There are many who claim that their message has divine origins but how can we tell? What test can we apply to determine if the message we hear is nothing more than man’s quest for his creator or something worse, his human invention? There is a fourfold test you can apply to determine divine origin:
- Reliability of the text: By studying and comparing the proposed divinely inspired text to other known ancient documents with regards to people, places and events we can see if they are in agreement. Archaeology has consistently confirmed and supported the Biblical record in fact there has never been a single contradiction.
- Continuity of the text: The Bible is unique among every book that has ever been written: Although written over a period of 1600 years by over 60 generations, by more than 40 different human authors, on three different continents, in varying circumstances and situations, in different places and times, in three different languages and communicating on countless subjects it has done so with one voice!· It is unique in its circulation, being the most published and popular book in human history.
· It is unique in its translation being the most translated book into other human languages in human history.
· It is unique in its survival, having survived time, transcription, persecution and criticism.
· It is unique in its honesty, as it deals with sin and failures of its hero’s in a manner unknown among ancient literature.
· Finally it is unique in its influence; it has had the single most influence of any literature in human history upon every culture and society it has been involved in.
- Predictability of the text: Predictive material can be found in passages from Genesis to Revelation. 28% of the Old Testament is predictive and 21% of the New Testament is predictive. Of the 31,123 verses of the Bible 8,352 ofthem or 27% contain predictive material. As divinely in origin it would have to be 100% accurate in its predictions. The only way that could be possible is if the One who authored it existed outside of time, space and matter. For instance there are over 108 specific prophecies in the Old Testament about the first coming of Jesus and in all 108 we can verify their fulfillment in the New Testament. The odds of all 108 of these being fulfilled by one person are beyond the realm of probability! Another example of this is the prediction of the rise and fall of four world empires (Babylonian, Persian, Grecian and Roman) and all the critics can do is claim that the prophecies were written after the events which can be proven is a false assumption.
- Functionality of the text: The final test is to look at what the divinely originated text does in those who have read it? Applying the multiple variables in the millions of readers, with the different times in which people read the text, their different cultures, social standing, age, ethnicity, geographical locations etc. All those who have trusted the words of thisdocument singularly proclaim to have had the same transforming encounter! Where the text has been applied by each and every individual in the above variables every aspect of their lives has been made better!
Any belief system that proclaims divine origin must be able to stand up to all four of these criteria. If they can’t then they would be only believable by their followers based upon “feelings” alone and not upon facts! Though the critic may still be able to claim that this fourfold test doesn’t prove divine origin it does tell us that such a belief need not be “blind faith”. Instead is a step that is intelligent, informed and can stand continual scrutiny! Friends Christianity is only valid if what Paul says about its divine origins is true. Because what is known about the person and work of Christ is made known in the Bible without the assurance of divine origin we have good morals to live by and lively stories to read but we don’t have absolute truth to follow!