Lesson 1: The Bible: The Word of God
“The Scriptures: We believe the Bible to be the verbally inspired Word of God without error in the original writings, and the supreme and final authority in doctrine and practice.”
Parade magazine had an article by Carl Sagan about his experience with cancer. He said he didn’t believe in an afterlife. He said Christians, Moslems, Jews and Hindus had told him they prayed for him. “While I do not think that, if there is a god, his plan for me will be altered by prayer, I’m more grateful than I can say.” Carl Sagan has studied astronomy. He was the current authority on the cosmos. Yet his study has led him to deny a Creator rather than worship Him. Isn’t that what Romans 1:18-20 says?
Read Romans 1:18-20
We learn from creation that there is a God and He has great power. But God has revealed Himself even more extensively.
Read Hebrews 1:1-2
He spoke His Word through the prophets. But his final and most complete revelation of Himself is in His Son. Jesus reveals what God is like. How he thinks, feels, acts. And God has preserved the record for us in the Bible. The Bible is the source for what we believe about God, Christ, humanity, salvation, heaven? Does it matter what our authority is? Why should we trust the Bible? What evidence is there for us to let it be the authoritative book that informs and controls our lives?
Bible from Gr. biblos, book; biblia, books. The word not used in the Bible.
The Bible Is The Unique Word Of God
The Bible is uniquely the Word of God.
There are two lines of evidence: external and internal.
1. The continuity of the Bible
It was written by more than 40 authors over about 1600 years, it is still one book, not a collection of books. The authors were kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, physician, tax collector, statesmen, scholars, poets and farmers.
It was written from various countries, from Italy, Greece, Babylon, Persia and Israel. The human authors lived in different cultures and had different experiences. They were different in character and personality.
They wrote in 3 languages; Old Testament: Hebrew; Aramaic; New Testament: Greek.
But the Bible is not an anthology of books by different authors. It has an amazing continuity and unity from Genesis to Revelation.
The Paradise Lost of Genesis becomes the Paradise Regained of Revelation. Whereas the gate to the tree of life is closed in Genesis, it is opened forevermore in Revelation. (Geisler & Nix. Evidence that Demands a Verdict, p. 19)
Doctrine is progressively unfolded throughout. Salvation is hinted at in Genesis 3, developed by promises and pictures in the OT, accomplished in the Gospels, explained in the epistles and brought to glorious completion in Revelation.
2. The extent of biblical revelation
All the books of Bible were written in the early days of human knowledge when authors were not aware of modern discoveries. But what they wrote has never been contradicted by later discovery.
Isaiah 40:22-He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. That was written 2800 years ago.
Job 26:7-He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; He suspends the earth over nothing. That was written 4000 years ago.
Archeology consistently produces evidence that supports biblical statements. (Hittites, Sargon)
3. Influence and publication of Bible
No other book has been published in as many languages. It still is a best-seller. The French atheist Voltaire said that it would be obsolete within a hundred years from his time and Christianity would be swept from existence and passed into history. But Voltaire has passed into history and the Bible continues to be circulated increasingly throughout the world. In fact, ironically, only 50 years after Voltaire's death, the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to produce stacks of Bibles. (Evidence, p. 23)
4. Manuscript evidence
Compared to the few manuscripts of ancient writings that are existent, there are 13,000 manuscript copies of portions of the NT, some dating from as early as the second century.
Sir Frederic Kenyon, director and principal librarian of the British Museum said: No other ancient book has anything like such early and plentiful testimony to its text, and no unbiased scholar would deny that the text that has come down to us is substantially sound”
5. Unprejudiced authority of Bible
Human authorship has not resulted in prejudice in favor of man. The Bible records the sins and weakness of best of men (Abraham, Moses, David, Peter). It records lies and misconceptions of Satan and men (Job). It is a devastatingly honest record that is consistent with our instinctive knowledge of human beings today.
6. The supreme character of the Bible
The Bible is a supernatural book revealing the person and glory of God as manifested in His Son. A person like Jesus Christ could never have been the invention of mortal man. Nor would we have invented him if we could. Contrast Greek mythology where their gods were magnified images of themselves.
Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17.Theopneustos=God-breathed. Only here NT.
