In our “What Is Calvinism?” Sunday School class this past Sunday, we looked at the doctrine of Scripture along with the Holy Spirit’s role in using Scripture in the Church and Christian’s life. Towards the end of the class, I quickly mentioned 10 ways Calvin brings up about why we can trust that Scripture really is God’s Word. Here are the ten with some brief explanation:
Scripture is superior to all human wisdom
Calvin says, “What wonderful confirmation ensues when, with keener study, we ponder the economy of the divine wisdom, so well ordered and disposed; the completely heavenly character of its doctrine, savoring of nothing earthly; the beautiful agreement of all the parts with one another—as well as such other qualities as can gain majesty for the writings. But our hearts are more firmly grounded when we reflect that we are captivated with admiration for Scripture more by grandeur of subjects than by grace of language.”
Not style but content is decisive
Even though there is, as Calvin says, “an elegant and clear, even brilliant, manner of speaking, so that their eloquence yields nothing to secular writers” it is not the style of Scripture that captivates us so much as the content. What Scripture says is what gives more of a testimony to the Bible being God’s Word than anything else. Scripture is “clearly crammed with thoughts that could not be humanly conceived” says Calvin.
The age of Scripture
This has often been a very helpful argument for believers to be more convinced and for unbelievers to begin to see the truth of Scripture. The “great antiquity” of Scripture far outstrips all other writings. The fact that Scripture has been around for so long and through so much persecution should give divine testimony to men and women that only God could preserve such a Book. Not only that but if God were speaking from the beginning of time then He certainly would’ve have had His words recorded by men in order to preserve the truth. Why should it surprise us that the God who spoke thousands of years ago made sure that people wrote it down and kept it alive for us today? Isn’t that a sign that He loves us? When we say that Scripture is outdated then we not only call God outdated but we also doubt His love for us since He could not give us relevant truth for today.
The truthfulness of Scripture seen in men proclaiming their own faults
The Bible does not hide the shame and sin of its “own” people. The Bible, more than any other book and religion, shows the depravity of man and the sinfulness of sin. Why would men write so much of their own sinfulness and shame for all to read throughout history if they were making up their own religion? Certainly, the Bible shows not only the sin of unbelievers but also of believers. All stand in need of Christ and His grace and this is the testimony of Scripture from beginning to end.
Miracles authorizing God’s messengers
The Bible is a record of eyewitness accounts. The miracles that are recorded in the Bible did not happen behind closed doors for only the writers to see. Rather, the miracles were before the public eye and many gave testimony to them and then they were written down to be remembered. Take the gospel according to Mark, Mark is all about the eyewitness account of Jesus in which there are details that only people who were there could give. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus is said to have fallen asleep on the cushion in the boat. There is no need for that comment to be there except for the fact to show that the person who saw Jesus calm the stormy sea was actually there and remembers everything.
The amount of prophecies that have come true (All of them!)
There have been some calculations of over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus coming as the Messiah. How many of them have come true? All of them. On the contrary, can you predict one thing that will happen fifty years from now? How do you know that will happen?
The preservation of the Law and Prophets
Calvin says, “But even though all wicked men, as if conspiring together, have so shamelessly insulted the Jews, no one has ever dared charge them with substituting false books. For whatever, in their opinion, the Jewish religion may be, they confess Moses to be its author.” God has preserved His Word from the worst tyrants and persecutions in history.
Simplicity and heavenly character
The content of Bible is so simple than anyone who can read may understand it but it is also so heavenly that anyone who reads is confronted with a “heavenly character”. Calvin comments that “the truth cries out openly that these men who, previously contemptible among common folk, suddenly began to discourse so gloriously of the heavenly mysteries must have been instructed by the Spirit.”
Unvarying testimony of the church to Scripture
Although it is the Holy Spirit and not the Church who testifies that Scripture is God’s Word, nevertheless, the Church has throughout the centuries been unified in their recognition that the canon of Scripture is God’s Word. No matter what age, people, or culture, there has been a unity in the true Church that the Bible we have today is God’s Word.
Martyrs who died
Why would men and women die for a book that weren’t true? If they made it all up, why would someone choose to be burned alive as William Tyndale was? Even under the worst torture, why didn’t anyone just say, “You’re right! We came up with it ourselves!” These people would’ve had everything to lose by their deaths if the Bible was not God’s Word. But, if the Bible is God’s Word then they had everything to gain by their deaths if they died holding onto their confession of Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Holy Scripture.