Articles – The Bible

“THE IMPORTANCE OF BIBLE STUDY”

God has revealed Himself to man in several ways. For example, God has revealed Himself in nature (Psa. 19:1; Rom. 1:20). The providence of God provides evidence for His existence (Acts 14:17).  And God has revealed Himself through Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:18).  The focus of this article centers on the fact that God has revealed Himself through His word, the Bible.’

The Law of Cause and Effect says that every effect must have an adequate cause. Apply this law to the Bible.  The Bible is here.  Where did it come from?  What does it say to you and me?  Can we learn anything about the Bible from an examination of its contents?  This is the purpose of Bible study.  Consider the following questions about the Bible.  What kind of book is the Bible?  Why should I pay attention to it?  Is it worthy of my time and attention?

If God gave the Bible, we would expect Him to say so.  In fact, He has done just that.  There are hundreds of claims that the scriptures are ultimately from Jehovah.  See if you can find some of these in the books of Exodus and Leviticus.  For example, throughout the book of Leviticus the statement is made: “And Jehovah called … ” or “Jehovah spoke unto…” Nearly every chapter begins with an affirmation that this book came from God.

If God is the source of the Bible, since He is perfect (Matt. 5:48), then we would expect His book to be perfect.  This is the case.  The Bible is a book of unity in its theme, plan, doctrine, and historical details.  It is a book of 66 books, penned over a span of some 1600 years, by 40 different writers. Its marvelous unity in every respect speaks to the inspiration of God:

If God is holy, and He is (Isa. 6:3), we would expect the Bible to have an exalted moral tone.  That is the case. What works of men can compare to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40?  The teachings of the Bible lift and enable man to greater heights of service, not only to his maker, but also to his fellow man.  Do the works of men do this?

The importance of Bible study can be seen from any number of passages throughout the Bible. F or example, Isaiah 43:7 says that God created man for His glory.  That is, man is the special object of God’s creative power to the end that man might serve and glorify God.  This takes man away from his own selfish actions and attitude and points him heavenward.  Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 that we will one day stand before God in judgment.  The Bible is the only book that prepares us for that ultimate meeting with God.  Are we beginning to see the need to pay attention to God’s word? Jesus claimed in John 14:6 to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  There is no going without Jesus.  There is no knowing without Jesus.  There is no living without Jesus. Matthew 7: 15 warns us against false teachers who would strive to lead us away from God and His truth.  If truth makes us free, then error will lead us to condemnation. John 15:2 tells us that we must bear fruit for the Lord.  That is, our lives must demonstrate the identifying marks of Christianity.  How many passages can you find that will help you draw closer to the Lord?

The words of the Psalmist still ring true.  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105).  May we all be diligent in our efforts to study and know and do what God commands in His word.  May our attitude always be: “Therefore I love thy commandments Above gold, yea, above fine gold” (Psa. 119: 127).    ~   Randy Harshbarger

“LET THE BIBLE SPEAK FOR ITSELF”

The Bible is a library made up of 66 books, written over a period of some 1600 years, by forty different men. The Bible deals with man’s need for salvation. Its message is for all the world. The Bible is “God’s power unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). It can change the hearts of men. It can make weak men strong and sinful men righteous. It can lift our spirits and set us once again on the high road of life.

Great men have commented often on the influence of the Bible. ‘Benjamin Franklin, in responding to Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, said: “Don’t publish it (referring to Paine’s work). The world is bad enough with the Bible, what would it be without it?” Abraham Lincoln speaking to a friend once during the Civil War said: “I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this book upon reason that you can and the balance upon faith, and you will live and die a better man.”

Inspiration says that God’s word is “living and active.” It is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:11-12). The Bible is capable of doing what other writings cannot do. It penetrates. It searches. It brings to light the intents of one’s heart, whether real or insincere. The Bible is sharp. It can cut into a person and separate him from sin. It examines and exposes any ulterior motives man might have.

