Review: Introduction to the Bible

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.

Merry Christmas!

PJW

 

Lesson 1:

INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE

Plan:

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 Verse2 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
    • Ephesians 2:8-9

1)     Revelation

A.    Definition:

  • 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.  

  1. 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.

(Hebrews 1:1-2)

  • 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.
  1. To Abraham – Genesis 17:1
  2. To Isaac – Genesis 26:2
  3. To Jacob – Genesis 32:30
  4. To Moses – Exodus 3:2-6
  • Dreams and Visions –
  1. Jacobs Ladder – Genesis 28:12-16
  2. Daniel – Daniel 2:19,28
  • Miracles and signs –
  1. Flood – Genesis 7
  2. Burning bush – Exodus 3
  3. Plagues in Egypt – Exodus 7-13
  4. 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)

Languages

  • 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

  • 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

Bible Translations

  • 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)

  1. In the OT, there are statements such as, “God said,” or “the Lord said,” or the Word of the Lord.”
  2. Inspiration – means “God-breathed”

The sovereignty of God in preserving His revealed Word

  1. God’s purpose cannot be challenged (Isaiah 46:10)
  2. 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.

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Study Notes 11-3-13: John 14:25-27

The following are my notes on John 14:25-27 this this morning’s lesson. One of the most valuable verses that I’ve ever meditated upon personally is verse 27.  I would encourage you to spend time memorizing and digesting that verse – its just an amazing piece of scripture!

14:25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. [26] But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

First, a quick note about this word “helper”, which is the term paraklētos – often you’ve heard the Spirit called “the paraclete” in other studies, no doubt.

The interesting thing about this word is that it isn’t used elsewhere to refer to the Holy Spirit. It’s used elsewhere to refer to Jesus, and that is only once in 1 John 2:2. After some study on the word and what various commentators had to say about its use in this context, it seems as though the best translation is “helper”, as the ESV renders the term (see especially Ridderbos). The reason is that words like “comforter” really don’t work for the context here. Of course the Holy Spirit does comfort us, but that’s not the point of the word as its used here to describe the Spirit.

The purpose of the word paraklētos here is to show how the Spirit will be helping the disciples from a knowledge/wisdom standpoint.  It’s specifically going to be aiding them in a way that will be “teaching” them.  My friend, Pastor Tony Romano, called this the gift of “divine clarity.”

Historical Procession

I’ve noted this in previous writings, but this verse (vs. 26) has caused no small amount of controversy due to its implications that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.

R.C. Sproul captures some of the particulars of the argument well, “Someone might object that verse 26 says that ‘the Father will send’ the Spirit. That is true, but notice how the Father was going to send the Spirit – Jesus said HE would do it ‘in My name.’ To the ancient Jew, the words ‘in my name’ meant ‘as my emissary.’ Jesus did not say, ‘The Father is going to send the Spirit as My substitute.’ Instead, He said, ‘The Father is going to send the Spirit as My ambassador.’”

And so it is that we confess that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.

The Spirit and Biblical Inspiration

So with that background, let me then turn your attention to why this is an especially important passage. It is here that we learn how the apostles were able to write so accurately about Jesus, and the words which He spoke (even here in this very gospel).  Jesus promises them that the Spirit will “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  Not “some”, not “most”, but “all” that He spoke to them. They would remember it perfectly clear. That is sometimes not considered seriously enough when thinking on the miraculous work of inspiration. Here we have a promise from Jesus that every single thing (“all”) that we hold in our hands in this Bible is exactly what happened.  He is guaranteeing that they will remember it all.  Almost as when a professor says, “don’t take notes I’m going to provide them for you after the lecture is over.”

What an amazing thing this is!  Jesus is going to do it all. He is going to teach them, die for them, rise for them, mediate for them, rule for them, and remind them of every single detail of what He did and what He said.  Simply amazing. He doesn’t leave it to humanity’s strength. He doesn’t “train them to think longer and sharper”, instead He says, ‘you can’t do this but I can and I will.’

14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

This verse underscores the entire point of Jesus’ discussion with the disciples here: He wants them to be comforted.  It is remarkable that on the eve of His death and the unspeakable torture which preceded it, Jesus is focused on the hearts and minds of his followers.

When we consider this, it is impossible not to begin to glimpse the depths of His love for us. When we go through trials and frustrations, or we know that they are impending, this is not how we behave normally, is it. We have a tendency toward anxiety and unbelief. Not so with Jesus. He completely trusted the Father, and wanted us to know on the eve of His death that we can completely trust Him in the same way.

