In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. – John 1:1-4
The Truth Will Set You Free
In John 8:31 ff, Jesus was talking with some Jews who had come to know Him as their Messiah. He makes this profound statement that encompasses all of man’s history on the earth and future eternity as well — “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They were amazed to think they would be “made free”, so Jesus elaborated and made this conclusion in Jn. 8:36 – “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
Ever since Adam & Eve were banished from the Garden, mankind has been struggling to be given lasting freedom from the bondage to sin and its consequences. God’s Written and Living Word contain the complete and final Truth about how man’s relationship with God is re-established. Knowing the incredible authority and validity of this Book, the rich wisdom that it reveals, the hope that is given to the man or woman who trusts in it, we begin to understand the value of the Real Truth and Real Freedom which is offered in the inspired Word of God, the Bible.
Why Do We Need Doctrine?
- The study of what we believe about the Bible is the doctrine called “bibliology”. These “ologies” (hamartiology, ecclesiology, eschatology, etc.) stand as pillars of truth on which biblical ministries and the Church as a whole establish their foundations. These categories of belief seek to recognize certain truths to be essential to our understanding of God. God has led His people to organize these truths into a “system of theology”.
- Biblical Doctrine is developed by sorting the Bible’s teachings out one by one, observing all of the related Scriptures that teach a particular theme of truth, in order to grasp all the biblical aspects of that truth. It has involved the input of godly men & women, both in the Church age, and reaching back to the godly faithful Jews of Old Testament times. These people have been dedicated to the task of gaining a complete grasp of a biblical truth that is trustworthy and faithful to the whole teachings of God’s Word.
- This work of developing an understanding of what the Bible teaches is empowered and led by God’s Holy Spirit. Christ told us that He would leave His Holy Spirit with us to teach us Truth and reveal Christ to us (Jn. 14:16-18; 15:26; 16:7-15).
- This “Essential Truths” study seeks to highlight those doctrines that form the core of biblical truth. Within our global, diverse church of born again believers, through the ages, we have recognized there will be differences of opinion on some various doctrinal understandings. However, there are certain Essential doctrines that aren’t debatable. Examples are the inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, God’s sovereign and literal creation of the universe, the fact of man’s sinful condition, and the complete provision of man’s salvation by the finished work of Christ on the Cross and His literal resurrection.
Which Came First?
- What is the single greatest doctrinal truth in the Bible? It is God Himself! However, as we begin our study of doctrines, we will first look at the Bible itself since that is how we learn of all the doctrines, including what we learn about God.
- In order for an unbeliever to come to faith in Jesus Christ, he must first come to grips with agreeing to the authority of the Bible as the literal word of God, and He needs to agree with the claims He makes about Himself. That can be summarized in three simple statements:
- God Is – He has always existed, and is sovereign over all of creation
- He Is Who He Says He Is – In the Bible, He tells us about His power, knowledge, holiness, justice and other important characteristics
- He Does What He Says He Will Do – He has complete plans for His creation, for mankind, and for each of us. These plans include judgment of sin and sinners, and an eternity in His presence for those who accept His provision of salvation through Christ.
- God Himself is Truth & Life, He always has been Holy, Righteous, Just
- Revelation reveals and explains these and many other great truths about God
- So while God is primary, we need the Bible in order to know about God and understand how He has provided a way for us to have a relationship with Him.
We Believe the Bible!
How do we develop and declare our belief in the Bible? We can begin to develop a set of statements which express our belief in the inspired Word of God. You can get help in that effort by reviewing major books on doctrine, looking at doctrinal statements of our church and other God-honoring organizations, and hearing trustworthy godly leaders express their own faith. Some of your conclusions will focus on these items:
- The Bible contains everything which the One True God, our Creator, knew we needed to know about Him, and how to have a relationship with Him.
- Inspired – The Bible is God-breathed, a miraculous work by God alone, ingesting His very life into it while at the same time guiding and enabling “holy men of God” over 1500 years time
- The Bible is written by authors supernaturally led & enabled by God.
- Plenary – The Bible is equally inspired in every detail – we can’t pick & choose only portions of it as inspired.
- Verbal – Every actual word of all 66 books of the Old and New Testament canon (in the original manuscripts) – not just the ideas or thoughts are inspired. Translations are judged by the care they take to be faithful to the actual words, seeking to properly represent what the words and grammar express as the intended message God gave the author by inspiration.
- Inerrant – The Bible is absolute truth, completely error-free (again, in the original manuscripts) – there are no conflicts between different parts of the Bible, and their is no other more superior authoritative source of truth.
