Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
The doctrine of the Bible is basic to Christianity. We answer three questions in this lesson: what is the Bible? How do we know what it is? Why did God give us the Scripture?
Our understanding of Christianity comes from the great Book, which is the core document of Christianity and Judaism. Consequently, we need to know some vital facts about that wonderful Book.
Some of the key verses I will explain are Hebrews 1:1, 2; 2 Timothy 3:14-17, 2 Peter 1:20, 21, and Revelation 22:18, 19. The Scripture's teaching about itself explains that God has revealed Himself to humanity.
That is, God has given humanity information about Himself that man could not know in any other way except that God Himself should disclose that knowledge.
God has made Himself known in a general way through nature (Romans 1:18-21), our conscience (Romans 2:14-16), and God’s management of the universe (Colossians 1:16, 17). But, these avenues many times leave us confused about what God is like and how He relates to us.
Because of this, God has revealed (disclosed or unveiled) Himself to humanity in a special way with specific information. Let me illustrate with an example that comes from my service as a missionary in the South Pacific.
Living life on an island can be very isolated. But, at the same time, many things happen overseas. Millions of people live in America, New Zealand, Australia, England, and other places.
People there do things and live a life that Islanders know nothing about – unless someone sends or brings the news by magazines, newspapers, letters, radio, or whatever. In a similar way, God has revealed, or sent, special information to us – information we could never know unless He were to bring or send that “news.”
The verses read, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1, 2).
These verses teach that during Old Testament times, God revealed Himself and/or His message in many ways. Some of those ways were through Judges, laws, ceremonies, kings, or prophets. When God sent Jesus, however, He gave His final special revelation to humanity – until He comes again. The words in verse 2, “has spoken,” indicate a final and completed action.
Jesus communicated His revelation through the original Apostles, and confirmed it with mighty miracles and signs (Hebrews 2:3, 4). God then terminated any further special revelations to humanity. In the last few verses of the last book of the Bible, Jesus strongly orders that no one should add or take away from the Bible (Revelation 22:18, 19).
According to the Bible, then, we have no need for prophets or other books claiming to have new messages from God. Peter even said that we already have everything we need that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
That is great news! God did not forget to tell us something that we must know in order to be saved, go to Heaven, have our sins forgiven, or to live life pleasing to Him!
2 Timothy 3:14-17
The key verse reads, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
We have now the Bible teaching about how God communicated to us through the Bible. The verse above says that “all” the Scripture is “inspired” by God. This word means, “God breathed.” That is, the Bible is the result of the breath of God. Breath carries our words. The Bible, then, is a record of the very words of God.
“All” Scripture refers to all the parts of Scripture whether it is history, culture, geography, or matters dealing with our life and faith. What an encouragement to us! We do not have to guess which parts of the Bible are from God, and which are not! All the words are His!
Jesus even went on to say that His word would never pass away (Matthew 24:35), and that Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). What a confidence that gives when we face problems in life such as death, financial crisis, or family trouble.
2 Peter 1:20,21
The Bible says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20, 21).
Here we have the Bible teaching about the mechanics of how God gave Scripture to His messengers. It says that Scripture is not of any man’s opinion or will, but that they were moved along by the Holy Spirit to speak the words of God – much like the wind fills a sail and carries the boat along over the swells of the deep ocean.
In other words, we can say that God directed the human authors so that without hindering their individual personalities and styles, they wrote without error God’s exact and complete thoughts in the original manuscripts.
With this said, we can now move on to some proofs of the Bible.
How do we know what the Bible is?
It would not be reasonable for us to say these wonderful things about the Bible without offering evidence that what we say is true.
For example, maybe I want to go buy a boat to go fishing. I see a used boat advertised on the bulletin board down at the local store. The owner wrote that the boat is tied up at the wharf, had a new engine, paint job, no rot in the hull, and mad other great claims about the vessel.
I would not just take the owner’s word. If I was wise, I would drive down to the wharf to see for myself if the evidence matched up to the owner’s claims. In the same way we need to examine the evidence about the Bible. Though there are many proofs that the Bible is the Word of God, I can only offer four in this short space.
First, the Bible claims to be God’s word. Adding to the verses I have already explained, we see that the Old Testament Prophets said their writings were the Word of God. For example, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel made that claim (Jeremiah 1:9; Isaiah 8:1, 5, 11; Ezekiel 3:4).
Even Moses said that, “the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God” (Exodus 32:16). Scriptures are called by Paul the “word of God” the, “Oracles of God,” and the “Sacred writings” (Ephesians 6:17; Romans 3:2; 2 Timothy 3:15). The examples continue, but suffice it to say that the Bible claims to be the Word of God.
Second, we have the Bible teaching about the amazing facts of fulfilled prophecy. If humanity could predict the future, we would be rich. We could predict where the fish were biting, how good the pumpkin and copra prices would be – or in America what the stock prices would be. But, no one can predict the future – except God.
