From today, I trust in God to share A SERIES OF LESSONS ON “The Uniqueness of the Bible”. To begin our study let us open our Bible to the second Peter, I would like for you to follow with me as I read from chapter 2: verse 19 to 21, that we might have the scriptural understanding of the Majestic Mystery of “GREAT BOOK THAT HAS EVER BEEN WRITTEN”.
“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21NIV.)
President George Washington, First President of the United States, When he was sworn into office as the first elected President of the United States on April 30, 1789, he added these words to his own oath he had just taken: "So help me, God." He then reverently stooped down and kissed the Bible used in the oath. He recognized the value and importance of the Bible in national life and said “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.”
The Bible is clearly the most influential book the world has ever known. Whether you accept and believe in its teachings or not, it cannot be denied that the Bible is the most remarkable, amazing and absolutely UNIQUE book that has ever been written! Abraham Lincoln called it "the best gift God has given to man." Patrick Henry said, "It is worth all other books which were ever printed." Noted British statesman William Gladstone wrote that "an immeasurable distance separates it from all competitors" while the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant declared, "The Bible is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced." A. M. Sullivan observed, "The cynic who ignores, ridicules, or denies the Bible, spurning its spiritual rewards and aesthetic excitement, contributes to his own moral anemia."“There is no other book so various as the Bible or one so full of concentrated wisdom. Whether it be of law, business, morals, etc…. He who seeks for guidance may look inside its covers and find illumination.” (Herbert Hoover)W. E. Gladstone said “I have known ninety-five of the world’s great men in my time and of these eighty-seven were followers of the Bible.
While many think our modern world is founded on secular ideals, it is in fact the Bible which had a greater influence and legacy. The Bible not only influenced the language and its literature more than any other book, it was also the activator of radical shifts in society to the abolition of many evil practices from the society. Hence any attempt to remove Bible, and its teachings has been the downfall of our society.
The original author
From our text we discover that whatever the Scripture says was not the product of any human opinion, ingenuity, interpretation, or explanation. It was, rather, the very Word of God. Furthermore, Scripture had its origin in God, not with human beings. This verse, therefore, teaches us two things with respect as to how the Bible was divinely inspired. First it was not the will of the human authors that guided what was written in Scripture. A second fact is that the ultimate source of writing was God the Holy Spirit. This indicates that the Holy Spirit carried the human authors when they wrote the Scripture. It was God who moved them. The Holy Spirit was the active agent. God planted it there and their words brought the word of God to people because they were being moved by the Holy Spirit to speak the words they shared. Ultimately they were writing what the Holy Spirit prompted them to write.
The word translated “prophet” occurs over three hundred times in the Old Testament and over one hundred times in the New Testament. A prophet, is someone who speaks for someone else, the other being God. A prophet speaks to man for or from God. Prophecy is not only a forth-telling of the future – but contains promises of the future to both Israel and the nations of the world. Prophecy covers the full panorama of history of mankind. God gave promises to His prophets on Israel, the church, the consummation of the ages with Christ ruling, to the new heavens and earth. God chose to reveal His words to primarily one group of people - the Jews, whom He made from Abraham.
The prophets spoke in three time frames. There own time, the near future and the far future, which would include the 1st coming and the 2nd coming of Christ. The test of a prophet was his near prophesies which would be fulfilled in his own lifetime. Prophecy was very specific in detail in both the Old and the New Testament.
Prophecy teaches us God exists, and is in control of history. God tells us the purpose of prophecy given to us in Scripture. “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; “I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass” (Isaiah 46:9,10). He is the God of prophecy.
