The Holy Scriptures, Part 2 – Introduction

Introduction

What is the Bible? To some this might seem to be a silly question. But considering the fact that few people in modern civilized society today ever read it or know much about it, it shouldn’t be too silly a question to ask. Here is a book that has been around for thousands of years, a book virtually everyone knows exists, but it is also one in which few people have the vaguest notion of what is in it or what it actually says. Today in public schools the study of comparative religion is taught, sometimes even at the elementary school level. So everyone knows that the Bible is a religious book, but most would rate it alongside other religious books such as the Bhagavad Gita of the Hindus, or the Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Muslim Koran, or for that matter the Book of Mormon.

Many verses of the Bible are repeated by people in public and private conversation, sometimes in its proper context but more often than not, inaccurately. Dr. Jay Adams of Nouthetic Counseling fame refers to this as Bible plaqueitis. Nouthetic (Gr. noutheteo, to admonish) Counseling is a form of biblical or pastoral counseling. Adams notes that people will see verses of Scripture on plaques and various other items of religious junk and adopt them as personal sayings, giving their own meaning to it in the process. This has led to an absence of right thinking about Christianity. For instance most people think of Jesus as a good man who lived long ago, but other than that can say nothing else about Him. This is a day in which the quality of public discourse has sunk to such a low level that for many people the mention of the name Jesus Christ is nothing but a curse word.

This essay is not about Bible study, or Bible doctrines, or Bible versions, or even about a particular Greek text, but about all of these things put together as they relate to the Holy Scripture. What is meant by the term Holy Scripture? Actually, the title Holy Scripture is a misnomer in a way, for the word Scripture by itself means sacred literature. As sacred literature the word Scripture includes the idea of that which is holy. So then it is the study of sacred literature that is being pursued when the subject of Scripture is considered. So why add the word Holy to the word Scripture? It is precisely for this reason, many religions have sacred literature they lay claim too as their source book of Divine law or revelation. But none of these religions have such sacred literature as that which comes from the living, true, and holy God that created everything that exists. Only the Christian faith which is founded upon the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments can say their sacred writing is Holy Scripture.

This is so because Scripture reveals the Christian God as the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, the only Divine Being that can rightfully be called Holy. Therefore, only a collection of writings that come from this eternal God must of necessity be called Holy. The descriptive of Holy added to the word Scripture (Gr. graphe) does in fact, answer the question of what is meant by the term Holy Scripture. The term Holy Scripture, does do justice to such a book as this that comes from a Holy God. But here is a major difference between the two. The concept of Holy as it pertains to God is something that means wholly other, unknown or transcendent. This is eminently true of God. But the Holy Scripture is different in that it is not something transcendent, for it is the revelation of God to mankind. It makes Him and His ways known to others that are not holy.

A study of Holy Scripture is like the study of no other book can be. It is true that what is called the Holy Scriptures is a book written by men, but there is no other book ever written like this one. This is because the contents of this book originate with God and not men. They are given to the men who have been chosen as used as God’s instruments, in the process of writing it down. As such, the Scriptures are uniquely special, unlike any other book ever written. The Scriptures make God known, in that they reveal His ways, His will, His wisdom, His purposes, His power, and His promises. In short, the Scriptures reveal the character of the unseen God and make Him and His ways knowable to man.

The Scriptures reveal man to himself as well, which he would not otherwise know except that it is revealed by his Creator. Man of course, can analyze himself, but not in a truly objective manner. Only the One who created man can do this accurately. For this reason the Scripture is an honest book like no other book is. The study of Scripture then truly makes one wise, for it acts as both an intellectual and a spiritual mirror to man, reflecting the image of what he should be in the light of what God has revealed of Himself. From the beginning pages of the Scriptures to their end this is done. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:23,24).

The Scriptures have stood the test of time. They record the beginning of time and the history of mankind upon earth that followed it. They have been preserved by God since the time they were first committed to writing (Gen. 5:1), now to be used in the present era with all of its modernity. Men have believed in and worshiped God through this word. Many empires with their religious systems and practices have come and gone, and yet, the worship of the true God revealed in Scripture remains. This is no accident or chance occurrence. The God who created everything that exists has also directed history, His book must remain just like His people must remain. Though men have hated it, they have never been able to refute it or defeat it. They are gone and it still remains, proving the veracity of its claims. Many have tried to corrupt it in innumerable ways, misquoting it, misstating it, misinterpreting it, and even misprinting it. But still to this day, it can be had and read in accuracy in almost any place throughout the world.

The uniqueness and speciality of the Holy Scriptures cannot possibly be overstated, making it the most worthwhile book to read and study that can be on the face of the whole earth. The most special thing of all that the Scriptures reveal, is the Person of the Son of God, Jesus Christ who was sent into this world. Without the Holy Scripture, there would be no way for most of the people on earth over the last two thousand years to know that the Son of God had come. Without the Holy Scripture there would be no account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Scripture, not only would there be no record of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but there would be no teaching of the gospel to expound the glorious doctrines of God’s free grace in reference to it.

Without the Holy Scripture there would be no recorded prophecy of the Messiah’s first coming, nor of His return some day in glory to “judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). Without the Holy Scripture there would be no knowledge of the moral law in the form of the ten commandments, making it clear to man what God expects of His creatures made in His image. Without the Holy Scripture there would be no gospel account of Jesus Christ, nor any exhortation to sinners to believe in Him for salvation. Without the Holy Scripture there would be no warning of judgement to come, so that men might know what God will do with them (Heb. 9. 27). The Holy Scriptures are everything, especially to those who recognize them for what they are.

1- What do the Scriptures contain?

To an unregenerate mind and one not having any formal religious instruction, the Bible is nothing but a book of nonsense when it is examined (I Cor. 2:14). There are things in it that can be understood by the unenlightened mind for sure, but they appear to be nonsensical, fantastic stories that are unclear as to their meaning and therefore, uninteresting to read. When the Bible is first opened and read in a manner like any other book, the first couple of chapters in Genesis seem obvious enough in what is stated. The story of creation is clearly put straight forward in what it says. But once chapter 3 of Genesis are reached, suddenly all sense of clarity is lost on the unenlightened mind that observes a dialogue between a snake and a woman over a piece of forbidden fruit. Although a certain allegorical interpretation of this account might be considered by the average unenlightened reader, most people will fail to see it’s significance to the previous two chapters. The succession of characters and stories that follow in the Old Testament is quickly lost on the unbeliever.

The New Testament fares little better with the natural man. The Gospels are narratives about the ministry of Jesus, yet, few who are unconverted see Him as more than merely a good man and teacher. Usually, the story of Jesus’ crucifixion is taken as an object lesson of His devotion to be good in the face of evil. The letters to the churches with all their doctrinal instruction mean nothing at all to an unconverted man. Modern use of the English language has removed terminology from it once understood as theological in meaning, words such as justification, sanctification, redemption and so on. Ironically, everyone seems to know the verse that says “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1). This is true mainly because people today all want to be tolerated in everything they might indulge in. Nearly everyone knows that the Bible says that “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (I John 4:8). This is so because the average person supposes that love is all that God is, and nothing else.

People often make the Bible to say whatever they want it to say. If they want to engage in some kind of behavior, then the Bible is silent on it. If they are against something in particular, then the Bible condemns it. Many claim to have read the Bible and yet, know absolutely nothing about it. Still others reject the Bible altogether, who have never even read it. One thing is for certain about the Bible though, and that is that everyone has an opinion about it. The Bible is called a good book by many for whom it does no good. Likewise, the Bible is called evil by those who are themselves evil. The Bible is often used as an object to swear upon, even though it condemns the practice of swearing (Matt. 5:33-37). Large numbers of people say that they believe in the ten commandments in the Bible, and yet, at the same time when asked, cannot even name one of them. Clearly, this book called the Bible is seen as an enigma, a book of mysteries too much of the world.

To a person whose heart has been regenerated by the new birth in Jesus Christ, this book called the Bible is quite different. Everything in it speaks to the heart of the one whose mind has been enlightened by the Spirit of God. This is true even if the reader is not very knowledgeable in what the Bible teaches. Of course, the Bible is a book that was meant to be taught, to be learned by those whose lives have forever been changed by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Well then, what does the Bible teach? Is there a logical line of thought contained in it that can be ascertained by the average Christian? For the believer these are the questions that require an answer, an answer that the Bible most definitely provides for them. There is a format in the Bible that the student of it can learn from. There is a body of teaching contained in Scripture that is thoroughly logical, or rather it should be said, theological.