The Bible comes to us from God; it is His word (1 Thess. 2:13). The Bible reveals the mind of Deity (1 Cor. 2:13). Things which man sees, hears, or conceives of cannot save, nor do the ideas of men constitute the mind of God. The Bible draws us closer to God because it reveals something about God’s nature. Paul told the people of Athens that we are the offspring of God (Acts 17:24-25). Man is a spiritual being, made in the image of God. He is capable of fellowship with God. God is not described as a man with man’s failures. God is righteous and holy.

The Bible is needed because it is the only authoritative record of God’s dealings with mankind. Where would man be without the Bible? Without the Bible there would be no record of how God dealt with man in the past and how He will deal with man now. The Bible is needed because it contains the one and only heaven approved plan of salvation. Men are lost in careless rebellion (Rom. 1:18). The Bible offers help (Isa. 55:6-7). The Bible speaks about God’s spiritual family, the church, and man’s part in this grand expression of divine wisdom. The Bible tells us to live. The morality of the Bible will lift and ennoble any people. The Bible offers the only real hope for the world to come.

Let our hearts be stirred by the following words. “Many years ago I entered the wonderful Temple of God’s revelation. I entered at the portico of Genesis, walked down through the Old Testament art gallery, where pictures of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses hung on the walls. I was attracted into the Music Room of the Psalms, where it seemed that every reed and pipe in God’s great organ responded to the tuneful harp of David, the sweetest singer of Israel’s· race. I passed on into the Chapel of Ecclesiastes, where the voice of the Preacher was heard; and into the Conservatory of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley, where sweet spices filled and perfumed my life.”

“I entered the Business Office of the Proverbs, then into the Observatory of the Prophets, where I saw telescopes of various sizes; some pointing to far-off events, but all concentrated upon the Bright and Morning Star, which was to rise above the moonlit hills of Judea for salvation. I entered the Audience Room of the King of Kings, where I beheld the vision of His glory, through the inspired eloquence of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I passed into the Acts of the Apostles, where the infant church was being born. I then traveled into the Correspondence Room where sat Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude, penning their epistles as dictated by the Spirit of God.”

“I finally stepped into the Throne room of Revelation, where I beheld in vision the King of Glory, sitting upon His great white throne; and I heard the chorus of angels as they sang: ‘All hail the power of Jesus’ name, Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all…Yes, crown Him Lord of all. ‘”   ~   Randy Harshbarger

“WHAT THE BIBLE DOES FOR MAN”

“Give me the Bible, Holy Message shining; Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way; Precept and promise, law and love combining, Till night shall vanish in eternal day.” Does this familiar song truly express the sentiments of your heart?  Do we really mean what we are singing?  Do we really want the Bible, with the full implications for our lives that the Bible would enjoin upon us?  Yes, man needs the Bible; but does man want the Bible?

The Bible produces faith in God and is therefore valuable and needed for this reason alone.  Since none can please God without faith, all people must come to that point of acceptance or trust in God as they live their lives at His direction (Rev. 11:6). Faith is based upon evidence or testimony.  Faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17).  To say that we have faith in God, or to say that we have faith in God’s word, is not to say that we have stepped blindly into the unknown.  The written record is designed to lead one to believe that Jesus is truly God’s Son and mankind’s Savior (John 20:30-31).

The Bible reveals the plan of salvation.  It is not enough to know that we must have faith or that faith is essential to pleasing God.  By the plan of salvation, reference is simply made to the instructions God has revealed with which all men must comply.  God’s word guides and lightens our way (Psa. 119:105).  Worldly wisdom fails to comfort and save; man is incapable of providing for his most basic need – namely, salvation (Jer. 10:23).  What must I do to be saved?  That question is easily answered and easily understood.  When one reads the book of Acts, he will find people hearing God’s word, repenting of their sins, acknowledging their faith in Christ, and being baptized for the remission of their sins.  Read Acts chapter eight and see this for yourself.

The Bible brings spiritual life. The seed of the kingdom is the word of God (Luke 8:11). When that spiritual seed is planted in a good and honest heart, the result will always be a person who is committed to the proposition of living as God directs. The only way to be born again is in response to the incorruptible seed of God (1 Pet. 1:23).  Having thus determined to live for the Lord, one now begins to grow spiritually. The Bible promotes and encourages spiritual growth (2 Pet. 3:18).  As one matures in the faith, his appetite increases for the meatier matters of God’s word.  In fact, unless a Christian is growing and studying, he has already begun to fall backward into neglect (Rev. 5:11-14).