The origin of the written Word of God is in the mind and will of God. The authority of Scripture to write Scripture was given under the direct control of God. Paul wrote. “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory “(1 Corinthians 2:7). The wisdom of God in the gospel was a mystery hidden until Christ came, and since then fully comprehended only by the initiated, the full-grown Christians. The apostolic sense of mystery is that which was hidden, but is now disclosed to those who accept the gospel. Those who will not receive the gospel cannot comprehend this wisdom. Paul says in our text that Knowing this first - Considering this as a first principle, - Bearing this steadily in mind as a primary and most important truth that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. As the Scripture is the revelation of the mind and will of God, every man ought to search it, to understand the sense and meaning.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal God’s redemptive plan in Jesus Christ. The writings of Moses reveal God’s holy nature, God’s laws and God’s redemptive plan of atonement for human sin. The historical writings reveal the progressive revelation of God’s redemptive plan in calling Abraham and through him, a family, then a nation to be his holy people, to be a light of revelation to the other nations. Alongside the Law and the Historical writings, the Psalms are the hymnbook of God’s people. But to authenticate these writings as truly the Word of God, from eternity, God foretold and revealed events in space time history before they occurred. Prophecy can be found in the Bible from the beginning to the end. The Bible devotes a large portion of its pages to the future; it is literally filled with prophecy.
1 Corinthians 2:14 " The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. ."The BIBLE is a unique book ever written because it came from the infinite to the finite… from the unlimited, all-powerful GOD, to limited man. Since the BIBLE is from GOD, and therefore be spiritual, before you can receive its teachings, you must be born of the SPIRIT (John 3:6) and filled with the SPIRIT (Ephesians 5:18). Always approach the BIBLE praying that the HOLY SPIRIT will be your Teacher and will guide you to a better understanding of HIS HOLY WORD. (John 16:12-15).
Keep in mind that the BIBLE is not a book of philosophy, although it is philosophical. Do not go to the BIBLE for a scientific treatise. However, there is no discrepancy between ascertained facts of science and the BIBLE. The BIBLE is not a book of history, but is found to be accurate when recording history. The BIBLE was given to man from GOD revealing JESUS CHRIST as the SON of GOD, and GOD the SON, the only Savior (John 14:6). HE is the center and the circumference. It is CHRIST from Genesis to Revelation (John 5:39).
2 Timothy 3:16,17 "All Scripture is inspired by GOD and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of GOD may be adequate, equipped for every good work.""All Scripture is inspired by GOD…." simply means that the HOLY SPIRIT exerted HIS supernatural influence upon the writers of the BIBLE. Therefore, the Scriptures are inspired word for word. By this we mean that every word, in the original, is fully and equally inspired in all of its teachings. The BIBLE does not just contain the WORD OF GOD; it is the WORD OF GOD. The writers of the BIBLE did not write by natural inspiration, or by an act of the human will. "Men moved by the HOLY SPIRIT spoke from GOD." (2 Peter 1:21). David said, "The SPIRIT of the LORD spoke by me, and HIS word was on my tongue" (2 Samuel 23:2).The HOLY SPIRIT is the Author of the BIBLE. (2 Peter 1:21) Man is the instrument used by the HOLY SPIRIT to write the BIBLE.
THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE BOOK
The Bible authors come from a cross section of humanity; educated and uneducated; including kings, fishermen, public officials, farmers, teachers, and physicians. Some were kings, like David and Solomon and others were very common people. Some of the prophets were just ordinary men. The Old Testament prophet, Amos, said he was just a gatherer of sycamore fruit – that’s all he did for a living. Others are better known men like Moses, who was highly educated in the schools of Egypt, and Paul who also was a highly educated man. Some were common fishermen, like Peter and John. Not much training, but taught by the Lord himself, and by the Holy Spirit. So they come from a variety of walks of life and addressed the various subjects like religion, history, law, science, poetry, drama, biography, and prophecy. Yet its various parts are as harmoniously united as the parts that make up the human body. The books are gathered together into two divisions, the Old and New Testaments. The canon of Old Testament scripture was completed in about the fourth century BC and there are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven books in the New Testament, that were written between A.D. 55- 90.The Gospels recount the story of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. Each book gives us a unique perspective on his life.
