|LESSON 2||*April 7 - 13|
|The Final Word|
Read for This Week's Study:
|Matt. 4:4-10; 21:42; 22:29; 26:54, 56; Gal. 1:11, 12; James 2; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; 3:16.|
|"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work"" (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, NIV).|
|From where does the Bible derive its authority?
We all live under one final authority or another, whatever it happens to be. As Christians, we believe that the final authority is God, whose will is expressed in the Bible. Hence, the Bible is the final Word.
But why should any one of us put ourselves under the authority of a book? The answer is that the Bible isn't just a book; it is, instead, the Word of God.
Thus, by virtue of who its Author is, the Lord God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Book comes with its divine authority built in. After all, who has authority over God? No one. That's why the Bible has to be the foundational and final Word.
This week we'll take a look at the authority of the Scripture. What does the Scripture say about itself? What claims does it make about itself and its origins? How did the Bible writers view other books of the Bible? And, most important, what does Jesus Himself have to say about the Scriptures? After all, Hethe Lord Himselfwould have, no doubt, the final word on the final Word.
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, April 14.
The Word of the Lord
The Bible writers made incredible claims about the books they were writing. Phrases used to describe the original sources of their messages were expressed as "the Lord has spoken" (Isa. 1:2, NIV), "this is what the Lord says" (Amos 1:3, NIV), "the word of the Lord that came . . ." (Mic. 1:1), or " 'this is what the Lord has revealed to me' " (Jer. 38:21, NIV).
The Old Testament writers testify that their messages came directly from God. It is "the word of the Lord" that came to such Old Testament writers as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, and others (Jer. 1:1, 2, 9; Ezek. 1:3).
Read 2 Samuel 23:2; Ezekiel 2:2; 11:5, 24; Micah 3:8. What common thread runs through these texts?
Read Luke 1:70 and 2 Peter 1:19-21. What does the New Testament say concerning the inspiration of the Old Testament?
Read Romans 4:3 and Galatians 1:11, 12. What was Paul's conviction concerning the Scriptures? What authority does Paul say lies behind the gospel he preached?
Scattered over the long centuries, all these men, regardless of the vast differences in their circumstances and background, testified to the same thing: that the messages they were writing weren't their own but that they were moved by the power of God, who commanded them to write what He was telling them.
|If we believe the prophets, that they were inspired by God, what practical implications does that belief have for our daily lives? That is, how'well does your life reflect your belief in the authority of Scripture? What things, if any, have you done in the past 24 hours that violated the clear teaching of the Bible?|
Read 2 Timothy 3:16. Where does Paul place the origin and authority of Scripture?
The Greek word for "inspiration" in 2 Timothy 3:16 means literally "God-breathed." It clearly indicates that the Scriptures originated from God. God enabled His messengers, prophets, and apostles to grasp and then communicate that which He revealed to them in a trustworthy and authoritative fashion.
Keeping in mind the above text, especially the definition of "inspiration," read Genesis 2:7 and Psalm 33:6. What commonality do you find between these texts? What message should this give to us about the authority of the Bible?
The same creative power that brought the world into existence was also behind the origins of Scripture! Dwell on the implications of this amazing truth.
The Lord communicated His Word through various means. Besides revealing Himself in visions and dreams, He sent messages in the form of direct appearance (Exod. 3:2-7), through an angel (Dan. 8:15, 16), or through eyewitnesses (1 John 1:1-3).
Regardless of how God communicated to them, the writers of the Bible were not acting merely as writing machines. God did not push them as He would keys on a typewriter to produce His message. Each writer had his own writing style; these differences are seen all through the Bible. The crucial point is that these messages were not their own; they were writing down what was delivered to them by God. They were His messages, not their messages (2 Sam. 23:2, Amos 3:8).
