Lesson 15: The Work of Christ | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 15: The Work of Christ

As stated in Lesson Fourteen, what we do is a reflection of who we are. Having learned who Christ is (His person), we can now proceed to study what He has done (His work). This lesson will discuss:

1. The work of Christ before time

2. The work of Christ within time

[When did time start? With creation. Before that was eternity past. Time will end with the creation of the new heaven and earth after the Millennium (2 Pet 3:10-13; Rev 21:1). Before creation and in the eternal state there was/will be no time as we know it. ]

I. The Work of Christ Before Time

In Lesson Thirteen, we learned that many people mistakenly believe that Christ came into existence at the birth of Jesus. As a result, they believe that His work is limited to the time following His birth. However, the Bible teaches that the triune God was active prior to Creation. Because Christ is God, He was active prior to the beginning of time.

A. Christ was active in planning the events of history .

“Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.” – Isaiah 37:26

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:16

[Everything that happens is part of God’s plan for the universe. Things happen because God determined that they would. If this is true, what are some consequences? Nothing happens by pure chance. There is a purpose for everything. God is in control of everything. There is not such thing as random or chance occurances.]

B. Christ was active in planning the salvation of believers .

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.   Ephesians 1:4-5

[The words “in him” or “in Christ” describe salvation. Holy Spirit baptism places us “in him” at the moment of salvation. ]

In [Christ] we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.   Ephesians 1:11

It is interesting to note that God’s plan for history included Christ’s sacrifice of Himself. Therefore, Christ was involved in planning His own death.

. . . the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.   Revelation 13:8

[Is the salvation of an individual purely his own decision? No. Why not? God planned it. One is saved as a result of the out-working of the plan of God. God saves who he has chosen to save.]

Note: Although the above verses specify God the Father as the One doing the planning, both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit played an active role in these events as well.

II. The Work of Christ Within Time

Not only was Christ active prior to the creation of time, but He has also been active since then.

A. Christ’s work in the past

1. Christ created the universe.

Through [Christ] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.   John 1:3

For by [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.   Colossians 1:16

2. Christ revealed God. [“Reveal” means “to make known.”]

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.   John 1:18

Jesus answered: ” . . . Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”   John 14:9

Note: As the God man, Jesus Christ made God known as no other prophet could (such as Moses, Elijah, and others in the Old Testament). He perfectly fulfilled the Old Testament office of prophet .

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.   Hebrews 1:1 2

3. Christ made salvation possible.

a. Jesus Christ satisfied the required penalties of God’s Law.

1) Jesus Christ died as our perfect substitute .

The Bible states that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because all men are sinners, they all deserve death. Jesus Christ died in our place.

[This is what we call the vicarious or substitutionary atonement. Our relationship with God is made right through the sacrificial death of Christ on our behalf. The death of Christ satisfied God’s wrath against sin. Christ paid the penalty in our place.]

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.   Isaiah 53:4 6

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.   1 John 2:2

2) Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice removes the guilt of the believer.

Because of his sin, every person stands guilty before God. The substitutionary death of Christ is the means by which God removes the guilt of every believer.

[Christ’s death is the basis of our forgiveness. God did not just wipe away our debt. He didn’t just cancel the punishment due the crime. Had he done so, he would not have been just/fair. Someone had to pay the price/penalty for sin. Jesus did. Because Jesus died for us, we don’t have to. Jesus paid the debt, he suffered the consequences for us.]

But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. – Hebrews 9:26

b. Jesus Christ satisfied the positive demands of God’s Law.

1) Jesus Christ lived a life of perfect obedience .

Some assume that Christ’s perfect life means only that He did not do anything wrong. However, Christ was perfect not only because He did not do anything wrong, but also because He did everything right, thereby fulfilling all the righteous requirements of God’s Law. We say that Jesus died for us, but often forget that He lived for us too!

Although [Christ] was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.   Hebrews 5:8 9

[C.f. also Matt 5.17]

2) Jesus Christ’s perfect life is imputed to the believer.

[What does “impute” mean? To charge to one’s account. Thus, the perfect law-keeping of Christ is charged to us. So by the sacrificial death of Christ we are forgiven, and by the perfect life of Christ we are given a righteous/meritorious standing. It’s not enough just to be forgiven; you have to have a righteous/holy standing. ]

When one becomes a Christian, God imputes to him the righteous life of Jesus Christ. Christ’s righteousness is credited to his account.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.   Romans 5:19 (See also 2 Corinthians 5:21.)

