The Bible: Why? How? Part 3

I. The invisible God and Creator has revealed Himself by three means. A. General revelation in nature. ROM 1:20 c/w PSA 19:1; ACT 14:17. 1. Nature only reveals His existence and power (creative and destructive). 2. Nature does not reveal His purpose or will, nor does it reveal specifics about sin, forgiveness, reconciliation, the afterlife, etc. 3. Nature’s message is subject to ambiguous interpretation, as is evident by the variety of superstitions derived from natural phenomena. 4. Nature is a broken book under the “...bondage of corruption...” (ROM 8:20-22) and is therefore not an infallible revelation of God’s person, will, and purpose for man. 5. Those who look to nature for ultimate answers end up worshipping the creation, not the Creator, and rationalizing their way to destructive conclusions. ROM 1:23-28. B. Special revelation. 1. God once granted external revelation through theophanies (veiled personal appearances) and voices in which He spoke to men. GEN 3:8-19; 12:7; EXO 3:2. 2. God once granted internal revelation to chosen individuals through visions and dreams. GEN 15:1; NUM 12:6; ACT 2:17; 16:9-10. 3. God gave inspired revelation to the prophets and apostles for declaration and recording. 2PE 1:21; 2TI 3:16. C. Jesus Christ. JOH 1:18; MAT 11:27; 1JO 5:20. 1. Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God. HEB 1:1-3; 1TI 3:16. 2. It is by His knowledge of God that sinners are justified. ISA 53:11; JOH 10:15. 3. Jesus Christ taught men of God and sent His Spirit to amplify His knowledge of God, God’s will, purpose, plans, etc. JOH 14:25-26; 16:13-15. 4. If one would more perfectly know God, he must grow in grace and in the knowledge of God as expressed in and by Jesus Christ. 2PE 3:18. II. What men may truly know of God, they must know through Jesus Christ. JOH 14:1, 6-7. A. Jesus Christ not being present to our senses, we must rely on the information provided to us by those to whose senses He was abundantly manifested. 1JO 1:1-3. B. Men are accountable to the record that God provided through them. 1JO 5:9-10; 4:6. 1. record: The fact or attribute of being, or of having been, committed to writing as authentic evidence of a matter having legal importance, spec. as evidence of the proceedings or verdict of a court of justice; evidence which is thus preserved, and may be appealed to in case of dispute. 2. The fact or condition of being preserved as knowledge, esp. by being put into writing; knowledge or information preserved or handed down in this way. 2. Hence, the need for recorders (One who records or sets down in writing). ISA 8:1-2; 1KI 4:3; JOH 21:24; ACT 15:23; 1CO 2:11-13; 5:9-11; EPH 3:3. C. The apostles of Jesus Christ not only left a written record of their knowledge and experience of Him, they also authenticated the previously written record. ROM 15:4. 1. The O.T. scriptures testified of Christ. JOH 5:39. 2. They were Israel’s chief advantage. ROM 3:1-2. 3. All scripture declares Jesus Christ by Whom God may only be truly known. D. God has therefore decreed that He may only be truly known to the post-apostolic world by inspired scriptures which declare Jesus Christ prophetically (O.T.) and historically (N.T.). 1. It is the inspired written record by which God may be known and that record was completed by the time of the last apostle’s death. DAN 9:24-27. a. The apostles would be guided into all truth. JOH 16:13. b. The apostles would stand as God’s judges. MAT 19:28; 1JO 4:6. c. As the inspired prophets spoke (2PE 1:21), then wrote (ACT 13:27) for our learning (ROM 15:4), so the inspired apostles spoke and wrote for our superior knowledge of God through Jesus Christ. 2PE 1:19. 2. The written record of scripture is the supreme revelation of God available to us. a. It tells us how the external revelation of God in nature came into being, why it is in its present state of entropy, and its inability to adequately inform us about God. HEB 11:3; ROM 5:12; ECC 8:17. b. In the absence of the Person of Jesus Christ (by Whom God is known), it stands as His record available to us to perfect us in the knowledge of Himself, and therefore in the knowledge of the Father. EPH 3:4-5; 2TI 3:15-17. c. Even angels by which the word of God came (ACT 7:53) defer to scripture. DAN 10:21; REV 19:10. d. The best record of purchase is a subscribed (signed) written one. JER 32:10-12 c/w REV 1:1, 19; 22:16. III. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. REV 19:10. A. testimony: Personal or documentary evidence or attestation in support of a fact or statement; hence, any form of evidence or proof. B. Jesus has perfect knowledge of God since He is God and therefore His testimony is true. JOH 3:11, 31-33. C. The full scope of the knowledge of God is beyond us. ROM 11:33-34. D. The Holy Spirit limited even the knowledge we have of Jesus Christ’s public life to what the apostles wrote. JOH 20:30-31; 21:24-25. E. The apostles wrote what is sufficient to provide certainty of knowledge. LUK 1:1-4; 2TI 3:15-17. 