As a result of this divine revelation, the Bible also is called "the book of the Lord" (Isa. 34:16), "the gospel of God" (Rom. 1:1), "the oracles of God" (Rom. 3:2), "the word of Christ" (Col. 3:16), and "the good word of God" (Heb. 6:5).
|Compare the various writing styles found in Scripture. For example, compare Paul to John, Isaiah to Moses, or Isaiah to John. Does one speak more clearly to you than others? If so, why? Also, what might be God's reason for allowing the author's own writing style to come through in what is His Word?|
Christ's View of the Scriptures
Today there are all sorts of views about Scripture, about its authority, validity, role, and so forth. Unfortunately, many within Christianity don't view the Bible as the kind of authority it ought to be.
What authority is that? Well, let's go to the ultimate Authority Himself, Jesus. How did He view Scripture?
What do the following texts tell us about how Christ viewed the authority of Scripture? Matt. 4:4-10; 21:42; 22:29; 26:54, 56; Mark 2:25; 12:36; Luke 4:21.
Those texts are but a few that reveal how truthful and authoritative Jesus' view of Scripture was. Jesus believed in the story of Creation (Mark 10:6), of Noah and the Flood (Matt. 24:37-39), and of Jonah and the large fish (Matt. 12:39-41). He also referred to the creation of the first couple (Matt. 19:4), and He quoted Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:5, which speaks about the original purpose of marriage.
Read Luke 24:25-27 and John 10:35. What did He say about His endorsement and acceptance of the Old Testament as a whole?
Jesus Himself verified His own mission by using scriptures. " 'For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?' " (John 5:46, 47, NKJV). After His resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus quoted Scripture to clarify the importance of His ministry. "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27, NKJV). Throughout His life on earth, Jesus used Scripture, spoke from Scripture, promoted Scripture, uplifted Scripture, and interpreted Scripture. "Jesus is the true Interpreter of Holy Scripture. His message is our key to unlock the correct meaning of the Old Testament. . . . Christ's use of Israel's Scriptures is our model of biblical interpretation. Our guiding principle is based on the conviction that the redemptive activity of God in the history of Israel reached its fulfillment in Christ."Hans LaRondelle, How to Understand the End-Time Prophecies of the Bible (Sarasota, Fla.: First Impressions, 1997), p. 13.
Apostles and the Scriptures
The New Testament writers also showed full confidence in the Scriptures.
Read James 2. In what ways does he show his belief in the authority of the Old Testament?
The New Testament authors have confidently assured us of their conviction regarding the authority of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16). In his admonition to the rich, as stated in James 1:11, James used Isaiah 40:6, 7 and Psalm 103:15. The apostle Peter expressed his confidence in the Old Testament prophecies with emphatic words in 2 Peter 1:21. He was alluding to the Old Testament (Exod. 12:5) when he said in 1 Peter 1:19 that we are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.
When Paul spoke about the gospel in Romans 1:17, he used the underlying principle of the gospel as found in Habakkuk 2:4. In describing humanity's sinful nature (Rom. 3:10-12), the apostle makes reference to Psalm 14:1-3. When Paul spoke to the Jews in Rome, he said, " 'The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet . . " (Acts 28:25, RSV).
The apostles were solidly convicted that the Scriptures were the Word of God. At Pentecost Peter said, " 'This Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David' " (Acts 1:16, NKJV). Paul also said, "When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God" (1 Thess. 2:13, NKJV).
|What forces exist in your culture that work against having the kind of trust in the Scriptures as depicted in today's and yesterday's lessons? How can you recognize those forces? Even more important, what can you do to help protect yourself, and others, against them?|
Unity Amid Diversity
Peter 3:16. What is Peter referring to as Scripture?
With Peter's reference to Paul's writings as Scripture, we see internal evidence for the validity of both Testaments; both were considered the Word of God (see also 1 Thess. 2:13). And despite some vast differences in the backgrounds and authors of the Bible, there's also an incredible unity found within both.
A span of a thousand years covers the writings of the Old Testament. There was, then, a gap of about five hundred years when no Bible books were written, at least not until the birth of the New Testament church. The books of the New Testament were started and completed in the last half of the first century A.D. Thus, the Bible took more than a millennium and a half to be completed.
the following texts:
Corinthians 13. What great unifying theme appears here?
