The article shown below was discovered as a typewritten page in our building. Although it listed no authorship, research indicates that it was written by Gaston Cogdell many years ago and probably used as the basis of a sermon preached at Garrard Street. Only minor modifications were made from the original document to improve readability. If you happen to have any knowledge regarding the history of this document, please contact us. In the event that we have incorrectly assigned authorship, we apologize and would be happy to consider new evidence to correct the attribution.
“Why We Know the Bible is the Word of God”
by Gaston D. Cogdell
Thirty characteristics of the Bible, any one of which would mark the Bible as unique, and most of which, by themselves, constitute irrefutable proof of the divine origin of the Scriptures.
Unity. 66 books. 40 authors. 1500 years. One theme: The rule of God and the redemption of man, consummated in one marvelous person, Jesus Christ, ruler and redeemer of the world.
Claims to be the Word of God. 2,000 times in O.T., 500 in N.T. Either God spoke through Moses, Jesus, the Prophets and Apostles or these men were liars.
Prophecy. 27% of the Bible is predictive (8,532 verses of the Bible’s 31,124 verses contain predictive material). 737 separate events predicted, 1,817 predictions on 55 subjects. Most fulfilled. Remainder are being fulfilled. Only God can foreknow the future.
Miracles. Stupendous manifestations of divine power. God’s authentication of his word. Performed before the whole nation of Israel as he delivered them “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm... with signs and wonders” (Deut. 26:8). Jesus’ miracles shook the Jewish nation to its foundations and caused vast multitudes to follow him.
Scientific Foreknowledge. Positive proof that the Bible could not have been a product of the education and culture of thousands of years ago. Bible contains none of the mythology or superstition of that day or this. It is not only in keeping with modern science—it is ahead of it.
Historicity. ¾ of Bible is narrative—factual not legendary. The archaeologist’s spade has established the reliability of the Scriptures. Renowned archaeologist Nelson Glueck wrote, “It can be categorically stated that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological discovery findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statement of the Bible” (Rivers in the Desert, p. 31).
Revelation of Another Dimension of Reality. The spiritual and supernatural. Angelic beings mentioned nearly 300 times in Bible. One would expect a book having a superhuman origin to disclose a realm beyond human knowledge and experience. The visible cosmos is only “the tip of the iceberg.”
Theocentricity. Permeated by, centered in, and focused on God from start to finish. Everything has meaning, value, and permanence to the exact extent that it is related to God and His purpose of establishing a perfect, eternal and universal order, both morally and spiritually.
Divine Perspective. Sees things as God would see them. Looks backwards to the beginning, forward the end, and beyond. Peers deep into the heart of man. Its standards, priorities, and ideals are not those of man, and in fact are contradictory to man’s nature.
Authority. Says things as God would say them, with absolute authority, finality, certitude, yet with simplicity and reticence. No extremism or ‘overkill.’
Joins What Man Would Separate. Religion and morality. Jew and Gentile, and all races, cultures and conditions of men. Body and soul for eternity.
Separates What Man Would Join. Church and state. Religion and materiality... No ‘holy’ days, seasons, foods, places or things. Religion from priestcraft.
Paradoxes and Tensions. Christ to be lion and lamb, suffering servant and conquering King. Salvation by Grace, yet not without obedience. Justice and Mercy. Freedom and Determinism, harmonized. Otherworldly, yet this-worldly Individual all-important, but not apart from body.
Truthfulness. Tells many things man wouldn’t tell at all. Noah’s drunkenness. Abraham lied. Jacob cheated. Patriarchs sold Joseph into slavery. Moses killed a man and was barred from Promised Land. David’s sin. Solomon’s compromise with idolatry. Peter’s denial. Jesus’ family didn’t believe him. John the Baptist and Thomas doubted. Jesus revealed himself to sinful Samaritan woman. Paul’s persecution of church. Jesus—“Why callest me good?”, “Let cup pass”, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Fell under cross. Man would not relate these things.
Omissions. Omissions that man just wouldn’t make. No descriptions of how anyone looked, dressed. No attention to marriages or funeral ceremonies. No pets. No humor. No value given to sex, money, power, organization, art, intellectual brilliance, physical strength, adornment. No details about first 30 years of Christ’s life. What happened to Apostles and their families and to Mary? Complete unconcern about the things that concern men.
