In Faith, Life and Spirituality

Or … Can I be certain that The Bible is The Word of God?

By Grant Norsworthy

I’ve got a bighearted, well-studied, Christ-following, Bible-believing friend.  He passionately and tirelessly works in college student ministries. I admire him and like him a lot, but we don’t always agree on every issue about God. We’ve had some great discussions and at least one theological argument.

Recently he wrote a description of some of his work and happenings with the student ministry. It was his newsletter to a bunch of people who either support or are interested in the work. Part of his letter really caught my attention:

“Throughout the course of the semester in my conversations both with young Christians and non-Christians I noticed that students were wrestling with the question of how can we be certain the Bible is the word of God and thus I asked … a local pastor, to come and address this question. We advertised on campus and had about 60 students attend as [the pastor] gave proofs from history and archeology demonstrating that the Bible does stand up to criticism as well as allowing time for questions. Many of these students were not [college Christian group] members or connected to [the campus Christian group] in any way shape or form but appeared to be seriously wrestling with this issue considering [The Bible’s] validity and many Christian students I talked to were encouraged to know that what they believed actually does stand up to secular criticism.”

I could not help myself. In response, I wrote this …

I was intrigued by the description about showing the college students how they can be certain that the Bible is the Word of God. I’m not trying to be combative, but I’d like to offer a couple of thoughts for your consideration:

– In Genesis 15:4 we can read that when Abram was looking at the stars, the Word of God told him that his descendents would outnumber them. When that happened, the Bible would not be in a physical form for many, many years.

– In the New Testament (Luke 5:1), we can read in the Bible accounts of how people would sit around Jesus and listen to the Word of God. They were listening to Jesus, not a reading from the Bible that, again, was not in physical existence yet.

– The start of the book of  John (a text that was written before the Bible was compiled) tells us that the Word of God is Jesus Himself and was always with God and, in fact, was (and is) God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1. And, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14a

– It seems to me that The Bible and the Word of God are not the same thing, even according to The Bible itself.

– I believe the Bible is the written expression of God’s Word; which is Himself. Or, more simply, the Bible is the written Word of God. It’s the best text we have that reveals who God, or the Word is.

– Jesus Himself is God and is The Word Of God.

Jesus Himself is more than my limited understanding of the text in the Bible and more than the text itself.

– It sounds to me like the invited pastor’s presentation was about how we can be sure the Bible is a valid historical document. which it certainly is. This is an interesting and worthy topic of discussion I am sure, but it is not the same as giving people cause to be “certain [that] The Bible is the Word of God.” Being certain that the Bible is a valid historical text is NOT the same information as being certain that The Bible is the Word of God.

– The Bible is MUCH, MUCH more than a valid historical document, but it is my strong conviction that our printed text – The Bible – is not equivalent, interchangeable, or equal to the Word Of God God Himself.

– It is my conviction that knowing the Bible is NOT the same as knowing and being known by Jesus – the living Word of God.

– It is possible that being “certain” that I know God because I know my Bible could actually distract me from knowing Jesus the living Word.

– People believing they were “certain of the Word of God” when they were actually absolutely immoveable from their interpretation of scripture has been the cause of much disunity and confusion in the body of Christ, people turning away from Jesus because of our infighting, and violence, carnage and death besides. For example: Leading up to and during the American Civil War, both north and south were absolutely convinced that the “Word of God” supported their position on abolition AND continuation of slavery respectively. A bloody war was fought as a result. There are countless other examples.

– While Jesus was on earth there was a group of people- the religious leaders of the day – who were certain they knew God because they knew scripture. Jesus is recorded in the Bible as saying to them, “You have never heard God’s voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life … yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:37-40

– What Jesus communicated at that time, I believe He is still communicating to us today.

– “I need more than the words on the page. The words are good, but the author I crave” from the song “Jesus Loves Me (I Need More)”.

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  • Birgit Kraft West

    So true. I love that scripture from John 5. That has spoken to me a lot over the years… So funny, how we are in the exact same position as the people were at the time of Jesus. We much rather learn scripture passages by heart than actually come and surrender to him and have life…

  • Adriane Harper


    Thank you for your thoughts and wisdom. I believe that you are truly focused on trying to be more of what God is calling you to be. I love reading your blogs and getting food for thought. You are inspiring. Continue seeking…

  • Susie

    Good thoughts Grant, and very well-thought-out. I think people often get defensive because others don’t take the bible seriously even as a historical document, and I do agree that apologetics in this area is very important. I think you hit the nail on the head though-what matters most is knowing Jesus, the Word. Hope you blog more in the future. 🙂

  • Kelv Hopkins

    Some good points in there mate. I agree, this life is about getting to know Jesus, and allowing him to illuminate His written word with specific revelation for your situation. I think of that AW Tozer quote “What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.” That’s where context wisdom, and revelation is important to understanding God’s intent through His written word was in each situation. The written word of God can get taken out of context sometimes and it really messes up people’s understanding of who God is. I want to know HIM. I think of a great sermon series Andy Stanley did on the ten commandments in explaining God’s intent in writing them the way He did. It really helped me understand that those commandments are way more than a list of do’s and don’ts. They actually reflect what is important to God….born out of relationship with His chosen people and now us. That’s my thoughts….

  • RevMike


    Nice work Grant, very nice work indeed!

    • grantnorsworthy

      Thanks for the sarcasm and the kind words Mike. Now, I guess, we’ve both been called “Neo pagan post evangelicals”!

  • Tash M

    Great post Grant, I found it extremely interesting. Glad you posted the link on fb, I will definitely continue to read it.

  • Archie Boyle

    Worship the Author!! Thanks Grant! I too need more than words on a page. Thankfully through daily relationship He reveals Himself in so many other ways that His Word backs up.

    • grantnorsworthy

      Thanks Archie … but please don’t worship the author. Worship God.

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