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Lesson 2: The Final Word *

Introduction: How accurate is the Bible? Can we, as some group of so-called Bible scholars have done, go through the Gospels and decide what is true and what is not? When we read the fantastic stories of the Old Testament, can write them off as metaphors and illustrations intended for a primitive people? Are these stories not to be believed by sophisticated people like us? What is the logical result of deciding that we have the authority to accept or reject sections of the Bible as we see fit? Let's jump into our Bible study this week and see what we can learn about these questions!

  1. Bible Authority

    1. Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17. What authority does Paul tell Timothy is contained in the Bible? (He says the Bible is "God-breathed.")

      1. What is the benefit of Bible study? (It will make us wise and teach us about righteousness.)

      2. Let's consider this "God-breathed" idea. What do we know about God's breath?(Read 2 Peter 3:5-7. God's breath, formed into words, has the power to both create and destroy our world.)

      3. Read Genesis 2:7. If God's breath both created us and the universe, and has the power to destroy us and the universe, how seriously should we take the power of God's word?

    2. Read John 1:1. Who is this "Word" of God? ( John 1:14 explains that this is Jesus, who became human and lived with us.)

      1. The fact that Jesus is called the "Word" suggests what about His power and authority?

        1. What does it suggest about the accuracy of what Jesus said while here on earth?

    3. Read Mark 10:6. What is Jesus' view of the literal Creation account as opposed to the evolutionary theory? (Jesus says God created men and women, and He did so "at the beginning of creation." This is in contrast to evolution which has humans coming at the end of the process.)

    4. Read Matthew 24:37-41. What is Jesus' view of a literal flood? (Jesus not only refers to a literal flood, He uses it to illustrate a literal Second Coming and a literal judgment! Talk about blowing a huge hole in the theories of the metaphor crowd - who are as uncertain about a final judgment as they are about a literal flood.)

    5. Read Matthew 12:39-40. What is Jesus' view of that "obviously impossible" fish swallowing a guy story? (Jesus indicates it is literally true because He says that in the future He will be in the grave three days.)

    6. If Jesus, the Word of God, both believed and taught a literal creation, a literal flood, and a literal Jonah and the fish story, where does that leave those "scholars" who believe none of this was literal? (It leaves them without the power of God. It leaves them with their own power.)

    7. What about you? If you believe in Jesus, will you take the Bible accounts literally?

      1. If the Bible is "God-breathed," and God's word can create and destroy this world and everything in it, what authority and power to you bring to the table to say that some of God's word is not true or inaccurate?

  2. What Constitutes the Authoritative Bible?

    1. Read 2 Peter 3:14-16. How does Peter say that Paul wrote his letters? (With the wisdom of God.)

      1. How does Peter characterize Paul's letters? (As Scripture!)

        1. Are Paul's letters on the same level with the Old Testament? (Yes. Two things. First, Peter refers to "other Scriptures," thus ranking Paul's writings with other sections of the Bible. Second, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, points out that in the 50 places this term appears, it always refers to the Old or New Testament writings.)

      2. What is the danger of misunderstanding Paul's writings? (Understanding Scripture properly is important to having eternal life.)

    2. Who decides what inspired letters (like Paul's) or other statements of prophets become part of the Bible? Should the Bible be considered the same as, or superior to, the visions, statements and dreams of those prophets whose writings are not part of the Bible? (These questions are just to get you thinking. The historical/theological answer to this question is beyond the scope of this short study. However, we turn next to the beginning of this kind of discussion.)

  3. Prophets and The Bible

    1. Joel 2:28-29. What is the source of the prophesies, dreams and visions of these people? (The Holy Spirit.)

      1. How do these things compare with the writings of Paul? Is there a difference between what is accepted as "Scripture," and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit today (or a hundred or five hundred years ago)?

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21. Would you test the Bible? (If we accept the Bible as God's word, according to our prior discussion, we have no authority to "test" it.)

        1. How does this text say we should approach prophecy? What does it mean to "test" a prophecy? (The first statement is that we should approach what may be prophecy seriously. We should then "test," it in some unspecified way. After we test it, we hold onto what is good.)

    3. Read 1 John 4:1-3. What test of prophecy do we find here? (Whether "the spirit" acknowledges Jesus.)

    4. Read Deuteronomy 13:1-3. What is the test stated in this Old Testament text? Is it whether the prophet is accurate? (No. It is whether the prophet leads you towards or away from God. This seems to be the same test as we read in 1 John 4:1-3.)

    5. Read Deuteronomy 18:20-22. What test of prophecy is given here? (Whether the prophecy comes true.)

      1. Does this contradict Deuteronomy 13:1-3? (This adds a second part to the test. A true prophet will always lead us to God and will, when giving a message about the future, always be right.)

    6. Are you comfortable with the idea that you accept the Bible as without error, but you are required to test prophets?

      1. If you fully accept an "outside the Bible prophet," are the words of that prophet as binding as Scripture? (This is a topic about which we will study more this quarter.)

  4. Conflict Between the Testaments?

    1. Read Exodus 21:23-25, Leviticus 24:19-20 and Deuteronomy 19:16-21. What would you conclude is the Biblical standard to be applied to anyone who harms you?

    2. Read Matthew 5:38. This is Jesus speaking. Where are the people likely to have heard an "eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth?" (They would have likely read it in the Bible!)

    3. Let's read on. Read Matthew 5:39-42. How can you explain this apparent conflict between Jesus and the Old Testament? How can both be true?

      1. If Jesus contradicts the Old Testament, doesn't that ruin everything we have learned so far - that the Bible is inspired by God and without error?

      2. Read Leviticus 19:18. How can you reconcile this with Leviticus 24:19-20? (This is where we are called to be students of the Bible. If you study the context of Exodus 21:23-25, Leviticus 24:19-20 and Deuteronomy 19:16-21, you will see that these are all instructions for judges and community leaders in making judgments on cases before them. The common teaching of the Bible is that when it comes to personal offenses, we are not to seek revenge. But, when it comes to the state (or community) deciding on criminal matters, then "payback" is God's standard.)

    4. Friend, the Bible has power for your life! Will you commit to studying your Bible? As we progress through this series of studies, we will look in more detail at the issues we have begun to explore.

  1. Next week: Bible Prophecy Fulfilled.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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