August 21, 2017

Cogitations: On the Bible

Warren Vanhetloo

The Bible is different from other writings. It is superior to anything else we might read. It is unique. The Bible is the only extant writing from the God who created and sustains this world. Other writings that claim to be from a deity lack the authenticating evidences needed to make them worthy of man’s serious consideration. Most “religious” writings throughout the ages have recorded only endeavors of men to seek to know or understand God. The Bible contains the direct “thus saith the Lord.”

One Person stands out supreme above even the Bible itself—the God-man. The Bible tells of the Son of God who was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, and came forth from the tomb as a humble Servant of the Lord. The entire book is about Him! It looks forward to His appearance. It records in detail His actions and teachings. It stresses how He fulfilled the Old Testament predictions of His coming. It relates detail of His further ministry after His resurrection. And it predicts that He is coming again, even giving some of the details of that future glory.

The Bible is radically distinct from all other writings in that it reports at great length the resurrection of its leader. No other instigator of religious ideas predicted his own resurrection from the dead—and then actually fulfilled that prediction. Jesus clearly claimed that He had the power to accomplish His own resurrection, and over five hundred witnesses gave testimony to His coming from the tomb and walking again among men. This one event above all others certifies the genuineness of the message of the Bible.

No other book declares a purpose so great as does the Bible: that every one—anyone and without limit—who puts personal trust in the work of the Messiah will have a new walk with God and an eternal existence with all the redeemed in the presence of God and His angels. The Bible is the power of God unto salvation. Whether conveyed as part of a testimony, preached, written, or proclaimed from the housetops, it is the “dynamite” that can break the hard crusts of the ungodly. Its truths may be presented in story or song; the power is undiminished. The Bible is the spiritual bread that men need in order to subsist and to grow.

The Bible contains a record of history that we can trust. Fictitious stories about leaders in our American Revolution soon were related along with records of actual events. Although the Bible contains some fiction (parables, etc.), historical sections record actual historical events, remarkable as they may have been. God intertwined the work of His fingers with lives and events in astonishing ways to achieve His purposes.

The Bible declares that God has worked through the centuries to fulfill a special plan, calling forth a single individual from Mesopotamia and promising to settle his descendants in a hilly land and make a special nation of them. God brought forth from slavery in Egypt this group of Abraham’s descendants and performed miracle after miracle for them, eventually getting them settled in Canaan. Though they were taken into captivity, God brought them back again to maintain a national existence in preparation for the first coming of His Messiah.

God introduced to His people a distinctive set of rituals that they were to observe until the time of the fulfillment of the reality they pictured, accomplished at the crucifixion of the Lamb of God. Along with instructions for the tabernacle, God gave His people simple, clear, moral and social commandments to supplement the oral remnants of His earlier instructions from the time of Creation. No other set of laws throughout all history even comes close to the moral standards of this Book.

Perhaps no other book in existence so faithfully records the persistent failure of a people to live acceptably according to the social/religious mores of that tribe or nation. Humans tend not to record failures. They whitewash or omit what they are not proud of and greatly boast of things they consider commendable. The Bible, however, give God’s viewpoint of a people, not that of historians paid to record what will make their leaders appear honorable.

The Bible, in detail, records the shift in the divine plan through history from the one nation, which had been brought into existence and maintained through several centuries, to a totally different arrangement for the work of the Creator. The nation was not fully set aside, but a different unit among men was instituted. At Pentecost God began drawing His people together in small congregations. Some of these units were in Israel, but they were also formed in every nation where the gospel was preached.

For those who wonder about the origin of things, the Bible presents God’s brief report of how He went about Creation. For those who endeavor to find some unity and comprehensive understanding of the world in which we live, often called a worldview or life view, the Bible sets forth a complete, consistent explanation. God has provided all man needs to live properly with himself, his neighbor, his enemies, and to be ready for the final judgment to come.

God has indicated that His Word will endure forever. What we say is soon forgotten. Pictures or words last longer. After a thousand years in the dust, few achievements of men can still be discerned. The Good Book from the living God will persist through the vagaries of time and on and on through the endless ages of that eternity ahead.


The late Warren Vanhetloo, AB, BD, ThM, ThD, DD, was Adjunct Instructor in and Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

(Originally published in FrontLine • July/August 2008. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)


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