Scripture is God-breathed
Scripture was breathed out by God. Inspiration refers not so much to authors but to the Word of God. While the authors were fallible and subject to error, God breathed out into their minds His infallible Word, so that what they wrote was the inerrant Word of God.
How did God tell the human authors what to write?
Not by mechanical dictation.
Read 2 Peter 1:20-21
The human authors were moved or borne along, carried to the destination intended by God much as a boat will carry its passengers to its ultimate destination.
God used various ways to communicate His Word.
Exodus 34:27. Write down these words.
The Word of the Lord came to the prophets: Jeremiah 1:2; Hosea 1:1;
Visions and dreams, Daniel 2:1; 7:1
Therefore, the Scriptures are the very expression of God and must be as absolutelyauthoritative and absolutely perfect as He is or.
He is in error and fallible.
Extent of Inspiration--ALL Scripture
God directed so that all the words that were used were equally inspired by God. Verbal means words, plenary means full.
It doesn’t just contain the word of God, or is only the word when it speaks to you.
1 Timothy 5:18-Paul places Luke 10:7 on the same authoritative level as Deuteronomy 25:4, calling them both Scripture. (Graphe)
2 Peter 3:15-16--Peter refers to Paul’s writings as equal to the rest of Scripture.
VERBAL PLENARY INSPIRATION
Definition: The supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit in which He superintended the human authors of canonical Scripture, so that their individual personalities composed and recorded without error God's revelation to humanity in the words of the original autographs.
The Spirit of God guided in the choice of the words used by the human authors in the original writings. Various books reflect the writers' personal characteristics in style and vocabulary, and their personalities are often expressed in their thoughts, opinions, confusion, prayers, or fears.
Luke was a physician and used medical terms.
Paul, a scholar of Greek literature, quoted from the Greek poets. (Acts 17)
God employed human writers and these men did not always understand all that they were writing (Daniel 12:8-9).
Nevertheless, under the guiding hand of God they produced the 66 books, in which there is amazing unity and constant evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in directing what was written.
Consistent Internal Testimony
The Bible consistently claims to be God’s Word throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Exodus 20:1ff; Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 17; 2 Samuel 22:31; 23:2; Psalm 19:7-11; 119:9,11,18,89-91, 97-100, 104-5, 130; Proverbs 30:5-6; Isaiah 55:10-11; 22:29; Mark 13:31; John 2:22; 5:24; 10:35; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 1:23-25; Revelation 1:1-3; 22:18.
Testimony of Jesus
Jesus and the OT
Matthew 5:18; John 10:35. The Scripture cannot be broken.
He came in fulfillment of OT. Matthew. 1:22-33, 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 15:7-8; 21:4-5.
Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 22:43-44. Accurate even to very words. Holy Spirit and David.
Luke 24:27--all Scriptures concerning Himself were accurate. John 5:39-40
He quoted from OT in every important section of NT, often from books most disputed by liberals, e.g. Deuteronomy, Jonah, Daniel. Deuteronomy 6:16--Matthew 4:7; Jonah, Matthew 12:40; Daniel 9:27; 12:11-Matthew 24:15. It is impossible to question inspiration of OT without questioning the character and veracity of Jesus Christ. Christ's trustworthiness is at issue. He said, “I am the truth.”He did not accommodate Himself to the misconceptions of His age, as has been charged by liberal critics.
Jesus and the NT
Jesus predicted the writing of NT. John 14:25-26; 15:26-27; 16:12-13. The Holy Spirit would do for the human writers of the NT what He did for the human writers of the OT.
The testimony of Jesus regarding the Bible is really determinative. If we believe that He is God, and sinless; if we believe that He is the Truth; then we have to accept His evaluation of Scripture as accurate. We may not understand everything perfectly. That’s not essential. I don’t understand anything about atomic energy, but I believe in it and I’ve seen evidence of its power. I’ve also experienced the power of the Scriptures even though I don’t understand everything in it thoroughly.
A proper approach to the Bible involves recognizing that we cannot understand all that the Scriptures reveal, but what we are able to understand is beautifully harmonized and is the only accurate source of knowledge about God and faith in Him. The evidence of fulfilled prophecy as in Daniel, the testimony of Jesus, and the fact that the Holy Spirit uses it so effectively is compelling confirmation that the Scripture is breathed out by the all knowing, all-powerful God who loves us and made us His own through the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son. Therefore we can trust the Bible as our authority for faith and conduct.