The Bible is a book of history

The Scriptures present an entire compendium of intellectual and spiritual study. First of all, the Scripture is a book of history. The Scripture is unique in that it is a record of the beginning of nature, time and space, from the only eyewitness. A permanent historical account of creation has been given that makes the very order known in which it all came into being, also the One who did it. Scripture records the formation of the first human being from dust, the man called Adam, and the second, his wife called Eve who was taken from his body (Gen. 2:7,22). Scripture explains what took place in the garden of Eden when man fell from fellowship with God through sin (Gen. 3:6,7). Scripture also records the chief adversary of God, Satan, who was present at man’s fall and participated in this event (Gen. 3:12,13). Without this record there would be no sense, no rhyme nor reason to the events of history. But with the accurate account that Scripture provides of history, it is not only possible to understand the meaning of it, but to learn of and to appreciate the wisdom and goodness of its author and director.

Scripture is not just an ordinary book of history, for there have been thousands upon thousands of them written and passed down through the ages, but none like this. Scripture records sacred history, better known as redemptive history. There is a pattern shown to history in terms of its redemptive purpose. Scripture records special periods of time in which God revealed Himself in a special way to people set apart for such a purpose. Starting first with Adam, then followed by Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, the Prophets and the Apostles, God progressively revealed Himself. While masses of men muddled about throughout history around God’s people, they were oblivious to what was happening in regard to His plan of salvation. God was making His salvation known to His people and effecting its fulfillment, all of which was recorded in Scripture.

Pharaoh became an unwitting host to Abraham by entertaining him during a famine (Gen. 12:10,14-16). The men who brought Joseph into Egypt had no idea that he would be instrumental in the sovereign preservation of Israel (Gen. 50:20,21). Pharaoh’s daughter unknowingly saved the future deliverer of Israel, Moses (Ex. 2:5,6). Cyrus, King of Persia was God’s anointed shepherd to His covenant people while in his captivity (Is. 45:1, 44:28). Cyrus was chosen for this beforehand, yet, all that he did in fulfillment of it was what he purposed to do in the course of his reign. The Scriptures seem to indicate that Cyrus was a believer in the God of Israel, but still it is uncertain to what extent this is meant. One thing that is certain about it is that God stirred Cyrus’ heart to serve Him and His people in the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-4). The temporal reestablishment of Jerusalem and Judah was vitally important to the purpose of God in redemptive history (Gen. 49:10). Many other people served the redemptive purpose of God in their actions too, such as Judas, Pilate, The High Priests who condemned Jesus, and the Jews who cried out “Crucify Him” (Luke 23:21). Little did they know that all that they did which was in their heart was the predetermined purpose of God in effecting the salvation of His people (I Cor. 2:7,8; Acts 2:23,24).

Therefore, Scripture brings out both the purpose of God in redemption and the way that He accomplishes it to the understanding of His people. It should be no surprise then that there has never been a single archeological discovery that has refuted the historical claims of Scripture. In fact, it has often been otherwise. For instance, a bell with a figure on top was discovered within a piece of coal that is believed to be an antediluvian artifact, it was found to be made from a previously unknown alloy.[1] Scripture asserts the ability to make such things has existed since the dawn of civilization (Gen. 4:22). Egyptian historical records say nothing of the exodus of Israel by the Hebrews and the consequential defeat of Pharaoh and His army at the Red Sea. This has led many scoffers in modern times to say that it never happened and that the Bible account is nothing but myth. Some go so far as to say the Hebrew people never even lived in Egypt. Much of this comes from the now famous discovery of the Raamses II tomb along with a tremendous amount of ancient Egyptian artifacts. There was no mention of the Exodus events found with these things.

This has been considered significant on account of the fact that Raamses II is believed by the secularists to have been the Pharaoh at the time of what they would call the Exodus myth. The date they ascribe for Raamses II would be about 1250 BC, a date that does not square with Scripture. Scripture places the time of the Exodus to be around 1440 BC (I Kings 6:1), and it should be no surprise to any believer to know that artifacts discovered at Jericho at this time (1400 BC) period bear this out.[2] The Pharaoh at that time was Thutmoses III, the son of the oppressing Pharaoh Thutmoses II whom Moses was named after, and the grandson of the friendly Pharaoh Thutmoses I. Interestingly, the Egyptian records which show 17 successful wars under Thutmoses III suddenly go silent at the exact time of the Exodus. It should be no surprise either that such a defeat would go unrecorded by the Egyptians.

For centuries there were no archeological evidence to support the Scriptural claim of the ancient Canaanite people called the Hittites. Again, scoffers in the 19th century used this to trash the biblical record as not being true. The mouth of these same scoffers was shut however, when in the early part of the twentieth century (1906) the entire ancient civilization of the Hittites was discovered in central Turkey dating from the second millennium BC. With this find was a library of ten thousand records giving support to Scriptural claims of its existence.[3] The fact that most of these ancient peoples recorded in Scripture seemed to disappear without a trace has to do with the judgement of God upon these nations, some of these of which Israel was sent to displace in Canaan (Deut. 9:1). Others are mentioned in Scripture in such places as Isaiah chapters 13-24 as included in God’s providential judgements throughout the world in general (Is. 24:1-6).

While God was disposed to preserve Israel, His covenant people, at the same time He was disposed to destroy those nations that worshiped idols in the ancient world. Therefore, they disappeared from prominence even though some modern nations have retained their ancient name, such as Egypt, Syria, Greece and Israel. Scripture records that when Israel turned to idolatry God even raised up pagan nations with their rulers to punish them. Just like the Egyptians who failed to record the shameful defeat they suffered at the hand of God, Israel would have preferred to leave a few chapters out of their recorded history. From their wilderness wanderings after the Exodus, to their final captivity in Babylon, Israel stands exposed in history by what Scripture recorded of their many defections from God. In the end though, God destroyed those nations He raised up to punish Israel because they arrogantly ascribed victory to themselves and their gods.

Therefore, Egypt served a purpose in the redemptive plan of God too, then He destroyed it so that it was never to become a power again. God did the same with other Empires that came and went such as Syria, Assyria, Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece, and the Roman empire. Each one of these nations served their historical part in God’s redemptive plan, then went their own way in a manner of speaking into the dustbin of history. The Holy Scripture makes sense of them, as to the reason behind their rise and falls in history, informing the faith of God’s people here and now in the present time. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4).

There is no better historical purpose revealed in Scripture than what is recorded about the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was a historical figure which very few people would deny. Why is this? Just like many other historical figures the words and actions of Jesus recorded in Scripture have affected men over the last two thousand years. But unlike other men in history Jesus is the Son of God incarnate, sent by Him to be the Savior of the world (John 4:42). Without Scripture as the inspired historical record it is doubtful that His miracles would have ever been preserved in the writings of men, or, if they had been, they would have become mythical epics such as with Greek and Roman heroes. Scripture tells of the virgin birth of Jesus, His dual nature in one person, His miraculous healings and casting out of demons, His death at the hands of the Jews and the Romans, and His resurrection and ascension as historical facts. Scripture even records that there were 500 witnesses to His resurrection, ensuring that any uninspired accounts of this in history to be legitimate and entirely acceptable (I Cor. 15:5-8).[4]

The Bible is a book of genealogy

The Bible provides man with a genealogical account of human history back to his very first parents, Adam and Eve. This is of great significance. Everyone is concerned about their roots, who they are and where they come from. Yet, today it’s rare for anyone to discover their distant descendants beyond a couple of generations. This is true of course, unless there is a famous member of the family whose life is well documented. The Bible anticipates this human desire by providing mankind with an accurate account of human origin back to the beginning of time. Why is this so important? It’s important because it traces humanity back to its source, God who created mankind. And it’s vitally important for people to understand that all men are related by nature and family. Evolutionary theory suggests that the origin of man is from some primordial slime. The Bible shows that what man is today he was at the beginning of time in terms of nature. Bible genealogy brings man back to the beginning, back to his first parents.

