Section A: From Paradise to Paradise
The Book of books, the Bible, is unknown and unloved by many people in our modern times. Even though it is a best-selling book, few realize its deep significance and the power of its influence. Many have never made an honest effort to read or study the Bible. Interest in it has been stimulated, however, by archaeological finds over the last few decades, particularly the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have confirmed its validity and accuracy. The background and content of the Scriptures are fascinating and vitally relevant for modern man; they deserve our close scrutiny and careful study.
Actually what is the Bible? Where did it come from?
The Bible is a collection of writings, Biblia, the Greek word, means “little books”; Bible means “collection of books.” The Holy Scriptures consist of 66 books, divided into 2 main parts – the Old Testament and the New Testament. The books were written over a period of about 1,500 years by 35 to 40 authors, beginning with Moses about 1,400 years before Christ. The Old Testament was written before the birth of Christ; the New Testament, after.
The Scriptures are called “the book of the Lord.” Isaiah 34:16. They are also called the “word of God.” Hebrews 4:12. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” “For ever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:105, 89.
“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4.
Old and New Testament Writings
The books of the Old Testament can be divided into three categories, according to their content. Jesus mentioned these in Luke 24:44, 45: “And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.”
The New Testament can also be divided, as follows: The historical books, such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and The Acts of the Apostles; the prophetic book of The Revelation; and the letters, or epistles, written by such apostles as John, Peter, and Paul. The entire Bible is God’s word and should be thoroughly searched. It is not sufficient for us to study only the New Testament or to rely heavily on only one or two of the books.
Given by Inspiration
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. Although all the books of the Bible were written by human instruments, the actual Author was God Himself, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21. Angels played an important part in the writing of the Scriptures. See Daniel 9:21. There is an orderly channel through which divine revelation was given, as explained in Revelation 1:1: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John.” See also Hebrews 1:1.
Man Must Learn Under Divine Inspiration
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God Comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:11-14.
To learn divine truth, man must be guided by the Holy Spirit in his study of God’s word. As he perseveres in study, he will become well acquainted with its Author. God’s love, mercy, and glory will become real to him, and he will be enabled to reach the goal of communion with God for eternity.
God wants men to teach His word. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: …” Matthew 28: 19, 20. This teaching must agree with the Scriptures in every respect. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. Adding to or taking away from God;s word will bring upon the individual the curse of plagues and the loss of eternal life. Revelation 22:18, 19.
Some Things Cannot be Understood
The Lord has not revealed all things to us. This is for our good. Therefore, in God’s word we find some things which the human mind cannot grasp. Such mysteries often frustrate and confuse those who speculate as to the interpretation of these unrevealed passages of scripture. But “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, ” Deuteronomy 29:29. See 2 Peter 3:16.
Although we are not able to explain everything and cannot penetrate God’s mysteries, we may rest assured that God has revealed everything that is necessary for our salvation. Even children can understand the great theme of the Bible – “God loves sinners” – and learn to love Jesus, the Center of all its teachings. The Bible is God’s love letter to mankind
Studying the Scriptures
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39. We are not able to be satisfied with what someone else says about the Bible but to search it daily for ourselves, as did the noble Bereans in Paul’s day. See Acts 17:11. Before opening the Bible, one should pray earnestly for understanding, as did the prophet Daniel. Daniel 9:2, 3. God delights to enlighten the student’s mind. “Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.” Daniel 9:21, 22. If we are willing to obey God’s word, we will know Hiss doctrine, the full truth. See John 7:17.
For proper understanding, we must carefully compare the Scriptures, one with another. Isaiah 28:10. An excellent plan to follow is to study the Bible by subject, reading and comparing all the verses relating to that subject, tracing the thread of truth through both the Old and New Testaments. This Bible Correspondence Course follows this method. Divine truth can bear the test of careful scrutiny, and the gold of its genuineness will shine with added luster the more one investigates it.
The Scriptures are given for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, as noted earlier in this lesson. They are written to provide for man’s deepest needs – learning, comfort, and hope. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4.
Glorious are the promises given to the earnest seeker for truth! “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10.