When we consider deadly animals, we normally think about venomous snakes, ferocious sharks, crocodiles, or bears. You might be surprised to learn that the animals or organisms most deadly to humans don’t match our mental picture of dangerous creatures. The creature that kills the most humans per year (between 750,000-1,000,000) is the lowly mosquito. Because of the various diseases it spreads, such as malaria, mosquitoes are the animal kingdom’s leading human killers. Another creature that has proven to be extremely deadly is the harmless looking freshwater snail. Read >>
Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.
Here are the topics that you will find:
- Studying with the Right Attitude (Johnie Scaggs Jr)
- The Importance of Effective Bible Study (Cody Westbrook)
- Understanding Bible Authority (Kevin Rhodes)
- The Silence of the Scriptures (Steven Lloyd)
- The Importance of Context (Rick Brumback)
- Types and Shadows (Don Walker)
- Understanding the Covenants (Clay Bond)
Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.
You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions…or by clicking on the link provided here in The Fellowship Room under the “Friends” category to your right.
Copyright © 2016 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
Notice what Paul did not say was responsible for Timothy’s knowledge and salvation and faith in Jesus from his childhood.
He did not say it came from…
- the Talmud (a.k.a. the catechism).
- the Mitzvah (a.k.a. a creed book).
- the Oral Torah (a.k.a. oral traditions).
- the Sanhedrin decrees (a.k.a. man-ordained councils).
Where did Paul say Timothy gained his knowledge and salvation and faith in Jesus from? The answer is the Holy Scriptures of God. And why is that? What is so unique about the Holy Scriptures compared to all other writings? Paul himself answers the question in the very next verse:
“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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
If we want to know the mind of God when it comes to having the proper spiritual knowledge, salvation and faith in Jesus that’s available then we must go to the place of instruction that has been breathed out by the Spirit of God Himself – the word of God (a.k.a. the Bible).
When it comes to doctrine (spiritual knowledge), when it comes to reproof and correction (salvation), when it comes to instruction in righteousness (faith), and our relationship with Jesus, the Spirit of God uses the word of God to remake us into the image of the Son of God. And any other “mold” (i.e. catechisms, creed books, oral traditions and council proclamations) provided by man is a mold that will fall short, for their mold reproduces people in their image instead of God’s Son (Matthew 23:15, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
So if, according to Paul (a man who was well versed in all of the additional man-made writings and traditions of his day), the Scriptures of God were sufficient for Timothy when it came to his spiritual knowledge, salvation and faith in Jesus, then why would anyone today want to say anything else is additionally needed?
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13-14)
When one understands and believes in the correct origin of the Bible then one can see and understand the flow of God’s word from beginning to end. As the Bible reveals the mind of God its purity can be seen from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:5. Now when I say the Bible is pure I mean that it is free from the adulterating matter of man’s influence with clarity that is not always appreciated. Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” The word translated “pure” comes from the Hebrew word “Tsaraph” meaning “to smelt, refine or test.” In other words, the word of God will pass the test every time, all of the time and for all of time!
One of the critical mistakes that people make with reading and examining the Bible is making the assumption that a personal interpretation that seemingly causes God’s word to “contradict” itself actually reflects upon the purity, integrity or infallibility of the Bible. The truth of the matter is that the word of God doesn’t contradict when all scriptures on a given topic are considered. Without a doubt personal interpretations contradict, but God’s word does not. Concerning the purity of God’s word the book of Psalms said long ago, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160 – ESV). Alleged “contradictions” come from people taking “some” of God’s word into consideration instead of taking the totality of God’s word into consideration when they study and search the scriptures for answers.
Does this mean that all of the Bible is easy to study and understand? Absolutely not! It takes diligence and an honest effort to find the truth. It takes viewing the whole picture instead of looking for the hole in the picture. There’s nothing wrong or disingenuous in saying that difficulties can come when we study certain topics found in God’s word. As a matter of fact the apostle Peter warned of certain people who were intentionally abusing certain aspects of the letters written by the hands of Paul through the inspiration of God’s Spirit due to their difficulty when he said, “Consider the patience of our Lord to be salvation, just as our dear friend and brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, speaking of these things in all his letters. Some of his remarks are hard to understand, and people who are ignorant and whose faith is weak twist them to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:15-16 – CEB) Peter didn’t say the topics under consideration were impossible to understand, but rather that they were hard or difficult to understand. A proper understanding begins with diligently and properly studying and dividing God’s word as Paul himself told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Make an effort to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed but is one who interprets the message of truth correctly.”
We can have confidence in the word of God because of its purity. Purity in any form is a rare thing, and if people would treat the word of God as they do the rare riches found upon the earth then we would understand why we should study the Bible due to the great value that it contains.
“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6)
The author-centered meaning (Forthright Magazine)
As I alluded to a couple of times in the previous post, studying God’s word is necessary because of its source and because of its source the Bible reveals and gives insight to something that we’re not able to see with our physical eyes alone – and that’s the mind of God. We know what we know about God because God has revealed it about Himself to us through His written word. If we use any source other than God’s word recorded in the Bible whether it be secular or religious to try to explain the will of God we become no different from anyone else who “speaks for God” but contradicts His word.
