Does a Dependable Guide Exist?
FOR a guide to be dependable and truly helpful to mankind it must meet certain requirements: It must be simple, frank and understandable. It must lift the level of man’s thinking and give him encouragement and hope. It must be practical, applicable in all ages and societies, and available to all people.
The Bible is a book making that claim. It holds itself forth as a communication from the Creator. It claims to be a lamp to guide one’s path.—Ps. 119:105.
Some have criticized the Bible because of its antiquity, saying that in these modern times man has advanced beyond the Bible’s scope. Is this criticism valid? True, since the beginning, human society has undergone changes, and today we are in a technological age. But as humans are we not the same as ever? Have not the loves, hopes and basic desires of mankind been the same from the start?
Moreover, where do we find most of the problems today? In the family circle and in relations with one another. Technology has merely intensified the problems and brought them more quickly to the fore. Having a purpose in living, enjoying security and happiness are as important as ever, and the needs of mankind have really not changed from what they were thousands of years ago.
Since basic human needs have not changed with the passing of centuries, would not a guide that has an ancient history be more valuable than one that has not endured the test of time? Would not a guide that draws on the experiences of many generations instead of just one give a more complete picture of matters that it considers? So, then, rather than being a weakness, would not the Bible’s antiquity be a factor supporting its claim to be a dependable guide?
True, there are other very ancient writings. But none of these can point to origins as old as that of the Bible. Though Bible writing began about 3,500 years ago, its beginning as God’s spoken word was far earlier, for the record shows that God spoke to the first man Adam. After that, he had communication with man down to the Noachian flood, so that men using his word as a guide were able to ‘walk with God’ and be found righteous by Him.—Gen. 1:28; 6:9; 7:1.
Is the Bible the Product of Mere Men?
‘But the Bible was written by mere men,’ some will say. Does that make it any less authoritative or effective? God could have handed a complete book to men, just as he wrote the Ten Commandments on stone tablets for Moses. But would that have made the book more acceptable to people today than a book written by men who acknowledged their being inspired of God? How could anyone today prove that a book now in existence came directly from man’s Maker thousands of years ago? Would not such an unprovable claim be an obstacle to the book’s being accepted as a reliable guide? On the other hand, no one can deny the Bible’s claim to be,a book written by men. And the person reading the Bible can see for himself whether what it contains agrees with the claim: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
Furthermore, when truthful and God-fearing men wrote from the depths of their heart what God revealed to them, the record thus produced contained a warmth that would not have been there if it had simply been an objective account, lacking the human element. Yes, the expressions recorded by men who had the same experiences, emotions, problems and trials that we undergo have heart appeal.
The most remarkable proof of the Bible’s being written by men who were inspired of God is provided by the many prophecies it contains. It foretold the permanent desolation of such mighty cities as ancient Nineveh and Babylon. (Isa. 13:19, 20; Zeph. 2:13, 14) Even the name of the conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus, was set forth years before his birth. (Isa. 45:1, 2) The very conditions that have marked the present century are vividly portrayed. For example, at 2 Timothy 3:1-5, we read: “Know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” But the Bible does not leave matters there. It points beyond the “last days” to a time when this earth will be a secure home for man and shows what we should do to be among those to enjoy it. (Rev. 21:3, 4) Do you know of any other book that contains such accurate and encouraging information?
The Bible’s value is also revealed in its endurance through the stiffest opposition and attempts to destroy it. As one writer noted:
“No other human possession has been so cherished and condemned as the Bible. It has been ridiculed, banned and burned. But it also has been treasured and safeguarded. And it has endured.
“Many have died defending it. Others have kept it hidden to prevent its seizure by police. Men have been executed for translating it into common languages. . . .
“About two centuries ago Voltaire declared that ‘it took 12 men to establish Christianity. I will show the world that one man can pull it to pieces. In one hundred years, the Bible will become an obsolete book, to be relegated to the dusty shelves of the antiquarian.’”—George W. Cornell, AP writer in the Montreal Star, December 22, 1973.
The contentions of Voltaire and others like him have proved to be unfounded. History has well demonstrated the Bible truth that “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like a blossom of grass; the grass becomes withered, and the flower falls off, but the saying of Jehovah [God] endures forever.” (1 Pet. 1:24, 25) Yes, God’s “saying” as set forth in the Bible has survived, whereas many who attacked it have long ago returned to the lifeless dust.
Consequently, would you not say that the Bible is deserving of a thorough examination on your part? Such an effort, we believe, will convince you that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.”—2 Tim. 3:16.