The existence of God is made known by two means. First, nature gives us an impression of his "everlasting power and divinity." (Rom. 1:20) Second, God reveals himself and his will to us in the Bible. (I Cor. 2:11-13)
Nature does not reveal God's plans and purposes. Nature does not reveal the remedy for sin. Nature does not reveal the gospel, God's power to save. However, it is said of nature, "the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork." ( Psalm 19:1 )
For the revelation of God's message to man, we are entirely dependent upon the Bible, his word.
Book of Books
The Bible, God's revelation to man, is the book of books. It is today the best seller in our land. But it is the book of books for other reasons than its selling record.
Some sixteen hundred years were involved in the writing of the Bible. The first five books were written approximatelv 1500 years before the coming of Christ. The last book was written about 100 years after the birth of Christ. Approximately forty men were used during these sixteen centuries to write the great truths of the Bible. They were of different walks of life, but all had one thing in common: they were moved by the Holy Spirit in their writings.
The Bible, although written over a period of 1 = millenniums, is a marvelous work of unity. It does not contradict itself; alleged contradictions have been found to be more of a lack of knowledge on the part of man than discrepancies on the part of the Bible.
The Bible is a text book on salvation. Jesus Christ is the central figure. All of Biblical history before him looks forward to his coming; the New Testament, written after his coming as God in the flesh, looks back to the provisions made by him for our salvation.
The preservation of the Bible is an indication of its supreme value. It has withstood the blows of its enemies throughout the years. Men like Volaire have made predictions that the Bible would soon be destroyed. However, instead of its being destroyed, it is now distributed and read among men of almost every tongue, dialect, and nation. Jesus said that his word would continue: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35)
Inspired of God
The Bible is not a product of the mind of man. It came from God.
Concerning his preaching, Paul wrote, ". . . is touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ." (Gal. 1:11-12) The same can be said about other writers of the Bible. Jeremiah, an Old Testament writer had the words to be spoken by him put in his mouth by Jehovah. (Jeremiah 1:9-10) Likewise, Jehovah gave the words to Ezekiel to be used in his preaching and writing. (Ezek. 2:9 – 3:3) Of the Old Testament writers, Peter testified: men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Pet. 1:21) The phrase "Thus saith the Lord," or its equivalent, is used by various writers almost 2,000 times in the Bible.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul declared, "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable . . ." The scriptures are given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. "Inspiration" means a "breathing into." Thus the scriptures are given by men into whom God "breathed" by the Holy Spirit his divine message.
God's will, "which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men," by "revelation was made known" unto those used in writing the word of the Lord. That which is not known of God is a mystery. God makes known unto us his mystery by "revelation." (Eph. 3:3-5) When we therefore read that which is revealed, we can know of God's plans and purposes. God has revealed his will unto men; he has guided them in the declaration of that will by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
When a person's faith is grounded in the scripture, it is resting in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the teaching of the second chapter of I Corinthians. We shall briefly examine the thoughts found in that chapter on revelation and inspiration.
1. Paul's preaching in Corinth was "not with excellency of speech or of wisdom." (I Cor. 2:1 ) Instead Paul proclaimed the testimony of God.
2. Paul's speech and preaching "were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." (I Cor. 2:4)
3. Because Paul's preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit, he could say in verse 5, "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." If his preaching had been in the "wisdom of men," then that would have been the foundation of faith. However, his preaching was in "demonstration of the Spirit." Therefore, the foundation of their faith was in the "power of God." This is the reason for our knowing that if we do what the Bible teaches that we are pleasing the God of heaven.
4. The apostle declared in verse seven that he spoke "God's wisdom in a mystery." This is the wisdom "which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory, which none of the rulers of this world hath known : for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (I Cor. 2:7-8)
5. The mystery of God was made known unto us by the Spirit, according to verse 10. "Unto us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God "The on1y way we can come to know the mind of God, according to verse 11, is by a study of that which God reveals by his Spirit.
6. That which Paul spoke concerning the things that were freely given to us of God." (I Cor. 2:12) This he spoke, according to verse 13, "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth." Thus the preaching and writing of Paul and the other apostles were first that which was revealed bv the Holy Spirit. Secondly, that communication was not in the words which they chose but in the words chosen by the Holy Spirit.
When you hear the word of God, believe it, and obey it, your faith will be standing in the power of God. If the Bible is not inspired by the Holy Spirit, then there is no possible way for your faith to rest in anything except the wisdom of men.