This is not to say that the existence of a Creator cannot be seen through the existence of creation for even Psalm 19:1-6 says this much. But the difference between knowing that there is a Creator and personally knowing that Creator’s will can be huge; this is where the word of God comes in. God’s word opens the door to a proper relationship with Him by opening our eyes to His will. Read further into Psalm 19 and you’ll find that, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;” (Psalm 19:7-8).
The word of God has revealed the will of God for our lives, and this will of God contains commandments, guidance, hope, love and correction, all of which have been given for our benefit. And contrary to what some try to teach concerning God’s word and will, the fact that God wants us to understand His will means that we can understand it. Ephesians 5:17 says, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
The song “Amazing Grace” reminds us of the importance of seeing the things that exist in the spiritual realm both good and bad. Contained within the word of God is an opportunity to have a portion of the infinite mind of God revealed to our finite minds. You see, God’s word reveals what needs to be seen, and not always what we want to see. When people try to go beyond what is written they reveal their own will and not the will of God. When people ignore what is written they reveal their own will and not the will of God. What has been revealed in God’s word has not been revealed because people “figured” it out, but rather because God Himself removed the veil of ignorance to reveal His glory, knowledge, honor and grace to a creation and people who He loves in such way that He has allowed us to see enough of His plan to know how to be with Him eternally in Heaven. From the garden of Eden to the garden of God in Heaven we can see the will of God because we can read about it (1 Peter 1:3-12).
The Spirit-Breathed word of God has revealed the mind of God through the wisdom of God so the salvation of man can be understood by the will of God to the glory of God! And that’s just one more reason why we should study the Bible.
“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-16 – NKJV)
Knowing where God’s book originated from is one of the most basic elements needed when it comes to understanding and gaining knowledge from the Bible. The Bible is, as the word Bible literally means, the word of God; and God is the origin of the said word. Now this doesn’t mean that the Bible was not written through the hands of people. What it means is that what was written through the hands of people didn’t originate with their hands – it originated with the mind of God. It’s as the apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 1:20-21: “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Pay attention to those underlined words and the meaning of those words can’t be missed!
No other book in all of religion is needed for us to understand and for us to be able to rest assured that we can both know and do God’s will, and we’ll talk about that a little more later, but for now we need understand that the Bible, which is the revealed word of God, is completely sufficient to supply all the guidance we need spiritually speaking when it comes to becoming a Christian, keeping the church on the right path and serving God in His kingdom and it even says so. Paul reminded Timothy of this much when he said, “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16) If God’s inspired, literally meaning breathed out, word provides all of the needed facets of the faith then why would we need any other book(s) such as creeds, catechism’s, articles of faith or some other “testament” written and originating completely from the finite minds of people? The answer is that we don’t, and to hold any other opinion is like holding our own breath – it’ll work for a little while, but it won’t work forever!
So does any of this mean that reading commentaries from the past and present day, paralleling history books, or even posted articles about the Bible is wrong? By no means. But what it does mean is that we must learn to distinguish between the words that originate from the mind of a person and words that originate from the mind of God. It means that we must strive to allow scripture to interpret scripture instead of allowing scripture to be interpreted in light of manmade doctrines that people stubbornly hold on to. Mankind has an innate spiritual desire that must be fed and it’s only in the word of God that we’ll find the menu that can completely satisfy our needs. Proverbs 2:6 wisely says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding;” so we need to remember that if God’s word alone doesn’t spiritually satisfy us then we might not be as hungry as we think!
“…“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”” (Matthew 4:4)
Writers and commentators in the world often see the Bible very differently than faithful members of the Lord’s church.
Members of the body of Christ know the Bible is inspired. They know this because the New Testament says it is inspired. The Apostle Peter said “but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” (2 Peter 1:21). The Apostle Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” (2 Timothy 3:16). As far as the apostles of Christ were concerned, the Bible was (and is) the inspired word of Almighty God.
But many do not share the inspired apostles’ claims. J.B. Phillips, the translator of the “New Testament in Modern English” said in the foreword of his book, “For the most part, I am convinced they (the writers of the New Testament) had no idea they were writing Holy Scriptures.” Phillips also said he was an interpreter rather than a translator, saying that, at times, “he is bound, after careful consideration, to set down the most likely meaning” of a passage.
Such an attitude reflects the view of the Bible as uninspired, for if the Bible is the inspired word of God, no one would dare tamper with its words. If the Bible is the inspired word of the Almighty Father, then all would have to honor it and obey it as it is written, instead of paraphrasing it to sound like a bedtime story.
There is a reason, of course, why the world denies the inspiration of the Bible. If the Bible is not inspired, then it may be ignored and the individual may continue his or her life deaf to its message. To them, the Bible is just an ordinary human document, like any other book; there is no requirement to obey it or hold ones’ life accountable to it.
But the Lord Christ promised divine inspiration while he was on earth (Matthew 10:18-20; John 16:13-14). The Lord kept his promise in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit inspired these same men to speak his word before that large crowd in Jerusalem.
People, however, deny the inspiration of the scriptures because they deny the scriptures’ authority on how to conduct themselves. They deny the scriptures’ authority so they can commit adultery, allow themselves to be drunken with alcohol, engage in sexual immorality and allow hundreds of other sins in which they wish to engage. They wish to degrade the scriptures because they want to put God in other than first place. (Matthew 6:33).
But the Bible is the inspired word of God. It does have the authority to regulate conduct of people on the earth, and it has that ability because it is God’s word! The Bible is the inspired word of God no matter what man may say against it.