If the Bible is God’s Word, then God must talk to men. Of course, there are many people who do not believe that God speaks with people, but that is only their opinion. They cannot prove that God does not talk with people. If there is a God, and if He did create people, then it makes perfect sense that He would communicate with them. Many people through the centuries have testified that they had personal contact with God or the Lord Jesus Christ, and today it would be difficult to go to a gathering of charismatic Christians and not have at least some of them testify they had received personal communication from Heaven in one form or another.
In the Bible, there are a number of words used to describe its contents: “Scripture,” the “Word of God” or “Words of God,” “prophecy,” “revelation,” etc. Each of these words has its own distinct meaning, yet the idea is the same: knowledge given by God to men and written down in what we refer to as the Bible.
The Bible specifically states God gave it to men.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
“All Scripture,” what is written in the Bible, “is God-breathed.” “God-breathed” points to God as the source of the words. In order to speak, you have to breathe. This verse is saying that all the words written in the Bible came from God—He “breathed” them out. In other words, no man or group of men was the source of Scripture. No man sat down with a paper and pen (or a clay tablet and pointed stick) and said, “I’ve got some great insight and a good story, and I’m going to write part of the Bible.” The testimony of the Bible is that God is its source.
Let’s look at another reference.
2 Peter 1:20 and 21
(20) Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.
(21) For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
To have confidence in the Bible, we must understand that Scripture did not have its origin in the will of man, and thus, not in any traditions that were passed down from generation to generation. Neither was it the accumulated wisdom of a few “inspired” men. This verse refers specifically to speaking words from God, but it is also applicable to writing words from God. Here it clearly states that the origin, or the source, of the words was not man. The content of the Bible came from God, who communicated it to men, who then wrote it down.
By the way, “prophecy,” as the word is used in the Bible, does not always mean foretelling the future. The word “prophecy” also refers to the declaration of past or current events and the details of those events. Whenever God gives information to someone and that person speaks it, that is prophecy. A quick read of any of the prophetic books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel will show that much of the prophecy they spoke concerned Israel’s past and present. Therefore, the entire Bible is “prophecy,” some of it foretelling future events and some of it simply declaring the truth concerning past or current events. Scripture is clear that no prophecy was the prophet’s own interpretation.
In Galatia, there were people who stood against the message of the Apostle Paul. The Lord moved Paul to write that it was the Lord who was the author of Paul’s writings. Paul did not get his message from man; he got it by revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:11 and 12
(11) I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.
(12) I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Paul was not the only writer who got his message by revelation. All the writers of the Bible did. In the case of Moses, the Bible says many times, “the Lord spoke to Moses.” Why question that? If there is a God, can He not speak with those He created? In fact, if there is a God, it seems certain He would speak to people. Many men who put pen to paper as writers of the Bible made the specific claim that God spoke to them, and there are many accounts of Him doing so. A partial list includes: Moses (Exod. 19:3), Joshua (Josh. 1:1), Samuel (1 Sam. 3:11), Solomon (1 Kings 3:11), Job (Job 38:1), Isaiah (Isa. 6:8-13), Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-19), Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1-3; 2:1ff), Hosea (Hosea 1:1), Joel (Joel 1:1), Amos (Amos 7:1-9), Jonah (Jonah 4:1-11), and Paul (Gal. 1:11 and 12). The testimony of these men and others who wrote the Bible is that they were writing expressly what God said to write.
Not only is there no proof the Bible was passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation before it was written, there is evidence to the contrary. It is obvious that people who lived at the time the Bible was written thought Moses, David, Daniel, etc., were writing the words of God. No one carefully preserves and passes down the word of a lunatic or liar, which is exactly what the authors of the Bible would be had they claimed God was speaking to them when He was not. The fact that the books of the Bible were carefully preserved and passed down from one generation to the next shows that the people who lived when they were written recognized those documents as being true and valuable. There is no indication the people alive at the time of Moses doubted that God spoke to him. This is why the books of Moses were very carefully preserved as the Word of God.
