|The Source of the Bible
The following passages offer two insights into the origins of the Bible.
Bible Reading: 2 Peter 1:12-21
Key Bible Verse: Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
According to verses 19-22, why can we have confidence in the words written by the prophets?
Reflection: God gave us the Bible through people. “It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God” means that the Scripture did not come from the creative work of the prophets’ own invention or interpretation. God inspired the writers, so their message is authentic and reliable. God used the talents, education, and cultural background of each writer (they were not mindless robots), and God cooperated with the writers in such a way to insure that the message he intended was faithfully communicated in the very words they wrote.
Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 3:10-17
Key Bible Verse: All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16)
List all of the purposes for the Scriptures found in the reading from 2 Timothy
Which of these roles do the Scriptures currently play in your life? How might you make the study and knowledge of Scripture a bigger part of your everyday life?
Reflection: God is the source of the Bible. The Bible is not a collection of fables, myths, or merely human ideas about God. It is not a mere human book. Through the Holy Spirit, God revealed his person and plan to certain believers, who wrote down his message for his people. “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). This process is known as inspiration. The writers wrote from their own personal, historical, and cultural contexts. Although they used their own mind, talents, language, and style, they wrote what God wanted them to write. Scripture is completely trustworthy because God was in control of its writing. Its words are entirely authoritative for our faith and lives. The Bible is “God-breathed.” Read it, and use it to guide your conduct.
The Purpose of the Bible
The following passages offer two reflections on the purpose of the Bible
Bible Reading: Psalm 119:1-176
Key Bible Verse: I am only a foreigner in the land. Don’t hide your commands from me! (Psalm 119:19)
As you read Psalm 119, what ideas stand out to you about the purpose of the Bible?
The psalmist describes knowing God’s law as a privilege in verse 29. How can we treat our access to the Bible as a privilege?
Reflection: The Bible is a map to guide us. The psalmist writes that he is a “foreigner” here and needs guidance. Almost any long trip requires a map or guide. As we travel through life, the Bible should be our road map, pointing out safe routes, obstacles to avoid, and our final destination. We must recognize ourselves as pilgrims, travelers here on earth who need to study God’s map to learn the way. If we ignore the map, we will wander aimlessly through life and risk missing our real destination.
Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 3:10-17
Key Bible Verse: God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:17)
This verse tells us that God’s word prepares us for action. How has God’s word prepared you for action in the past? What action do you think God may be preparing you for now?
Reflection: The Bible is basic equipment. In our zeal for the truth of Scripture, we must never forget its purpose—to equip us to do good. We should not study God’s Word simply to increase our knowledge or to prepare us to win arguments. We should study the Bible so that we will know how to do Christ’s work in the world. Our knowledge of God’s Word is not useful unless it strengthens our faith and leads us to good works.
The Message of the Bible
The following passages offer three reflections on the central message of the Bible.
Bible Reading: Matthew 5:17-20
Key Bible Verse: I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. (Matthew 5:18)
How permanent are God’s laws?
What does this suggest about the value we should place on learning about them and doing our best to live by them?
Reflection: The Bible gives us God’s commands. If Jesus did not come to abolish the law, does that mean all the Old Testament laws still apply to us today? In the Old Testament, there were three categories of law: ceremonial, civil, and moral.
(a) The ceremonial law related specifically to Israel’s worship (see Leviticus 1:2-3, for example: “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you present an animal as an offering to the LORD, you may take it from your herd of cattle or your flock of sheep and goats. If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the herd, it must be a male with no defects. Bring it to the entrance of the Tabernacle so you may be accepted by the LORD.”). Its primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ. These laws, therefore, were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. While we are no longer bound by ceremonial laws, the principles behind them—to worship and love a holy God—still apply. Jesus was often accused by the Pharisees of violating ceremonial law.
(b) The civil law applied to daily living in Israel (see Deuteronomy 24:10-11, for example: “If you lend anything to your neighbor, do not enter his house to pick up the item he is giving as security. You must wait outside while he goes in and brings it out to you.”). Because modern society and culture are so radically different from that time and setting, all of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. But the principles behind the commands are timeless and should guide our conduct. Jesus demonstrated these principles by example.
(c) The moral law (such as the Ten Commandments) is the direct command of God, and it requires strict obedience (see Exodus 20:13, for example: “You must not murder”). The moral law reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies today. Jesus obeyed the moral law completely.
Bible Reading: Luke 24:1-12
Key Bible Verse: He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day. (Luke 24:6-7)
According to these verses, how were the prophesies about Jesus fulfilled?
In verse 12, Peter goes to the tomb to look for Jesus and then goes home “wondering what had happened.” In what way is your reaction to the events of this passage similar or different than Peter’s? What does God want your reaction to be?
Reflection: The Bible reveals the living God to us. The two angels (appearing as men “clothed in dazzling robes”) asked the women why they were looking in a tomb for someone who was alive. Often we run into people who are looking for God among the dead. They study the Bible as a mere historical document and go to church as if going to a memorial service. But Jesus is not among the dead—he lives! He reigns in the hearts of Christians, and he is the head of his church. Do you look for Jesus among the living? Do you expect him to be active in the world and in the church? Look for signs of his power—they are all around you.
Bible Reading: Hebrews 1:1-3
Key Bible Verse: Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
In what ways has God communicated with his people throughout history?
How can you make yourself available to hear what God has to say to you through different means?
Reflection: The Bible introduces us to Jesus Christ. The book of Hebrews describes in detail how Jesus Christ not only fulfills the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament, but Jesus Christ is better than everything in the Jewish system of thought. The Jews believed in the Old Testament, but most of them rejected Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. The recipients of this letter seem to have been Jewish Christians. They were well-versed in Scripture, and they had professed faith in Christ. Whether through doubt, persecution, or false teaching, however, they may have been in danger of giving up their Christian faith and returning to Judaism.
This study is adapted from the Handbook of Bible Application (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2000), available everywhere books are sold.