Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P31 (04-19-21)
As you research about how the bible came to be, you marvel at how it came together. People from forty different walks of life, across several continents, across a vast span of time, yet all the books we know as the bible today, have one consistent theme. They all point to the person of Jesus Christ, from Genesis, describing the creation of the world and the fall of man, to about 2000 years ago, to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, to the final book written through the apostle John, in the book of Revelation, describing future events yet to be fulfilled, that all of scripture testifies of God’s redemption of fallen mankind through the person of Jesus Christ.
Then you read the scriptures, of what scripture itself testifies of how the bible came to be written down, of how God spoke in various ways through the prophets of the Old Testament, through dreams and visions and numerous ways, and then how He spoke to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. These were not words of men, ideas that men came up with. These men heard directly from God and were told directly by God to write down what they heard. We see that in Revelation, as God told the apostle John to write down what he had heard. But we also see how God communicated directly with Moses in Exodus and was told to write those things down. We also read from the scriptures that God spoke directly through the other prophets, such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Samuel, and told them to speak the words He gave them to speak. These things were written down, eventually translated into Aramic and Greek, as in the Septuagint that Jesus quoted from.
So the scriptures came to be written down through the prophets by scribes, who were Jews, who were the protectors of God’s word. The scriptures were widely used, changing lives by those who took the words to heart and believed the message therein, and over time they came to be collected into what we call a canon. Then those copies of the originals, and the Septuagint, were eventually translated into virtually all the languages of the world today. People were martyred for translating the bible into other languages, but through faith and perseverance, we have the word of God in our hands today. God was at work through men to preserve His word, which scripture testifies that His word will never go away. As Jesus Himself said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
All that God wants to know concerning Himself, to be born again so that we may live in the new way of the Spirit, has been written down. There is no new revelation from God. God does not speak to us through dreams and visions any more like He did with through the prophets. He now speaks through us through His Son, by placing in us the very mind of Christ at new spiritual birth, whom will never leave us or forsake us, and through the scriptures He has given us, so we can now discern the things of the Spirit.
So if anyone tells you that Christ is here or over there, do not believe him. If you are born again, He lives in you, and He will not come again until He plants His foot on the mount of olives, where every eye will see Him, and it will be obvious as lightning falling out of the sky. Do not believe someone who calls himself a prophet or an apostle. There are no more prophets or apostles today. They are not needed any more for there is no new revelation to be written. Do not believe anyone who says they have new revelation, such as from the book of Mormon or the Apocrypha. That contains false and heretical teaching. The apostle John even tells us that in Revelation, of a strong curse of God on anyone who adds to or subtracts from the 66 books we know today as scripture, that we hold in our hands today, and is rightfully called the completed canon of scripture.
It is exciting to go through this series on A Closer Look at the Word of God. Turn to chapter 9, The Uniqueness of the Bible, in our study guide. If you have a copy of this study God, you can go through this study on your own. You can work through the booklet, answering the questions, and by allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you, you can do fine without me.
At any rate, let us pick up on our study. The way in which the bible came into being in and of itself is nothing short of a miracle. Instead of being one book, the bible is a library of 66 books. These 66 books were written over a span of about 1600 years, from approximately 1492 B.C. to 100 A.D. They were written by at least forty different authors, including kings, statesmen, a priest, a herdsman, a fisherman, a physician, and a lawyer. These authors used at least three languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. They wrote in the Sinai wilderness, the porch of the temple, the cliffs of Arabia, the schools of the prophets at Bethel and Jericho, the hills and towns of Palestine, the dungeon of Rome, and other places. Yet with their diversity of background, language, and time, the biblical writers all penned a single unfolding revelation of God and of the redemption of fallen man through faith in Jesus Christ.
Obviously, in the Old Testament, we have the proclamation of the Messiah that is to come, and then in the gospels, the Messiah that came. Then in the epistles, the explanation of the Holy Spirit, who is now here testifying to the truth of every one of those events. So we had in the Old Testament, God the Father revealing Himself to us, in the proclamation of the coming of the Messiah. Then Jesus came and said “I am here”. Then He said “I am going away and I am going to send the Holy Spirit to you, and the Holy Spirit will convince you wrong about sin, righteousness and judgment”.
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
So, today the Holy Spirit of God is testifying as to the things of Jesus. The central point of all the bible is Jesus Christ. That is why we have said, numerous times, one of the first lessons we deal with, after dealing with the Deity of Christ and the word of God, is the New Covenant from God’s vantage point, the centrality of all human nature from beginning to the end, from Adam in Genesis and to the book of Revelation, where we are raptured out of here, the second coming of Christ, and the thousand year millennial reign. But the central point is Jesus Christ. It was from there that a New Covenant went into effect. Jesus fulfilled the law and upheld the law through His death.
23 The wages of sin is death.
He upheld it by taking it for us by entering into our very own death with us. Therefore, enabling us to identify ourselves with Him, dying with Him at the cross, identifying with Him in His death, burial and then the glorious resurrection, that we today experience. He died for us then so that raised from the dead, He can live in us now. That is our hope of glory, Christ Jesus, alive, living in us.