Scripture records the first two sons born to Adam and Eve were Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:1,2). The first genealogy given in Scripture is the family of Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve (Gen. 4:17-22). By observing this genealogy a number of things are brought to our attention. First, there had to be female children born to Adam and Eve, that would explain where Cain obtained his wife from in order for him to have children. This is shocking to sensibility when considered. Modern society rightfully rejects marriage between members of the same family, in large part due to physical abnormalities in offspring that are caused from this. Even Scripture condemns this practice too (Lev. 18:6). Obviously, it was a different matter in the beginning, but how so? The answer is in what the Bible records of the fall of man in Genesis three. When man died as a result of the fall, he died, both spiritually and physically, though the later occurred over time. The biological purity of the human race before the fall, was no hindrance to the propagation of it. Nor would it have been so initially after the fall, even though it came to be over time.

The second thing to observe about Cain’s genealogy is that his firstborn son Enoch was the builder of a city (Gen. 4:17). This fact informs the reader that right from the beginning civilization began to develop, rather than the idea that men lived in caves. In Cain’s list of descendants there are several skills and abilities mentioned, that support this contention. Jabal was a farmer, his brother Jubal was a musician who played both harp and flute, and Tubal-Cain was a craftsman of iron and bronze (Gen. 4:20-22). All of this suggests that civilization right from the beginning wasn’t much different from modern times, except for advanced technology. This also illustrates the importance of the first genealogical record which God preserved in the book of the Bible for the modern reader. Cain killed his brother Abel. It is not surprising, in his genealogical account there is mention of one of his descendants who did the same thing, showing that certain patterns of sin are sometimes inherent within families (Gen. 4:23,24).

Adam and Eve had another son to take the place of Abel called Seth (Gen. 4:25). Seth had a son called Enosh and Scripture makes a point to say that in Seth’s family there was faith in God, unlike Cain and his descendant’s (Gen. 4:26). In Genesis chapter five therefore, Scripture provides a large genealogical record which begins with Adam, and ends with his descendant Noah. This is so in order to convey that Adam’s line through Seth were believers in God according to His covenant promise of redemption in the garden (Gen. 3:15). This genealogy is vitally important because in Noah’s day God destroyed the world through the flood, saving only him and his family. This makes everyone who lives today, and has ever lived on earth, the direct descendant of Adam through Noah. It also provides a generational time line in history, beginning with man’s creation and ending at the flood, which shows a span of approximately two thousand years.

Noah and his wife repopulated the earth through his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth (Gen. 9:18,19). So it’s not surprising that DNA confirms that everyone on earth is related. Since everyone is related through one of the three sons of Noah, from the genealogical record supplied in Genesis chapter ten it’s easy to trace the migration of people through these families as to where they settled and multiplied. The Ark had rested on “the mountains of Ararat” which straddles the border between Turkey and Armenia, according to Scripture (Gen. 8:4). From there, Noah and his family descended and returned to the place of their origin due south in lower Mesopotamia, in the area where the garden of Eden had been (Gen. 2:10-14). All of the civilizations that sprang up after the flood have their roots from this one general location. The earliest known post flood civilization is Sumeria. The earliest known non biblical account of the flood were written by the Sumerian king in a tale called the Gilgamish epic.

When matching the biblical record of the settlement of Noah’s family with what’s known about post flood civilization, we are provided a basis for tracing mankind’s roots back to him. Scripture reveals that the family of Japheth settled from the Adriatic seacoast northwest of Mesopotamia, to the mountainous area eastward to the Caspian Sea (Gen. 10:2-5). Civilizations that came from this family are known as the Greeks, the Cypriots, the Scythians, and the Medes. The son’s of Ham settled from the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea, southward along the coast to what is now Northern Africa (Gen. 10:6-20). Several nations that came, from Ham’s family, were the Egyptians, the Philistines, the Canaanites, and the Hittites. Shem’s family was centrally located in Mesopotamia, spreading out as far south as the Arabian peninsula, and as far southeast as the Persian Gulf (Gen. 10:21-31). From Shem’s descendants came the Syrians, the Assyrians, the Persians, and the Arabians. Most importantly of all, the son’s of Shem were those whom God gave His covenant, the Hebrew people.

From this axis mankind spread out to the four corners of the earth, to every continent on the globe. Of all the areas of the earth where people inhabit, there are roughly three central regions that relate to the family of Noah and it’s migration. The Shemites are made up of various peoples in the Middle East and extend all the way to the Far East, the Japhites are the various people of Europe, and the Hamites are those who populated the continent of Africa.[5] Without the genealogical records of Scripture there would be no way to make these connections. Even though ancient civilizations left many important records of historical interest, still none could provide the information such as Scripture does through genealogy. The genealogical record of mankind is given by God who is all knowing because he decreed it all to happen. Therefore, the Bible provides a thorough accounting that emanates from an all-encompassing knowledge that makes it possible for man to know his origin.

The sons of Shem were the people that God committed His eternal covenant of grace to. Not that every one of them is saved by it, but that they as a people and nation should possess the signs and privileges of this covenant as earthly people. Many of the Shemites, later known as the Hebrews or Jews, were indeed saved under this covenant of grace. All awaited the coming of one particular son of Adam who was to be the Savior of all men marked out for this very thing by God. The Savior, Jesus Christ, was a Jew. Therefore, the role of genealogy in Scripture recorded by the Jews was made important by this fact. Not only that, but the covenant requirement of the Jewish people was a traceable lineage to its progenitor Abraham, in order to make any claim upon it. The whole legitimacy of Israel as a nation depended upon its ability for each and every member to show his relation to Abraham, the one to whom God gave the covenant.

God’s promise of a kingdom to Abraham was not just to the Jews but also to a much larger group of people throughout the world (Gen. 12:1-3). In the Old Covenant God declared Israel to be a kingdom and nation (Ex. 19:5,6). The books of both Kings and Chronicles were given by God for the express purpose of establishing the theocratic succession of Israel’s throne throughout its earthly reign. When Jesus Christ appeared publically to certify His Messiahship through miracles, it was also necessary for Him to certify his relationship to the covenant. First, Jesus needed to show His relationship to the covenant through King David and Abraham (Matt. 1:1). Second, Jesus needed to show his human relationship to Adam and Noah (Luke 3:23-38). Of course, Jesus was not born of Joseph after the flesh, but rather from Mary, according to the virgin birth conceived of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason for two different genealogies of Jesus’s family in Scripture. Matthews genealogy is through Mary, while Luke’s genealogy is through Joseph. Both people however, were descendants of David, Abraham, Noah, and Adam.

Initially, only Jews followed the Messiah, but afterward, large numbers of Gentiles did too just as it was revealed in the promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:3; John 1:12). In the New Covenant God has a kingdom and people too (I Peter 2:5). It is not necessary any longer for someone to have a family relationship to Abraham, because saving faith is spiritual (Rom. 4:13-16). But nevertheless, it’s still important for every believer to know how God has certified His Son Jesus. God certified the Messianic nature of Jesus’ ministry, and His relationship to the covenant at His baptism (Matt. 3:16,17). But the written historical record of Jesus’ genealogy provides the world with proof of His human and ethnic background. Origins are important to everyone but there is non more important than the one had by Jesus of Nazareth. As a Son of Adam, and yet, one without his sin, there is in Him true hope for the world. Jesus’ human origins put forth genealogically connect Him to every other son of Adam. Jesus kept the law that God gave to Adam, but failed to keep.

The Bible is a book of prophecy

The Bible contains a tremendous amount of material that is prophetic in nature. It is a book of prophecies. In the great scheme of God, the prophetic nature of the Bible serves to fulfill the need that every man has in believing that there is a purpose in all that comes to pass. Man has always been curious of what the future will bring, intrigued by the mysteries it will reveal. Since the dawn of time men have looked to the stars to find some indication of future events. This is something they do, of course, because of their fall away from God. Although a true knowledge of God has been corrupted in man, yet, a pursuit of the Divine remains within him nevertheless. To this day, great multitudes of people live their lives from day to day according to what their horoscope says will happen. People are infatuated with the concept of destiny, although admittedly it is according to the dictates of chance. This fascination with the future is based on the notion of open theism which says that if there is a God behind it all, He is subject to all the contingencies of nature.

