitted to us. It will accomplish all that God promised it would.
Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
6 thoughts on ““The Lord says . . .””
Neil, great post as always. Here’s something I don’t understand though, and I will do my own research on this question, but I still wanted to hear YOUR answer:
The Bible we use contains fewer books than the one the Catholics use. We reject the eleven books inserted between the Testaments. Why do *they* use them? And what about the Orthodox Christians – Greek, Russian, etc? They split from Catholicism about 500 years prior to Luther’s Reformation but are still around today in the East.
In fact I went to high school with a woman who is pure Greek and raised in the Greek Orthodox church. Her parents got married in Greece and then immigrated to the US before starting a family. I was talking to her awhile back on the subject of religion, and she seemed entirely unfamiliar with mainline Protestant beliefs, despite growing up in the same area I did. She also spoke only Hellenic/Greek as a child, despite being born in the US. She seemed to like the idea that we have a much simpler theology than her church does, and also liked hearing that we believe it’s possible to approach God’s throne directly thru Jesus, without the need for clergy to intercede. She also said that she’d never before heard that the temple curtain was torn in two at the moment of Christ’s death on the cross. I explained to her that while this really happened, the curtain also has important theological implications.
I won’t get started on the Book of Mormon; I think I already know the story there well enough.
The history is fascinating. It is good for people to know so they won’t get spooked by skeptics making a big deal out it. Yeah, it doesn’t seem as tidy as we would have wanted it — i.e., a single unbreakable book falling from the sky. But I think the case for the real Bible (sans Apocrypha) is strong. Eusebius’ “The Church History” covers a lot of it (written 300+ AD) as a book called Church History in Plain Language (or something like that) helped explain the splits.
Another article I stumbled across was this one on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of_the_bible
I learned something – all three major branches of Christianity agree on the New Testament, but differ on the Old. It says in that link that the Eastern Orthdox version of the OT contains 51 books (!) compared to 46 for the Catholic version and 39 for ours. I was reflecting on that today while walking, and I thought, “Their Bibles are a lot thicker than ours.” It did get me wondering what exactly is in the books that they use, but which we don’t. I suppose it would be easy enough to find out.
I was also mentally reminded of some conversations I’ve had with people on Facebook about “lost books of the Bible,” including with one gentleman who demanded, “Where’s the rest of it (Scripture)?” I asked what he meant, and liked to a CARM article you’d provided which discredits the idea of lost books. The fellow responded that it seemed like big chunks of Jesus’ life in particular were missing – that there isn’t enough material in the Gospels to cover anywhere near His entire lifespan.
I remember putting a similar question once to my dad, and he said, “Do you really need to know everything Jesus did while He was helping Joseph do carpentry work? It would say, ‘Hand me that hammer,’ and you and I today would be pondering that and wondering what God was trying to teach us with that sentence.” My dad meant that the Bible tells us what we need to know.
When nonbelievers raise this objection, I sometimes get the feeling they’re looking for an escape hatch – either some teaching which contradicts the rest of Scripture so they can say “AHA! It’s arguing with itself! The entire book is null and void!” or some teaching which validates behaviors and lifestyle choices which the Bible clearly identifies as amoral. Like maybe they’re hoping some lost book says God actually wants us to go out and sleep with as many people as possible…or something. I don’t know.
Did you ever get that impression from talking to these “lost books” types?
Yes, I think people are definitely looking for loopholes / excuses with the “lost books” and other excuses.
P.S. I wrote a bit about the “lost books” here — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/lost-books-of-the-bible-nope/ . Whether one believes that the Bible is divinely inspired or not, there is no rational basis to claim there are any lost books. God doesn’t lose things, and if it was a purely man-made creation then by definition they put in what they wanted.
I did find this article: https://bible.org/article/how-many-books-are-bible
I had no idea church history was so complex, and honestly I don’t understand why there has been so much disagreement over the years about what is or is not part of God’s Word. Didn’t Paul tell us to avoid breaking into squabbling factions?