by Jon Quinn
Sir Isaac Newton: “There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history.”
George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
Abraham Lincoln: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.”
Daniel Webster: “If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures.”
You are in good company if you respect the Bible. The Bible’s greatness, however, does not depend upon what men may say about it, good or bad. It is the greatest of books because of its author and its important message.
THE SOURCE OF THE BIBLE
The Bible is a product of God’s mind. The writers were instruments through whom God revealed His message.
(Exodus 24:3-4) And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
(2 Peter 1:20-21) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
The word “inspiration” means “inbreathed.” God “breathed” the words into the writers. In fact, much of the Bible could never have been written by man alone!
There are hundreds of prophecies made generations before they were fulfilled. Not one failed! Examples include that the Messiah would be born in the tiny town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and a very vivid account of the crucifixion (Psalm 22:6-18).
Also, there are the early, somewhat casual statements of natural facts which were yet to be discovered by science. Examples of this include the earth’s roundness (Isaiah 40:22), the ever expanding nature of the universe (Genesis 1:8) and that the earth does not rest on any visible base (Job 26:7).
Concerning the New Testament, Jesus planned for its occurrence. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles. It is easy to trace how Jesus’ plan unfolded thus building our confidence in the Bible as God’s word.
(John 14:26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
(Acts 1:5) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
(Acts 1:8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
(Acts 2:4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(Galatians 1:11) But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
(1 Thessalonians 2:13) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
(1 Thessalonians 4:1-2) Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE
The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. Many copies of the originals were made and circulated. We have complete manuscripts of the New Testament dating back to about 350 A.D. We have many fragments of the New Testament dating back to about 120 A.D. – just 20 years after its writer, the apostle John, died.
There are also abundant early manuscripts of the Old Testament dating back several centuries before Christ. The most famous of these are the Dead Sea Scrolls. The importance of this is that when we compare our translations with these early works, we find that we have reliable Bibles. We do not have to worry that errors have crept in over the centuries. God has seen to it that His Word has been preserved for us today.
(1 Peter 1:24-25) For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
The Bible has two main divisions: the Old and New Testaments. The 39 books of the Old Testament contain 5 books of law, 12 books of history, 5 poetical books and 17 books of prophecy. The 27 books of the New Testament contain 4 gospels (accounts of Jesus’ life), 1 book of history, 21 epistles, and 1 book of prophecy, in that order.
The Old Testament deals with the early history of man from the creation to Abraham, and then focuses on Abraham and his descendants as the people through whom the Messiah would come and bless all nations (Genesis 12:1-3).
The New Testament deals with how the promise of the Messiah is fulfilled in Jesus and reveals that eternal hope exists only in Him.
(Acts 4:12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
A testament is a covenant or contract. We have mentioned two: Old and New. Jesus did not destroy the first one, but rather He fulfilled it thus taking it out of the way. Its obligations have been met and it is no longer valid.
(Matthew 5:17) Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
(Galatians 3:24-27) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
(Colossians 2:13-17) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
In the place of the first Jesus established a second covenant. When one becomes a Christian, he recognizes and accepts that he is in a contract with God. There are blessings as well as responsibilities in this relationship.
(Romans 7:4) Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
(Hebrews 8:6-7) But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
(Hebrews 8:13) In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
(Hebrews 9:15-17) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Though the first covenant is no longer binding today, it is still useful to the Christian in learning about faith, God’s character and in receiving encouragement.
(Romans 15:4) For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
God is our Maker. He created us with the ability to communicate with our fellow human beings through language. He has chosen to communicate with us, not through some mysterious language of angels, but through human language so that He might be understood by us. The best way to understand the Bible is to use the same rules by which we understand any human speech. The Bible uses words and sentences to express ideas and can be understood.
(Deuteronomy 30:11-14) For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
(Romans 10:6-10) But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
It must be admitted that there are some things more difficult to understand than others. One should begin with simple concepts and then build upon them as he progresses to the more difficult.
(Hebrews 5:11-14) Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
(1 Peter 2:1-3) Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
(2 Peter 3:15-17) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
Also, one must have a proper attitude. This means putting away preconceived ideas and having faith that one can understand God’s message.
(Proverbs 2:1-5) My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
(Matthew 13:14-16) And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Diligence in Bible study is also a requirement if one is to understand. The Bible commends those who have enough interest in His word to investigate its truths.
(Acts 17:11) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
(Ephesians 5:17) Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
(2 Timothy 2:15) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Jesus promised that truth which is known is able to make one free (John 8:32). This shows that God’s truth can be understood and used beneficially. The fact that you are taking this course shows that you have a certain interest in these things. May God richly bless you in accordance with His will.
LESSON #3 deals with the question of “WHAT IS MAN?” It will consider what it means to be “created in the image of God” and what a human being’s ultimate purpose is.