The true God of Scripture is the Holy One who inhabits all eternity (Is. 57:15). This makes God the One who knows the end from the beginning, with everything that takes place in between (Rev. 1:8). It pleased God therefore, to tell man in His word a great many things that He would bring to pass over time. Much of what Scripture has prophesied in the past has already been fulfilled, giving credibility to its authenticity. But there is still a great deal of prophecy in Scripture that has not yet come to pass. Indeed, some prophecy will not be fulfilled until the end of time. The incredible thing about this is that God, whom man does not know aright, purposes to make many of His intentions known to him in the Bible, if he will only read it. And because of the preponderance of prophetic material in God’s word, it comprises one of the major parts of it that should be of interest to His own people too.

The first prophetic word that appears, in Scripture, is the promise of a Savior to Adam and Eve, one who would be her “Seed” (Gen. 3:15). More important, this was a promise to all who would be saved throughout history. There is very little information indicated in this promise about Him, only the fact that it would be a son of the woman that would crush the head of the serpent (Satan). This is often referred to as a pre gospel message. In fact, it was the first Messianic prophecy of Jesus Christ to God’s first redeemed people. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament prophesies concerning Jesus and His coming would abound. What made this aspect of the prophecy so important was that the faith of all Old Testament saints was based on the promise that a Savior would come. Throughout the Old Testament Scripture this theme was repeated and developed for them to believe. Every prophetic word that came to them of the Messiah was good news. And each one of the prophecies that appeared in the Old Testament was built upon the first.

Abraham was the recipient of the same original promise. God revealed Himself to Abraham and promised him a land, a nation and a family that would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). Furthermore, God promised this blessing to all families of the earth. How would this be? It was by giving him a Son who would be the “Seed” of the woman prophesied in the garden, the Savior Jesus Christ. Abraham did receive a son, but not the expected one, yet this son Isaac would contribute his humanity toward its fulfillment. The prophecy of a Savior was fulfilled in the carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus Christ. By the means of His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, Jesus would crush Satan’s power of sin and death that he had held over God’s people (Rom. 16:20). News of this to the world is the gospel, the good news that Jesus was sent to bless all families of the earth, just as prophesied (John 3:16, Mark 16:15,16).

It was Abraham’s grandson Jacob, who would begin to fulfill the prophetic promise. Jacob’s twelve sons became the patriarchal heads of the tribes that made up the nation of Israel. To them and their descendants was the land of Canaan given. God revealed this to Jacob, therefore, he prophesied, it would be a son of Judah who was the Messiah (Gen. 49:8-10). Jacob’s prophetic utterance declared the nation of Israel was established by God’s law, ruled by future kings from his son Judah. This kingdom would not end until the Messiah came to rule over it, bringing it to full realization. David was a son of Judah and Israel’s greatest king, to him Jacob’s prophetic promise came of a seed who would sit upon his throne forever (II Sam. 7:12,13). The covenant however, was not in David’s son Solomon, but in his son Jesus who was the true seed and heir of the kingdom. Jesus is the Messiah who was born in fulfillment of all the kingdom promises.

To each one of Jacob’s sons an allotment of land was given in the land of Canaan. But it was in Judah the Messiah would be born. Judah is where the city of God Zion, was situated, in the place where its kings ruled. Jerusalem (Zion) was the special place where God’s temple was built. The temple was where God’s glory dwelt. There He met with Israel once a year on the day of atonement to receive their offering. Later on in Israel’s history the kingdom became divided when ten of the twelve tribes separated to form another kingdom. But it was still Judah that remained the center of all of God’s dealings in fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy, that the law nor the lawgiver would depart until the Messiah came (Gen. 49:10). Many other things could be said of Jacob’s prophetic words for they portrayed Judah as a type of the Messiah. His brothers would praise him someday, he would overcome his enemies and command the worship of his brethren (verse 8). Judah was a lion, a king, a ruler, commanding obedience from his subjects (verses 9,10). Judah would bind his donkey to the vine and wash his garments in blood (verse 11).

Much later in Israel’s history (750 BC) God spoke through the Prophet Micah expanding upon Jacob’s words in a more specific manner. This time the prophetic utterance was not simply focused on the land of Judah as the place where the Messiah would come from, but more specifically, the very town in Judah that He would be born (Mic. 5:2). It was no wonder that when the wise men came from the east seeking the newly born Jewish king they approached king Herod to inquire of the exact location. A search in the prophecy of Micah pinpointed the little town of Bethlehem as that place (Matt. 2:1-6). This brings up an interesting point about ancient prophecies in the Bible. Jesus is said to be from the land of Galilee which was the outer fringe of the defunct northern kingdom. Specifically, Jesus is identified as from the town of Nazareth which was no where near Judah. So how did Jesus end up being born in Bethlehem? The answer is in the sovereign providence of God from whom all prophecies in Scripture come.

Joseph and Mary were originally from the tribe of Judah but somehow had come to live in Nazareth. It was there that Mary became pregnant, and certainly, it wouldn’t be normal for her to be traveling any long distances. The occasion for her return to Judah while pregnant occurred on account of Caesar Augustus ordering a census for tax purposes (Luke 2:1-7). Everyone was ordered to return to their city of origin, and so it was that Jesus was born there in Bethlehem. The providence of God was at work through the unregenerate Augustus, thereby proving the absolute certainty of prophetic fulfillment. And that is not all, for Micah prophesied about more than just the location of the Messiah’s birth. He prophesied about the specific nature of the Messiah. The Jews imagined that the Messiah would be a great deliverer for Israel, but they did not imagine that He would be God!

Micah revealed this when he said “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” (Mic. 5:2). But he also made more than that known when he revealed in the prophecy that God was talking about God through Him! More important, Micah’s prophecy not only revealed the Divine nature of the Messiah, but also His human nature too (Mic. 5:3). This Micah did by foretelling the birth of Jesus while at the same time asserting His Divinity. In the Old Testament, the saint’s of God were never explicitly told about the Trinity, that the God they knew as one in Being was also three distinct persons (Deut. 6:4, I John 5:7). Yet in Micah’s prophecy God is talking in the first Person about Himself in the second Person as Israel’s long awaited Ruler, and someone who will be born at the same time!

God the Father spoke about God the Son and His future entrance into the world in other places too. It was prophesied to David in the Psalms (Ps. 2:2-8). Here, the Son is revealed as distinct from the Father, the eternally begotten, yet a human ruler. Isaiah prophesied the same but in greater detail of His earthly ministry (Is. 42:1-7, 49:1-8). Furthermore, the dual nature of the Messiah in one person revealed by Micah, was made clear when the angel announced to Mary that she would be impregnated by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-35). How could Micah have known any of this would happen unless He was made aware of it by God Himself? And finally, Micah was not the only prophet to have been shown this astounding truth about the virgin birth from God. Isaiah prophesied not only of the virgin birth (Is. 7:14, 9:6; Matt. 1:23), but also of the vicarious suffering and death of the Divinely incarnated Messiah (Is. 53).

Aside from the central theme of Scripture which is the Lord Jesus Christ and everything that pertain to Him, there are many other instances of prophecy and fulfillment found in Scripture. After David’s kingdom was established, it collapsed under his son Solomon who went after other gods. It separated into two kingdoms, Israel to the north and Judah to the south. So from that time forward God sent prophets to both Judah and Israel to warn them against further apostasy. Elijah was the first of these prophets. He was sent to warn King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel of judgement, for they had established Baal worship in Israel (I Kings 16:29-34). Elijah prophesied and performed many miracles showing God’s hand against Israel, but also for His people. Elijah’s understudy Elisha took over after he went to be with the Lord. So Elisha asked and was given “a double portion” of his spirit, in order to prophesy and perform twice as much as Elijah (II Kings 2:9).

