Discipleship 101-2 The Bible! Where Did It Come From? Why do we need it?

We are in a spiritual war.  This war is not against flesh and blood, not other humans, but it is against spiritual wickedness and rulers of darkness.  But we have weapons that are mighty through God to pull down these strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). Paul says that the word of God is the sword of the spirit.  This sword defeats the enemy (Eph. 6).

Jesus and the Scriptures

After Jesus was baptized, before he began his earthly ministry Jesus went into the desert for forty days.  He fasted during that time and the devil, Satan, el Diablo came to him to tempt him.  Jesus was hungry and the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, make this stone into bread.”

Jesus drew his weapon and answered the devil with the word of God.  He said, “ It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.”  He was quoting Deut. 8:3.

So the devil tried again, this time taking Jesus and showing him all the kingdoms of the world, tempting him with power, he said, “If you will worship me, I will give all of this to you.”

Jesus struck with his sword again saying, “It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.  Duet. 6:13.

A third time the devil tried to tempt Jesus saying, “If you are the son of God throw yourself from this pinnacle of the temple and the angels will guard you.”

A third time Jesus used his sword, the word of God saying, “It is said, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”  And the devil left defeated.

The word of God should not be taken lightly.  It has power to defeat our enemies.  But we need to know it to use it.

Why is it called the Holy Bible? And What is it?

First the word Bible comes from the Latin Biblia which simply means Book.  It is called Holy because it is the word of God and God is Holy.  The book, as such is not Holy.  It is not magical.  Don’t put it under your pillow so you can be blessed—or hold it over your child to stop him from being bad.  That is witchcraft.  The words of God contain power, but the ink, the paper and the cover are only parts of a book.  They are powerless.

The Bible is God’s love letter to us, it is our instruction manual.  It is why we study it, why we read it over and over, and why we love it.

It tells us about who God is, his character and his involvement in history.  It gives us instructions on how to live, how to approach God, about our relationship with Him, gives us warnings about things that will destroy us, it is divine wisdom, and it reveals his power and his desires, as well as how we can be blessed.  It is God’s revelation of Himself.  It is also the history and the words and life of Jesus, who is the greatest revelation of God.  He is the image of the invisible God and he says if you have seen him you have seen the Father.

All scripture is inspired by God

Paul said,  “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”  2 Tim 3:16 ESV

The King James Version of the Bible says that scripture is “inspired.”  What does that mean?  If you look above you will see the ESV, English Standard Version says “breathed out.”  The scripture, all scripture, both Old Testament and New is breathed out of the mouth of God.  Let’s look at an example of what the means.

In Ezekiel 12:1 Ezekiel writes “The word of the Lord came to me saying….”  Then Ezekiel writes those words that came to him.  He uses his own hand, his own use of his own language and says what God is saying to him.  This is what “inspired” means.  The writers of the Bible were “directed” by God in what to write.

So, John talks about how he remembered all things to write, all of what he saw, because of the Holy Spirit John 14:25, 26

The writers were not puppets.  They used their language and they wrote as the Holy Spirit led them.

The Construction of the Bible

The Bible is written by approximately 39 different authors over a period of 1500 years in two major languages.  It is divided into 2 large parts:  The Old Testament or covenant and the New Testament or covenant.

OT and NT

The Old Testament has 39 books divided into 5 basic groups written in Hebrew; Law, History, Poetry and Wisdom, Prophets and Minor Prophets   written over a period of 1100 years.

The New Testament has 27 books written over 100 years written in Greek; the gospels, Acts which is a history, the letters, and Revelation which is prophecy.

And yet, there is one central theme:  The relationship with Father God, the creator, how it was broken and how it can be restored.

The Gospels are the life and times of Jesus Christ.  What he did, how he did it.  Jesus spoke Aramaic, a form of Hebrew, and Greek and Old Testament Hebrew.

