study resource is designed to help you learn about Christianity in a group or by
yourself. We hope to be able to help
answer your questions about basic Christian doctrine and beliefs.
You can also use it as a reference to help you to answer other people’s
questions when they ask you about being a Christian.
hope that the following pages will also encourage you to search the Bible for
the answers you need by yourself. Ultimately
you need to be able to go to the Bible for God’s fresh word for your specific
needs. As you are learning, God will
use many people to teach you many things. But
remember the wisdom and the power come only from Him.
purpose of these pages is to help you understand some of the basic tenants of
Christianity. The ideas and ideals
presented are important for you to understand.
We will attempt to show you in a logical fashion what a relationship with
Jesus Christ is like. As much
factual information as possible will be presented while keeping with a general
believe that the Christian faith is something held both in our hearts and in our
minds. Because a growing Christian
has an inquisitive and active mind we will present many facts and cross
references. This together with the
footnotes will give you a place to look when you, or someone you know has a
has given us the power to understand many things. One of the most important is
to learn about Him. Challenge
yourself to learn as much as you can about our Christian faith, its history, and
people. Most of us will be limited
in our understanding, not by the limits of our minds, but by the lack of energy
we allot to learning.
we wish to make something clear. There
is no escaping that a step of faith is necessary to achieve salvation and a
relationship with Christ. The primary residence of the Holy Spirit in us is in
field of argument encompassing proofs of Christianity is called apologetics.
It is an important field. Many
great scholars have devoted their lives to it.
Some of what we will present is the result of their labors.
It provides us comfort and room to grow intellectually and spiritually to
understand some of their ideas. But
again that step of faith is necessary.
believe that no satisfactory “proof” of the effectiveness of the Christian
faith exists outside of the spiritual realm.
Our limited resources and minds will not allow us to have a complete
understanding of God. As Corrie Ten
Boom said “A God small enough for our understanding will not be large enough
for our need.”
believe the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, to be the inspired Word of
God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will
for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority for all Christian
faith and life.
do these ideas come from, and why are they so important that we have chosen to
begin here? Let’s spend some time
Bible is the best-selling book of all time, and has been for many centuries.
It is available in an incredible number of languages. Even now men are
working to translate it into even more languages, so that all people may have
the Scriptures available in their native tongue.
At every moment we can see the active hand of God motivating us to use
and share this book called the Bible.
question of the Bible is an important one. Without
it there are some things that mankind would never know from our own limited
searching. The Spiritual world is
fundamentally different from the physical world we are so comfortable exploring.
we are to know even the most basic things about God, He must tell us. God has
revealed Himself in several ways. Nature
and ourselves are two examples. Anyone
who has ever owned a body (all of us) know that in the course of time things do
not get better, but rather tend to decline without some active work.
In science this is called the law of entropy.
The guidance of some outside force in the universe can be seen, but only
dimly. Read Job 11:7–9
way God has told us about Himself is through His relationship with the nation of
Israel and those around them. He
demonstrated His love, mercy, and sometimes His power in this way. However
all of these ways do not give us a very clear picture of Him. None
of us for instance have seen God’s involvement with history, or the events
surrounding Christ’s ministry on earth personally.
it is necessary for God to reveal Himself to us in another way.
The way He chooses is through the Bible.
The question then arises, how do we know that the Bible as we know it is
the complete and actual word of God? For
this we will examine the external and internal uniqueness of the Scripture.
facts about the Bible
Bible was written over a 1600 year span by over 40 authors, on three continents,
in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). The Bible is by far the most
widely circulated book ever. Remember
Mao’s “little red book”. Twenty
years ago it was read by a billion Chinese.
Now it has fallen into disfavor, less than 15 years after Chairman
manuscript copies of all or part of the N.T.
preserved the O.T. as no other book has ever been. They counted each letter,
syllable, word, and sentence. They
had special classes of men in there culture whose job it was to preserve the
of 1904 the Britain Bible Society had printed 409,000,000 Bibles.