1. certainty: That which is certain. 2. certain: Determined, fixed, settled; not variable or fluctuating; unfailing. 3. One may be certain of what truth God would have him know if he reads and believes the writings of Scripture. 4. The Holy Spirit warns about venturing into uncharted “knowledge.” COL 2:8, 18. F. The written word carries the same weight as if God were personally speaking to men as He did with Moses. GEN 12:3 c/w GAL 3:8; EXO 9:16 c/w ROM 9:17. 1. The scriptures were the oracles of God. ROM 3:2. 2. oracle: In Gr. and Rom. Antiq. The instrumentality, agency, or medium, by which a god was supposed to speak or make known his will; the mouthpiece of the deity... 4. Divine revelation; a declaration or message expressed or delivered by divine inspiration; also, pl. the sacred scriptures (from Rom. iii. 2). 3. Thus, in lieu of a personal audience with God, believers can, by heeding the written Scriptures, live by every word that proceeds from His mouth (MAT 4:3-4). Mind that Jesus never appealed to oral tradition to fight Satan here. MAT 4:5-11. IV. Some reasonings. A. Is inspired Scripture sufficient to perfect the man of God? Yes. 2TI 3:16-17. B. If oral tradition is identical to Scripture, what is tradition’s value? C. If oral tradition is also inspired revelation but conflicts with Scripture, which is correct? D. If Scripture is correct, then oral tradition cannot displace it. E. If oral tradition is correct, then Scripture is a lie/error and should be discarded. F. If Scripture was divinely given but not preserved inviolate, then all that is left is tradition. G. If all that is left is tradition, then Scripture has no place. H. Therefore, inspired Scripture must also be preserved and the only thing that oral tradition could ever possibly do is rival and oppose Scripture. I. Inspired revelation must have been given, recorded/written and preserved. V. The first recorded example of such inspired writing is EXO 17:14. A. Subsequent commands to write were given. EXO 24:4; 34:27. B. Moses wrote much more. NUM 33:1-2; DEU 31:9, 24-26. C. Joshua wrote more to add to this “book.” JOS 24:26. D. Later, Samuel “...told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD” (1SAM 10:25). E. The book(s) could then be called forth for benchmark purposes, etc. DEU 17:18; JOS 1:8; 1KI 2:3; NEH 8:1. VI. The foregoing verses show that there was an emphasis on the book(s) being conserved in the proximity of God’s presence on earth. A. The Mosaic Tabernacle gave way to the Temple and it is possible that Moses’ original writings were still there in King Josiah’s day. 2KI 22:8. B. The ark of the covenant which was housed in the holiest place in the Tabernacle and the later Temple was deemed the throne of God. EXO 25:22; PSA 80:1. C. The placement of the writings by the ark suggested their divine authority. D. Their placement by the ark is also significant since this implies they were separated from common books. 1. Non-inspired writings would have had the taint of corruption since they were carnal, of the flesh. God does not condone corruption in His presence. HAB 1:13; REV 22:15. 2. Being thus separated from other writings, these books were manifestly declared to be holy (kept or regarded as inviolate from ordinary use...consecrated...sacred). 3. The inspired writings are properly revered as “...the holy scriptures...” (ROM 1:2; 2TI 3:15), given by the Holy Ghost, conserved in the holy of holies where the Holy God dwelt. 4. It is interesting that the closest thing to the throne of God was the Scriptures, and whereas Israel’s high priest only drew nigh once each year (HEB 9:7), the Scriptures were always there between man and God’s throne. 5. The ark had a mercyseat whereon sacrificial blood was sprinkled. EXO 25:21. a. The mercyseat was itself a cover for the tables of the covenant housed in the ark (1KI 8:21; HEB 9:4), the Law which condemned men. GAL 3:10. b. The Scriptures were therefore a constant witness to the need for blood atonement in mercy covering the curse. LUK 24:46-47. 6. Over the ark were the wings of the cherubim. EXO 25:18-20. a. These were images of angels which “...excel in strength...” (PSA 103:20). b. This implies that the Scriptures are divinely safeguarded and preserved by forces that sinners cannot compete with. c/w 2KI 19:35. c. Angels have vested interest in the Scriptures. GAL 1:8; 1PE 1:12. d. Angels shall imperil the natural creation (REV 8-10) but not the Scriptures. MAT 24:35. VII. From Moses’ five books onward, God continued to inspire men, revealing His secret unto His prophets. AMO 3:7. A. God has spoken by the prophets since the beginning of the world (LUK 1:70), the first being Abel. LUK 11:50-51. B. Many prophets wrote but only some of their works were preserved as Scripture, as witness the unknown works of men like Shemiah, Iddo and Elijah which are not part of the O.T. canon of Scripture. 2CH 12:15; 21:12. C. The standard for reference is the inspired prophetic writings that were called Scripture. JOH 5:39; ROM 15:4; 2TI 3:15-17. 