God sent many more prophets to both Judah and Israel with a specific purpose in view. These prophets and their writings comprise a large section of the Old Testament and are divided into two categories, the major and minor prophets. The prophetic purpose God assigned to these men, whose books they are named after were twofold. 1) The message of impending judgement and destruction of Israel for its sin. 2) The message of eventual restoration and blessing of Israel in a restored kingdom for God’s glory. To understand the Bible, it is absolutely necessary to understand its prophetic motif. God put forth prophecy and fulfillment as a major component of the Bible. In the Old Testament there was never to be any true lasting fulfillment of God’s kingdom in the nation of Israel, for it always looked ahead toward something better, something permanent and lasting. All of the prophecies therefore that centered around the kingdom of Israel were to have their fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

A great deal of history took place in the world surrounding Israel in order for the Old Testament purpose of God’s future kingdom to be realized. Daniel was taken captive to Babylon after the complete annihilation of the kingdom of Israel. He read from Jeremiah’s prophecy and realized why this had happened to them (Jer. 9:1,2). Prophecies of major importance from a historical perspective were given to Daniel by God in order to set the world stage for the coming of the Messiah. Daniel had already received prophecy concerning Babylon and it’s king earlier on in his book. Now in chapter nine perhaps the greatest of the prophecies was given, this is at least according to a former Christian minister Arno Gabelein (1861-1945) who wrote a paper entitled ‘Fulfilled Prophecy a Potent Argument for the Bible.’ In it Gabelein has a section entitled ‘The Greatest of All’ which is well worth looking at.

The greatest prophecy in the Book of Daniel is contained in the ninth chapter, the prophecy concerning the 70 weeks, transmitted from heaven through Gabriel. (Daniel 9:24-27). To many readers of the Book of Daniel it is not quite clear what the expression “seventy weeks” means, and when it is stated that each week represents a period of seven years, many Christians do not know why such is the case. A brief word of explanation may therefore be in order. The literal translation of the term “seventy weeks” is “seventy sevens.” Now this word “sevens” translated “weeks” may mean “days” and it may mean “years.” What then is meant here, seventy times seven days or seventy times seven years? It is evident that the “sevens” mean year weeks, seven years to each prophetic week. Daniel was occupied in reading the books and in prayer with the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity. And now Gabriel is going to reveal to him something which will take place in “seventy sevens,” which means seventy times seven years. The proof that such is the case is furnished by the fulfillment of the prophecy itself.

First we notice in the prophecy that these 70 year-weeks are divided in three parts. Seven times seven (49 years) are to go by till the commanded rebuilding and restoration of Jerusalem should be accomplished. In the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the command was given to rebuild Jerusalem. It was in the year 445 B.C., exactly 49 years after the wall of Jerusalem and the city had been rebuilt. Then 62 weeks are given as the time when Messiah should be cut off and have nothing. This gives us 434 years (62 times 7). Here is a prediction concerning the death of Christ. Has it been fulfilled? Chronology shows that exactly 483 years after Artaxerxes gave the command to restore Jerusalem (445 B. C.), 434 years after the city had been restored, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ took place.

To be more exact, on the day on which our Lord Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem for the last time, the number of years announced by Gabriel expired and the Lord was crucified that week. The proof of it is perfect. But there is more to be said. As a result of the cutting off of Messiah something else is prophesied. “And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” The prince that is to come (and is yet to come) is the little horn of Daniel 7. He arises out of the Roman Empire. The people of the prince that shall come are therefore the Roman people. They have fulfilled this prophecy by destroying the temple and the city.[6]

Daniel’s prophecy from a historical perspective is astounding to say the least. The accuracy of Daniel’s prophecy concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the death of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of the Roman Empire cannot be denied. But that is not all. The announcement concerning other empires and events that would intersect with those of chapter nine is taken up in prophetic pronouncement and fulfillment by Daniel in chapter eleven. The fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy has led many to say that this book was written after the facts recorded in them. But the discovery of the dead sea scrolls in 1947 and 1956 situated in the Qumran caves, have effectively shut the mouths of these critics ever since. The many texts (972) found there have been dated too as early as 150 BC, well before the events recorded in the New Testament of Jesus Christ. Daniel’s prophecy was given in 534 BC and foretold future events surrounding the Persian, Greek and Syrian Empires (Dan. 11:2-34). Again, Arno Gabelein in his article quoted above gives an excellent breakdown of these prophecies and their fulfillment in history.

Judging from the fact that Scripture gives many instances of fulfilled prophecies, it is safe then to believe that everything prophesied that has not yet come about, will come to pass. Peter points out the certainty of this in his book concerning the ministries of Noah and Lot (II Pet. 2:4-8). Peter labors to point out the certainty of God’s judgements respecting His prophets and what they were sent to convey. The Bible also contains many unfulfilled prophecies in order to elicit a proper response from its readers. Sadly, the world scoffs just like they did in the days of Noah and Lot, believing a day of judgement will never come (II Peter 3:3-9). The only thing that holds this judgement back from God is the fact that He still has yet to save those for whom Christ came to die. The Bible contains such fearful prophecies and judgements because there is a day coming when the last of God’s elect people have been effectually called. When that day comes, the end will come just as it has been predicted throughout Scripture (II Peter 3:10-13; Is. 65:17-25; Rev. 21:1-8).

The Bible is a book of Theology

The next thing that Scripture present to the reader, is a system of Theology suitable to the intellect of a creature that is made in the image of God. Aided by the Holy Spirit, the mind of man exposed to the doctrines of Scripture has his thoughts elevated to a level not possible otherwise. The term Theology is made up of two words that literally mean, God logic. In Scripture God has revealed Himself and His ways in the form of propositions of truth designed to inform and instruct the intellect of man as to his duty toward Him. This does not happen however, without telling man why this duty is expected and so important. The doctrines of God in Scripture are His thoughts given to man. They speak of Him to the creature. Although they are high and lofty and full of the most profound verities, still there is a logic contained in them that is attainable to the mind of man if aided by His Spirit. To be able to think God’s thoughts after Him, and to comprehend them in any degree, is a great blessing that the apostle Paul prayed that the saints in Ephesus would attain (Eph. 1:15-17). Scripture is the means that makes this possible to man.

So what is it that the Scripture puts forth by way of theological proposition? There are in Scripture multitudes of doctrines to be ascertained by the reader. There are great general themes that appear everywhere throughout the Bible. Within those themes are specific doctrines of the faith. What are these great themes? God, creation, man, sin, law, grace, judgement, heaven and hell, these are just some of the great themes that concern the entirety of the Bible. More of them could certainly be brought up. But there is one great theme which overarches all of these other great themes of the Bible, it is the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. When confronted by the unbelieving religious leaders and challenged concerning His ministry, Jesus declared to them that the Bible is about Him (John 5:44). These religious leaders were well taught in the Bible but they never saw that it pointed to one person in particular, Jesus Christ. Every other great theme of Scripture comes together as a unity in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Savior, and the Judge of the world (John 1:1-4; Acts 4:10-12; II Tim. 4:1).

Each great theme of the Bible has its peculiar doctrines which arise from it. The doctrine of God reveals Him to be an eternal Spirit, Holy and a God of love (John 4:24; I John 1:5, 4:8). God is revealed as a Trinity of persons, and yet, one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of God ties into the doctrine of creation, both of man and angel, earth and sky, heaven and hell. The doctrines of law and grace, sin and judgement all have their starting point in God and His eternal decree. The Bible was given to man not only to make him conscious of his Creator, but of all these things that pertain to Him as individual doctrines. The creation testifies of a Creator but does not satisfy any of the logical questions which must arise from it. Who is God? Why did He create? The Bible supplies an answer to both of these questions. What about man, what is his relationship to the Creator? What purpose does mankind have to exist? And what are his duties if any to his Creator? These questions too are answered in Scripture.

It is obvious to man that both good and evil exist in the world. The problems arising from this fact have occupied man’s attention and interest for millennia. The Bible makes it clear that man was created upright, but he fell into sin and away from his Creator (Ecc. 7:29). The Bible supplies an exhaustive teaching to man about the presence and problem of sin in the world. Sinful man who is ignorant of God, and furthermore rejects Him out of hand, uses the presence of evil as an excuse not to serve Him. The truths which the Bible presents however, of the fact and consequences of sin, leave man without any excuse not to believe in God. Not only is the reason for evil given in Scripture but the solution for it. Heaven and hell are made known in Scripture as two places created by God, one or the other being the final destiny of every man. Consequently, the Bible makes the reality and presence of other created beings of a purely spiritual nature known, whose eternal destinies are either in heaven or hell too.