We also have the benefit of looking back on what happened historically and recognizing that, of course, Jesus was correct. He did rise again. He did conquer the grave. He did defeat sin and death. And because of all of these truths we can rest assured that He will do all of that for us. He is powerful and we have a solid reason to not be afraid and to believe in Him and what He says to us here.

Note also how Jesus contrasts the kind of hope He gives to that of the world. James Boice rightly describes the world’s peace as insincere, impotent, scanty, selfish, and one that takes back what it gave. He adds, “Most objectionable of all perhaps is the world gives for the most part, to those who do not need to do not want the gift.”

The kind that He gives is eternal and infinite, and that is because it is directly tied to the immutable character of God. God’s essential being and all the promises that flow from Him are immutable (unchanging). And because of this we can rely on Him today and forevermore. The world, by contrast, is fleeting. We are told in the Psalm 102 the following:

Of old you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; they offspring shall be established before you. (Ps. 102:25-28)

House of Cards

Perhaps this is just a sign of the times, but it seems like every week or so there is some well-known pastor jumping off the ship of orthodoxy and scrambling for the shores of easy-believism and worldliness. I used to consider Andy Stanley pretty mainline/mainstream – I certainly didn’t consider him in the category of Joel Olsteen.

So imagine my shock when only a few days ago Stanley clearly denied the inerrancy of scripture, and betrayed a lack of Christian maturity that is stunning for a man entrusted with so much responsibility. Here are the words I’m referring to (thanks to Sola Sisters blog):

“The foundation of our faith is not the Scripture. The foundation of our faith is not the infallibility of the Bible. The foundation of our faith is something that happened in history. And the issue is always, who is Jesus? That’s always the issue. The Scripture is simply a collection of ancient documents that tells us that story. So, when we talk about the Scriptures, and especially the reliability of the Scriptures, I think any time that we can tie, the Old Testament especially, back to Jesus, we have done everybody, Christians and non-Christians alike, an incredible service by letting them know, you know what? You can believe the Adam and Eve story is a creation myth, so what? Who is Jesus? And then to your point, when I deal with Adam and Eve, I’m quick to say hey, this is one of those odd stories. This is that story you heard growing up about two naked people running around in a garden. And who can believe that? And there are many creation myths. But here’s why I believe this actually happened: not because the Bible says so, but because in the gospels, Jesus talks about Adam and Eve. And it appears to me that he believed they were actually historical figures. And if he believed they were historical, I believe they were historical, because anybody that can predict their own death and resurrection, and pull it off, I just believe anything they say……The foundation of my faith is not an infallible Bible. It’s something that happened in history. Jesus came into the world, walked on the earth, represented God, was God, and rose from the dead.” (Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, Atlanta, GA)

After I had read this, read it again, and then re-read it, I then watched the video interview from which the quote was taken…yup, that’s exactly what he said. Still shocked by the interview, I decided to find out what fellow Southern Baptists thought about this in order to reorient my mind and make sure I wasn’t off my rocker completely in thinking Stanley was denying the inerrancy of Scripture.

Southern Baptist professor Denny Burke responded with the following:

While it is true that Christ’s accomplishment in the cross and resurrection is the basis of our salvation, it is misleading to say that the “foundation of our faith is not the Scripture.” Our only access to what Christ accomplished for us in history is through Scripture! The message of salvation comes to us in the Bible, apart from which there is no salvation. This is why the apostle Paul can speak of the apostles’ message as the “foundation” of the church (Eph. 2:20). Without their testimony which has been inscripturated for us in the Bible, there is no salvation.

Stanley says that his belief in Adam and Eve is not “because the Bible says so,” but because Jesus says so. The first and most obvious problem with this formulation is the fact that our only knowledge of what Jesus says comes to us from the Bible. There can be no bifurcation between “what the Bible says” and “what Jesus says.” The former gives us the latter.

So why even write a post about this if others have so soundly refuted Stanley’s statements? Because there are many people within my own church and circles of influence who, sadly, are not aware of this man’s misinformed teaching. I claim to have been one of those people who simply didn’t know a lot about Stanley, until more recently. Stanley has received the benefit of his father’s name and popularity, and, without delving into Charles Stanley’s teaching, it is important for us to see that man for what he is – a pastor whose teaching is a house of cards (to use his own term re: Scripture).

There are two points that stick out in my mind that I’d like to address. First, it is abundantly clear to me that Andy Stanley is not very bright, and second, he is not teaching true doctrine. Those are two separate points, but both are valid (if not obvious) and I’ll address each separately.

