A few weeks ago Bo Dobbs gave us a great introduction to the Bible. Below are his notes in outline form, and I believe a lot of them are derived from John MacArthur’s Fundamentals of the Faith study guide – an excellent resource if you’re interested in learning where to begin with your Biblical studies. I hope you enjoy these and remember once again the amazing nature of Biblical revelation and His sovereign hand over all of history.
INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE
1) Natural and Special Revelation
2) General Information about the Bible, including its origin, titles, and translations
3) The inspiration and believability of the bible
Scripture Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 3:16
- Holy Scripture is the foundation from which we draw authority.
- Scripture speaks for itself, for it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12)
- The words of Scripture are powerful and able to change the hearts and thoughts of men
- Revelation – The act of God whereby He discloses to man what would otherwise be unknown.
- Inspiration – A process by which God, as the instigator, moved men by the Holy Spirit to write the words of God.
B. Natural Revelation
- Through creation – Romans 1:18-20
- Through conscience – Romans 2:14-15 (read commentary in my Bible)
How has God revealed Himself to man? Through His creation and through His law written within our hearts
What does creation show us about God? We see His invisible attributes; His eternal power and divine nature.
What is the purpose of natural/general revelation? To cause man to search for a fuller revelation of God.
How does natural/general revelation fall short of giving people enough information to lead directly to salvation? Natural revelation gives evidence that God exists, however, it does not reveal how man can be saved from his sinfulness and separation from God. This is why God has also provided special revelation.
- Special Revelation – What is it?
God revealing Himself to man through miracles and signs, dreams and visions, theophanies (appearances of God in tangible form), through the prophets and the greatest prophet Jesus Christ, and through the written words of god in the Bible.
- Polumeros – in many portions (many books, many sections, many prophets)
- Polutropos – in many ways (vision, prophecy, parable, type, symbol, ceremony, theophany and sometimes audible voice)
- Types of special revelation:
- Theophanies – A theophany is a manifestation of God in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form.
- To Abraham – Genesis 17:1
- To Isaac – Genesis 26:2
- To Jacob – Genesis 32:30
- To Moses – Exodus 3:2-6
- Jacobs Ladder – Genesis 28:12-16
- Daniel – Daniel 2:19,28
- Flood – Genesis 7
- Burning bush – Exodus 3
- Plagues in Egypt – Exodus 7-13
- Parting of the Red Sea – Exodus 14
- The Sufficiency of special revelation
- The Bible is sufficient to lead one to salvation but does not reveal everything about God to man.
- 2 Timothy 3:15-17
- Deuteronomy 29:29, Romans 11:33
2) General Information on the Bible
How did we get the Bible? (2 Peter 1:21)
Points: ask to see if they know
- Written over 1600 years: 1500 B.C. to A.D. 100
- 40 different authors
- 66 books (OT 39; NT 27)
- Old Testament – Hebrew and Aramaic (Daniel 2-6 & Ezra 4-7)
- Septuagint – Greek translation of the OT written in 3 B.C.
- New Testament – Greek
Titles of the Bible
- Cannon – Greek word means rule
- Scripture – John 7:38
- The Writings – 2 Timothy 3:15
- The Word of God – 1 Thessalonians 2:13
- The Law, Prophets, and Psalms – Luke 24:44
The Old Testament and the New Testament
- “Testament” – Latin Testamentum meaning a will. The Greek word for “will” is suntheke, meaning an agreement or a covenant entered into by contracting parties.
- The Old Testament (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 28:1, 15) –
- The New Testament (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6; 8:13; Luke 22:20; 2 Cor 3:5-6) –
The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.
The Apocrypha – means “hidden”
- There are 14 books of the Apocrypha. We do not accept them as inspired of God because:
- They are never quoted in the NT. Also Christ never mentions them in his list in Luke 23/44
- The lack the endorsement of the ancient Jewish writers
- There are problems with the content. Teachings are inconsistent with biblical teachings. (Maccabees 12:43-46 states that one can make atonement for the dead)
- They do not have prophetic power
- Saying the same thing in a different way
3) Why is the Bible important?
THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE
Inspiration is God overseeing and directing men to write His words. It is the process by which God, as the instigator, worked through human prophets without destroying their individual personalities and styles, to produce divinely authoritative writings.
What was overcome or overridden by inspiration? It was not human personalities, styles, or literary methods, but human tendencies to distortion, falsehood, and error.
How do we know the Bible is the inspired Word of God?
The Scripture claims to the be the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:13)
- In the OT, there are statements such as, “God said,” or “the Lord said,” or the Word of the Lord.”