- Infallible – The Bible is completely trustworthy, contains no error, and is the Christian’s absolute and only authority and guide to salvation and a life of faith, our “sole source and authority” for all Truth man needs to know and live by.
- Rom. 15:4
- Isa. 40:8
- Matt. 7:24
- Heb. 4:12
- Prov. 30:5
- Psa. 119:105
- 1 Pet. 2:2
- Isa. 55:11
- 1 Pet. 1:24-25
- Matt. 24:35
- 1 Jn. 5:13
Is the Bible Inspired?
Asked another way: “Why should I believe the Bible?” When we find ourselves in a conversation with a person who makes no claim to know or even believe in God, we want to share the marvelous Good News of the Gospel. But something inevitably gets in the way – you begin to share the words of John 3:16, and they stop you and say “The Bible is insignificant, just an interesting work of literature – those words have no impact in my thinking at all.”
What Do You Know About the Bible?
- The Bible is Inspired – God “moved holy men” by His Holy Spirit to write, 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21
- This inspiration means that God permeated every word of the Bible with His own mind, soul, life. Compare that to God creating man and breathing into him the breath of life (Gen. 2:7), that is God’s spiritual life and understanding, in God’s image – also see Job 32:8; Prov. 20:27; Psa. 33:6
- The extent and depth of inspiration – what is its impact, how far does it reach?
- The facts – 40 authors with a broad variety of backgrounds, over 1600 years (from Moses to John), many cultures, geographies, political systems, religious traditions. The Bible was the first book to be printed (Gutenberg) and is still being printed more than any other book (>40 million/year). It has been translated into the majority of the world’s languages, and countless thousands of books written about it
- The statements – “God said”, Gen. 1:3; Exo. 3:14; “Thus says the Lord”, (Moses to Pharoah); God spoke through the prophets. These are expressions of God’s mind & heart, His faithfulness, promises, compassion, etc. – “I will redeem”, His promise starting in Gen.3, followed by many statements and narratives throughout the Bible of progress towards the Savior and Salvation – “I will complete”, God’s promises and descriptions of what transpire through His eternal plan into the “end times”, the “Day of the Lord”, and Eternity.
What Is Revelation?
- Unveiling the Mind of God –
- “Secret things” – Deut. 29:29, the secret things of God’s mind, His mind encompasses everything that can be known, beyond man’s comprehension – this is the revelation of His omniscience
- God chooses what to reveal to us – Isa. 65:1, He determines what we need to know or are capable of handling, the expression of His benevolence
- The mystery of the Church – Eph. 1:7-14, a good example of vast amounts of truth that He already knew but chose to withhold until later in man’s history – what we refer to as “progressive revelation”
- General Revelation
- Rom. 1:19-20 – God’s witness to Himself through “natural” creation, science, man’s conscience, witnessed by every human who ever lived by observing a sunset, the mountains, a galaxy a million light years away, or the complex information of a DNA molecule
- 1:21, Unredeemed man is responsible to bow and worship the God of creation
- Psa. 19:1-6; Job 38
- Special Revelation
- What God has revealed about Himself by unique revelation, His witness through salvation history – compare Psa.19:7-14 with vv1-6
- Abraham & Isaac, Gen. 22; Passover and Atonement, Exo. 12; Heb.1
- Progressive Revelation
- God has clarified and expanded His relationship with man , as history has developed through a sequence of dispensations in man’s history as He progressively reveals His provisions for establishing relationship with Him
- Dispensations – through history, different periods are observed in the Bible related to moral responsibilities based on what God has revealed about Himself
- Completed Revelation
- God’s work of revelation is now closed, no further revelation will occur,after the completion of the New Testament
- Our understanding of the doctrine of the Bible and revelation includes that no new revelation will occur now that the canon of biblical truth is completed and closed.
So Much More!
The Bible is God’s wisdom – the very mind of God! We have only made some introductory observations about this marvelous treasure. There is so much more you need to know – for example …
- How many books are there in the Bible? How many in the Old & New Testament? Can you name them – in order??
- Even better, can you name each book and give a basic summary of what the book is about and give two or three main verses or events in the book?
- What different types of literature are included in the Bible? Which books go with each type?
These Bible studies are designed with you in mind! Every one of us needs to have a habit of spending some time every week studying God’s Word. Each of the studies here on StayintheWord is intended to provide you enough “fuel” to carry you through 30-45 minutes of study.
Be sure to commit to using a Bible Study Journal – either paper or digital. Whenever you study God’s Word, be sure your Journal is close at hand.