God Has SpokenDo you agree that the number in the box is "your opinion?"
How? Where? Through what means? He has spoken in various ways.
He speaks convincingly through the natural creation. (Romans 1:20) He whisper to us, or even shouts, through the trained and enlightened voice of conscience. (Romans 2:14-15) If you listen carefully, you can hear God's appeal through this inner voice! Also, in such a powerful way, God has spoken through the life and teaching of Jesus. (Matthew 1:23; Hebrews 1:1-2) In Scripture, He is referred to as "the Word of life." (1 John 1:1) And, in addition, our God has revealed Himself to us through a written revelation--the Holy Bible. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
In recent days, the Bible has come under severe attack. Its message is not just being quietly ignored--it is being openly ridiculed and attacked. Today, there is a fierce battle being waged over the authority of the Bible. Some contend that it has no authority whatsoever. Others straddle the fence by arguing that its message has some authority. Still others believe that the Bible, in its entirety, is a true and authoritative message from God.
In this lesson, an effort will be made to encourage and deepen the conviction that the Bible is to be viewed, respected, and obeyed as the inspired, inerrant (flawless), and authoritative Word of God.
The Bible is Inspired
"Inspiration" refers to the supernatural action of God upon the writers of the Bible which kept them totally free of errors as they recorded facts of history, principles of truth, and commands of God. The Bible has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us and therefore is the supreme standard by which all human conduct, beliefs, and religious practices should be tried and tested. When Scripture speaks, God speaks!
In 2 Timothy 3:15-16, Paul writes, "... you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed [inspired] and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness..." Peter explains how the writers of the Bible were guided as they wrote. "Above all, you must understand that no prophesy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophesy [the message from God] never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21
The message of the Bible did not originate with man. It flowed from the mind of God. It is inspired--breathed by God! The entire Bible--from Genesis to Revelation--is reliable and true. There is a voice of authority for us today.
The Bible is Inerrant
If the Bible is truly "inspired" [God-breathed] by a perfect God, it must be "inerrant."
"Inerrant" means that the Scriptures, when originally written, were completely true and flawless in content. As God guided the transmission process, there was no error in all that was written. The Psalmist declared, "The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times." (Psalm 12:6) "Let God be true and every man a liar," Paul wrote in Romans 3:4.
Furthermore, it should be noted that God not only gave us a dependable record of His will when the Bible was written, but by His providence, He has preserved His Word in a dependable form for us today.
The Bible is Authoritative
If the Bible is "inspired" and "inerrant," it must be "authoritative." This is a logical conclusion. When God speaks, we must listen and obey. James writes, "Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25)
What Does This Mean for Us?
The Bible must be given a place of priority in our lives. David, the Psalmist, said "The entrance of Your words gives light." (Psalm 119:130) Light! That's precisely what we need as we journey down the sometimes dark and dangerous roadway of life. When you open the Bible, you turn on the light from God. For you, is the light on or off?
For too many, the Bible is an unopened and unread Book. Many of the loudest critics of the Bible have never studied it in depth. We claim to be "Bible believers," yet the truth is that in many instances our Bibles have become little more than table ornaments and dust collectors.
Also, have you noticed that frequently when "Bible discussions" occur, the Bible is never opened? As this occurs, there is usually quite a mixture of conversation--some Bible truth blended with much human opinion and religious bias. For example, you may hear such statements as, "I think," "I feel," "My preacher says," or "This church teaches..." How seldom do we hear, "The Lord commands," "The Bible teaches," or "This verse says..." Which approach is safest and surest in arriving at truth?
We need and must have a "guiding standard of authority" as we pursue the will of God. To illustrate this principle, note the drawing of the pencil below. Look at the pencil, and estimate its length.
Should you decide to leave the realm of "opinion" and move to the realm of "truth" or "fact," what would you need to do? Yes! Get a ruler with which to measure the pencil. If it is convenient, locate a ruler or some other measuring instrument and actually determine the length of the pencil.
Finished? Having measured the pencil, what is its actual length?
How close was your "opinion" to the "fact?"
Now, there can be no doubt as to the length of the pencil because you have identified and used a dependable standard of authority--a ruler--to measure it.
This simple illustration teaches a practical lesson that has spiritual implications. The Bible is to be our "ruler!" Instead of being guided by our religious opinions and subjective biases, we must carefully use the Word of God--our "ruler"--as the only dependable standard for measuring truth. Rather than saying, "I think," "I feel," "My preacher says," or "Our church teaches...," we should measure every doctrine, belief, and practice by the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God. This allows God to have the "final word!"
A Brief Overview of the Bible
In order to study the Bible, one must understand why the Bible is divided as it is, how the Old Testament differs from the New Testament, and the overall theme that flows throughout the Bible. If you look at the "Table of Contents" in front of your Bible, you will notice that it is divided into to two major subdivisions: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Think of your Bible as a library containing 66 books. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. All of these books in some way are related to the overall theme -- God's love for the human race and His plan to rescue sinners through Christ.
The central message of the Old Testament is "Christ is coming!" The central message of the New Testament is "Christ has come and is coming again!" Study the DIAGRAM below. It provides a bird's-eye view of the books of the Bible and the various categories into which they may be grouped.
Of course, the Old Testament begins in Genesis with the account of the creation. The word "genesis" means "in the beginning." The first verse of the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
In Genesis 6-7, there is the account of Noah and the great flood. At Genesis 11-12, Abram (later called Abraham) enters the picture--a very important and significant person in Biblical history.
The Biblical account reveals that even though he was not a perfect man, Abraham was a man of faith. God selected him to become the father of a great nation. God said to Abraham, "I will make a great nation from your descendants... and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:1-3) God did exactly what he had promised! The nation of Israel was formed through the bloodline of Abraham. These descendants were to be a very important part of God's plan for rescuing the human race from sin. To this nation of people, God gave a written law -- the Law of Moses. He rewarded Israel's faithfulness by giving her victory over enemies. There were numerous laws and guidelines that were designed to keep the Jewish people healthy and strong physically and devout spiritually.
Why was Israel such a preferred nation? It was through this bloodline that God was to bring His Son, Jesus Christ, [Christ means "Messiah"] into the world to be the Savior of the human race. Remember what God said to Abraham. "All peoples of earth will be blessed through you." Most of the Old Testament is the inspired account of how God worked among the Israelites and within the world to prepare for the arrival of His Son--the Messiah. In fact, the running theme of the Old Testament is, "LOOK WHO IS COMING!"
As you open the New Testament, Jesus, the Messiah [the anointed One of God], is just arriving on the earthly scene. Matthew 1 records the details surrounding His virgin birth. For centuries, humans had looked for and expected the Messiah. In fact, the running theme of the New Testament is, "LOOK WHO HAS COME AND IS COMING AGAIN!"
In the 27 books of the New Testament, the Holy Spirit enlightens us regarding the life, teachings, and redemptive work of Jesus. We are taught how to be His followers and serve faithfully within His Kingdom. While the inspired Old Testament continues to be an invaluable resource to us (Romans 15:4), it cannot fully enlighten us concerning our salvation in Christ. Paul writes, "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified through faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of law." (Galations 3:24-25) To know God's specific will for our lives today, we depend on the New Testament Scriptures.
Thus, the central theme of the entire Bible is... Jesus.
In the next lesson of "The Seeker" series, the question for investigation will be, "This man Jesus -- who is He, and what unique claims does the Bible make for Him?"
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