4. Jesus Christ rose from the dead .

Christ’s resurrection separates Him from all other religious leaders. The founders of all other religions are dead. Christ, however, rose from the dead on the third day, just as He said He would.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”   Matthew 28:5 6

[How important is the resurrection? What would happen to Christianity without it? 1 Cor. 15 — without the rez. the whole thing would be one big lie, worthless and meaningless.]

B. Christ’s work in the present

1. Jesus Christ preserves the universe.

[Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

[God’s power holds the universe together. ]

2. Jesus Christ intercedes for believers.

Christ speaks to the Father in behalf of believers.

[An intercessor is a go-between, a mediator (1 Tim 2:5), one who speaks to someone for someone else. John 14:6–no one comes to God but through Christ.]

Christ Jesus, who died  more than that, who was raised to life  is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.   Romans 8:34

Note: As the God man, Jesus Christ can intercede for us as no other human priest could (such as Aaron, Eli, and others in the Old Testament). Jesus Christ perfectly fulfills the Old Testament office of priest .

[The Bible uses the term “advocate” to describe Jesus as our intercessor. Like a lawyer, He pleads our case before God.]

C. Christ’s work in the future

God is the king of His creation in spite of the attempts of Satan and mankind to dethrone Him. Jesus Christ will one day return to establish His kingdom and reign as the supreme king.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads

the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.   Revelation 19:11 16

Note: As the God man, Jesus Christ will rule as no other human king could (such as Saul, David, and others in the Old Testament). Jesus Christ will perfectly fulfill the Old Testament office of king .

[When will this happen? 7 Years after the rapture, the millennium will begin–1000 years of the literal rule of Christ on the earth. Jesus will be here, in person, ruling the earth from a throne in Jerusalem.]

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Christ was active before time. He planned the events of history and the salvation of believers.

2. Christ has been, is, and will be active within time. He created the universe, revealed God, made salvation possible, and rose from the dead. He preserves the universe and intercedes for believers. He will one day return to establish His kingdom.

Learning to Live It

1. While talking to you about Christ’s death on the cross, a friend asks, “How old was Jesus when He died?” You tell him, “About thirty.” He then asks, “Why did He wait until He was thirty?” How should you respond?

There needed to be enough time for Christ to meet the positive demands of God’s Law by living a life of perfect obedience.

2. After you explain to an unsaved friend that salvation is a free gift that one cannot earn, he refuses to accept Christ on the grounds that it seems too easy. What misconception does your friend have?

1. that salvation is cheap It was not. Jesus paid for it with His life. 2. That salvation is not a major step in one’s life. Salvation is a total change of life, a major decision.

What distinction would be helpful in clearing it up?

Free does not necessarily mean cheap. Salvation is free, but it cost God dearly. Also tell him about the changes salvation brings. It’s costly to be a Christian.

Lesson 14: The Person of Christ & The Christian Life | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 14: The Person of Christ & The Christian Life

Our previous lesson focused on the unique person we call the God man, Jesus Christ. We learned that Christ possesses two natures. He is fully God and fully man at the same time. One might wonder how such a complex doctrine has any practical value.

This lesson will point out the practical value of the doctrine of the God man. Because He is God, Christ is to be exalted above all others. As a man, He has experienced the cares and difficulties of everyday life. As both God and man, He is able to provide all that is needed for our salvation.

I. The Deity of Christ and the Christian Life

A. Because Christ is God, He demands and deserves our worship .

Our English word “worship” comes from the Old English word “ worthship .” We worship God by recognizing His worth or value. As God, Christ is of infinite value and is, therefore, worthy of our worship.

[A good synonym for “worship” is “to respect” or “to honor” or “to reverence.” Why do we call the church service “worship”? Because during it we seek to honor/pay respect to/reverence God. Note that we give worship to God. Instead of going to church to get something out of the services, we ought to go to give worship to God.

What kind of atmosphere is best for worship? Slap-stick? Laid back? No. Reverential, serious, orderly, biblical.

