WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ITSELF?

THE BIBLE ON THE BIBLE

We believe the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God, not only because it was handed down to the fathers through the prophets, not only because it has preserved and copied and translated, but also because of what it says about itself.

 

THE CHARACTER OF THE BIBLE

  1. THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD.
  2. Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth." (Jeremiah 1:9).

    The Bible is more than a book detailing men's thoughts about what God is like. It is God's communication to men. His words are transmitted to us through its pages. It is one thing to read theology books that tell about God; it is quite another to read God's love letters to you.

    It is noteworthy to see the process by which this took place in the case of the book of Jeremiah.

    God gave His message to Jeremiah

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    Jeremiah dictated to Baruch

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    Baruch wrote the message

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    Baruch read the message in the temple

    In spite of this process, it is the Word of God that is said to be both the original message as well as the end of the process.

    This same process is seen in the New Testament in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 where Paul says, "When you received from us the word of God"s message [literally, "the word of hearing of God"], you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe."

  3. THE BIBLE IS A LIVING BOOK.
  4. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).

    In what way is the Bible alive? It is alive in that it is the word of the Living God. It is alive in that it is active in its ministry to your heart. Like a surgeon's scalpel, it cuts through the facade to speak to the inner you. It gets down to the real heart of issues.

  5. THE BIBLE AS A PRESERVED BOOK.
  6. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).

    Voltaire was the French philosopher-scientist who, before he died in 1778, predicted that within 100 years, Christianity would be swept away from existence and pass into the obscurity of history. The bible continues to be of of the top selling books in the world today.

  7. THE BIBLE AS A BOOK OF REALITY.
  8. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty (2 Peter 1:16).

    This Bible stands in complete distinction to the mythology of the era in which it was composed. You have only to read a little of the Greek or Roman or Egyptian or Babylonian mythologies to understand that there exists the greatest gulf between these and the Bible.

    In contrast to such myths and fairy tales, Peter says, "The things about which we wrote to you are not theological speculation, but rather an eye witness account." John says the same thing when he speaks of "what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life" (1 John 1:1).

    I love the testimony of Thomas regarding the resurrection. Here was a man who heard of the event and who then said, "I will not believe such news unless I am able to verify it through both visual and tactile means. I want to see and I want to touch and then I will believe."

    I think it fairly obvious that Moses did not write the very last chapter of Deuteronomy. This is the chapter that records his death. In such a case, it seems evident that the work of writing fell to the one who came after him; in this case it was likely Joshua who completed the work.

  9. THE BIBLE IS AN INERRANT BOOK.
  10. If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came; and the Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35).

    What does Jesus mean when He says that the Scripture cannot be broken? It is a reference to its continuing truth. There will never come a time when we say, "Ooops, the Bible really said the wrong thing when it came to that passage." Notice that He says this with reference to what could have been considered a problem passage to the Jews (Psalm 82:6). The point is that even such problem passages show no cracks in the trustworthiness of the Bible, but rather are only indicative of our own lack of understanding.

    I've been studying and teaching the occasional class in Biblical Archaeology for over 25 years. One thing I've learned is that archaeologists change their theories about as often as I change my socks. That is not to say that the study of archaeology is a bad thing. It is often helpful to us in our understanding of the Bible. But in all that time, the Bible has not been forced to change.

  11. THE BIBLE IS A PROPOSITIONAL BOOK.

"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18).

God does not call us to abandon all sense of reason or thought when we come to Him. We are not to check in our brains at the door to the church and then pick them up again when we leave. He calls us to reason and to judge and to weigh out the facts of our salvation.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:1-3).

Notice the propositional nature of this revelation. God says, "Here are the things that I am going to do. You read these things and hear them and heed them and you will be blessed."

7. THE BIBLE IS A NEEDFUL BOOK.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy word (Psalm 119:67).

Anyone who says that "all roads lead to Rome" has never done much traveling. I am by nature a map person. If I am traveling to an unfamiliar place, I get out a map to trace out what will be my path. The Bible is our roadmap for living. It is the light to my path.

I can still recall when one of the fire fighters from my department made the mistake of going up onto a barge without a flashlight. He could not see that a part of the deckplate had been removed and suffered a major injury when he stepped onto a floor that was not there.

While Hebrew 4:12 tells me that the Word of God is alive and powerful, here we read that this same word is able to enliven me.

This idea of the cessation of revelation ought not to surprise us. The revelatory process never came in an unbroken stream. It was always here a little and there a little (Isaiah 28:13). The fact that the Old Testament canon closed and that revelation ceased for a time sets up a paradigm for the closing of revelation in the New Testament.

Does that mean there will never be any new revelation? Not at all. I believe the Bible teaches that there will be such. It will take place at the return of Christ.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

 

THE ENDORSEMENT OF THE BIBLE

  1. JESUS ENDORSED THE OLD TESTAMENT.
  2. Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." (Luke 24:44).

    Notice what is missing from this endorsement. Missing is the apocrypha -- those books known as the Deutero-canonicals. They were not considered to be a part of the Word of God.