Binding as our Authority
If the Bible be not inspired, then it has no divine authority. We have shown however that it is inspired – that God revealed his will by the Holy Spirit and chose the very words to be used in the proclamation of that will. Since, therefore, the Bible is inspired, it is binding upon us as our authority in religion.
Man must have an authority for his beliefs and activities in religion. Everyone recognizes some authority. To some this authority is the traditions of a religious organization. To others it is their parents and forefathers. Others recognize their feelings as their authority. Still, to others, the actions and beliefs of the majority constitute a standard of authority. Creeds, disciplines, manuals, and confessions of faith have been written to serve as authorities in religion. However, the Bible reveals but one divine standard of authority, and it is none of the above.
That standard revealed by the Bible is the Bible itself. The only authority in religion to which you are subject before God is that which is revealed in the word of God. Paul declared that only inspired scriptures are profitable for doctrine or teaching. (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Jesus promised the apostles that in their revelation of truth (John 16:13) they would constitute the binding and loosing power over the sins of men. John wrote that if any man does not abide in the teaching of Christ, he does not have God. (2 John 9-11) Again, John warned against adding to or taking from the word of God. (Rev. 22:18-19) Peter warned that that which is preached or spoken must be "as it were oracles of God." (Pet. 4:11 )
The Bible forbids our doing that which is not authorized in it. Therefore, it forbids our recognizing any authority except itself. When we handle aright, or properly divide, the word of truth, we can know exactly what God requires of us. (2 Tim. 2:15)
Living and Active
The Bible is a living book, not a dead letter. Concerning its nature, the writer of Hebrews, declared: "For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing, of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12)
The word of God is described as an active word. It is a powerful word. It is for this reason we have urged you to recognize no authority except it. Being living and active, it can accomplish the purpose which God gave it. (Isa. 55:10-11)
Figurative descriptions given to the word show its power. In the words of the Hebrew writer quoted above, the word is described as the sword of the Spirit. It is the weapon to be used in overcoming the wiles of Satan. (Eph. 6:17; Cf. Matt. 4:1-11) The word is described by Jesus as the seed of the kingdom of heaven. (Luke 8:11) When it is planted in the hearts of men it will produce Christians. James compared the word to a mirror into which a person can look to see his true character, his sins, and his need for Christ. (James 1:25) The Psalmist called the word a light and a lamp given to guide us through the way of life unto God. (Ps. 119:105) And Jeremiah described the word as a hammer that breaks the rocks of sin; he also said the word is like fire because of its purifying qualities. (Jer 23:29)
Since God's word is inspired, authoritative, and powerful, it can do that for which God sent it. The living word can accomplish the following.
1. The word of God furnished us completely unto every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16-17.
2. All information concerning life and godliness is found in the Bible. 2 Pet. 1 :3.
When received by a person, the word its able to save his soul. (James 1:21) This is the reason it should be taught to children even from the time they are mere babies. (2 Tim. 3:15) God's word, which is his truth, (John 17:17), is capable of making men free from sin. (John 8:32)
5. It is by the word of God that faith is produced. (Rom. 10:17; Acts 15:7-9)
6. Being perfect, the law of the Lord can convert the soul of a man. (Ps. 19:7)
7. It is by the word of the Lord that men are sanctified. (John 17:17)
8. The hope that we have of eternal life is produced by the scripture. (Rom. 15:4)
9. We will be judged by the word of the Lord. (John 12:48)
That which is cited above can be said about the power of no other book except the Bible. It is no wonder then that we are told in Hebrews 4:12 that the word is living and active!
Eternity Revealed in the Bible
The Bible is the only book that can speak authoritatively about eternity. This is true because it came from Jehovah who "from everlasting to everlasting" is God. (Ps. 90:2)
The Bible reveals to us things concerning the eternal purpose of God. (Eph. 3:10-11) It likewise reveals to us the joys of eternal life. (Rom. 6:23) And it reveals the horrors of eternal destruction. (2 Thess. 1:7-9) By believing it and obeying it – you can be a sharer in the eternal salvation, of which Christ is author. (Heb. 5:8-9)
No other book promises eternal bliss to those who abide in its teachings. And, likewise, no other book warns of eternal destruction to those who do not obey its teaching. (2 Thess. 1:7-9)
The Bible came from God. It was given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is therefore binding upon us as our authority in Christianity. Being living and active it can accomplish that which pleases Jehovah. It reveals eternity to us.
In view of these great truths about the Bible, we urge you to receive the word "not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe." (I Thess. 2:13)