What if the Bible never existed? Well, obviously there will be no documentation of all the stuff we know, but that won’t really alter the right of God to adjudicate the lives of men. But we seem to be getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s back up a little.
The Bible is four things. First, it is a cosmological manual. It gives us information on the origin, evolution and eventual fate of the universe. It contains at least 14 billion years of cosmological record. In 2013 the European Space Agency (ESA) Planck spacecraft captured the oldest light in the universe. This information helped astronomers estimate the age of the universe at 13.8 billion years. Perhaps that’s the “beginning” Genesis talks about, but we really can’t be sure. The phrase sounds elastic.
Second, the Bible is a historical compendium. It is a compilation of human and national histories as well as intersections of history. Notable kings documented in the Bible include Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC), founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the largest empire the world has ever seen; Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC), the longest reigning monarch in Neo-Babylonian Empire. Prominent references include Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon, Augustus Caesar (27 BC-14 AD). The Bible contains at least 6,000 years of human history.
Third, the Bible is a decoder of God’s thought system. God had famously pronounced to the Israelites, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT) But the Bible gives us insight into God’s thought system. We see discernible patterns that help us formulate principles of interpretation.
Fourth, the Bible is an eschatological manual. It contains prophecy about end-times. The history of the world and of the universe is pretty much complete, in advance. We know what will happen in human history. And the Bible has a record of historical predictions. It correctly predicted the succession of Babylonian Empire, Medo-Persian Empire, Greece under Alexander, and the Roman Empire.
Clearly if the Bible didn’t exist we won’t have documentation on any of these four dimensions of the Bible. We will have to rely on oral tradition. This of course has its native deficiencies. There’s the twin problem of embellishment and forgetfulness.
It is important however to distinguish between compilation of the books of the Bible and the documentation of the facts in each book of the Bible. Books of the Hebrew Old Testament were written between 1400-400 BC. The Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint) was produced 250-200 BC. It wasn’t until the Councils of Jamnia (90-118 AD) that there was final affirmation to the 39 books of the Old Testament.
Books of the Greek New Testament were written 45-85 AD. But it wasn’t until 397 AD that the Council of Carthage established the 27 books of the New Testament as canon. For more information on how the Bible came about go to http://myilluminare.com/2016/12/04/how-did-we-get-the-bible/
But then the question arises, if the Bible doesn’t exist by what standard will God then judge us? Allied with this is the question of illiteracy. How will God judge those who can’t read? How can they be held liable by the standards of the Bible? And what about those who had never seen the Bible all their lives – how are they going to be judged? Bottom line, how can God be a righteous judge given these circumstances?
There is sometimes the mistaken notion God’s word only exists in bibliographical form. But that’s not true. “In the beginning was the Word…” In other words, at the very beginning of the universe, before man was created and long before man invented writing or printing the word of God already existed. The word of God is eternal, has always existed in another format. In fact, the natural format of the Word is virtual – “By faith we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (HEBREWS 11:3 AMP) The word cannot create the universe if it didn’t already exist. And so it must have existed in a virtual format. The non documentation of the Word therefore does not impinge on its existence. It has always been. The word of God existed before the Bible existed. The existence of the word of God is independent of its documentation. The word of God is not 3D, the Bible is 3D. And Apostle John buttresses this fact when he wrote, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NLT) What John is telling us is that the “Word of God” is a divine personage. The literary iteration we call the Bible can therefore be nothing but a literary expression of the essence of that personage. There are other expressions of the word of God, other languages of expression, other media and other means of propagation: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.” (Psalms 19:1-4 NLT) In fact the Message translation tells us these elements are cosmological instructors: “Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.” (Psalm 19:1-2 MSG) Since the Bible says concerning the elements, “Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, but their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere”… (Psalm 19:1-4 MSG) There’s non recorded expressions of the word of God, there’s silent expression, there’s vocal expression. The Bible is a bibliographical expression. God’s jurisprudence is not limited to the bibliographical expression of the word. Because the Word is virtual it is able to transmute itself and translate itself onto different materials, inhabit different media – paper, bytes, smoke, air, vapour and human heart. It can express itself in any medium. It is in reference to ventricular media that Paul wrote some stuff in Romans 2. He was talking about God’s justice system outside codified law. Look at what he said: “When outsiders (non Jews) who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.” (Romans 2:14-16 MSG) These are the facts from this passage of scripture: 1). God’s moral law exists irrespective of documentation or no documentation. 2). God’s moral law is woven into the fabric of every heart. 3). Our conscience – our sense of right and wrong is in lieu of the documentation of the Law. 4). Though God takes judicial notice of the difference between those who have the Bible and those who don’t the Word is the same. There’s a virtual Bible in every heart essentially. 5). Whether you read it on paper or you know it by instinct God’s law is constant and it is the basis of God’s judgement. In summary, because God’s law is lodged in every heart we instinctively know right from wrong even when we’ve never seen the Bible.
But what if nobody preaches the gospel to me – will I still be judged by God? The Bible recognises two sates of humanity – those who are preached to and those who do not have that privilege. The first scenario is what Paul wrote about in Romans 10:14-15: “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15 NLT) So there is a need to preach the gospel – “It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (Romans 1:16-17 NLT)
But man is not the only evangelist. Creation preaches too. “For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defence.” (Romans 1:20 AMP) It is on the basis of this that Paul asserts, “For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them.” (Romans 1:18-19 AMP)
So if the Bible doesn’t exist knowledge of God will still exist. But in another medium. It already existed in other media before the Bible anyway. “The Bible” is just another iteration. It came about due to advancement in human knowledge and technology. The word of God used to be laboriously copied manuscript by manuscript. But then came the printing press about 1440 AD and everything changed. The printing press introduced the era of mass communication. But now we have multimedia phones and we have computers. And so the Word expresses itself through those media. When man moves unto holographic technology the word of God will no doubt present itself holographically. We must never forget God is light. Scientists refer to light as electromagnetic spectrum. In other words the electromagnetic spectrum is nothing but an expression of the essence of God. It is the exploration of the electromagnetic spectrum that has brought modern advances in technology – from the microwave, to x-ray, to infrared rays, to electricity… These are all expressions of electromagnetism. And so the Bible on mobile phones is nothing but the expression of God in another medium.
The word of God is accessible to all, in one medium or the other. If you have a conscience the Bible says you know the word of God, albeit by instinct. And so Bible or no Bible we remain liable before God for our acts. The law of God is woven into every heart. Unlike the tablets of the Ten Commandments it’s not independent of us. It’s why Paul wrote that those who live outside the jurisdiction of the documented law are a law to themselves. Your conscience is proof you’re your own Ten Commandments. You embody the law. God is a righteous judge.
If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me Father. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.God’s jurisprudence is not limited to the bibliographical expression of the word. Click To Tweet