How God Gave Us The Bible

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000000019How can the Bible be God’s Word if it was written by human authors? This is a common question that arises when discussing the supernatural origin of the Bible. It is true that the Bible was written across 1600 years of human history by more than 40 human authors. How can it still be written by God? Paul tells Timothy that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). “Inspiration” is the Greek word theopnuestos which literally means “God-breathed.” Jesus corroborates this when he said that we live by “…every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ” (Matthew 4:4). The men who wrote the books of the Bible wrote under divine inspiration and the end result is the words of both the human author and of God.

There are differing theories of how God inspired the biblical authors. Most conservative, evangelical Christians believe in what is call “verbal plenary inspiration.” The word verbal  affirms that the very words the writers chose are inspired. For example, in Acts 1:16 the Apostle Peter says “the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake” (KJV). The word  plenary means “full” or “complete” meaning that God inspired the complete text of the Bible, including historical, scientific, and doctrinal details. This concept of how God inspired the Bible is seen in Peter’s words, “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 1:21, ESV). Although men put the pen to paper, the things they wrote did not originate in their brains, but in the heart of God. God inspired the writers, they transmitted the message.

Some of the authors might not have realized at the time that they were writing the words of God. However, many did know this. Gordon R. Lewis writes, “Over 3,000 times biblical writers claimed to have received their messages from God. God the Holy Spirit “inspired” (breathed out or originated) the Scriptures through the human writers (2 Tm 3:16).God prepared these conscious, active prophetic and apostolic spokesmen (and their secretaries) providentially by their heredity, character, vocabularies, and writing styles. At the appropriate time, in all the processes of writing, they were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pt 1:21).” [1]

The Holy Spirit guided the human authors while allowing their individual personality, knowledge, and vocabulary to produce the books of the Bible. The end result is the very Word of God communicated through the medium of human writers. This view recognizes both the human and divine aspect of Scripture.

 

[1] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1812). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Why God Gave Us The Bible

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big_ten_std_t_nt“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). These words were written by Paul the apostle to a young pastor named Timothy. Paul is instructing him to be faithful to what God has revealed in the scriptures in the face of opposition and pressure from others who have abandoned the Word of God. How did these Scriptures come to be, and why was it necessary for God to reveal Himself through written words? The answer is as old as time…

In the original design of creation, man had fellowship with God in Eden. That fellowship was lost in the Fall and all humanity was separated from God in that one act. All Adam’s descendants are born estranged from God, aliens to truth and righteousness and in such a sinful state that we only rebel against God. Even when men try to worship what they think God is, the result is false religion, paganism, polytheism, and creature worship. We are often convinced from creation and conscience that God exists, but we cannot know Him on our own.

From Adam till Moses, humanity continues to sin, die, and live in separation from God. Paul says that during the time from Adam to Moses “death reigned.”“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses…” (Romans 5:14 KJV). There is no written revelation from God to show what God expects of humanity and people are left to grope in the darkness and to die in their sins. Everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes and is in bondage to sin and enslaved to death.

During this time, God revealed Himself personally to individuals as He chose. God revealed Himself to Abel, Seth, Enosh, Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Melchizedek, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and others. The faith of these individuals was based on their personal experiences with God. They had no Bible, no law to guide them; only their own consciences and personal revelation from God and perhaps, oral traditions passed down about God.

But in Moses’ lifetime (approx. 1500 BC) something very important changed. God began to break the reign of death by providing mankind with His written Word. God wrote His law on tablets of stone, delivered them to Moses who gave them to Israel. Moses would record all of God’s laws and ordinances for Israel, ultimately writing the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. For the first time in human history, God had given His holy, inspired, written, indisputable Word to humanity. God would continue to inspire men to write Scripture from this point forward until about 400 years before Christ. Malachi was the last prophet to write under the inspiration of God in the Old Testament. It is believed that Ezra the scribe was the first to formally organize the Old Testament canon as we have it.

After 400 years of silence from God, God started speaking again. He began speaking through John the Baptist, continued through Jesus Christ who is the supreme revelation from God. He is called the Word of God (John 1:1-3). After Jesus’ ascension, the church began growing and men began writing. The four gospels tell of Jesus’ life and ministry, Acts gives the history of the early church, while the epistles contain the inspired teaching of the prophets and apostles of the New Testament. The final contribution to the New Testament canon is the Revelation, or Apocalypse of Jesus Christ penned by the Apostle John. With the completion of this book in 94-96 AD, God again ceased speaking written revelation. The Bible is complete.