The Bible is a book that provides a system of law which defines both good and evil. Man of course, has a law code written within his heart left over from the fall (Rom. 2:14,15). The problem is that fallen nature of that without and that within man does not supply him with what he needs to fully understand it. Even worse than that, man does not have the ability to perform even what he knows to be right. Along with God’s law, the Bible gives His judgements concerning it (verse 16). God’s law is the basis for every law system known to man even if it is not understood. Nature makes the fact of a Creator known first, then the law second, and third because of these there is judgement (Rom. 1:18-20). It is the Bible however which explains these fully and properly so that God is glorified. The laws of man expressed in human government are meant only to satisfy man concerning his idea of justice. Therefore, there is oftentimes partiality in human judgements, with a lack of equal fairness in justice. The Bible sets God’s law forth as pertaining to the upholding of His glory. This makes His judgements and punishments fair, certain, and without partiality upon whom is judged. Man’s judgements are without mercy toward man, because he expects from others what he cannot perform himself. Scripture reveals that God is merciful and gracious while upholding law and judgement at the same time (Ex. 34:6,7).

The central purpose of the Bible, and indeed all of God’s purpose from eternity, is about Jesus Christ, who He is and what He came to do. Jesus Christ is introduced in the middle of the Bible (Matt. 1:1). Jesus Christ came into the world as a man in the middle of human history (Gal. 4:4). Everything in Scripture points either forward to, or either backward from the Person and work of Jesus Christ, He is what brings it all together as a unity. The Greeks had a philosophical concept of Divine revelation that they yearned to grasp and realize, albeit in their sinful and ignorant way. They termed this concept as the word, or the revelation (Gr. logos, John 1:1). The word logos are where the English word logic is derived. The Bible presents Jesus Christ as the Word incarnate, the Divine Person who came to reveal the unknown God because He is God. Jesus the Word was in the beginning with God and it was through Him that God created (John 1:1-3,14,18). Therefore, Jesus is also the Judge of the earth who will judge the living and the dead at His return.

Scripture reveals the peculiar nature of Jesus Christ, the God-Man. He is two natures in one person having been born of a virgin. Scripture reveals Jesus’ perfect, sinless life of faith and devotion to God, along with the performance of many miracles showing His authenticity as the Messiah. Scripture also reveals the vicarious sufferings of Jesus on the cross along with His resurrection from the dead and ascension into glory. But the Bible does not bring these events to man without interpretation. Man is not left to himself to guess what this is all supposed to mean. This great theme of the person and work of Christ in Scripture is supported throughout by closely reasoned arguments by the theology of inspired writers. This is true of both Testaments. The message of Jesus Christ contained in the Bible is not simply some concise statement from God about His Son in a couple of verses, for if that were true then all He would have sent the world was a tract. The message of the gospel is the entire book of the Bible from front to back, with all things spoken of therein (Matt. 28:18-20).

Scripture lays out a system of Theology that explains the gospel of Christ to the world. Regeneration, justification, imputation, adoption, sanctification, and glorification are all doctrines of salvation the Scriptures use to explain the gospel. God regenerates spiritually dead sinners by imparting renewed hearts to them by His Spirit (John 3:7,8; Eph 2:1). God justifies the ungodly by His free grace (Rom. 3:24). God imputes His righteousness to those whom He justifies (Rom.4:5-8). God adopts all those whom he saves into His family (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5). God sanctifies all whom He has elected to save (Eph. 5:26, I Thess. 5:23). And finally, God glorifies those whom He has bestowed all these gracious gifts too in Christ (Rom. 8:17,30).

Each one of the doctrines Scripture present gives a positive and logical pattern of truth that all works together in perfect harmony with each other. Paul exhorts Timothy to “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 1:13). Why is such a detailed system of doctrine given in Scripture? Isn’t it enough to say that if faith lays hold of Jesus Christ in the gospel, then God has forgiven the sins of the believer, why not leave it at that? These doctrines are given by God to fortify faith, to give substance to what it is that is believed. Otherwise, faith is nebulous, open to false interpretations which detract from the truth of the gospel. A logical pattern or system of Bible doctrines lay down an objective standard of practice for Christians to follow (Tit. 2:7). When Paul exhorts the brethren to follow his example, it is based on the pattern or “rule” of doctrine he follows, that should govern their “mind” and practice too (Phil. 3:16,17).

The corruption of these doctrines has plagued the church many times over the course of the last two centuries. When God reformed His church in western Europe in the sixteenth century He enabled certain men to comprehend the nature of the corruption which had taken place. These were godly men, men of sound learning and ability which God used to reform His church and set it on a different course than it had been for centuries. Many fundamental truths of Scripture had been altered by the corrupt institution of the Roman Catholic church. The main objective of the Reformers was to go back to Scripture, to the writings of the prophets and apostles, to the inspired word of God to see what He had said in it. John Calvin, Martin Luther, Huldryich Zwingli and all the other Protestant Reformers found everything in the Bible they needed to know and understand for faith, righteousness and assurance of salvation. The Catholics viewed Scripture as a book of mysteries that no one but the Pope could understand or comment on. Men were told to cast their faith upon the church and the Pope and to hope in abject fear that they might be saved.

The Reformers found that the Bible was anything but a book of mysteries which were hidden from their sight. Of course the Roman Catholic clergy were like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, blind leaders of the blind. God opened the minds of the Reformers who then looked into the perfect mirror of His word and saw the doctrines contained therein. The chief doctrines brought forth by the Protestant Reformers in order to correct the errors of Rome were to become known as the five solas (Latin, alone) of Scripture. First, Sola Scriptura or Scripture alone is the only authority for all faith and practice. Second, Sola Fide or faith alone is the only means in Scripture for justification. Third, Sola Gratia or grace alone is the only way that God saves. Fourth, Solus Christus or it is Christ alone who saves sinners. Fifth, Soli Deo Gloria or it is God’s glory alone which is at stake in the gospel. Without the doctrines of Scripture layed out in a perspicuous manner by God, there would have been no Reformation.

A hundred years after the Reformation began, there were challenges made within by remonstrants to the doctrines of Scripture recovered by the Protestant church. A broad church synod was called much like the Ecumenical councils held centuries before, in order to examine doctrinal errors arising from the controversy. It was held at the Dutch city of Dordrecht from November 1618 to May 1619. The remonstration was based on Pelagian heresy condemned at the council of Ephesus in 431. At issue was the question already addressed by the Reformers to the Roman church about the inability of man to perform good works that contribute to his salvation. Scripture is clear that God deals with sinful men on the basis of free grace alone (Sola Gratia). The doctrines of God’s free grace are revealed in Scripture as the main frame from which all others hang. The council of Dordrecht, found that the best way to express the main pillars upon which all these marvelous doctrines hang, is easily stated by the acronym TULIP.[7]

Scripture declares that man is first, totally (T) depraved by the fall and the imputation of Adam’s sin upon his posterity (Rom. 3:9-19,23; 5:12). Scripture teaches that God unconditionally elects (U) some people which He has decreed to save from eternity past (Jer. 31:3; Eph. 1:4,5). Scripture teaches that God appointed His Son to be a sacrifice for the sins of His elected people, limiting the extent of the atonement (L) to them alone (John 17:1,2, 6-9, 12, 20,21). Scripture teaches that it’s irresistible grace (I) which God exerts over His elect in order to draw them to Christ (John 6:44; 10:27). And finally, Scripture teaches that those who are the elect, those for whom Christ died, will persevere (P) in faith unto the end of their earthly life (John 10:28,29; Luke 22:32). The council of Dort (short) used Scripture, just like those councils before in ancient times, to refute error and to establish the true system of doctrine that Christians should follow. Therefore, God has provided His church a system of Theology in Scripture sufficient to save, sanctify, and glorify each one of His people.