He’s Not Very Bright

If you, as a Bible teacher and Pastor, deny the inspiration and authority of Scripture, then Stanley is right (in a way), you have a house of cards awaiting the inevitable collapse. Stanley basically asks us to consider “how can you believe what Moses wrote if those documents are so old, and the stories are so sensational? etc.” He responds to his own inquiries by stating that the only way we can know with certainty that Moses’s writing (on the Garden of Eden for instance) was accurate is by resting our faith on the words of Jesus. If Jesus said that Moses said it, well, the matter is settled. Stanley then cites the resurrection and other well known apologetics surrounding the person and work of Christ as foundation for the veracity of Christ’s words. “Bravo!” you say.  And you would be right…partially…

The problem is, of course, that Stanley is not using those apologetics to just back up what Jesus said, but what he (Stanley) says about all of Scripture. In one hand he wields the apologetic for the truth claims of Christ, in the other his misguided notions about the veracity and authority of all other Scriptures. Of course, the first part of the problem is that what we know about the person and work of Christ is passed onto us through old writings as well – writings that, to Stanley, must present another problem – namely that the stories surrounding Christ must seem even more fantastic than the Adam and Even story.

You tell me Mr. Stanley, what seems more fantastic to you, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, or two people named Adam and Even roaming around naked in the garden (to paraphrase your iniquitous commentary on the account from Genesis)?  You can see where I’m going with this…

But setting aside the comments on the nature of Old Testament histories, let me get back to the main point, which is that, ironically, if Stanley bases all his teaching simply on what Jesus said, and leaves the door open to question the authenticity of the rest of Scripture, how then can he say with confidence that what Jesus said is accurate? I won’t get into the amazing number of manuscripts, evidence, and the clear self-evidence of Scripture itself here. My point is not to serve up an apologetic for the veracity, historicity, or authenticity of Scripture, but rather to point out that if Stanley says that one area could be “off”, then doesn’t his own logic lead him to further questions regarding the authenticity of all Scripture, including that which was written about Christ?

To have made such illogical statements after thinking through the matter in a serious manner (which was apparent from the interview) leaves one to the obvious conclusion that Stanley simply is not very bright. With so many gifted (and sound) teachers of God’s Word filling pulpits, seminaries, and bookshelves today, why would you waste time listening to this guy?

He’s Not Teaching Sound Doctrine

The reason I started out addressing Stanley’s lack of intellect is not simply because I want to throw a cheap shot his way or tear the man down, but because I don’t want to let that fact distract from the responsibility he owes his congregation and those listening to him around the country. So let us acknowledge up front that the man simply isn’t very bright. But let us also take care not to shrug off his comments on this account alone.

Stanley’s comments would have gone entirely unnoticed if he were a liberal university professor, a skeptic, or a worldly philosopher, but he’s not!  He’s a professing Christian – and a leader in the church! James says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)

Those who are teachers and preachers of God’s Word are held to a higher standard of accuracy, for the sake of the many souls under their care.

So let us let Scripture’s own claims to authority (Old Testament and New) be mentioned now. The most obvious passage comes from the pen of the Apostle Paul, and therefore God’s own mouth, and says this:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

The passage speaks very clearly that all Scripture – not simply the words of Christ – are inspired and from God.

The doctrine of Sola Scriptura does not say that Scripture speaks to every conceivable thing in this world, but what it does say is that where the Bible speaks it is the supreme authority.  Stanley isn’t talking about DNA, age of the earth, evolution or the like.  He’s talking about matters in which Scripture speaks and speaks with great perspicuity. As Christians, we sit under the authority of Scripture. Stanley wants to simply sit under the authority of Jesus, but he forgets that Jesus was the Word made flesh (John 1) and that His apostles considered all of Scripture to be the Word of God and have authority over their lives.

As an aside  let me also remark that Stanley cannot defend himself on account of promoting a New Covenantal approach to hermeneutics, for in his desire to interpret the rest of Scripture through the lens of what Christ said (indeed commendable), he does not take into consideration the words of Paul (cited above). But I am giving him too much credit, he’s not that bright.

Lastly, while listening to Stanley’s mess this week, a passage in Luke came to mind:

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” [19] And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. [20] And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:18-20 ESV)

Zachariah had just heart the wonderful news that his wife Elizabeth was to have a son, but he responded in unbelief. The response of Gabriel is that he just came from the throne room of God – His words were straight from the Holy of Holies! Almost as if to say “how dare you doubt the veracity of my message!” Zechariah’s punishment was that he would be unable to form his own words until his son was born!

The same could be said of Stanley because he seems to doubt the veracity of very Word of God, and undermines its authority in the lives of his congregation and those who listen to his messages around the country. And since he has not (unfortunately) received the same sentence of muteness that afflicted Zechariah, we Christians must be discerning, testing every spirit (1 John 4:1), and diligently searching the Scriptures “to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11).