The Bible is needed because it is the standard all men will meet in judgment. Jesus said that in John 12:48. There will be no surprises at the judgment.  Jesus says: “Here it is! This is what you need to listen to and obey!”  The Bible deals with man and his time upon this earth.  The Bible appeals to the part of man that will stand before the Lord in judgment.  The books will be opened at the last day (Rev. 20:12). The book of your life will be opened and read by the Lord. Are you living your life now by following His book?

Whatever we know about the life to come with its final destinies, we know from the Bible. We know about ourselves because God had revealed these matters to us. Sooner or later we will face God and His word.  Let us all face Him now, by faithfully practicing His will in our lives.  May we all allow God’s word to transport us safely through this life into the portals of glory.  Believe and obey the Bible now.   ~  Randy Harshbarger

“THE BIBLE: A COMPLETE AND PERFECT GUIDE”

Do you believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God?  Are you commited in your faith to the proposition that the Holy Spirit has revealed the mind of God in words that are just that – God’s word?  Do you believe the scriptures contain the will of God and the duty of man?  Are you willing to accept the Bible as a perfect, absolute and final guide in the realm of spiritual duty and activity?  These questions (and others like them) speak to the obligations of every person who truly believes that the Bible is God’s inspired word.  Either the Bible is the inspired word of God and as such is an infallible guide in religion, or it is not. If it is not God’s word, it is insufficient and is therefore incapable of fully directing man in his efforts to please God and reach heaven when life is over. What do we believe about this? To which proposition will we commit ourselves?

Shortly before Jesus was crucified, He told His apostles that He would go away, but would later send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to guide them in revealing and confirming all truth (John 16:13).  Either the Holy Spirit did what Jesus said He would do, or Christ’s words are false.  Paul told the Corinthians that the Holy Spirit of God revealed the mind of God (l Cor. 2: 12).  Peter wrote that God has provided all things that pertain to every aspect of man’s relationship to his Creator (2 Pet. 1:3). Either God has done this in providing His word, or He has not. I f God hasn’t kept His word, then Peter didn’t know what he was talking about.  Which do you believe?

Perhaps the most well-known statement of scripture concerning the inspiration of God’s word is 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God; to put it another way, all scripture or every scripture is the product of the creative power of God.  Just as God breathed life into the first man, and just as God spoke the world into existence, God has also given us His word. The Bible is the product of God – the Bible is “God breathed.”  The scriptures as revealed are profitable for every concern and need man might have.  That the word of God did not originate in the hearts of men is taught by 2 Peter 1:19-21. It is true that all men can read, study, understand and apply God’s word, but Peter is discussing the point of origin of the Bible.  The word of God did not originate within man’s heart, nor did it emanate from man’s ingenuity (l Cor. 2:9).

The completeness and sufficiency of God’s revelation is abundantly demonstrated by the many prohibitions against going beyond or adding to that word. The Israelites of old were warned about adding to or taking away from the law God gave them (Deut. 4:2).  When the Israelites finally got to the Promised Land, Joshua called their attention to the need to stick with God’s word (Josh. 1:7).  New Testament warnings emphasize the same principle (Gal. 1:6-9; 2 John 9; 1 Cor. 4:6).

What are the implications of believing that the Bible is God’s inspired word? If you really believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word, you are then willing to make that word a part of your everyday living.  You see the need to actually apply God’s word in your life every day.  You are willing to judge every teaching, whether by friend or foe, by the scriptures. Human doctrines, human will, human wisdom -whatever it may be, will be judged against tile standard of God’s word.  You are willing to respect the authority of Jesus Christ for your life.  You will seek to be guided by His words in your efforts to worship Him.  Your desire is to exalt Him and His will for your life, as you are a part of His spiritual family.  You exult in divine wisdom rather than human wisdom.  Above all, you seek to be guided not by some of the words of the Bible, but by every word that proceeds from God.   ~  Randy Harshbarger