We should honor/value Christ because He is God the Son. ]

1. We are to worship Christ because of who He is .

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”   Hebrews 1:5 6

2. We are to worship Christ because of what He has done .

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things. – Revelation 4:11

B. Because Christ is God, He demands and deserves our obedience .

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”   Matthew 28:18 20

We have learned in previous lessons that God is sovereign (i.e., He has all authority). Thus, He demands obedience from all men (including the unsaved). The believer’s obedience, however, should flow from a heart that desires to please God by living a life which displays His worth (Colossians 1:10).

[Interesting that in John 3:36, believing the gospel is equated to obeying the gospel. Your lifestyle and behavior display how much God means to you. ]

C. Because Christ is God, He demands and deserves our devotion .

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God  this is your spiritual act of worship.   Romans 12:1

[What is devotion? It’s our commitment to Him, or desire to put Him and His will first in our lives. Worship and devotion are very closely tied ideas–almost synonymous.]

II. The Humanity of Jesus and the Christian Life

A. Because Jesus is a man, He empathizes with us.

[Empathy means “feeling with.” We empathize with someone when we feel his/her pain or truly understand his/her trouble, etc.]

As stated above, Jesus was fully human. As a result, He understands our struggles as one who has known the pain of everyday life. He is able to empathize with us as one who has experienced life’s trials first hand.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are  yet was without sin.   Hebrews 4:15

B. Because Jesus is a man, He dignifies the human body.

[“To dignify” means “to give value to” something. ]

Throughout the centuries, many cults (and even some well-meaning Christians) have devalued the human body. Some have viewed the body as inherently evil and, therefore, of less value than man’s spirit. However, the Bible places great importance upon man’s body. This is especially seen in the fact that Christ took upon Himself a human body.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.   John 1:14

[An old philosopher (Plato) popularized the idea that body is low/sinful while the spirit is high/good. This developed into the idea (Gnosticism) that all material objects are evil while the mind or spirit is good. Plato said, “The body is the prison house of the soul.” So the Gnostics exalted ideas and downplayed the material, including the human body. Today, it’s just the opposite: we exalt the body or the image and downplay the inner man. The right philosophy is that both soul/spirit and body are valuable and sanctified. ]

III. The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the Christian Life

What we do is a reflection of who we are . Accordingly, what Christ has done is based upon who He is.

A. Because Jesus Christ is both God and man, we can know God.

[To “know God” is to be saved. The word “know” denotes a close personal relationship. See Matt 7:21-23]

1. Because Jesus is a man, He could live a human life and die a human death.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death . . . . For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, . . . that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. – Hebrews 2:14-17

[If Jesus was not truly a man, his suffering a death would be meaningless. His humanity made his suffering and death possible. We should not downplay the importance of Jesus’ humanity.

2. Because Christ is God:

a. He was able to satisfy the positive demands of the Law by living a sinless life.

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.   Romans 8:3 4

b. He was able to satisfy the required penalties of the Law by dying a sacrificial death.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.   Galatians 3:13

[The fact that Christ was God made is suffering and death effective. The death of a regular human doesn’t do anything for others. But the death of Jesus is beneficial for others. He was able to die for me. No one else could do that. C.f. also 2 Cor 5:21.

We say that Christ was both actively and passively obedient. That is, he (actively) obeyed the OT law perfectly, thus fulfilling it and allowing the merit of a perfect life to be imputed to us. On the other hand, he (passively) took the punishment for sin–death–for us and thereby made it possible that we wouldn’t have to do so. Both his obedience and his punishment are imputed to the believer’s account. ]

B. Because Christ is both God and man, we can trust God.

At the conclusion of Section Three (the doctrine of man), we were left with a dilemma: the Scriptures reveal a God who is totally sovereign but who, as part of His plan, allowed evil to enter the universe. Many have questioned God’s character in light of the existence of evil. If God is sovereign, He certainly could have prevented evil. However, He did not choose to do so; therefore, He must not be good. Jesus Christ was God’s answer to this accusation. By entering the corridors of time in the person of Jesus Christ, God Himself suffered the consequences of evil to a far greater degree than any one of us ever have or ever will. Thus, even though evil exists, we can still trust God’s goodness.

[In other words, God solved the problem of evil through the death of Christ. The atonement destroyed the power of evil and made salvation possible.

Can we know why God allowed/planned the entrance of evil in the first place? No.

