Lesson 2

The Origin and Nature of the Bible

(Deuteronomy 18, 2 Peter 1, Hebrews 11, John 17)
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Introduction: How we approach studying the Bible is critical to a correct understanding of it. Take our last study on Daniel as an example. In Daniel 2 we found him interpreting a vision revealing the basic outline of the whole sweep of history - including the end of the world! Many recent commentators assert that Daniel did not write this during the time of the Babylonian empire, but rather during the time of the Roman empire. While I'm no expert on their reasons, they acknowledge that Daniel accurately describes history up to the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and therefore they argue the book must have been written then. This makes two assumptions. Daniel's account is a fabrication, and God would not (or could not) reveal the future. This is based on a disbelief in the Bible and the power of God. Let's dive into our study of a different approach to the Bible!

  1. Heavenly Origin


    1. Read Deuteronomy 18:18. When sceptics claim that the book Daniel must have been written at a later time, what problem do they face from this text? (This text says the prophet is speaking God's words. Those who doubt the Bible doubt what God has said.)


    2. Read 2 Timothy 3:16. How are those commentators who disbelieve Daniel's statement about when it was written involved in a role reversal? (This says that the Bible "corrects." These commentators think they can correct the Bible.)


    3. Read 2 Peter 1:21. The assumption of the recent commentators on Daniel is that human limitations should inform their understanding of when it was written. What does this text tell us about the limitations of those humans who wrote the Bible? (It says human will has nothing to do with it. Human limitations are irrelevant.)


  2. Written Text


    1. I've been teaching a Sabbath School Bible class from the time I was a law school student. Those who showed up at church would get the benefit of my preparation and teaching - and then it would be gone - retained only in memory. About 24 years ago we started posting my lessons on the Internet - where I expect they will remain after I've passed on. What a difference writing and posting in a public place makes!


    2. Read Exodus 17:14. What is God's approach to having His words remembered? (To write them down. This is far better than a person's memory.)


    3. Read Exodus 24:12. What did God have in mind with regard to remembering the Ten Commandments? (He wrote them in stone!)


    4. Read Joshua 24:26-27. Once again, we see a written record, this time of the people's promise to follow the Lord. I want to discuss the stone. Didn't they use stones to make idols? What is the purpose of this stone?


      1. Why would Joshua attribute human abilities to this stone? (Stones are enduring. Writing down the promise, and selecting a stone as a "witness" reinforces the idea that our allegiance to God must be permanent. The stone was not itself the witness, but its presence witnessed (reminded) humans of their promise to God.)


  3. Faith


    1. Read Hebrews 11:1-2. This tells us that the "ancients" had faith. When you consider that they lived between 800 and a almost a thousand years old (Genesis 5), their faith was based on what could have been eye-witness reports. Is that a different kind of faith then is required of us today?


    2. Read Hebrews 11:3-4. Are we talking about eyewitness testimony here? (No. These two verses speak of believing what God said.)


      1. Let's drill down on Hebrews 11:3. What does this tell us about the origin of the universe? (It was spoken into existence ("God's command").)


      2. When we are told that what we see was not made out of something that was visible, what does that say about the evolutionary theory of origins? (Evolution teaches that we come from something similar. We changed based on mutation and natural selection.)


      3. If we do not believe what we read in the Bible, for example in Genesis 1, what does that say about our faith in God? (It says that we do not have faith in what God has revealed in the Bible.)


      4. Is it possible to be a Christian and not believe in a literal six day "command" creation? (We need to be careful to distinguish between Christians who disbelieve the Bible and those who have a different interpretation of what the Bible says. For example, those Christians arguing for a "long day" creation turn to Genesis 2:4. If you read it in the KJV or the ESV (the NIV masks this), it says "in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." That use of the word "day" (Hebrew, "yom") does not refer to a 24-hour period. On the other hand, if the language "evening and morning" limit the word day, if you accept God's word as true, this is a 24-hour period. I don't want to get deeper into this, my point is simply that we need to distinguish between those Christians who reject God's words and those who argue a different interpretation of God's words.)


    3. Read Hebrews 11:6. What are the two basic components of faith? (That God exists and that He interacts with us to reward those who "earnestly seek him.")


      1. What does "earnestly seek" require of us when we read the Bible? (We need to study it. We need to invite the Holy Spirit to guide our minds.)


  4. Internalizing the Bible


    1. Read John 17:17. What does it mean for us to be "sanctified" by God's words?


    2. Read John 17:19. Jesus says that He sanctifies Himself? What can He mean by that? He is perfect. (Jesus took on our sins and died on our behalf at the cross. I think understanding the truth of who Jesus is and what He did for us sanctifies us.)


    3. Read John 17:15. If we practice what God teaches us in the Bible, then we will be protected against a lot of evil. I'm far from claiming that Christians will not suffer. What I am saying is that we will not suffer from self-inflicted problems if we obey God's handbook for living.)


    4. Read John 8:32. From what does the truth of the Bible set us free? (From eternal death. From living a life without God. Imagine living without the aid of God's word and the encouragement and guidance of the Holy Spirit.)


    5. Read John 8:34. How does Jesus answer the question about our freedom? (He says that we are slaves to sin. We need freedom from that.)


    6. Read John 8:35-36. What other aspect of our freedom does Jesus explain? (We become sons and daughters of God. We join the family of God.)


    7. Friend, will you read and study the Bible through the eyes of faith? By doing that you enter into a new world of freedom. Why not make that decision right now?


  5. Next week: Jesus and the Apostles' View of the Bible.

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