The reason God inspired men to write the books of the Bible was to perfectly reveal Himself to us and provide a means of redemption and reconciliation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible makes this great plan of redemption known and tells us how we can be reconciled with God. Without the Bible, we would have no message to share with the world, and we would have no hope ourselves because the only reason we are saved is because we have believed what God says about Jesus. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). God’s revelation of Himself through the Bible is His way of reconciling fallen, sinful humanity to Himself based on the redemptive work of Christ.

Three Views on The Book of Revelation

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ImageThe book of Revelation has been the source of much biblical debate. Even among Christians, it is difficult to come to an agreement about certain issues concerning this apocalyptic book of the Bible. Written toward the end of the first century AD by John the apostle, Revelation is the last book of the Bible and reveals events yet to come culminating in the return of Christ. The first three chapters aren’t so difficult to interpret. They are comprised of seven straightforward messages from Christ to the seven churches in Asia Minor. Chapters four through twenty-two, however, are a different matter altogether. There are three major positions where interpretation of this book is concerned. I will briefly outline each of them.

The preterist position, also known as the contemporary historical position, sees the events of the book of Revelation as historical events that occurred in the first century AD. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the fall of Rome, and the Roman persecution of Christians are important components in this view and are seen as the subject of much of the destructive prophecies in Revelation.

The idealist position is a timeless, symbolic approach to the book of Revelation. This view says that the visions in Revelation do not depict actual events that happen in a specific place or time, but portrays symbolically the timeless, spiritual battle between good and evil. This battle culminates in the defeat of Satan and the victory of Christ. This view interprets the 1,000 years in 20:2-7 as symbolic of the spiritual reign of believers with Christ.

The futurist approach maintains that the events of chapters 4-22 of Revelation depict future events. This view interprets the 1,000 years in 20:2-7 as a literal period of time in the future. This is consistent with the book’s claim to foretell future events (1:19). There are very many varying interpretations even among futurists, but all agree that the events contained in John’s visions are to be fulfilled in the future. I plan to talk more about the various futurist views in a later post.

This leaves us asking “which view is correct?” A preterist approach would only be beneficial when studying church history or the persecution of the first century church. It would yield little benefit to today’s readers. The idealist position has some merit, but vastly ignores the plainly indicated future nature of the prophecies. The visions of Revelation are meant to be understood as specific prophecies fulfilled in space and time.

The futurist position is the only position that fairly understands and interprets the text along with other prophetic passages in the Bible and is the only one to provide real spiritual merit for the believer. The futurist position allows the book of Revelation to be applicable to believers of any era and gives great hope that Christ will overcome all the power of Satan. While there are many different futurist interpretations of Revelation, and I cannot discuss them here in detail, this perspective is the best and most natural understanding of the book in my evaluation.

More than the Music: Revelation Song

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            A song that we use regularly in worship at Reed Springs is the “Revelation Song” written by Jennie Lee Riddle. Our worship leader, RonnieMcDowell, does a great job of leading the church in corporate worship with biblical, theologically rich songs such as this one. “Revelation Song” really does a good job of communicating the proper attitude of worship. It is a hymn and an enthronement song. An enthronement song is one that celebrates the reign of God as Lord of the nations. It has all the correct elements: a call to worship, description of God’s attributes, and a conclusion of praise.

        
           “Revelation Song” is very solid with biblical theology. Since it is taken straight from chapters four and five of Revelation, it is imbued with colorful imagery but conveys a very definite message. It begins with Jesus’ sacrificial death as the Lamb of God and then immediately ties His sacrifice to the Old Testament sacrificial system by mentioning the “mercy-seat.” This indicates that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and is the Messiah spoken of in Isaiah 53.

“Revelation Song” also highlights the deity of Christ many times in its lyrics. All of the second verse lists characteristics of Yahweh and assigns them to Christ. You see an interchange in the two worship songs of chapter 4 which speaks to Yahweh and chapter 5 which speaks to Christ as if the two are synonymous (because they are). Verse three of the song mentions that Jesus’ name is breath and living water. The image of living water comes from many Old Testament passages that speak of Yahweh (Isaiah 12:3; Eze 47:9; Zec 14:8), which Jesus assigns to Himself multiple times (John 4:10; 8:37). The idea of His name being breath carries with it the images of special creation when God “breathed” into man the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) and it is through the name of Jesus that the dead may live again (John 11:25, 26).
            The chorus is especially expressive of the deity of Christ in that in takes the formula of “Holy, holy, holy” first mentioned by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3 and repeated in Revelation 4:8 by the four beasts and directs it to the subject of this hymn, Jesus. It is also in the chorus that the author is singing along with creation as unto the Creator. This hymn is theologically rich and filled with doctrine and truth. You can see a performance of “Revelation Song” by Ronnie McDowell here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUScAciJImo