Biblical Truth – The Power and Authority of The Word of God
The Bible is the story of God’s redeeming work in human history. The main focus is God’s plan of salvation found in Jesus Christ, designed to redeem us and all of creation. The Bible is the Word of God which is used by the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, lead us to salvation, and teach us how to follow Jesus in daily life.
We can explore biblical truth by understanding:
Words Have Power
Genesis states that God created heaven and earth by speaking it into existence. God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” The Gospel of John explains that the power of God’s spoken word is found in Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3).
Throughout His ministry, Jesus revealed that there was power in His spoken word. He would speak healing and people were healed. He called to Lazarus in the tomb and he was given new life. When the disciples encountered a severe storm and feared for their lives, they woke up Jesus who was asleep in the boat. “‘He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.’ The disciples were astounded. Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him” (Luke 8:22-25).
God’s Word is Powerful and Effective
When we read the Bible we are reading powerful words, a message from God. It can impact our lives and the lives of others. As you read the Bible, the Word of God to us, invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
– Hebrews 4:12-13
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
– Isaiah 55:8-11
How The Bible Came To Be
- Who Wrote the Bible?
- When was the Bible Wrote?
- How did we get the Bible?
In the Garden of Eden, God walked and talked with Adam and Eve. It was God’s desire from the beginning to have a close relationship with mankind, with those made in His image. The initial stories in the Bible came to us from people who heard from God or experienced His actions in this world. Led by the Spirit of the Lord, these people memorized and passed on these stories to the next generation until they were written down and preserved for us today.
The Bible was written by people who were inspired by God. In other words, the books are both human and divine. They are human because each book of the Bible was written by a human being within their historical context, influenced by a particular culture, and was written in a specific language (Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic). It is divine because God was at work in these people to provide an understanding of life that aligned with God’s character and intentions; God inspired these messengers who were made in the image of God. Divine inspiration allowed each writer to be both humanly creative and obedient to the Spirit of the Lord.
The selection and preservation of the biblical text was done carefully with great thought and prayer. The Bible is comprised of 66 Books written by more than 40 authors over a period of more than 2,000 years. From the time of Moses until the time of Jesus Christ, the nation of Israel kept the Old Testament books in safety, carefully making exact copies of the originals. We know that the text Jesus read was essentially identical to the one we read today because of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls which essentially come from the same time period.
Jesus expressed confidence that the Old Testament was, and is, God’s word to us (Luke 24:25-27, Luke 24:44-45). His reference to “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” reflects the traditional threefold division of the Hebrew canon—in other words, the entire Old Testament as we have it today. The early Church was quick to affirm this by practice and through various church councils.
The formation of the New Testament began as the life and teachings of Jesus were written down by His disciples who had witnessed all that He had said and done. After His death and resurrection, they were instrumental in the formation of the four gospels, and they contributed a number of the letters which form the New Testament canon, many of which were written by the Apostle Paul. In addition, the stories found in the Gospel of Luke were recorded by a physician named Luke who researched the stories and connected them to the formation of the early Church in the Book of Acts. Even while these apostolic writers were alive, there was a sense that what they were doing was an extension of the Word of God found in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, 2 Peter 3:16 refers to Paul’s letters and “the rest of the Scriptures.” In a surprisingly short period of time, the early Church came to understand that this collection of apostolic material, which was widely circulated in various copied manuscripts, was to be used alongside the Old Testament as the word of God (noted in the year 96 by Clement of Rome).
The early Church was required to make some clear decisions when a false teaching called Gnosticism appeared. Around the year 140, the Roman church received a visit from Marcion, a native of Asia Minor. Marcion rejected the Old Testament entirely and had selectively chosen and edited some of the apostolic material, purging them of anything that did not align with his views.
This challenge, along with the appearance of several other heretical groups, seems to have propelled the early Church to define more clearly the content and the boundaries of the books and letters which came to be known as the “New Testament.” By the end of the second century, there was a developing consensus that led to the acceptance of our current collection of 27 books; this process is described in the works of Origen of Alexandria written in the early 200s. Then, in a series of church councils beginning with the Council of Nicaea in 325, the Church was able to confirm the collection we know today as the New Testament.
Thus, within the first three centuries AD, the early Church adopted the Old Testament as the Word of God, later adding the collection of gospels and letters which form the New Testament that we have today. The selection process was careful and prayerful. We now have many early copies of these texts, and they confirm that the New Testament that we read today reflects the original intent of each writer as they communicate God’s word to us.