According to Bible scholars, 27% of the Bible deals with predictive prophecy. There are over 1,800 predictions recorded. Some to the predictions are to be fulfilled in the future; some have already been fulfilled in past history. Prophecies in the Bible are clear and with pinpoint accuracy, not like the fuzzy talk by some so-called prophets.
There are over 300 prophecies concerning the first coming of Jesus Christ. I offer just six to illustrate the astonishing quality of Bible prophecy.
The Testimony & Miracles of Christ
The third proof I offer is the Bible teaching about the testimony of Jesus Christ plus His miracles. Christ called the Old Testament the Scriptures (Luke 24:44, 45). He believed as true the Old Testament creation story of Adam and Eve, the miracles of Jonah and the big fish, and of Moses and the burning bush (Matthew 19:4; 12:39-41; Luke 20:37).
Christ communicated His New Testament revelation to us through His appointed apostles, and confirmed His message by many miracles, which was climaxed by that grandest miracle of: His resurrection from the dead (John 20:30, 31; Acts 1:1-3; Romans 1:1-4).
Think of it this way. Jesus rose from the dead to prove what He had to say. Nobody can offer evidence like that!
Character of God
The last proof I offer is the Bible teaching about the character of God. God loves us. He is kind, honest, and cannot lie. He is holy, righteous, and true – beyond defect in character. God knows everything, is everywhere, and is all powerful. In a word, God is perfect.
We must ask ourselves the question: would God lie to us? Would He mislead us, deceive us? No! God forbid such a thought!
The conclusion is this: the character of God extends to His word, and the Bible is His Word.
Here is another island illustration. When we decide to take a trip to an outer island, we take the word of the boat operator that the boat will survive the rough sea. We get in the boat and entrust ourselves to the captain that boat as it chugs through the sea waves. We trust him, because he is a man of good character and skill. We can believe him.
In the same way, God is of perfect character. We can trust Him and His Bible, which is His special revelation to humanity. Whatever we say about God, we must also say about His Bible.
Again, from the islands: to the farmers in the bush who grow talo, manioke, siaine and ‘ufi - you can believe and trust the Bible. To the fisherman who motors his little boat and nets and goes to fish on the reef or beyond into deep ocean: you can take the Bible seriously.
The house wife pounding out tapa, feeding the pigs, washing clothes, making school uniforms for the children can believe and trust the Bible.
The wife and children, whose husband and daddy is overseas, or out somewhere on a ship can believe God and His Bible. The government workers and leaders who try their best to run the country can take God and His Bible seriously.
To anybody in the world: you can trust God and His Bible.
In the Bible you will find comfort, wisdom, encouragement, instruction, correction, and blessing. Through the Bible you will find the mind of God. Through the Bible you can find how to have your sins forgiven, go to Heaven, have peace with God through Jesus Christ, and find fulfillment in this life.
The Bible is incapable of teaching deception. It is sufficient in all questions of faith and practice. It is understandable. Just every day people can comprehend what it says. The Bible is authoritative, it is not forged, and the texts are truthful. The Bible is a wonderful treasure that god has given us.
Now to the last question, what is the Bible teaching about why God gave us the Bible?
Why did God give us the Bible?
The first of three reasons is that the Bible is the standard of judgment used against those who reject our precious Savior, Jesus Christ.
Christ Himself said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48).
When someone comes before judge to be tried (or sentenced), the judge or jury bases their decision and/or sentence upon the constitution and laws of that country. In the same way, Jesus is saying that when those who reject Christ step up before the judgment seat of God, that person will receive their sentence based upon the Bible.
The second reason God gave us the Bible is to tell us how to be saved. That is very good news! The Bible teaching about salvation is explained by Paul, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
When a ship or fishing boat comes into a harbor there is a great danger in running aground on the jagged reefs. That would mean loss of the ship or boat. To help ships to come safely through the channel, governments have put up a series of lights and markers to guide the ship. If the captain or pilot goes by those lights, then they will safely berth at the wharf.
The same is true of the Bible. It is a light and marker to point us safely to the harbor of salvation, spiritually speaking. Just as the harbor is salvation for the ships, Christ is our harbor of salvation.
And, just as the deep channel is the way to the harbor, faith is the way to Jesus Christ, according to the Bible. There is nothing we can do to get safely to heaven except to receive Christ as our Savior.
Just as sailors place their trust in those channel markers, we place our trust in Christ to save us from our sins, give us eternal life, and take us to heaven when we die. That is faith. Baptism, good works, church membership, or anything else cannot get us to heaven, but only faith in Jesus Christ, according to the Bible teaching about salvation.
The third reason for the Bible is to give us Christian doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction that we may be adequate and equipped for good words in this life (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). We do not accomplish good works to become a Christian, but because we are Christians. In a word, the Bible tells Christians how to live life.
This brings us to an end of this lesson of the Bible teaching about the theology of the Christian Bible. We have focused on three questions: what is the Bible? How do we know what the Bible is? Why did God give us the Bible?
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