Lesson Two

The fact is, God has communicated with the human race, and is willing to communicate with you directly and personally in the same way, through the Bible.  He will communicate his will to you in no other way.

The apostle Paul wrote, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2Timothy 3:16-17).

The fact that scripture is given by inspiration of God (literally "God breathed") should come as no surprise to us if we are acquainted at all with it.  The Bible (or scripture, as it is called above), is a collection of 66 books written over a period of some 1600 years by about 40 different authors, and yet it has a unity of message and purpose that defies explanation, except that it is the product of the mind of God.  It divides history into three basic periods of time, the Patriarchal (father-rule) age,
the Mosaic age, and the Christian age.  The Patriarchal age covers the period from creation to the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai.  The Mosaic age covers the period from the giving of the law to the cross of Christ.  The Christian age covers the period from the cross to the second coming of Christ.  At the cross of Christ the former covenant which came through Moses was fulfilled (Matthew 5:17) and the new covenant was ratified.  The former is called the Old Testament, and the latter is called the New Testament.  We are under the New Testament law of Christ (Romans 8:2), and to it we must submit.

The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote:  "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2).  This is a declaration that God has spoken, and that He has done so through his Son, Jesus Christ.  While on the mount of transfiguration, the God of heaven declared: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matthew 17:5).  Jesus Himself said, "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.  And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak" (John 12:49-50).

The God of heaven spoke through the prophets of the Old Testament, inspiring them in writing down His will, and in writing down the prophecies that would be the credentials of this word, and of his Son that was to come into the world.  Prophecies such as Joshua 6:26 that was fulfilled 500 years
later as recorded in 1 Kings 16:34; and Isaiah 44:28 that was fulfilled 150 years later as recorded in Ezra 1:1, among many others, illustrate for us the truth that "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2Peter 1:21).  Further illustration of this truth is found in the prophecy of the tribe of the Messiah (Genesis 49:10), the place of the birth of the Messiah (Micah 5:2), the unique birth of the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14), the character of the Messiah (Isaiah 53), the authority of the Messiah (Deuteronomy 18:15; 2 Samuel 7:12-13), and the purpose for the Messiah's coming (Zechariah 13:1).  All of these and more were fulfilled exactly without deviation in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus declared "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).   Jesus, being God in the flesh (John 1:1-3, 14), revealed to man the will of the heavenly Father.  His words were/are the words of God.  However, it is wrong to follow the reasoning that only the words of Jesus are inspired, or that the words of Jesus are more inspired than the words of the apostles.  Jesus was not able to reveal all the will of the Father while He was here in the flesh.  He said: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come" (John 16:12-13).

Jesus had earlier told his apostles: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).  These passages affirm the promise of inspiration to the apostles, guiding them to speak and write the word of God without error.  This is why Paul could later challenge his readers, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1Corinthians 14:37).  It is also why he could write to the church in Thessalonica, saying; "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

The apostle Paul also wrote of inspiration when he penned the following:  "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:11-13).  Because the preceding passage is true, there are warnings, exhortations, and examples to heed carefully.

We must be careful not to add to the word of God, or to diminish anything from it (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18-19).  Such, of course, would make it the word of man, not the word of God.  We must also be careful not to permit anyone to deceive us into following that which is not the word of God.  In Galatians 1:6-9, we find these words:  "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed".  That which Paul and the other apostles preached was received by revelation (Galatians 1:11-12).

We must also use caution as hearers, or readers, to make sure that what we're being taught is the word of God.  Jesus warned:  "Take heed what ye hear..." (Mark 4:24).  The inspired historian recorded for us:  "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).

We are exhorted to take seriously the message of the scriptures, to make the necessary adjustments in our lives to conform to the will of God, and to live according to the teachings of the scriptures in our day to day living.  James 1:22-25 exhorts us: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers
only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed".  We cannot build a successful life unless we have the proper foundation.  That foundation is the word of God (Matthew 7:24-25).

We must follow the examples of the Bereans in searching the scriptures (Acts 17:11), the children of the elect lady in "walking in truth" (1 John 4), and the Christians in Thessalonica who "sounded out the word of the Lord" (Thessalonians 1:8).  These examples are not recorded simply to excite our interest in what these people did, but to encourage us to do likewise.  If we learn what they did to be saved, and to stay saved, and we do the same things, we shall be what they were and have what they had.  God is no respecter of persons, "But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:35).

Many today are looking to human sources for direction.  Some are even looking to themselves and their own imaginations, claiming that God spoke to them in an inner voice, in a dream, or by some happening in life taken as a sign.  Many books are looked to as being inspired messages from God.  We declare that the ONLY inspired message available today is that which is written in the Bible.  It provides us with "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3), generates faith that produces the new birth (Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23), and equips us "unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:17).  Knowing the all-sufficiency of the scriptures is why Paul, when leaving the Ephesian elders, commended them "to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32).

Does God communicate with man today?  YES, He does!  He does so through His word, the Bible.  In fact, this word, the Bible, by which He has communicated with man, will be the standard of Judgement in the last day.  Jesus himself said: "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).  For this reason we are encouraged:  "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:12).

 Questions for Lesson Two

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