The Bible is a book of wisdom

The Bible is last but not least a book of practical wisdom. The reason this is last in a list of what the Bible contains, is that anything which is truly practical must follow that which is doctrinal. Man’s problem is that he always starts at the wrong place when trying to come up with solutions to the problems of life. In assessing the problems of life man always starts with himself first, and then he decides what seems to be right for him (Prov. 14:12, 16:25). This is not so with the Bible. The Bible contains wisdom that is unlike that of man’s wisdom. Why is that? It is because of two reasons, the first being the source of that wisdom, and the second being the purpose of it. The Bible contains wisdom because God is the source of it. All wisdom originates with God who made all things, therefore, His book contains wisdom from Him. The purpose of wisdom then relates to God and what He determines to be right for man. This too is contained in His book.

Solomon was considered to be the wisest man on earth and so people came from near and far to seek his advice (I Kings 4:34). Where did Solomon get such wisdom? The Bible says it was God that gave Solomon wisdom, understanding and heart (I Kings 4:29). True wisdom cannot exist without these two other things because of how they relate, one to another. This is why man is totally deficient when it comes to true wisdom. Wisdom is knowing at all times what to do, what to think, what to say and how to act. Understanding is key to wisdom because how can one act without it? Solomon had wisdom because he had a knowledge of God to act upon. Solomon’s knowledge was acquired through God’s revelation of Himself contained in the Bible. If Solomon was the wisest man, and it came from the knowledge of God in the Bible, then this is where man should go first. Why doesn’t he go to the Bible first? Because man lacks the third thing God gave to Solomon, a heart (mind, will) to do so because of sin.

Solomon taught his son that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). Wisdom cannot be obtained where there is no fear of God first. The question is, what does that fear entail? It consists of a humble submission to the words of God, to His commandments, His judgements and His instructions (II Tim. 3:16,17). But alas, man does not believe this but looks for wisdom in himself. Man is a clever creature for sure, but after six thousand years of history what has man accomplished? Man has gone to the moon, but in the very same century this was done there were more wars on earth than ever before in history. Man has made unbelievable advances in medicine, yet millions of babies are slaughtered throughout the world each year by doctors. Man has obtained the technology to make incredible inventions for his use and pleasure, yet millions are homeless and hungry in this world.

The wisdom of man does not make him one whit better as a person when all is said and done. Knowledge does nothing for a man, except to make him proud, arrogant and unconcerned for his fellow man. The pursuit of academic knowledge is not the problem man has, although he thinks it so. Wisdom is man’s problem because he does not fear God. This is why wisdom in God’s word is inseparably connected to fearing Him. Wisdom is knowing what to do with knowledge, doing what is right for the right reasons. That which is truly practical for man glorifies God first. The Bible addresses all things that pertain to God and explains them to man in a system of Divine, logical truth which can be comprehended when enabled by God. Then it sets forth what to do with that truth by way of practical use.

Take the law of God for instance. It is set forth as a set of precepts known as the ten commandments. Sinful men look at these as simply ten prohibitions, things that shouldn’t be done. The ten commandments are seen by most men as something purely negative, something which restricts his absolute freedom. At the same time if asked, almost everyone, will say that they believe in the ten commandments. This should be of no surprise because man looks at everything in a legal way, especially matters of religion. Consequently, in today’s modern society there are so many laws, regulations, codes and statutes on the books that there is very little true freedom at all. Government believes it must tell everyone what to do or not do with dire warnings against its noncompliance. This is the same wisdom that sees God’s commandments as purely negative and restricting. Legal battles have been waged many times over the posting of God’s commandments in the public square. What this battle appears to be in the mind of people is a battle over whose negativity should rule over everyone that of religion or that of secularism.

The amazing thing about this is that the commandments of God are not what unregenerate men and religious hypocrites imagine them to be. In fact, God’s commandments are His wisdom. Every command given in a negative form by God implies the inverse positive truth. Unless one fear’s God however, he cannot see this. How should the ten commandments be understood? Jesus gives the answer in the Bible when he tells His disciples to love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:15). What, love and commandments are given in the same sentence? What commandments is Jesus talking about? Jesus is talking not only about the ten commandments but about every “word” of God ever given (Matt. 4:4). God’s commandments cannot be negative if Jesus joins them together with His love which is positive. That is why the Psalmist says that in keeping Gods law there is great reward, for it is a wise thing, and an eminently practical thing to do (Ps. 19:7-11).

To go even farther, when the ten commandments are looked at rightly, they present themselves in a certain light to the regenerated mind. The first four commandments in the list have respect to God Himself. They all reveal God as a single Being, eternal and unchanging and therefore, separate from His creation (Ex. 20:3-11). The first four commandments involve the worship of God, or man’s exclusive duty to Him. The second six commandments have respect to man in his relationship to his fellow man (Ex. 20:12-17). These six commandments concern man’s duty to man. So then, the ten commandments of God are really two tables of one code given in the form of specific things that relate to love to God, and love to neighbor. This is exactly what Jesus said when questioned by a lawyer about the law (Matt. 22:35-40). In this exchange Jesus referred to the commandments as two in number, love for God and love for man. Jesus went even further when He said the entire Scripture is supported by these two commandments.

The law of God then is the wisdom of God when understood spiritually. It is both positive and negative depending on how it is applied, and one of the most practical things in the Bible to know. But there is something, or it should be said, someone in the Bible that is far more practical and wise to know, and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the central theme of all Scripture which has already been established. Not surprisingly then, wisdom is presented in the form of a person in its ultimate sense in Proverbs chapter eight, pointing to Jesus Christ as its embodiment. Wisdom is said to “Cry out” its message which points to a person or messenger (Prov. 8:1). Throughout Proverbs eight wisdom is spoken of repeatedly (15 times) in the form of the first person, the singular personal pronoun “I.” Wisdom says “Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, And from the opening of my lips will come right things” (Prov. 8:6). Does wisdom have lips to speak? No, but Jesus Christ the Son of God has lips for He is also the Son of Man in His excellent dual nature. Everything Jesus said is not only truth in the sense of the Divine Logos, but also Wisdom in the sense of its human application (John 1:1,18).

Proverbs chapter eight puts forth the assertion that men can obtain wisdom from God (Prov. 8:15,16). That is to say, wisdom begins with God as truth, then is manifested in the righteous life of the one it personifies. “In the beginning” John says, “the Word was with God,” and was present with Him during His act of creation (John 1:1-3). In Proverbs, Solomon says that Wisdom was with God “at the beginning” too, and was present with Him before His creative acts were done (Prov. 8:22,23). Clearly, the everlasting, separate nature of Wisdom as stated in Proverbs is not some inanimate object or principle, but a person whose life is equal to that of the eternal Deity. The living Wisdom spoken of in the language of the first person in Proverbs eight is none other than Jesus Christ who is also the living “Word” spoken of in the New Testament. To know Jesus Christ, is to know the Wisdom of God that is contained in the Bible.

The wisdom which Jesus Christ personifies is made known in the New Testament as the righteousness of God contained in the gospel (Rom. 1:16,17). This righteousness is God’s righteousness in Jesus Christ. This righteousness became wisdom from God at the cross of Jesus Christ where He dealt with sin in His death and resurrection, thereby overcoming it (I Cor. 1:30). Gospel salvation is based on His substitutionary atonement. There is a transfer of the sinner’s guilt upon Christ who knew no sin, and a transfer of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner who knew no righteousness (II Cor. 5:21). By faith in Him through the gospel the wisdom of God is effectually made known. So then, it is in believing in God’s righteousness in His Son, and His free grace to sinners in Him that the proper fear of God is established that wisdom requires. This is wisdom completely contrary and unknown to the world for it goes diametrically opposite to what their reason dictates. This is the wisdom contained in Scripture (I Cor. 1:21-25).

Simply reading the Scriptures is a source of tremendous wisdom. Scripture teaches what the will of God is so that the antithesis between sin and righteousness become apparent. Who can read the sermon on the mount and not conclude that it is wisdom (Matt. 5-7)? In the sermon Jesus did not give His sayings so that men might be well taught in how they might justify themselves. No, the sermon on the mount is a teaching of kingdom principles that transcend the bare letter of the law. This is why Jesus’ teaching was such a rebuke to the Pharisees. The teaching of the Pharisees was that of religious hypocrites, it was self serving and legal. Jesus taught what the true meaning of the law entailed in contrast to what the religious leaders taught in their writings. Murder begins in the heart, adultery begins in the heart, marriage is sacred and binding, vain oaths are sin, retribution is evil, and love to neighbor includes even our enemies (Matt. 5:21-48). This is the wisdom of kingdom righteousness, not worldly righteousness.