One of the strongest evidences that the Bible was prepared under divine direction is its unity. Although the writers came from diversified backgrounds, its content has one predominant purpose. The Bible was written by kings, a prime minister, shepherds, fishermen, prophets, priests, a publican, a physician, and many other people with different occupationsbut all of them wrote about the same God. Some books are historical; some are prophetic. Some writers wrote in poetry; others in prose. Some books are missionary reports; others are church letters or personal correspondence. However, each speaks about the same loving and caring God; each one informs us about the same plan of salvation; and each one uplifts the same standard of righteousness. All look forward to the same eternal reward. This is not coincidence. It all shows that the Bible writers have one Source of inspiration.
What common theme in Scripture is your favorite? Which speaks to your heart the best? Go through a few books in both Testaments and pull out texts that share this common theme. Bring them to class on Sabbath.
|"The Word of God," pp. 11-21 in Seventh-day Adventists Believe
. . . (2005 ed.); Ellen G. White, "The
Inspiration of the Prophetic Writers," pp. 15-23 in Selected Messages,
book 1; "The Primacy of the Word,"
pp. 29-33 in Selected Messages, book 3.
"The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. . . . The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen. Look at the different writers. It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God."Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 21.
"The Bible points to God as its author; yet it was written by human hands; and in the varied style of its different books it presents the characteristics of the several writers."Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. v.
| As a class, share your responses to Thursday's question.
What other sources of authority can be in competition with the Bible? Identify these sources (government, media, science, culture, etc.), and then as a class talk about what you can do to help balance these sources with the Bible while, at the same time, accepting the Bible as the final authority in your life.
No doubt there are some things in Scripture that are difficult to understand. Why should that not be surprising when one considers what this book is about and the themes it deals with? What can you do to help one another maintain faith in the Scriptures as the Word of God, despite some things in it that can be hard to grasp?
|I N S I D E Story|
|Breaking Satan's Chains: Part 1
by OLEG FARKHUTDINOV
I was serving a sentence in a maximum security prison for crimes I had committed. I hated myself for being in prison, for committing the crimes that I had. At age 30 I had spent nearly a third of my life in prison. Alcohol and drugs had dulled my sense of right and wrong. But sometimes, in my deepest and most thoughtful moments, my conscience spoke to me. But the words I heard were neither comforting nor reassuring.
When I was released from prison, I returned to my wife and young son. But the joy of reunion could not bring peace to my heart or stop the downward spiral of my life. Hardly had I spoken the promise to quit drinking and taking drugs when I found myself searching for any drink or a drug to dull the ache and forget the pain. When I tried to quit, the addictions roared back, enslaving me. And when my wife tried to stop me from getting drugs, I beat her.
Once again I awoke in a stinking prison. What crime am I accused of now? Which part of my past have they uncovered this time? I wondered. When the judge sentenced me to three more years of prison, I wondered what other crimes they would discover even as I paid for this crime.
My fear turned my mind to God, and I pleaded, "God, help me!" Someone gave me a New Testament, and I began reading it. There I found some answers to my search for meaning. Sometimes as I read I cried like a child and rejoiced like an adult. Then one day I gave up. I turned my lifewhatever was left of itover to God.
Jesus freed me from the fear that had dogged my past and replaced it with hope that He had good things planned for my future. Prison became my Bethel; here I saw a staircase to heaven and here I got sick in Christ, died with Him and came to live in Him.
Then my mother came to visit. She was crying when I entered the visitors' area. "Poor Mother! I have brought you so much grief. How many prisons have you had to visit because of me?" My words only made her cry even more. She told me that she had saved her pension for four months to bring me some money, but two days earlier someone broke in and took the money. She started sobbing again.
Suddenly the spirit of revenge made my blood boil. I wanted to get out of prison and find the people who had hurt my mother. I wanted revenge.
(Continued next week)
OLEG FARKHUTDINOV works in prison ministries in the Southern Union Conference of the Euro-Asia Division.
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