The Old Testament books are generally grouped into four main sections:
- Torah, or The Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy)
- Historical Books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezrah, Nehemiah, and Esther)
- Poetry and Wisdom Writings (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon)
- The Prophets (Major Prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel. Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habaakuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi)
The Torah, or The Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy)
These first five books of the Bible are called the Books of Moses. They form the foundation for the Bible. God spoke to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai. The Lord met with Moses every morning at the Tent of Meeting where He “would speak to Moses … as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:7-11). The Torah was God’s greatest revelation of Himself prior to the life of Jesus. It includes the Creation story, the call of Abraham and the early formation of the Nation of Israel, the release of Israel from captivity in Egypt, the Ten Commandments given at Mount Sinai, and the arrival of the Israelite nation to the Promised Land. Because God’s message to Moses was so clear and comprehensive, the Torah became the measure of all other messages from God. From then on, every prophet’s teachings, every word that anyone claimed to come from God, was evaluated by comparing it to the Torah.
Historical Books (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezrah, Nehemiah, and Esther)
These 12 books illustrate God’s patient work with the people of Israel, preparing the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. During this time, Israel entered the Promised Land and was initially guided by Judges until God established Israel as a kingdom. Jerusalem was the capital city and it was here where Solomon, the son of David, built the temple. After only seventy years as a unified kingdom, the nation divided into two kingdoms—Israel and Judah—in 930 BC. Both kingdoms were conquered and taken into exile—Israel to Samaria in 722 BC and Judah to Babylon in 586 BC. In 515 BC, God allowed His people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.
Poetry and Wisdom Writings (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon)
These five books are treasures for worship and meditation, providing deep understanding of how to experience intimacy with God. They also address some of the most troubling questions of faith and obedience. For this reason, they can be very helpful as devotional readings in all seasons of life.
The Prophets (Major Prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel. Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi)
The 17 books of the Prophets were written during the time of the Historical Books. Like Moses, each prophet was called to speak to the nation of Israel with a message they had received from God. “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Their words were evaluated both by comparing them to the Torah and by testing their prophetic messages to see if they came true. They frequently spoke words of judgment addressing the sins of the nation and their failure to remain faithful and obedient to the Lord. Sometimes their visions were about the future, giving hope to the people about a coming Messiah and the ultimate reign of God. Salvation and the Kingdom of God would be inaugurated, culminating in a victory over all sin and darkness in this world.
The New Testament
God’s clearest revelation comes to us in Jesus Christ. All other messages from God, including the Torah, are now more clearly understood through the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:15 says, “We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen” (The Message). The four Gospels allow us to get to know Jesus, but they also teach us how to understand the God portrayed in the Old Testament and help us to fall in love with the God whom Jesus knows. The Gospels, together with all of the books of the New Testament, are essential tools in understanding and interpreting the Old Testament.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
– Hebrews 1:1-3
The New Testament books are generally grouped into four main sections:
The Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
These are four different, first-hand accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus. Three were written by disciples who had been with Jesus—Matthew, Mark, and John. Luke was written by an early convert, a Doctor, who did research and interviews with all those who knew Jesus well. These books provide us with a clear picture of Jesus—His birth, life, death, and resurrection. In all four Gospels, Jesus began His public ministry by announcing the Good News of the Kingdom of God, then dying on the cross and rising again so as to gain victory over sin and death and accomplish our salvation.
The Book of Acts
The book of Acts was written by Luke as a record of how the early Church formed and how it grew. It portrays the early mission efforts—starting in Jerusalem, then spreading throughout much of the known world by the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Since it is clear that Luke went along on some of the missionary journeys, this book is a collection of firsthand observations as well as other interviews and research.
The Letters (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, Peter, John, and Jude)
These 21 books provide a fascinating look at the early Church. Many are written by Paul, while some are written by other apostles. They are letters written to specific people or congregations and were originally intended for teaching, encouragement, correction, and fellowship. They provide deep insights into how to actively live the Christian faith in community.
The Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation is a prophetic book written by the Apostle John, based on a vision he received and recorded. It begins with a vision of the living Christ, enthroned in heaven, who gives John an evaluation of the various regional churches. The vision then moves through a series of battles that culminate in the final victory over sin and death which reveal what has already been accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The book ends with a vision of all followers of Jesus living in God’s presence in a new heaven and a new earth.
Are there any parts of the Bible you tend to neglect or ignore?
What is God currently teaching you about through His Word?
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