Will evil ever be totally eradicated? Yes, in the eternal state there will be no evil. Eventually, God will right every wrong and reward every good work. Justice will be done. Rewards and punishments will be justly handed out.]

Learning to Live It

1. You have a friend who made a profession of faith last year at camp but has not shown any evidence of it. One day you ask him about his spiritual condition, and he responds, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” Do you have reason to question the reality of his profession? Why or why not?

yes; because his conduct does not correspond with his profession. Remember that God demands our worship, devotion, and obedience. If none of this is evident, it is evident that the person is not really saved.

Is it possible for one to be saved and show absolutely no evidence of it? no

2. A recent controversy has arisen among some well-known Christian leaders concerning the blood of Christ. According to some, Christ’s blood was not human blood but special, divine blood. Is this accurate?

No; remember that we said above that Jesus was fully human. He had normal blood flowing in his veins.

If Christ’s blood was not human blood, what does this imply about His humanity?

that He wasn’t fully human. If he wasn’t fully human, then he couldn’t die for the sins of mankind. He also couldn’t empathize with us.

Lesson 13: The Person of Christ | Biblical Foundations for Living

Who am I? I am an undeserving recipient of God’s love.

Introduction to the Doctrine of Christ

The doctrine of Christ (or Christology) focuses on the person and work of Jesus Christ. An understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done is essential to a proper view of our identity as Christians.

As stated in the Introduction to this course, we are attempting to answer the questions, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Were it not for who Jesus is and what He has accomplished, our task would be finished for we have already learned who we are apart from Christ–sinners who have offended their Creator. We would be left without an answer to our second question, for a life lost in sin is meaningless. In Christ, however, God Himself became a man in order to conquer sin and, thus, give meaning to life.

This section will draw on concepts already learned in previous lessons. As both God and man, the person of Christ will reflect that which we have learned concerning God and man. The work of Christ will draw upon much of what we have learned concerning God’s character (for example, His justice requires that sin be punished) and man’s plight (he is a sinner in need of a Savior). May the study of this doctrine give us a greater appreciation for who Christ is and for what He has done on our behalf.

Lesson 13: The Person of Christ

Jesus Christ is absolutely unique. The Bible teaches that He is at the same time both fully God and fully man. Although a complete understanding of the person of Christ is beyond our comprehension, the Bible clearly teaches the amazing truth of the God-man.

This lesson will examine the biblical evidence for the dual nature of Jesus Christ.

[By “dual nature” we mean that Christ possesses both a human and divine nature. That is, He is both human and God at the same time. He possesses characteristics of both because He is both. This lesson examines the person of Christ, i.e., who he is.]

The Bible teaches that:

1. Christ is God .

2. Jesus is man .

3. Jesus Christ is the God-man .

Note: You will notice throughout this lesson that the name “Christ” is used when emphasizing the deity of the God-man, while “Jesus” is used when referring to His humanity. When these two names (Jesus and Christ) are combined, they signify both His deity and humanity.

I. Christ is God.

The statement, “Christ is God,” means that Christ possesses all the attributes (character qualities) that belong to God. In other words, all that is true of God applies equally to Christ. The word “ deity ” describes one who possesses the attributes of God. In Lesson One, we learned that there are three persons who possess the attributes of deity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This lesson deals with the second person of the Triunity, God the Son.

A. The Bible teaches that Christ is God.

1. Christ existed before the birth of Jesus.

Many mistakenly believe that Christ came into existence at the birth of Jesus. However, the Bible teaches that Christ is eternal. As God, there was never a time when He was not.

a. Christ existed prior to Creation .

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   John 1:1

[The context of this verse clearly indicates that the Word/God is referring to Jesus. Christ, as the second person of the Trinity, eternally existed.]

b. Christ was active in Creation .

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.   John 1:3 (See also Colossians 1:16.)

Note: Since Christ was the Creator, He could not have been part of the creation.

c. Christ appeared in temporary human form throughout the Old Testament.

The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert.   Genesis 16:7

Who Was the Angel of the Lord?

Several facts have led most scholars to identify “the angel of the Lord” with Christ:

1) The use of the definite article (“the” angel)–Appearances of other divine messengers normally do not include the article (Luke 2:9 and Acts 12:7).

2) The angel of the Lord is equated with God and worshiped as God (Exodus 3:1-5).

3) The angel of the Lord never appears after Jesus is born.

d. Christ claimed to have existed prior to Abraham .

Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”   John 8:58

[When did Abraham live? Long before Christ, even before Moses. The statement implied more than the fact that Christ lived before Abraham. What is the implication of Jesus’ words “I am?” He is equating Himself with the God of the OT. In other words, He is claiming the name of God for Himself. Look at the next few verses to see how the Jews responded to this – they understood that he was equating himself with God, and they wanted to stone him for it.]

2. Christ is called the “ Son of God .”

In Scripture, “son of” often means “to possess the character qualities of” a person or object. For example, in Genesis 5:32 the original Hebrew literally says that Noah was the “son of 500 years.” Acts 4:36 says that the name “Barnabas” means “Son of Encouragement.” The title “Son of God” indicates that Christ possesses the attributes of God, a fact which even Christ’s enemies acknowledged:

“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “. . . Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?”   John 10:33 36

3. Christ is fully God.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.   Colossians 2:9

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.   Hebrews 1:3

[Some cults/religions teach that Christ is “a god” or somehow less than fully equal with God the Father. The Bible teaches that He is fully and equally God.]

B. Christ demonstrated that He was God.

1. Christ demonstrated that He was omnipotent .

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. -Mark 4:39

2. Christ demonstrated that He was omniscient .

Jesus knew their thoughts. – Matthew 12:25

3. Christ demonstrated that He was sovereign .

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”   Matthew 28:18

4. Christ demonstrated that He was holy .

Christ did not yield to Satan’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13).

These are the same attributes we studied in Section One (the doctrine of God).

II. Jesus is Man.

The statement, “Jesus is man,” means that He possesses all the attributes that belong to man. In other words, all that is inherently true of humanity applies equally to Jesus. This does not, however, include sinfulness. Adam and Eve were created truly human but were not created sinful. Therefore, sin is not essential to being human . Jesus, though fully human, was not sinful.

[You might say that Adam, Eve, and Jesus were the only truly human humans. Everyone else has suffered the damaging effects of sin and are thus less than what they were originally created to be.]

A. The Bible teaches that Jesus is a man.

1. Jesus is called a man .

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.   1 Corinthians 15:20 21

2. Jesus has the components of humanity (See Lesson Ten.).

  1. Jesus has a human body .

But the temple he had spoken of was his body.   John 2:21

[Some have taught that Jesus was a phantom/ghost. The Bible clearly presents Jesus as a man like other men. Does he still have a body? Yes.]

b. Jesus has a human spirit .

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”   Luke 23:46

3. Jesus is called the “ Son of man .”

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.   Matthew 20:28

Note: See above for the significance of the phrase “son of.”

B. Jesus demonstrated that He was a man.

1. Jesus experienced a human birth .

See Matthew 1 and Luke 2.

2. Jesus experienced mental, physical, spiritual, and social growth .

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.   Luke 2:52

3. Jesus experienced human emotions .

Jesus wept.   John 11:35

4. Jesus experienced human limitations .

Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.   John 4:6

[Any such statements that imply Jesus’ changing, growing, being ignorant, etc., must be linked with/based upon the limitations of humanity. As God, Jesus could not have grown intellectually or been ignorant. But as man he could have. Thus any growth or development must be due to his humanity.]

Jesus is fully man. However, the Scriptures also teach that Christ is fully God. This gives us a complete view of the two natures of the God-man, both human and divine. One should not conclude from this, however, that Jesus Christ is two persons . The Bible is clear that He is a single person possessing two natures .

[The two natures of Christ (divine and human) are distinct from each other tho united in one person. The hypostatic union stayed intact in thru death. The two natures are united in one person, without confusion, conversion, division, or separation. We must neither divide the person nor confound the natures. His deity didn’t “leak” into his humanity or vice versa.]

III. Jesus Christ is the God Man.

In order to combine the divine and human natures into a single person, God did something unique.

A. The two natures were united at the incarnation.

The word “incarnation” means “to embody in flesh .” Theologians use this word to describe Christ’s entrance into the human race. John 1:14 says: “The Word became flesh.” The Bible describes how the incarnation took place:

1. The incarnation took place by means of the virgin conception and birth.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High . . . .” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”   Luke 1:30 35

Note: The virgin conception was necessary in order to prevent a sin nature from being transmitted to Christ (See Lesson Ten on procreation as the means of transmitting the sin nature.).