  3. THE NEW TESTAMENT ANTICIPATED.
  4. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. (John 16:13-14).

    With these words, Jesus promises that He would send the Holy Spirit who would direct the apostles in the communicating of God's new covenant teaching.

  5. PETER ENDORSED THE WRITINGS OF PAUL.

And regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Notice the reference to the rest of the Scriptures. When you speak of "the rest" of something, you are implying that you have been previously speaking of that which has the same nature as that which is the rest of that thing. For example, I can speak of the members of St Andrews Presbyterian Church who are in attendance at a Sunday School class and then go on to speak of the rest of the members.

This implications are obvious. Peter speaks of Paul's writings and then goes on to speak of the rest of the Scriptures. He is placing the writings of Paul along side of the rest of the Scriptures.

The Bible

The 66 books of our Old and New Testament -- not including the apocrypha or other writings

Is

Not "becomes" when you read it and get a good feeling

The Word of God

2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 both show the source of the Scriptures as being from God

Is the Only

Not...


The Bible and the church
The Bible and Joseph Smith
The Bible and the Watchtower Society
The Bible and the Pope

Infallible

The Bible makes no mistakes; it is correct in all matters on which it comments

Rule

Obedience is not an option for the Christian

Of Faith and Practice

The Bible tells us...

What to believe
How to live

Acts 17 relates the account of Paul in Athens. While he was awaiting the rest of his company to catch up with him, he found himself in the midst of a philosophical discussion. He was brought to the Areopagus to present his views. What follows is a masterpiece of Christian apologetics. At the conclusion of his sermon, we read that some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them (Acts 17:34).

The basis of faith for those who believed at the Areopagus was apostolic authority. They did not go and check the evidence of the resurrection or send a delegation to Jerusalem. They had the word of one apostle and it was enough. On the other hand, you have an entire New Testament.

 

THE STUDY OF THE BIBLE

Why are there so many different interpretations when it comes to reading and understanding the Bible? It is not that God has been unclear in His communication; rather it is that we have problems in our reception.

This can be liked to the example of a radio and the transmitting antenna. It is entirely possible for the transmitter to be properly sending forth its signal and the radio receiver still not correctly receive the transmission.

What is it that causes our "reception problems" when we come to read and study the Word of God? There are several areas:

1. There are so many interpreters who do not have the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

"But the soulish man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (I Corinthians 2:14).

This verse points out that the unsaved man does not have the capacity or the inclination to receive the truths of Scripture. He can read through the Bible, even memorize the Bible, and still not know what it really says. To go back to our earlier example, I cannot pick up the radio waves moving through this room unless I am equipped to do so.

2. Another reason for false interpretation is because of the interpreter's preconceived ideas.

A story is told about a captain in the U.S. Cavalry many years ago who was riding through a small town in Oklahoma. As he passed by a barn, he suddenly pulled his horse to a stop, because right there before him on the side of the barn were dozens of bull's eye circles drawn with chalk, and in the center of each one was a bullet hole.

About that time another man walked by and the captain asked him, "Do you know who is the marksman responsible for all those bull's eyes?" The passer-by nodded his head and said, "Yep, that would be Billy Hawkins. But he's a mite peculiar."

The captain replied, "Well I don't care what he is like. The Cavalry can use anyone who can shoot that well."

"Ah ha," said the other man, "But I think you should know that Billy shoots first, then he comes over and draws those circles."

The above story is an illustration of a common favorite pastimeómaking the Bible say what we want it to say. First we shoot out a particular idea. Then we start circling verses to back up that idea. Conversely, the only legitimate approach to discovering biblical truth is to let the Bible speak for itself before we draw our conclusions. Likewise, we all would be wise to look at the many issues of our faith in their original context.

When a believer reads the Bible with a preconceived conclusion, then he is not subjecting himself to the guiding of the Holy Spirit which Christ has promised (John 16:13).

This is the problem with most cults and religions. They come to the Bible with a set of beliefs and then seek to find verses to prove them. We must be very careful not to do the same thing in our study habits.

There are a number of Bible Students who do not like the idea of abandoning their prejudices and beliefs when the study the Bible.

"What if I come up with something that contradicts my beliefs?"

If my study of the Bible leads me contrary to my beliefs, then I must throw away my beliefs.

Remember, something is not true just because I believe it; or just because my teacher believes it; or just because my religion believes it. If there is no basis to my beliefs, then they are nothing but TRASH, and they must be discarded.

Let me also add that I do not immediately discard a doctrinal belief just because a verse at first glance seems to contradict it. As a mature believer I must be careful not to be blown about by "every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14-15).

3. Every believer has varying factors involved in his ability to interpret the Bible.

While it is true that justification comes through faith and apart from works, the reception and understanding of the Scriptures require a diligent listening and effort of study.


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