For 40 Authors, with such varied backgrounds, to write on so many subjects over a period of approximately 1,600 years in absolute harmony is a mathematical impossibility. It could not happen! Then how do we enlighten the distinctive of this Book? The only adequate explanation is… "….. Men moved by the HOLY SPIRIT spoke from GOD" (2 Peter 1:21).
The Unity of the Book
The Bible exhibits a unity that—on purely human terms—is utterly inexplicable. In order to appreciate that unity, one first must come to terms with how The Book was put together. The Bible was written by more than forty different men from practically every walk of life. Nehemiah was a royal cupbearer. Peter was a fisherman. Luke was a physician. Matthew was a tax collector. Solomon was a king. Moses was a shepherd. Paul was a tentmaker. Furthermore, these men wrote from almost every conceivable human condition. David wrote from heights of joy on the rolling, grassy hills of Judea. Paul wrote from pits of despair caused by Roman incarceration. They wrote in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), from at least two continents (Europe and Asia), over a period of time that spanned sixteen centuries (approximately 1500 B.C. to approximately A.D. 100). And they covered topics as diverse as eschatology, soteriology, theology, psychology, geography, history, medicine, and many others.
All this being true, one might expect that so diverse a group of men, writing on so varied a group of subjects, over such a lengthy span of time, would have produced a book that would be a tangled mishmash of subjects more often than not marred by inconsistencies, errors, and incongruities. Yet this hardly is the case. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The Bible exhibits such astounding harmony, such consistent flow, and such unparalleled unity that it defies any purely naturalistic explanation. It is as if the Bible were a magnificent symphony orchestrated by a single Conductor. The “musicians” each may have played a different instrument, in a different place, at a different time. But when the talented Maestro combined the individual efforts, the end-result was a striking masterpiece.
Consider this analogy. Suppose you assembled forty contemporary scholars with the highest academic training possible in a single field of study (e.g., forty academicians with terminal Ph.D. degrees in world history). Suppose, further, that you placed them in a room, and asked them to write a twenty-page paper on a single topic—the causes of World War II. What kind of consensus would be exhibited when all of their treatises were completed? Likely, the forty scholars would be unable to agree on all but a few points; their compositions would be recognized more for the disagreements they contained than for the agreements. The Bible writers, by contrast, generally were not contemporaries. They worked independently, and the majority never even met another biblical writer. Most were not highly trained, and what training they did have certainly was not in the same field of study. Nor were they allowed to write on a single topic in which they already had an interest. Yet they produced a book that is unified from beginning to end. The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles and 1 and 2 Kings corroborate one another in numerous historical events. Joshua 1 verifies Deuteronomy 34. Judges 1:1 verifies Joshua 24:27-33. Jeremiah 52:31-34 verifies 2 Kings 25:25,27-30. Ezra 1 verifies 2 Chronicles 36:22-23. Daniel refers to Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2), and Ezekiel refers to Daniel (Ezekiel 28:3). And so on. This kind of unity, which is in evidence throughout the Sacred Volume, attests to the fact that there was a Superintending Intelligence behind it. So many writers, over so many years, covering so many themes, simply could not have been so harmonious by mere coincidence.
Each book of the Bible complements the others in a single, unified plan. In Genesis, there is the record of humanity’s pristine origin and covenant relationship with God, followed by its tragic fall into a sinful state. But, a specific family line (the Hebrew nation) was selected to provide a remedy for this disaster (Genesis 12:1ff.; 22:18). Man needed to learn precisely what sin is, thus the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy document the giving of the law of God to Moses. Via a set of ordinances, sin would be defined and humanity would be illuminated regarding the price of rebellion against God (Romans 7:7,13; Galatians 3:19). The historical books of the Old Testament revealed mankind’s inability to keep perfectly God’s law system (Galatians 3:10), and therefore underscored the need for a Justifier—Someone to do for man what he could not do for himself. The prophets of the Old Testament heralded the arrival of that Savior (Luke 24:44); more than 300 prophecies focus on the promised Messiah.