1. Angels defer to Scripture. DAN 10:21. 2. Christ argued from Scripture. MAT 21:42; 22:29. 3. Christ declared that Scripture cannot be broken. JOH 10:35. 4. Christ died and rose again for our sins according to Scripture. 1CO 15:3-4. 5. Converted Paul reasoned from and deferred to Scripture. ACT 17:2; ROM 4:3. 6. The Spirit commends Scripture for knowledge of salvation. 2TI 3:15. 7. The Spirit commends as noble those who measured by Scripture. ACT 17:11. 8. Whatever might have been spoken or written by prophets, only that which was preserved as Scripture was the “gold standard.” 9. It was by writing prophecy in a book that God’s revelation of truth would be preserved. ISA30:8. 10. Faithful teachers “...had the book...with them...” (2CH 17:9). c/w NEH 8:3. D. Eventually, there was a collection of books called, “...the book of the LORD...” (ISA 34:16) which men should read. The word “Bible” comes from Gr. biblia (the books). 1. This book by the time of Christ consisted of “...the law of Moses...the prophets...the psalms...” (LUK 24:44). 2. The Jews designated these divisions: a. Torah (the Law), consisting of five books of Moses. b. Nebhiim (the Prophets), consisting of four books of former prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) and four books of latter prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Twelve). c. Kethubhim (the Writings), categorized as: (1) Poetical books (Psalms, Proverbs, Job). (2) The Scrolls (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther). (3) Prophetic-Historical books (Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles). 3. The Hebrew canon of Scripture never included the books of the Apocrypha. 4. The Hebrew canon is the same body of knowledge as we have in our English O.T. 5. The Book of Job deserves special attention. a. Though they did not believe it was penned by a Hebrew, the Hebrews always considered it as part of the sacred canon of Scripture. b. Ezekiel names Job with Noah and Daniel. EZE 14:14. c. James by inspiration mentions him. JAM 5:11. d. Paul by inspiration quotes it, using the proclamation usually used for Scripture, “ is written...” (1CO 3:19 c/w JOB 5:13). See also HEB 12:5 c/w JOB 5:17. e. It is very old, probably written after the Flood of Noah (JOB 22:15-17) but before (or near) the time of Abraham since Job lived for 140 years after all his troubles (JOB 42:16) yet lifespans were less by the time of Abraham and Sarah. GEN 23:1; 25:7. f. God’s name, JEHOVAH, was not known to Abraham, Isaac or Jacob (EXO 6:3) but it appears in the first two and the last three chapters of Job, and in JOB 12:9. Yet the Book of Job curiously does not reference any of the five books of Moses, nor the patriarchs, nor Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. Some hold that Moses lent a hand on this book. g. Appeals in it are commonly made to divine knowledge conveyed by tradition, not writing (JOB 5:1; 8:8; 15:18; 21:29), indicating that the penning of this book was a watershed moment in the way that the knowledge of God was preserved and disseminated. VIII. The importance of copies. A. The first mention of copying concerned the Ten Commandments. 1. The original autograph was smashed. EXO 32:19. 2. God simply replaced it and commanded it to be placed in the ark. DEU 10:1-5. a. What He wrote was “...according to the first writing...” (v. 4). It was a duplicate or copy that was not to vary from the original. b. Thus, the rule was laid down for future perpetuation of God’s words. c/w JOS 8:32-35; JER 36:27-28. B. A 1. From the copy, he was to “...keep ALL the words of this law and these statutes...” copy of the Law was to be in the hands of Israel’s king. DEU 17:18 c/w 2CH 23:11. (DEU 17:19). c/w 1KI 2:3. 2. Moses’ original was entrusted to the priests (v. 18; DEU 31:9) who were to “...put it in the side of the ark of the covenant...” (DEU 31:26). 3. Mind that Moses’ original writing would have included the words of the Ten Commandments which were ensconced within the ark. His inspired original autograph would have consisted (in part) of an inspired copy of what was written in the stone tablets by God. 4. The king, therefore, when writing his copy (which was equivalent to the original), would have been perpetuating an inspired copy of an inspired copy. C. Judges in diverse parts of the realm would have needed access to the various laws of Moses in order to perform their offices (2CH 19:5, 10) and the bonafide copies of the Law would have made this possible and effective. D. Likewise, the priests which taught throughout Judah “...had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah...” (2CH 17:9). E. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul...” (PSA 19:7). Are we to believe that only the originals had conversion power when the priests taught throughout the land, or that the originals were shared by the apostles as they evangelized the world? F. Believers in general had access to bonafide scriptures. PSA 1:2; ACT 8:32; 17:11; 2TI 3:15.
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