Definition: the divinely derived power of the written Word of God to communicate the character and will of God with certainty and assurance.
The Scriptures Are Authoritative Because:
1. They are God-breathed.
2. They were written by chosen men who were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
3. They were attested to by the Lord Jesus Christ--the second person of the Godhead.
4. They are the Word employed by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12. (1 Timothy 4:1) Sword of the Spirit. Living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, etc.
5. Their own claims are fully vindicated.
Reread 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (Phillips)
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a woman’s life and training her in good living. The Scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the woman of God, and fit her fully for all branches of His work.
Canon means standard by which the books were measured.
Tests for inclusion in the canon
1. Is it authoritative? (Thus saith the Lord ….)
2. Is it prophetic? (Was it written by a man of God?)
3. Is it authentic? (If in doubt, throw it out.)
4. Is it dynamic? (Did it have the God’s life transforming power?)
5. Was it received, collected, read and used--by the people of God?
Test for New Testament
Apostolic authority or approval was the primary test for canonicity.
If this is true, what must be our response to God's Word? FAITH! We must believe it because it is inerrant and trustworthy and authoritative. If we believe it, we should desire to obey it. This is the only way to please God. That’s why it’s imperative that we read it, study it, meditate on it, and memorize it. Our minds must be saturated with the Scripture. Then we will recognize error when we hear it. The Scriptures will be a guardian over our minds to protect them. This requires effort on our part. It’s not going to just happen! And you have an enemy who will do anything to keep you from consistency in your time with God’s Word. But you also have the Holy Spirit who inspired the Word and who will make you able to understand it. He is greater and more powerful than our enemy. Depend on Him to help you.
God's Word should govern our standards of thought and conduct, no matter what the world says. In every circumstance of life, we have the choice to respond according to God's Word or our own feelings and the advice of others.
Is there an area in your life where you have been taught and corrected by the Scriptures? Have you reset the direction of your life? Is the Scripture equipping and encouraging you to serve the Lord?
Which do you choose to believe when the culture contradicts the Scripture, e.g., abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality?
What choice will you make when tempted to satisfy your sexual longings before marriage or outside of your marriage?
How will God’s Word help you in handling difficult relationships with family or friends?
How will the Scriptures influence the kind of employee you are?
How can God’s Word help you to forgive the sins of another?
How will it help you grow to maturity in Christ?
We are the most blessed of all people. We have a guide for life that has proved trustworthy for 3400 years. There’s not another book in the world like it. God’s Word alone is eternally trustworthy. It will never let us down, because God is faithful and true. But we can only find this to be true in our experience as we believe it and obey it. That is the key to life, joy and spiritual prosperity.
Read Romans 1:18-21
1. What does God reveal about himself to all mankind? Through what means? What is their response? What is God’s verdict?
Read 1 John 5:9-12; John 1:18; Hebrews 1:1-4
2. In what two ways has He further revealed Himself? What is significant about these two ways?
Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17
3. How much of Scripture is “God-breathed”? What is it useful for? Can you think of specific instances when it has done that for you?
Read 2 Peter 1:20-21
4. How did the human authors of the Bible know what to write? What methods did God use (Ex 34:27; Jer 1:2; Hos 1:1 Dan 2:1; 7:1; 8:17)?
Read Matthew 5:17-19; John 10:35; Luke 24:27
5. What was Jesus’ view of Old Testament Scripture? In light of His character, why is it important to know how He regarded it?
Read Matthew 1:22-23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 15:7-8; 21:4-5
6. What does the fulfillment of prophecy prove about the Old Testament? How does this strengthen one’s faith in its accuracy?
Read John 14:25-26; 15:26-27; 16:12-13
7. How did Jesus predict the New Testament would be written? Who would be the Author?
Read Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12
8. How is the Scripture different from other books written hundreds of years ago, e.g. Shakespeare? What claims does it make for itself?
9. If all this is true, what should our attitude be towards the authority of the Bible? Can we trust it to be accurate? How much can we take to be true and authoritative? What should you be doing with it? See Joshua 1:8; 2 Timothy 2:1; Psalm 119:11, 105; James 1:22