How did we get the Bible as it is today

The Old Testament was translated as a whole, as it largely is today in 250B.C. by 72 Jewish scholars into Koine Greek.  They also arranged the books of the Old Testament as they are today.

The New Testament quotes many Old Testament passages and books.  Nearly one-third of the New Testament is Old Testament quotations.

Catholics recognize 12 books called the Apocrapha, Hidden books, but they were not in that group.

The Canon of the New Testament came to us officially at the Council of Carthage in 397 A.D.  A lot of credibility is given when a church leader named Athanasius wrote a letter that listed all the books of the New Testament in 367.

But there was a test for authenticity:

  1.  Looked at the intrinsic content and whether they were apostolic in nature.
  2. Did they teach sound doctrine?  Was there inspiration of moral effect.
  3. How did the early church view them and use them.

Chapters and verses were not added to the Bible until 1214A.D.

How was it preserved?  God protected his inspiration.

The Bible is a book of faith, a book of revelation from the Holy Spirit.  John 16:13.

The Word of God is powerful.  Rom 1:16

The Word of God shall not return to God void.  Is 55:10, 11

The Word of God is forever.  Ps 119:89

There are many different versions of the Bible.  Some are translations from the original language, others are transliterations.  A transliteration is a paraphrase or one that takes the idea of the passage and puts it into a construction easily understood as a whole.

VERSIONS of the Bible:  These are just some.

King James Version

New International Version

Revised Standard Version

English Standard Version

American Standard Version

Transliterations: 

New Living Translation

The Message

While many folks like to discuss which version is the best or the most accurate, the reality is that the best version of the bible for you is the one that is easiest for you to understand.

The Bible is our authority.

 Perhaps the most important thing to remember about the Bible is that it is the authority for our lives.  It is the foundation which we build our faith on.  Peter wrote that when he talked about Jesus it wasn’t an invented story nor was it made up. Peter testified about the power and coming of Jesus because he and the disciples “were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16).  Peter was there with Jesus, he saw the miracles, he saw his power and he saw his glory.  He said he heard the voice of God, the Father, say, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”   Yet, he says something very interesting.  Even though he was an eyewitness to Jesus on the earth and he heard the voice of God with his own ears, he says that he has something “more sure” that testifies about Jesus (2 Peter 2:19 ESV).  What could be more sure than being right there and hearing the voice of God?  He says he has “the prophetic word.”  (v. 19 ESV).  The prophetic word is the scriptures that prophesied about Jesus, the Old Testament.  For Peter the scriptures are to be trusted above his own experiences.  That is powerful stuff!

And Peter goes on to tell us something about that prophetic word.  He says “to which you would do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  (2 Peter 1:20-22).  I don’t think it can be clearer.  Peter says the prophetic word is not a production of man but it is from God and he says what should be obvious by now:  Pay Attention!

God’s word is our foundation!  God’s word tells us what love is, it tells us what sin is, and it tells us how to be saved.  Think about it!  If you decide what is sin and what isn’t sin based on what you feel or what you think or what our culture is telling us, then, you or your culture or your government has become god.  You have put your opinion above what God’s word says and no longer are you under God’s authority.  This happened from time to time in the bible as well, and one expression that comes out over and over again in the book of Judges is this:  “The people did what was right in their own sight.”  When they did what they thought was right there was much evil in the land.

Martin Luther, the leader of the reformation movement, said it this way:  Sola scriptura.  That is Latin for Only Scripture.  The rule and authority for the Christian life is Only Scripture.  If someone says that God told them something, the first question that must be asked is, “Does that agree with scripture?”  If it doesn’t, then it wasn’t God that was telling them that information.  It must agree with scripture.  Scripture will not change.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  (Matthew 24:35).

Psalm 119:89 says, “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”

David said that God “exalted above all things your name and your word.” (Psalm 138:2).

The word of God is powerful and above all else; it is eternal and is more sure than anything I can experience in this life.  So, I say with Peter, you will do well to pay attention to it like a lamp shining in a dark place.

Next lesson:  Who is God?

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