Colossians 1:16-27 (TLB)
26 He has kept this secret for centuries and generations past, but now at last it has pleased him to tell it to those who love him and live for him, and the riches and glory of his plan are for you Gentiles, too. 27 And this is the secret: Christ in your hearts is your only hope of glory.
We are placed in Him. That entire transaction took place as the result of the cross. That is the centrality of everything that God did. He was pointing to the cross in the entire writing of the Old Testament. Now, in the writings of the New Testament, pointing us back to the cross and to the resurrection, and to the day, when we will be ejected out of the body, present with the Lord, absent from the body, receiving a new body to tie into the new birth in which we today enjoy. What a plan of God it is unfolding in front of us.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
When we look at the word of God, all of the Old Testament scriptures were already informed. They were individual books, in individual scrolls. Some recent archaeological findings have dug up those early manuscripts of those Old Testament writings. They were compiled then in what was called a canon. As those scriptures were compiled in that canon, that meant that the books of the bible that had already been in existence, already known by the people that God gave them to, that was the Jew. They were the protectors of that, that was not up for grabs, that there were other books or lesser books. That was already determined. It was also verified by the Lord Jesus Christ while here on earth, who spoke in one form or another, who spoke out of almost every book in the Old Testament.
In about 280 B.C., those Old Testament scriptures that were written in Hebrew, and spoken in Aramaic, were translated into the Greek language. That is what is called the Septuagint. In that Septuagint, was the translation of the Old Testament scriptures into the language of Greek. That was a translation. The early manuscripts, written in Hebrew, were translated into Greek.
When the New Testament was put together, beginning with the book of James, about 50 A.D., and ending in the book of Revelation, about 96 A.D., those books were all written in the language of the day, which was the Greek language. Jesus was known to have quoted out of the Septuagint. So the Septuagint was very much a used translation of the Hebrew text at that particular time. By the end of Revelation, all of the Old and New Testament was now in the Greek language.
This is a preamble of the history of the preparation of the word of God we hold in our hands today. As I just stated, that the Old Testament scripture in 280 B.C. was translated into the Greek language, called the Septuagint. Then the New Testament scriptures were all written in Greek. They had to be written by an apostle or an emanuisserant of an apostle. An emanuisserant was a scribe, someone who was writing down what an apostle was relating to them. So those books, as well as the Old Testament books, were not something that they sat around later on in order to put them in a canon. What we hold in our hands today is a canon, the accepted books of the Old and New Testaments. That was not a bunch of people having a democracy and voting on those things. These books were already in use, changing lives, and already recognized by the apostles and the early church fathers, as the books of the bible.
There were other books that were written during that period of time. There was a group of writings called the Pseudepigrapha, which is writings claimed to be scripture, signing Peter’s or Paul’s name to it, claiming to be their own, claiming them to be true. They are not scripture at all. We have the Apocrypha, written in Greek, about 14 books in there. Anyone reading those will know in reading them that they are not scripture, and were never known as scripture. They were put in some people’s bibles, quite frankly, in rebellion to Martin Luther, who left Catholicism and recognized salvation was by faith and faith alone. So it was in retaliation to the reformation.
So we have the history of how we got our bible. So as those books were written in the Greek language in those early church years, those were then translated. For the eastern world, the Arab world, and what we have so much in history today, there was a translation. A translation is translating from the original language or translating from the Septuagint. Some people have translated from the Old Testament manuscripts that were copied and some translations come from the translation from the Septuagint. So, there was this Syriac version, which was for the eastern world. That was translated into Aramaic. For the western world, it was translated into Latin. Those were the first two major translations from the original language the bible was written in, which was Greek. So you have your eastern world, taking their translations off the translation of Aramaic. Then in the western world, translations came from Greek.
So, in other words, many of your translations that we have today, or we had today, were not translated off of manuscripts written in Greek. They were translated off the translation that was written in Latin. That is not a good way of doing things or translating them off the translation that was written in Aramaic. The beauty of discovering the original copies of the manuscripts, not translations of manuscripts, but copies of manuscripts, is to be able to go back and check those in light of the language we live in today. So when we have a translation, as an example, whether the King James or the Tyndale or others by those who worked on those, such as the New American Standard Bible, those were scholars who worked off of the original copies of the manuscripts and then translated those into the appropriate language.
So the people in 1611, came up with the King James version. It was written in the language of the common people. To Americans, it sounds high falutin, as strange, with the Thee’s and Thou’s. So people think that is how Paul spoke. So people worship at the feet of a King James translation instead of realizing it was just a translation. If you picked up a translation written in 1611, you will not understand what it was saying, for they do not speak the way we speak today, so you had to have revised versions to bring them up to date.
The same thing is true with the New American Standard, or whatever it might be. They are translations of the original. In translations, you can lose some of the dynamic in the translation, but when you read the whole and understand the whole, and interpret the bible predicated on the cross, and the finality of it, and the reality of the resurrection, and the grace that was extended to us in its fullness, the bible unfolds and is clear as ever to understand.
