BEGINNINGS…

 

If you were God, and had a desire to share your glory with others, how would you do it? How would you go about “making” others and revealing yourself to them in a manner they could understand? Would you want them to have “minds of their own” or would you want them to blindly obey you? Now I don’t know whether God asks Himself questions or not, but for we humans, these are valid points to consider. We are going to start an investigation into God Himself, how He is working in history, in our lives and what He expects back from us…the result of this investigation has a name…it’s called Theology…the study of God. We are going to look at and talk about it from a strictly Biblical view, no “tradition”…tradition being the long standing practice that has the effect of written down law, but is not. I encourage all of you to check it out for yourself…you should not just accept teaching without reading the text for yourself, praying, thinking and allowing the Spirit of God to open your mind and teach you…read…

God has revealed Himself in more than one-way…creation; the world around us is one way. He reveals Himself much more completely in His written Word, the Bible. And lastly, in Hebrews we are told He revealed Himself in God, the Son…read…

Our Bible is the written record of God’s plan for His creation and His dealings with them. It was written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different human writers, all but two of them Jews. Of course the penmen were humans, but the real “writer” of the Book was God, the Holy Spirit… the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, translated into Greek, just before the time of Christ. The New Testament was written in Greek, and the Book that we have now was complete as we have it by the end of the first century AD, when the last of the Apostles died. Moses was the first writer, and it is considered truth that John the Beloved Disciple was the last. He (John) was also the only one of the disciples/ apostles to die a natural death. All the rest were martyred. The OT records for us the creation, with the promise of the Redeemer very early in the Book, Gen 3:16… from the fall of man we go on through the early years of history, and in Gen 12 we read of God choosing one man and beginning a nation with him and his descendants. Why did God “choose the Jews?”…God wanted three things from these people, He wanted them to (1) write and preserve Scripture, (2) to be a testimony to Him and His goodness, and (3) to be a “pure” people through whom He could bring the Redeemer. The balance of the OT records God dealing with His people, the Jews. The last book of the OT, Malachi concludes His dealings with the exception of a seven-year period, which we will discuss in another lesson. For the next 400 years, God is silent. During this silent period, some of the Jewish traditions came into being. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Sanhedrin came into existence, they were the “ruling body” of the Jews in Jesus day, the group He most criticized…

The NT tells the story of Jesus Christ, the Promised Redeemer and the history of the Church, which He refers to as His Body. The NT additionally contains the “rules” for Christian living, and the reason for living in that fashion.

The whole of God’s Book shows us a progression of God’s plan…no hit or miss here, no mistakes or surprises…from eternity past to creation to consummation to eternity future, God knew all that would happen. We might ask here…why did He bother since He knew man would fail Him and sin and He also knew what it would cost to pay the price for that sin in mankind…all I can say is the Love of God prevailed, and overshadowed the cost…difficult for us to comprehend, but true. He wanted us…

The next question to contemplate is this: Is the Bible God’s Word and is the Bible we have today reliable and true to the original text? We have already heard II Timothy 3:16 and II Peter 1:19-20 we can read some additional ones… everyone look at Psalm 19…119…Proverbs 30:5-6…this is clear, God Himself says this Book is His revealed Word. Here is something else to consider: “The Bible claims ultimate spiritual authority in doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness because it represents the inspired Word of Almighty God. Scripture asserts it’s spiritual sufficiency, so much so that it claims exclusivity for its teaching…God’s Word declares itself to be true, therefore trustworthy…these qualities are dependant on the fact that the Scriptures are God-given, which guarantees its quality at the Source and at its original writing. In the Scripture, the person of God and the Word of God are everywhere interrelated, so much so that whatever is true of the character of God is true about the nature of God’s Word. God is true, impeccable, and reliable; therefore, so is His Word…what a person thinks about His Word, in reality reflects on what a person thinks about God. Consider these two demands:

Deut 8:3          Job 23:12

By the early Fourth Century (350 AD), what is referred to as “the Canon of Scripture” was assembled, as we have it today. The various councils that met    over Church history did not vote for the canonicity of a book, but rather recognized (after the fact) what had already been written. Regarding the OT, by the time of Christ all of the books had been written and accepted by the Jewish community. The last book, Malachi, had been completed about 430 BC. In Christ’s time and the OT that has been used through the centuries since, none of the books referred to as the Apocrypha were included. These books were added to the end of the OT 200-150 BC in the Greek translation of the OT called the Septuagint and to this day continues to appear in some versions. The main case against their inclusion is that any NT writer cited not one passage, nor did Jesus affirm any of it as He recognized the OT canon of His era…there are three principles used to validate divine revelation and inspiration:  

  1.  Recognized Prophet or Apostle is the author, or one associated with Them such as Luke, Mark, Hebrews, James, Jude

  2.  Cannot disagree with or contradict previous Scripture

  3.  Must have a consensus of the Church as an inspired book.  

Regarding preservation, I Peter 1:24B-25 says it all. When the Dead Sea scrolls were found and studied, 1947-56, the manuscripts found were from 200-100 BC and said essentially the same things that are in our OT Scripture today.  There are 5,000 existing manuscripts many dating back to within 25-50 years of the writing of the NT; Scholars verify that 99.9% of the original writing reclaimed indicates that what we have is what was originally written. The remaining 2% has no variants affecting any Christian doctrine. The most compelling argument for no future additions to Scripture is the admonition in Rev 22: 18 and 19.              

God is an orderly, consistent God. Nothing is left to chance. This accounts in part to why He is so active in our lives. He wants us for His own, and He does what is necessary to see that that happens!

 

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