The internal authority of the Bible is derived from a triad involving Prophecy and the material realm, Unity and the rational realm of the soul, and Self-Attestation in the realm of my spirit. Prophecy may be illustrated by reference to the familiar passage of Isaiah 53. Unity is illustrated by the oneness of your body. Stub your toe and you’ll find the tongue is somehow united with it by nerves and muscles. Self-Attestation (self-proving) of the Bible can be illustrated by a chocolate taste test. When you taste it, even with closed eyes, you know what it is.
The Precision of Prophecy
A well-known prophecy involves the temple stones mentioned in Matthew 24 which the Lord said would be thrown down. Archeologists unearthed these gigantic stones in the 1990s and left them where they fell on the very stone-paved road upon which the Lord walked. I have stood there and marveled at the solemn sight.
A lesser known prophecy relates how Tyre would be destroyed, and its stones and soil cast into the sea (Eze 26). In 332 BC, Alexander the Great destroyed the mainland city and used the rubble to build a causeway to the island fortress which he destroyed.
The Bible’s prophecies are not obscure sayings that are so misty that they can be shoe-horned into any historical event. Rather, they are incredibly precise and fit specific events as a key fits a lock.
The Beauty of Unity – Five Aspects
The unity of thought woven together in the Bible is astounding. There were 40 men, from three continents, and over 15 centuries, who were used to interlace the fabric of 66 books on volatile spiritual topics. By comparison, the Koran and Book of Mormon were each, arguably, the productions of one man, at one period of time.
Skeptics will point to supposed biblical contradictions, but these only highlight the role of imperfect scribes or translators, and are easily explained by deeper thinking. An oft-cited example is in Mark 11 where we read of “a colt tied” upon which Jesus would ride, but Matthew 21 refers to a donkey and a colt. So, is it one or two!? Surely the Faith is not in danger, even if we can’t sort this out, but there is a simple answer. There were two donkeys and Mark does not deny that when he mentions only one. We must ask skeptics, “Is this the best you can do?”
As we finish reading in Revelation we realize that we have come full circle. We began in Genesis with a Garden paradise, the Tree of life, a Bride, Babel, 12 tribes, and now we encounter these same topics again.
United by Three Long Threads
Like the threads of a large tapestry, the progressive revelation of Scripture is unified through a) extensive quotations between authors, b) multiple references to the same characters by various authors, and c) NT remarks about OT events. In fact, there are about 1000 NT references to OT characters and events.
United with Repeating Patterns
Similar to repeating patterns on wallpaper, we run into certain truths again and again, but with this difference; truths are progressively developed. The coming Christ is seen in picture in Genesis (Joseph), in prophecy in the prophets (Psa 22), in parables (Matt 13, the vineyard and the heir), in His actual presence (Matt – John), and in prospect (Rev). You might also follow the nation of Israel, prophecies of the end times, and other similar patterns.
Many OT books bridge over into NT books. Of the many examples available, consider Genesis and John. They are related by the opening lines, “In the beginning,” and further, by the themes of light, life, the Lamb, and more.
Unity Within Large Sections
Consider one example: The four Gospels are complementary as to location (Matthew is about Galilee, John about Judea), as to their portrait of Christ (Matthew and the King, Mark and the Servant), and as to their words (Matthew gives sermons, Luke tells stories, John makes statements). You could similarly develop the unity of the Pentateuch, the five Poetry books, and more.
We’ll stop here, but the subject of unity is large, and you could also develop the unity seen in individual books (e.g. the “I am” statements in John) or the unity of numerics (e.g. the sevens of the Bible.)
The Voice of Self Attestation: Conviction
This topic is of utmost importance because the only way anyone will ever be convinced of the authority of Scripture is by the internal testimony of Scripture itself. W. Scott says, “The Word of God authenticates itself to the heart and conscience in the power of the Holy Spirit. People may say you must prove it – the proof is in the tasting of the sweetness and completeness of the Word. Because none can prove that sugar is sweet does not affect the fact that it is sweet, and those who taste it know for themselves.”
My spirit is God-conscious, and the Holy Spirit communicates with it. The Bible is self-proving to the serious seeker, and in John 18, Jesus notes if you love the truth, you will recognize that what He says is true. We are not suggesting that we wait for a fuzzy feeling which comes alongside and confirms the words. Rather, it is the Word, the message itself which presents both the glory of God and the conviction that this “book” exposes me even as it reveals God.
The claim to be the Word of God may be weighed as circular reasoning, but think of it as linear reasoning instead. We confront this claim only after we have considered the historical reality of Jesus, archeology, prophecies, unity, and the appeal it makes to my spirit. In fact, as we arrive at this point in our reasoning, we fully expect that the Scriptures should claim to be the Word of God.
It is not the label “chocolate,” which makes it what it is. We know it by the taste and the label proclaims what our taste attests. And so, as a result of the inward work of the Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts, we appreciate such words as, “Thus says the Lord.”
In summary, the prophecies point to the Author’s wisdom, the unity of the Bible discloses His fingerprints, and in its self-attestation we hear His voice. We do well to listen, marvel, and obey.