If your premise is off, your findings will be off. When people try to combine law and grace, you will never get the bible to make sense. So we blame the translation instead of the relation of the Holy Spirit in regard to a person’s life. When we understand the fullness of what Christ did for us, instead of those types of things, so much difficulty in understanding disappears.
Now, let us go on to our lesson. Let us talk for a moment in regard to the preparation of the bible, then we will go back to the names of the bible. In other words, when and how did God choose the prophets or the apostles for the appointed work, of not only experiencing Christ in their life, but putting that down in the written form we have it today. We are told in Galatians 1:15-16 and Jeremiah 1:5.
15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.
So Paul said, “I did not consult anyone in what I am preaching. What I am preaching I got by direct revelation from God, the one who set me apart from birth.” Do you think God might have known who was going to be proclaiming Him even when Paul, formerly known as Saul, was about persecuting the church and holding the coat in the stoning of Stephen? Yes, God set him apart from birth for that very calling.
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
So what Paul wrote, he was not writing in accordance with his own mindset or his own information, nor did he write down what he heard from other men. He wrote down what had been revealed to him by God. And Paul had been set apart before the foundation of the earth for this very assignment.
Galatians 1:12 (TLB)
12 For my message comes from no less a person than Jesus Christ himself, who told me what to say. No one else has taught me.
We are told the same thing in regard to the prophet Jeremiah.
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Once again, this is all in the mind of God, the one who is omniscient and omnipresent, who is all and is all.
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
God looks at things, not limited by time and space. We are limited here on earth in time and space. He is not. “Before I formed you in the very womb of Jeremiah’s mother, I knew who you were”, He said. “Before you were born, I already set you apart and appointed you to the task you were going to be doing as a prophet to the nations.” So when we have scriptures in front of us today, it tells us by whom the words came, of divine origin.
2 Peter 1:21
21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
There are people who walk proclaiming to be God-given prophets today. You can ignore that. Those He set apart as prophets by birth, He communicated to them and they wrote down what was communicated. The canon was closed when Revelation was finished. It says tha you do not add or subtract from it. He was not just talking about the book of Revelation. He was talking about the entirety of the scriptures.
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
There are no new books. Joseph Smith, writing the book of Mormon, might as well have been writing a funny book. As far as God is concerned that is not scripture. There is no man’s writings that can add to the word of God when the word of God says it is over and finished and you do not add to it. There is no more scripture. There are no other books of scripture. There are no more books of revelation.
Any books that come out today are merely books that are describing the revelation that was found in the word of God. I can write a book about what I experienced and learned, but absolutely where I learned it was out of the word of God. I did not learn it by writing some other book in and of myself. You do not have scripture written by man. That canon is closed. The word of God is sufficient for the every need of our hearts. Those men were set apart by God and they were set apart to write down exactly what we have in our hands today. Now every bit of that was by revelation.
Let us take a look at how the writers of the bible claimed they received the word of God according to these passages.
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6. you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Where did Moses get the words to speak to the Israelites? From the Lord God Himself.
This is a lot to put on people, at one time, especially as we dealt with manuscripts, and everything else. If it is difficult for you to follow along, then I recommend you listen to the broadcast, or read the transcript. Listen to it over and over again. Then you will retain it better.
How did the Word of God we have today come from? It was given by God by divine revelation. Again, in Numbers 7:89, we are talking about Moses entering the tent of meeting and speaking with the Lord.
89 When Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law. In this way the Lord spoke to him.
It is important for us to also realize that in this day and age, because again there are people who look at the Old Testament scriptures, and look at Moses, and get an exalted opinion of themselves. They say, “if it is good enough for Moses, it is good enough for me”, saying “God spoke to me”, or “God told me this”, and “I appeared to God”, and those kinds of things, even though in the New Testament it says very clearly that is not so.
23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
1 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.
So before Christ came as the final revelation as God in regard to us and our salvation, He spoke to man in various ways, in dreams, like with Moses, direct, and in all kinds of various ways. But see the contrast there. Now He spoke to us through Jesus Christ. In other words, He is saying, “I am not going to do that anymore. I already spoke to you through My Son.”
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
Jesus said, “I am here. I have spoken. I have spoken loud and clear. I came as a human being. I spoke with your tongue. I saw with your eyes. I heard with your ears. You do not need any more of this divine appearance. I appeared. That is it. So listen to what I said for I am communicating totally the voice of the Father.”
Prior to that time, the revelation came from God directly to Moses.
1 Samuel 3:10-11
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.
So once again, the Lord spoke to Samuel, and Samuel passed on what He said.
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
So, once again, Isaiah was told by God, after saying “Here I am. So send me”. And the Lord told him what to say to the people of Israel. That was a prophecy concerning the nation of Israel that to this very day is being fulfilled.
In Revelation, you read about what the Lord said to the apostle John.
13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
So once again, at the close of the revelation, at the close of scripture, the apostle John heard the voice of God by direct revelation.
There are other passages on the revelation of the bible to its writers, and we see these again in other references.
10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
So again, direct revelation from God to Moses.
8 With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
1 The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.