The Old and New Testaments are unified in revealing God's plan of salvation and the working out of that plan in human history. The entire Bible reveals the acts of God's merciful intervention to save mankind for eternal life in His family. The writing in the various books of the Bible reflects the human writers' own personality, style and vocabulary. Nevertheless, they wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Thus God influenced and directed the minds of His servants while at the same time allowing them free expression as they wrote the books known as the Word of God.
The Holy Scriptures are the foundation of knowledge and truth that Jesus and the apostles used as a basic text for teaching God's way to salvation. First and foremost, Jesus Christ set the example of following the Scriptures as the ultimate authoritative text in a Christian's life. In successfully combating temptation from the ultimate enemy, Satan the Devil, Christ stated, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). Christ also quoted other scriptures during His battle against the devil (Matthew 4:7, 10).
Jesus then began His earthly ministry by reading the Scriptures and declaring, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:16-21). In John 10:35 Christ proclaimed that "the Scripture cannot be broken." He referred to Scripture as an active, authoritative source in His life (John 7:38, 42). Nothing distracted Christ from His focus on the Scriptures—neither betrayal, nor being crucified (John 13:18; 17:12; 19:28; Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1; Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5).
The apostles followed the example of Christ. The core of Christian faith, doctrine and behavior continued to be defined through the Scriptures. The resurrected Jesus Christ resumed His personal instruction to His disciples as He "opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures" (Luke 24:32, 44-45). It was through the Scriptures that disciples began to be made of people in all nations, as in the example of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-35).
Paul, the apostle chosen to bear Christ's name to both gentiles (non-Israelites) and Israelites (Acts 9:15), appealed to the authority of the Scriptures by asking questions such as "What does the Scripture say?" (Romans 4:3; 11:2; Galatians 4:30). At other times, Paul confirmed his position on particular matters by declaring, "For the Scripture says...," or through similar statements (Romans 10:11; Galatians 3:8, 22; 1 Timothy 5:18). Paul's writings show that he repeatedly quoted or referred to Old Testament passages to back up his teaching. Clearly the Old and New Testaments were written for both Jewish and gentile Christians.
There is a continuity between the Old and New Testaments (Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:15-16). The New Testament builds on and amplifies the Old (Matthew 5-7). History shows that the only Scripture that existed during the ministry of Christ and the early decades of the apostles was what we today call the Old Testament.
Reading, hearing and doing God's Word are key characteristics of God's people (Luke 8:21; 11:28). The Word of God builds faith in a person's life (Romans 10:17; Colossians 3:16). God expects His people to diligently study His Word regularly for understanding, for personal edification and for guarding themselves in an ungodly society (Acts 17:11; Ephesians 6:17; 1 John 2:14; Psalm 119:9). Internalizing God's Word enables one to defend his faith (1 Peter 3:15). The Holy Scriptures are able to make us "wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15).
The Bible is alive with timeless application in our daily life (Hebrews 4:12). Paul, while imprisoned, reminded Timothy that, though man can be restrained, the Word of God cannot (2 Timothy 2:8-9).
The Church of God maintains the biblical mandate to rely on God's Word in its quest for the truth. As stated in 2 Timothy 3:16, God's inspired Word establishes doctrine (teaching), refutes error, administers correction and gives instruction in the right way to live. The next verse says that through it "the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (verse 17).
The truth of the Bible not only teaches and guides God's people, but it also sanctifies or sets them apart (John 17:17). The Bible serves as an essential tool in Jesus Christ's relationship with His sanctified people, His Church, "that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26).
Scripture is intended to bring us into a relationship with the One who inspired what is written in it—the personal, incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, on behalf of God the Father (John 1:1-3, 14). (See the chapter titled "God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit," beginning on page 4.) Christ pointedly told the people of His day: "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life" (John 5:39-40).
It is not enough to just read and study when it comes to the Bible—or to just try to follow many of its directives. We must be led to know, serve and rely on the God revealed in its pages—the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ the Word.