Literary Excellence. It would have been impossible for uneducated fishermen, herdsmen, small-tradesmen and a carpenter to have produced a literature far surpassing the world’s greatest literary geniuses. What other book becomes more interesting the more often it is read? What other book has become the source or inspiration for the world’s greatest music, poetry, art, drama and hymnology?
Answers and Solutions. Gives the only plausible answers to the most profound questions confronting man. E.g.—What is man’s true origin, identity and destiny? Who is God and what does he want? Addresses itself to the basic cause of such problems as war, slavery and despotism, recognizing them as effects of man’s sinful nature.
Portrayal of God and Man. Not a portrayal such as man would make. “God is Love.” He knows and cares infinitely about each one of us; has become one of us, humiliating himself before us and dying for us; has invited us to become a part of himself. Man is portrayed for what he is—a tragic creature, hopelessly enmeshed in sin, a prisoner of death and despair, yet has the spark of divinity within him and can be saved.
Morality and Spirituality. Motivation is as important as the deed. Turn the other cheek. Return good for evil. Love your enemy. Forgive 70 X 7. Hatred is a kind of murder. Lustful glances are a kind of adultery. Perfection demanded. These standards did not emanate from man.
Covenantal Structure. All the action in the Scriptures revolves around a series of contractual agreements, initiated by God through Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Christ. By these covenants, God has limited his own freedom, yet given man the liberty to accept or reject the covenant relationship. Strange! Wonderful!
Power. Transforming men and nations. It has a divine life of its own which it is able to impart. Power to make men holy, happy and free. Power to save (Rom. 1:16) and power to destroy. It is the living word of the living God. No other book possesses this mysterious power.
Universal Relevance and Appeal. The only book for every race, nation, age, culture and condition of man. Translated into 1200 languages and dialects. More than 2 billion Bibles, Testaments and books of the Bible have been distributed gratis by various Bible Societies. Billions more have been printed and sold.
Indestructibility and Durability. Not as a fossil, but as a mighty force. Its influence grows with every passing century, and it remains far ahead of the column of human progress. Consider the enemies that have arrayed themselves against it. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall never pass away” (Mk. 11:31).
Fruits. Many people here tonight can attest that they were lifted out of filth and sin by the gospel. The closer any people come to the ideals set forth in this book, the more humanized, the sweeter, the purer, the more moral, the happier and the freer they become. This book is the “Tree of Life.”
The Flawless Plan of Redemption. The certain penalty for violating God’s moral law is spiritual death, just as the penalty for violating the laws by which physical life is sustained is physical death. The Bible tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” for us (John 3:16). Christ paid the penalty for our sins, if we will but accept that payment.
The Holiness and Humility of the Writers. Humbly confessing themselves unworthy of their sacred task, deliver God’s message without regard to consequences. In no case did they receive any material reward. In many cases, it cost them everything, including their lives. The vessels God chose to deliver his precious word are the holy vessels we would expect him to choose.
The Intensity of Its Passion. Of the love expressed for man and the hatred expressed for sin. The goodness of God is boundless, but his wrath is equally infinite. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). The passion for justice, for truth, for righteousness in the Bible is not that of man, but of God.
Its Sublime Hope. A heavenly hope. An eternal and flawless existence with God and the redeemed of all the ages! Only God could offer such a hope. What does atheism offer? The grave... eternal nothingness. If the Bible is not a message from above, we beat against the door of doom in vain.
Self-authentication. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). The primary difficulties that stand in the way to accepting the Bible as God’s Word are moral and not intellectual. The real battleground between faith and unbelief is the heart, and not the head. The spiritual truths of the Bible are spiritually apprehended (1 Cor. 2:14).
Jesus Christ. The matchless person of the Bible—subject and the embodiment of its theme, the fulfillment of its prophecies, the manifestation of its glory... the condescension of divinity and the exaltation of humanity. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Impossible to invent him. We know nothing of him, apart from the Bible. To receive him is to receive the Bible. To reject the Bible is to reject him. The alternative to accepting the Bible as God’s word is a Christ-less, Godless, hopeless, meaningless word.