1932 the German Bible Society had produced 1,330,213,815 Bibles.
1966 America produced 87,398,961 Bibles.
O. T. was translated into Greek (The Septuagint) in about 250 B.C.
1966 the whole Bible had been translated into 240 languages and dialects and
parts of the Bible into 739 additional ones.
it is rare for another book to out-sell the Bible for even a one month period.
Internal Uniqueness of the Bible
Bible reveals many things that we by ourselves have no way of knowing.
Many of the Old Testament prophesies, for instance, were written hundreds
of years before they came to pass. (Psalm 22, Isaiah 53)
There are still prophesies in the Bible that have not yet come to
pass. In this way the Bible is able
to show us its accuracy by itself.
that the Bible is the word of God therefore hinges on faith, historical
evidence, and the fact that it is performing a living work in millions of lives
Canonization of Scripture
how do we know that the Bible is the complete and accurate word of God?
Who decided what should be included?
The Old Testament is easy. This
body of literature had been stable for at least 300 years before the birth of
Christ. Therefore we know that
Christ’s view of the Old Testament should be ours because it is the same text.
does Christ say? In Luke 24:44 He
says “. . . Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law
of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” In
Luke 10:35 . . . and the Scripture cannot be broken . . .”.
And for Jesus’s thoughts on the difference between man’s tradition
and the Scripture read Mark 7:1–13 looking closely at vs 13.
It tells us that it is wrong to put tradition above the Scriptures.
New Testament is somewhat more complex in its origin. Christ’s life and work
on earth produced quite a stir as you can well imagine.
It seems as if everyone with a pen and some papyrus had something to say
about Jesus of Nazareth.
was an age when communication and travel were not as easy as they are today.
Because of this sometimes someone would hear about Jesus or His works and
be affected by them. Later this
person would share verbally or in written form his beliefs and experiences.
Since there was little communication between many of the so called
Christian sects some truly bizarre ideas started to develop.
the third century AD it was clear for a number of reasons that something had to
be done to protect the Church from heresy. Many
Churches were using books of doubtful origin in their services. Furthermore
in A.D. 303 the edict of Diocletian called for the destruction of the sacred
books of the Christians. Who wanted
to die for just a book? Christians
needed to know what was actually the Scripture, and worth protecting with their
basic test for the canonization of a book of the Bible was its apostolic origin.
The value of the words was that they were taught directly or inspired by
of Alexandria (A.D. 367) gives us the earliest list of Scripture that is exactly
the same as our own. However as
early as A.D. 115 Polycarp, Clement, and others use the term “as it is said in
these scriptures” and “It is written”.
Polycarp was a disciple of the apostle John.
We can see the high view with which the written scripture is held from
Ignatius (A.D. 50–115) when he says “I do not wish to command you as Peter
and Paul; they were apostles . . .”. From
this we see that the apostolic origin of the written word was considered of the
first importance from the very earliest times.
may be that some works of genuine value are not included in our present Bible.
However it is most important to know without any doubt that the scripture
that we use is 100% reliable. Anything
that had a questionable origin was therefore not included.
This was much better done in the early church than now.
At the time that the process began there were still people living who had
sat at the feet of the apostles!
Extent of Inspiration
popular topic of discussion regarding the Bible is the extent of inspiration.
Two of the terms used are plenary and verbal inspiration.
Plenary means full. When used
in connection with inspiration it means that all scripture is of God and without
error. This is restricted to the
original text in the original language.
term verbal inspiration indicates that the inspiration extends to the words of
the Bible themselves, not only the ideas. Verbal
inspiration holds that God through the Holy Spirit has guaranteed the
authenticity and reliability of the very words used, without depriving the
writers of their individuality.
(2 Peter 1:20–21)
argue that the Bible contains the word of God rather than is the word of God.
This however presents us with a problem.
