Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Holy Bible

Part 1 of "The Holy Bible" Series

Holy Words 

Bible facts:
  • "Bible" comes from the Latin biblia, meaning "books."
  • It was written over a period of more than 1500 years.
  • It was written by over 40 authors. 
  • It was written on three continents (Asia, Africa, Europe) 
  • It was written in three languages (Hebrews, Aramaic, Greek). 
  • It was originally copied by hand and preserved on scrolls. 
  • It was divided into chapters in 1228. 
  • The OT was divided into verses in 1488. 
  • The NT was divided into verses in 1551. 
  • It was translated into English by John Wycliffe in 1380. 
  • It was first book ever printed in 1454. 
  • It was printed into English by William Tyndale in 1526. 
  • The Authorized Version (KJV) was printed in 1611. 
  • It is the best-selling book of all time. 

What does the Bible say about itself?

The words of the Bible are the words of God.

All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16).

The Greek word for “breathed out by God” (“inspired,” NASB) is theopneustos. The word does not occur in any other Greek text (biblical or secular) prior to 2 Timothy. Some suggest that Paul might have invented the word.

No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

The Bible is both a divine book and a human book. It was written by humans but breathed out by God. God used each author’s unique style and personality, but, at the same time, they were “carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

The verses above refer to the OT? What about the NT? Peter implies that Paul’s writings are Scripture: “There are some things in [Paul’s letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). And Paul quotes the words of Jesus in Luke 10:7 as Scripture. “The Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages’ (cf. Deut. 25:4).

The law of the LORD is perfect (Psalm 19:7).

There are no errors or contradictions in the Bible. A perfect God gave us a perfect book. Every idea of the Bible and every word of the Bible is God-breathed. (This is often called verbal, plenary inspiration. This inspiration applies to the original manuscripts, but we can be sure the these manuscripts were carefully copied.) Jesus declared, “Truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18). The “iota” is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. The “dot” likely refers to a tiny stroke or a part of a letter used to differentiate between Hebrew letters (ESV Study Bible).

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever (Isa. 40:8).

Should we believe the Bible’s claim that it is God-breathed? Its accurate history and fulfilled prophecies suggest that we should.

Precious Words 

I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word
(Psalm 119:16).

The Hebrew word for “forget” (shakach) means to lay aside, to forget, to take for granted, to neglect. If the words of the Bible are the words of God, we should never neglect it. What should our response be?

1. We should strive to master the Bible. 

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth
(2 Timothy 2:15).

A “worker” needs a plan. (See part 2 of this series: A Plan for Bible Study.)

A “worker” needs tools. (See part 3 of this series: Tools for Bible Study.)

A “worker” needs dedication. (See part 4 of this series: Dedication Required for Bible Study.)

2. We should strive to be mastered by the Bible. 

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves
(James 1:22; see also vv. 23-25).

The Bible is like a mirror. It shows us changes we need to make. To disregard the words of the Bible is to disregard the words of God. The Psalmist said, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

Are These Words Holy and Precious to You? 

Jesus once said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Think of what you do during your free time. How much time do you spend on things that will “pass away”? How much time do you spend reading and studying the Bible? What would people like John Wycliffe and William Tyndale think of all of think of our treatment of the Bible? They risked their lives so that we could have God's Word in English. (Tyndale was strangled to death, and his dead body was burned at the stake.) But so often we neglect the Bible. Its words are the very words of God. Its words are holy. Its words are precious. Strive to master it. And strive to be mastered by it.

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