- Inspiration – means “God-breathed”
The sovereignty of God in preserving His revealed Word
- God’s purpose cannot be challenged (Isaiah 46:10)
- God’s purposes and will preserve His Word (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; 1 Peter 1:25)
THE CANONIZATION OF THE BIBLE
How was the Bible Canon recognized?
Why these 66 books?
1) Testimony of God the Holy Spirit to the authority of His own Word
2) Prophetic authorship (2Peter 1:20-21)
3) God’s providential care in preserving that which He desires to preserve according to His own will (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; 1 Peter 1:25)
4) God’s people responding in recognition of God’s Canon in faith and submission
5) Many of the books in the present Cannon claim to be the Word of God
6) In regard to the OT, Christ validated the OT books (Luke 24:44; 11:51; Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 22:29-30)
7) In regard to the NT, Peter recognized Paul’s witings as being equal with Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Paul recognized Luke 10:7 as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18
THE BELIEVABILITY OF THE BIBLE
Believers cannot prove to unbelievers that the Bible is God’s Word. The reason is because unbelievers are spiritually dead (Romans 3:10-18) and thus incapable of affirming Scripture’s believability. Unbelievers should be confronted with the gospel itself. Once saved, the Holy Spirit will convict the person of the fact that the Bible is God’s Word.
Some reasons to find the Bible believable:
- Ordinary men wrote the Scriptures. John/Peter were fishermen, Matthew was a tax collector. God didn’t use philosophers of the day, rather he used common men to write and uncommon book.
- Internally consistent. No errors/contradictions. Many critics, most scrutinized book ever, yet nothing ever found in the Bible has ever been proved wrong.
- Powerful and dynamic book that has not only changed the lives of millions of people, it also convicts God’s people of sin and leads them down the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. More influence than any book ever written.
- Historically accurate giving credible evidence for creation, fossil records, and so on.
- Jesus Christ Himself confirmed the believability of the Scriptures. Jesus believed in the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17-18), believed in Jonah (Matthew 12:40-41), and believed in the historical narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15)
- There are various prophecies concerning the Messiah that confirm the believability of the Bible.
- The birthplace of the Messiah was predicted 700 years before His birth, saying that he would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 fulfilled in Luke 4-7)
- Christ would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14 fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-25)
- Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was predicted 700 years before it occurred (Zechariah 9:9 fulfilled in John 12:12-15)
- Christ’s crucifixion and suffering were also prophesied 700 years before fulfillment (Psalm 22:14-18 fulfilled in John 19:23-37; Isaiah 53:4-7 fulfilled in Matthew 26:63)
- Each of these prophecies can be used to help believers strengthen their resolve about the believability of the Scriptures.
Our language, and especially our language about God, Is never comprehensive and exhaustive in its ability to capture eternal truths, nevertheless it is adequate to give us truth without falsehood. For example, if we made a statement that Dublin is a city in the state of Ohio, the truth communicated by that statement would in no way be exhaustive.
4) The Doctrine of Inerrancy
What do we mean when we speak of inerrancy? We are speaking of the fact that the Bible does not violate its own principles of truth. This does not mean that the Bible is free from grammatical irregularities or the like, but that it does not contain assertions that are in conflict with objective reality.
Inerrancy is a corollary (proposition that follows) of inspiration in that it is unthinkable that God should inspire that which is fraudulent, false, or deceitful. Thus, though the word inerrancy is not explicitly used in the Scriptures, the word inspiration is, and the concept of inerrancy is designed to do justice to the concept of inspiration.
The term inerrant or inerrancy is not found in the Bible – The term trinity is not found anywhere in the Bible, but the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught throughout the NT.
- Infallibility – has to do with the question of ability or potential;
- Inerrancy – that which does not err
Something that is fallible could theoretically be inerrant. But that which is infallible could not theoretically be errant at the same time. (helps explain humans writing scripture)
If the Bible is the Word of God and if God is a God of truth then the Bible must be inerrant – not merely in some of its parts, as some modern theologians are saying, but totally, as the church for the most part has said down through the ages of its history.
Discussion of inerrancy is merely an academic exercise unless it concerns the individual Christian on the level of his growth in God. This is precisely what it does. Confession of the full authority and inerrancy of Scripture should lead us to increasing conformity to the image of Christ, which is the God-ordained goal of every Christian.
We can believe in the inerrancy/infallibility of scripture and still lead godless lives
When the church loses its confidence in the authority of sacred Scripture, it inevitably looks to human opinion as its guiding light. When that happens, the purity of the church is direly threatened.