The Pharisees could not receive such wisdom for they were unfit for it from the start. One must be suited in their heart, spiritually speaking, in order to understand and receive Jesus and His words. Jesus told His disciples at the beginning of His sermon what it meant to be fit for His kingdom (Matt. 5:3-12). Many a religious hypocrite would not argue that it is a good thing to be merciful, or a peacemaker, or pure in heart (Matt. 5:7-9). But what worldling would aspire to be poor in spirit, to mourn, or to be persecuted for righteousness sake (Matt. 5:3,4,10)? This is not the wisdom of the world but the wisdom of God that accords with godliness that Jesus taught first, then later on the apostles (I Tim. 6:3). There is nothing more practical for a man than to become saved and be a member of God’s kingdom. The word of God is that which will make him wise unto it (II Tim. 3:15).

In their writings the apostles explain not only what it means to be justified, but also what it means to be sanctified (Rom. 4:5-8; 6:6,7). Christians are not saved in a vacuum as though they go from conversion straight to glory. No, those whom God saves most of the time must live upon the earth. This means that not only strength but wisdom is needed from God for such a calling as this. In all of Paul’s epistles, there is a division in them that is evident between that which is doctrinal and that which is practical. In every church established after the day of Pentecost there were tremendous issues of sin which needed to be overcome. Those practical sections of Paul’s writings were given for this very reason. But this was not reserved only for Paul’s writings, for all of the apostles did the same to some extent. The book of James is almost entirely a collection of practical teachings. The epistles of Peter are loaded with practical Christian teaching as are the epistles of John and Jude.

In conclusion then regarding the substance of what the Scripture contains, it is reasonable to assert that the study of it is personally profitable. If one was to have no other book in his possession than the Bible, he would have all that is needed to be saved and sanctified. The Bible is a text book like no other in what it contains for the diligent student. Of course, many more categories could be presented to the reader. But these several which are mentioned here are more than adequate to introduce the subject of the Holy Scripture. The Bible has no problem from an intellectual point of view in defending itself against all of its detractors. In fact, most of those who criticize it are intellectually dishonest people who have not actually studied it to any degree. The sad fact, is that many within the Christian church barely know the Bible too, and therefore, are ill equipped to defend their faith against infidels (II Cor. 10:5; I Pet. 3:15). This reality is a monumental shame at the present time, one in which further additions to this essay will seek to correct.

2- What is the primary purpose of exploring the Bible?

Judging by what it contains, the primary purpose of the Bible is to inform the world of its Creator. How can anyone know the origin of things without the detailed and accurate account given of this in Scripture? The answer is they can’t, although they try through science to do this. Questions about nature and life can be answered from the Bible that science can’t even begin to do. Science provides no meaning to anything that exists, which cannot be said of the Bible. Because the Creator is a personal Being there is abundant meaning to all that He has done. There is a purpose not even revealed in the Bible that abides with God, back through all eternity (Deut. 29:29). But what is revealed about God in Scripture and His purpose is more than sufficient for man’s need. Man is thinking, emotive and a volitional creature not a robot or just some lump of matter as Science asserts. To know God is to know man too, who was made in His image. This is why the Bible as a book should be explored.

It is a serious mistake to assume that nobody but a trained theologian is qualified for this task. God gave this book to the world in general, but to His people in particular. This implies that it should be read first, and second, that it’s various uses should be understood by the reader. A study of the Bible is then an intellectual endeavor as much as it is a spiritual one, well suited for the thinking, as well as the pious man. The apostle Paul said it best when he said that the Bible when studied in its various parts will equip the man of God “for every good work” (II Tim. 3:17). There are so many today who busy themselves working in the church but are woefully ill-equipped to be doing so. For this reason, future additions to this essay will focus primarily on presenting a foundational understanding of the Holy Scriptures, as to its essential elements of construction.

What will be presented in future posts on this subject can be summarized in the following manner as to its specific categories: 1) The necessity of the Bible. 2) The writings which comprise the Bible. 3) The authority of the Bible. 4) The Bible as a standard. 5) The authenticity of the Bible. 6) The illumination of the Bible. 7) The sufficiency of the Bible. 8) The application of the Bible. 9) The clarity of the Bible. 10) The preservation of the Bible. 11) The interpretation of the Bible. 12) The unfailing nature of the Bible. These are the fundamental components of Holy Scripture which are essential for the Christian to know. If these things which have been listed are known then meaning and application by way of study will naturally follow. To go even further, if these essential aspects of the Bible are not known and believed, then no study of the Bible whatsoever, will render much profit to the reader.

Notes:

[1] In 1944, as a ten year old boy, Newton Anderson was fueling the coal furnace in his parent’s home. He dropped a lump of coal onto the basement floor and it broke in half, revealing that it contained this bell inside. The bituminous coal that was mined near his house in Upshur County West Virginia is supposed to be about 300 million years old! What is a brass bell with an iron clapper doing in coal ascribed to the Carboniferous Period? According to Norm Sharbaugh’s book Ammunition (which includes several “coal anecdotes”) the bell is an antediluvian artifact (made before the Genesis Flood). The Institute for Creation Research had the bell submitted to the lab at the University of Oklahoma. There a nuclear activation analysis revealed that the bell contains an unusual mix of metals, different from any known modern alloy production (including copper, zinc, tin, arsenic, iodine, and selenium). (See Bell in Coal on Genesis Park website).

[2] British archaeologist John Garstang (1876-1956) found the Jericho wall recorded in Joshua 6 in the 1930’s and dated it to 1400 BC. The date was later disputed in the 1950’s by archeologist Kathleen Kenyon who placed them fifteen hundred years earlier. “She concluded that the Bronze Age city of Jericho was destroyed about 1550 B.C. by the Egyptians. An in-depth analysis of the evidence, however, reveals that the destruction took place around 1400 B.C. (end of the Late Bronze I period), exactly when the Bible says the conquest occurred.3” (3.Wood, B.G., Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho?, Biblical Archaeology Review 16(2):44–58, March–April 1990. See The walls of Jericho by Bryant Wood on Creation Ministries International website).

[3] A code of laws had been compiled and promulgated long before the time of Moses by Ammurapi, the Amraphel of the fourteenth chapter of Genesis. The Babylonian empire at the time extended as far as Syria and Palestine, and the Code was in force throughout the whole of it, while a little later other Codes Were compiled in imitation of it in Assyria and among the Hittites. Portions of the Assyrian and Hittite Codes are now in our possession; they are based upon the Code of Ammurapi, but like the Mosaic Code are in the main of a specifically national character. (See Archaeology And The Old Testament, by A. H. Sayce, Queen’s College, Oxford. Printed in The Evangelical Quarterly, October, 1929, p339).

[4] 3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, 9 those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; 10 as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

(The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, William Whiston, Translator. The Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chapter 3, Sedition of the Jews Against Pontius Pilate. Concerning Christ, and What Befell Paulina and the Jews at Rome, p1127)

[5] There are three people groups within the human race whose origins are traceable to the three sons of Noah in Scripture. In modern times specific names were given to these by a French naturalist by the name of Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (1769-1832). Georges Cuvier as he was known, designated, the three groups as follow: Mongoloid, Caucasoid, and Negroid. There are numerous subgroups within each of the three main groups. Cuvier was an evolutionist and therefore, not disposed toward sacred history. However, his observation of three primary groups of people and their geographical origins correspond entirely with Scripture. The difference of external appearance among the groups is explained by the continuous procreation that occurred within the three families over a period of thousands of years. Contrary to the theory of evolution, there has never been any change of nature within the human race (Gen. 1:21-28), only the genetic mutation of outward characteristics.

[6] See The Fundamentals – A Testimony to the Truth, Volume 2, Edited by R.A. Torrey, A.C. Dixon and Others. Chapter 6, Fulfilled Prophecy a Potent Argument for the Bible, The Greatest of All, p114.

[7] Often called the ‘Five points of Calvinism.’ These were five main heads of argument framed in response to the five points of the chief Remonstrant Jacobus (James) Arminius (1560-1609), contained in the Canons of the Synod of Dort.

 

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