After four silent centuries (the “inter-biblical era”), four Gospel writers described in great detail the arrival, and life’s-work, of the Justifier—Jesus of Nazareth. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are carefully crafted accounts of the birth, life, death, and ultimate resurrection of the Son of God (John 20:30-31). Each emphasized different parts of Christ’s ministry in order to relate the “good news” to Jews or Gentiles. Matthew directed his record primarily to the Jewish nation. Mark stressed the works of Jesus. Luke, being the only Gentile writer of a Bible book (except possibly the author of Job), wrote to Gentiles. John’s primary purpose in writing was to produce faith.
The book of Acts was written to convey the means by which mankind was to appropriate God’s saving grace. It is a historical record that instructs a person on how to become a Christian. It also teaches about how the church of Christ was established in Jerusalem, and how that same church flourished throughout the Roman Empire of the first century. The various epistles that follow the book of Acts in the English Bible were directions to individuals and churches on how to obtain, and maintain, spiritual maturity. Finally, the book of Revelation predicted (in symbolic fashion) the ultimate triumph of good over evil—acknowledging that Christians would win, and Satan would lose. To the careful reader, the unity of both theme and plan in the Bible are apparent.
The Harmony of the Book
The Bible is not just one single book – it’s a diverse collection of 66 thoroughly harmonious books with one single theme that contains a broad variety of genres: historical, narrative, epic, law, poetry, prophecy, wisdom, gospel, apocalyptic and letters. The harmony, of the BIBLE is a miracle each book of the Bible complements the others in a single unified theme. From Genesis to Revelation there is a marvelous unfolding of the general theme of man’s fall from his holy estate, God’s plan for his redemption (as carefully worked out across the centuries), the sinless life and atoning death of Jesus Christ, and the ultimate victory of the Christian system. In essence, the Bible is the story of one problem—sin—with one solution, Jesus Christ. In commenting on the Bible’s remarkable unity of theme, Wayne Jackson has noted: The redemptive thread that runs through the Scriptures is wonderfully illustrated by a comparison between Genesis and Revelation, the first and last books of the holy canon. In Genesis the origin of the heavens and Earth is revealed (1:1), while in Revelation the consummation of earthly affairs is effected, and the old order is replaced by a “new heaven and earth” (i.e., heaven itself), spiritual in nature.... Man, who was originally perfect, but who fell into sin (Genesis 3:6), is, by virtue of his obedience, granted the opportunity to become perfect again (Revelation 7:14; 22:14). All of this is made possible, of course, by the seed of woman (Genesis 3:15), the offspring of David (Revelation 22:16), who, as a consequence of his sacrifice (Genesis 4:4), became an enthroned Lamb (Revelation 21:4). Thus, the sorrow of Eden (Genesis 3:16) will be transformed into the joy of heaven (Revelation 21:4), and that tree of life, from which our early parents were separated (Genesis 3:22-24), will be our glad possession once more (Revelation 22:14) [1991, 11:1].
If the Bible is true, then in its pages we can find ultimate meaning for our lives and the God we have searched for. We can read of His mighty and gracious acts among people and nations in the Old Testament, and we can especially see His love and compassion in the New Testament. For it is undeniably true that if we want to know who God really is, and what He is really like, we only need to look at Jesus Christ (John 14:6-11; 12:44,45). To know that the Bible is reliable is to know that all of what it teaches is reliable. And what it teaches is that the one true God sent His only Son to die for our sins so that we could inherit eternal life as a free gift (John 3:16; Rom. 3:22-26). Such a claim is phenomenal in its uniqueness and profundity. If the Bible is truly God’s Word to us, and if we reject its message of salvation, then no other personal decision they make will be more consequential. Therefore no one can fail to ignore the issue of the reliability of the Bible—not merely its historical reliability but its spiritual reliability as well.
To be continued…………