How can we know what parts of the Bible are reliable and what parts are
not? If we are going to pick and
choose the parts of the Bible we are going to believe, we are choosing on the
basis of personal need or desire. This
is a shaky basis on which to proceed.
have been three bases for religious authority.
The first is tradition, or the authority of the church, which Roman
Catholics have held. The second is
human reason to which liberal thinkers have held. The
third is the Bible itself, to which evangelicals have held. Evangelicals do not
deny the value of human reason or tradition but submit them in the case of
conflict to the authority of Scripture.
person holding a high view of Scripture uses tools to study the text and relate
it to the original words and language. For this reason even though the vast
majority of us (myself included) do not know Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic, it is
important to use Bible translations that are direct translations from the
original texts. It is also important
to not base our arguments on one verse of any one translation.
A good Bible student will have at least two translations at his elbow.
Two good ones are the King James or Authorized Version and the New Kings
James Version. Other good
translations are the American Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, and
The Amplified Bible versions.
accepting the authority of the Bible does not guarantee instant understanding on
our part. The primary source of
guidance should always be the Holy Spirit. Scripture
must be opened for us by the Holy Spirit.
Christ was walking here on earth with His disciples He took many opportunities
to explain both Himself and the Old Testament Scriptures to them.
We however do not have that opportunity. Before Jesus ascended into
Heaven He promised to send a counselor, the Holy Spirit.
Luke 24:45 Jesus opened their minds so that they could understand the
Scriptures. In John 16:13 He says
that He will send the Spirit of Truth to guide us to truth.
When you read the Bible pray that God will make it plain to you through
the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
looking at and reading the Bible it is important to realize that it is not a
science text or a daily diary of Christ’s life.
There appear to be legitimate conflicts in parallel accounts of the same
events and other difficulties, although not near as many as some would have you
Bible describes events as they appear to happen.
For instance we describe the sun as “rising in the east” even though
we have known for centuries that it doesn’t rise at all.
In the same way the Scriptures uses common terms which are generally
understood to describe events.
Bible also uses allegories or parables (stories) to illustrate a point.
We should be careful when we look at scripture in a literal way.
After all would you want to date the woman described in Song of Songs
4:1–5? All in all much of what we
receive from reading the Scripture has to do with the attitude with which we
approach it. This does not mean that
the substance of what it says changes with our outlook however.
conclusion we can see that the Bible as we have it today is the vital and living
word of God. We know this from the
impact it is having on our lives today. No
other ancient text has nearly as many manuscripts surviving from dates close to
the original writing. No other text
has had the impact it has and continues to have on millions of lives.
No other text is printed in anywhere near its quantity or in as many
languages. Voltaire predicted that
Christianity would be dead within 100 years after his death in 1778.
Fifty years after he died the Geneva Bible Society was using his house,
and printing press, to print stacks of Bibles!
paused last eve beside the blacksmith’s door,
heard the anvil ring, the vespers chime,
looking in I saw upon the floor
hammers, worn with beating years of time
many anvils have you had?” said I’
wear and batter all those hammers so?”
one,” he answered. Then with
anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
so, I thought, the anvil of God’s Word
ages skeptics’ blows have beat upon,
though the noise of falling blows was heard
anvil is unchanged; the hammers gone.
Why is the origin of the Bible
Why is it important to believe
in the authority of scripture?
What does it mean that the
Bible is inspired?
How is the ministry of the Holy
Spirit essential to the understanding of the Scripture?
List some reasons why it is
important to know what the Bible says thoroughly.
A. T. Robertson a noted authority on NT grammar and Bible History.
Quoting figures from Bible Societies, found in Evidence that Demands a
Verdict by Josh McDowell c1972 p Campus Crusade for Christ.
His sources were
Encyclopedia Britannica, Americana, One Thousand
Wonderful Things About the Bible (Pickering), All About the Bible
(Collet), Protestant Christian Evidence (B. Ramm), and A General
Introduction to the Bible (Geisler and Nix)