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How Does God Reveal Knowledge?

The Bible was not designed to be read casually as simply good literature, or as a contribution to our historical learning, or even as an interesting exercise in academic theology. The purpose for reading and studying God's Word is to gain understanding of His will, to learn to live by His Word.

In ages past, how did God choose to reveal His knowledge to humankind?

"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets . . ." (Hebrews 1:1).

God Almighty, Creator of all we see, does not leave humankind without guidance and direction. He has put His thoughts into words for our benefit. God has revealed Himself through the vehicle of words.

The Bible itself calls Jesus Christ "the Word" (John 1:1, 14). And, according to this introductory New Testament passage, the message of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) is the true Word of God (compare Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4; Acts 24:14; 28:23).

But how did God choose to reveal even more precious knowledge?

"[God] has in these last days spoken to us by His Son . . ." (Hebrews 1:2).

Moses prophesied of a coming, future Prophet similar to himself whose words the Bible encourages us to heed (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18). The apostle Peter identified this great Prophet as Jesus Christ Himself (Acts 3:20, 22-23). No doubt about it—Jesus Christ was that Prophet! (compare John 1:45; Luke 24:27).

Jesus Christ, as God's own Son, is the ultimate Prophet, and His words are the very essence of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). We should listen carefully to what He tells us (Matthew 17:5).

Christ's words are chiefly found in the four semibiographical accounts of His life and teaching: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. However, in a much larger sense they are found in the whole Bible. Jesus Himself endorsed the truth and the authority of the Hebrew Writings, commonly called the Old Testament, by calling them Scripture (Luke 24:44-45). He also provided for the inspiration and writing of the books that would later become the New Testament (John 14:26; 16:13).

Christ consistently treated the Old Testament as the true record of God's dealings with and divine instruction for humanity. His teaching and conversations were replete with quotes and allusions from the Hebrew Bible.

How did God guide the thoughts of His servants?

"For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21).

The apostle Paul also tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is "inspired" (literally "God-breathed"). Consider his choice of words. Paul described Scripture using the Greek term theopneustos. The first part of the word, Theo, means "God." The second part is pneustos—meaning "breathed." So the apostle says, as some translations put it, "All Scripture is God-breathed," meaning it came directly from the mouth of God.

Clearly our Creator directly inspired the divine message revealed by both the apostles and the prophets (compare 2 Peter 3:2). As we will show by many scriptures, God made known His divine message to man through the patriarchs and prophets of old as well as through the New Testament apostles.

In fact, Peter ranks Paul's epistles with "the rest of the Scriptures" —the latter primarily referring to the Old Testament (2 Peter 3:15-16). In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul refers to two quotations as Scripture. One is from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 25:4), and one is from Luke's Gospel (Luke 10:7). So, when Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy around A.D. 64, some additional writings apparently were already being considered on a par with the Old Testament and were called Scripture.

Nearly 4,000 times, passages in the Hebrew Bible are introduced by such expressions as "The Lord spoke," "Thus says the Lord" and "the Word of the Lord came." Scripture is consistently portrayed as coming from the very "mouth of God" Himself (Matthew 4:4).

Yet in one sense the authorship of the Bible is dual because both God and man are clearly involved. Our Creator directly inspired these Hebrew prophets. "For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). So God spoke "by the mouth of all His holy prophets" (Acts 3:21)—and by their writings as well (Luke 21:22). The natural conclusion is that all Scripture comes from God!

Says The Lion Concise Bible Handbook: "It is interesting that the New Testament makes no distinction between what 'Scripture' says and what God says. Old Testament quotations are given as what God said, even though God was not the speaker in the Old Testament context" (p. 10).

What are some of the qualities that God ascribes to His Word?

"Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21, King James Version, emphasis added throughout).

Paul also calls it "the faithful word" (Titus 1:9), "the word of life" (Philippians 2:16) and "the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). These potent expressions help us to comprehend the true nature of Scripture and the God behind it. The healing qualities and power of the Word can be engrafted (or implanted) into our very beings. As we seek our Creator, His Word will enable us to produce lasting good fruit in our lives (Isaiah 55:6-13).

What one quality of that Word would we all do well to heed?

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

The Bible was not designed to be read casually as simply good literature, or as a contribution to our historical learning, or even as an interesting exercise in academic theology. The purpose for reading and studying God's Word is to gain understanding of His will, to learn to live by His Word. As a result of diligently studying the Bible, God desires and expects action on our part (compare Hebrews 4:11, 13).

 

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