It is also very clear that people in later generations recognized that God had spoken to their forefathers. Josiah is a good example. He was a king of Judah who reigned some 800 years after Moses. His father, Amon, was an evil king who did not obey the Law of Moses, so Josiah grew up without knowing the Mosaic Law. When Josiah started his reign, the scrolls containing the Law of Moses were found in the Temple and read to him. His reaction was immediate. He ripped the clothing he was wearing (an Eastern way of showing he was very upset) and sent a delegation to Huldah the prophetess to find out what to do. Josiah was worried because he knew the words that were read to him were God’s commands, not just “Moses’ wisdom” (2 Kings 22:13). Josiah did not take the attitude, “It is unfortunate we have missed out on the wisdom of Moses for so long; after all, Moses was such a learned individual.” No, Josiah knew it was God’s Word and God’s commands that had been found, and he was concerned about the wrath of God that would come upon his kingdom because he and the people had been disobedient to His laws. Regrettably, many people today are so convinced the Bible is man’s words and man’s wisdom, they feel completely comfortable ignoring it.
Jesus Christ believed God spoke to Moses and other people who wrote Scripture. He openly stated that it is God’s Word. Surely he would not have said that if he believed the Bible were just the accumulated wisdom of some great men. Jesus also said the Word of God was true (John 17:17). He did not say it had contradictions or errors.
Although Moses lived some 2,500 years after Adam, almost 1,000 years after the Flood, and almost 500 years after Abraham, that does not mean that what he wrote was passed down to him by word of mouth from earlier generations. God is eternal. He was an eyewitness of all the events on earth throughout history and He has perfect memory. Therefore, God is exceptionally well qualified to speak to men who would then write down what He said. Furthermore, God would get all the details correct—something that is true of the biblical text but certainly not something we would expect if it were the product of accumulated folklore and stories passed down from generation to generation. Many critics of the Bible either do not believe there is a God or they think that God would not speak to people, so they conclude that men authored the Bible. Their conclusion is in error. God does exist. Furthermore, He created man to fellowship with Him, so it makes perfect sense for Him to speak with men and women.
Does the fact that the Word of God was written by revelation mean there were no stories passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth or in other writings? Not at all. The great events described in the Bible would have been told and retold, and even inspired folklore and legends. Of course, the vast majority of these are lost to us. However, some were preserved (with a significant loss of accuracy) in the writings of other cultures. For example, many ancient cultures have a Flood story. It is vital to understand, however, that there is a big difference between admitting there were stories passed down from generation to generation, and claiming the writers of the Bible used these stories as the basis for their work. If anything, what God told the holy men to write would have confirmed or corrected things that had come down to people by word of mouth.
People who say the Bible is only a collection of folklore passed down through the generations often try to make this idea easier to accept by saying, “But the Bible is still a good book with wonderful lessons.” Make no mistake, the men who wrote Scripture claimed that God actually spoke to them. The whole Bible is record after record of “the Lord said,” or “the Lord did.” If these records are not true, if God really did not speak to the men who wrote, if God did not put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, or save Noah and his family on the Ark, or sustain Israel with manna for 40 years, or dry up the Jordan River so Israel could cross over, or stop the sun for Joshua, or multiply the loaves and fish, or raise the dead, then the Bible is not a “good” book at all—it is a pack of lies, and the men who wrote it were colossal liars. The Bible does not claim to be a book of stimulating stories and inspiring fables—it claims to be “the truth.” The books of the Bible do not begin with “Once upon a time,” or some other homespun opening that would let the reader know they are just man’s folklore. They are clearly written as if they happened just the way they are recorded.
The Bible makes many claims: claims about its author, God; claims about the men who wrote what God said; claims about events such as the walls of Jericho falling down; claims about salvation and how to obtain everlasting life; and claims about the future and how things will be at the end of this world. If these claims are not true or are exaggerations of what really happened, what is left to believe? That the Bible is a book with some nice proverbs and a few insightful parables and stimulating stories? That is not very satisfying or comforting, and it does not make the hard work of learning the Bible even worthwhile. If, on the other hand, the Bible is the Word of God as it claims to be, then it is worth studying, learning, and obeying. Furthermore, if the Bible is in fact the Word of God, then the critics are doing mankind a monumental disservice by causing people to doubt it, and they will have to account for this “…on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ…” (Rom. 2:16).