2. The incarnation took place by means of an emptying .

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing [literally, “emptied himself”], taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.   Philippians 2:5 7

In the incarnation, Christ gave up the independent use of His divine attributes. This is not to say that Christ gave up His deity, but rather the independent display of His deity. Jesus occasionally displayed His deity, but would not do so apart from the will of God the Father.

Christ continued to be equal in essence with the other persons of the Godhead. However, He demonstrated a subordinate role or function in the incarnation (1 Corinthians 11:3).

B. The union of the two natures is permanent.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. – 1 Timothy 2:5

Notice that this verse refers to Christ as a man after His earthly ministry.

[It is important for us to neither confuse the natures of Christ nor divide the person of Christ. His humanity did not limit his deity, and his deity did not change his humanity. His personality (the “I”) resided in his deity as the second person of the Trinity/the Word. He did not have two separate personalities.]

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Christ is God. He possesses all the attributes of deity.

2. Jesus is man. He possesses all the attributes of humanity.

3. Jesus Christ is the God-man. He is both fully God and fully man at the same time. He is one person possessing two natures.

Learning to Live It

1. During lunch at school, you are drawn into a discussion about various world religions. A friend says, “I think all religions are good and were founded by good men. None are better, none are worse.” How should you respond?

Jesus was more than a man–He was God. Furthermore, Jesus demanded exclusive worship (John 14:6), thus placing Christianity on a different level than all other religions. Either Jesus is who He said He was and is, thus, to be worshipped exclusively or He was a liar and is, thus, not good.

2. A TV preacher [Kenneth Copeland] proclaimed to a national audience a few years ago: “Jesus said, ‘I am,’ and bless God I am too!” What was this preacher implying?

He was claiming to be divine by referring to himself by the divine name “I am.” Some charismatics teach that believers are little gods. But do we possess the attributes of deity? No.

Lesson 12: The Sinfulness of Man | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 12: The Sinfulness of Man

Lesson Eleven focused on the unique aspects of Adam’s fall into sin. Though the Fall and its consequences were unique, there are continuing results which affect all people since Adam. Because of Adam’s disobedience, sin has permeated the human race. Everyone is a sinner (Romans 3:23).

Some say that sin is merely a sickness. Others claim that it is a weakness. [People like to redefine what sin is. E.g., alternative lifestyle, disease, mistake. ] What exactly is sin? Where does sin come from? What are its effects? This lesson will answer these questions by studying the following:

1. The nature of sin (What is it?)

2. The imputation of sin (Where does it come from?)

3. The extent of sin (What are its effects?)

I. The Nature of Sin

[Remember that when we talk about the nature of something, we are talking about a thing’s basic characteristics or qualities.]

A. The expression of sin

Sin may be expressed in terms of being, thought, or action. One may sin by being, thinking, or doing wrong or by not being, thinking, or doing right.

1. Sin is expressed in man’s being .

All men are born sinners and persist in a sinful state throughout life.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.   Psalm 51:5

[Sin can be a state or condition. Man is characterized by sin; he is sinful. It’s a condition. We sin because we are sinful, not vice versa.]

2. Sin is expressed in man’s thoughts .

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.   Matthew 15:19

[cf. also James 1:14. Sin starts in the mind. Thoughts precede action. No one ever committed a sin who did not think first.]

3. Sin is expressed in man’s actions .

The evil I do not want to do  this I keep on doing.   Romans 7:19

We usually associate sin with wrong-doing, that is, doing what we are not supposed to do. The Bible, however, teaches that sin also includes not doing what we are supposed to do. The first we call sins of commission , the second sins of omission .

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.   James 4:17

B. The criterion of sin [criterion is a standard or measure]

What makes certain thoughts and actions sinful and others not? The criterion for judging the sinfulness of anything is its conformity to God or lack thereof. Thus, anything which does not correspond to God’s character is sin.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48

[This is how we judge the acceptability of questionable things, i.e., things not addressed in the Bible–movies, dancing, gambling, etc. We judge a practice or idea by whether or not it conforms to or is in keeping with God’s character.]

C. A definition of sin

Sin is the failure to be , think , or act like God. [in the moral realm and in a limited way, i.e., we can’t be exactly like God is.]

[How do we know what God is like? By his word. Thus, when we disobey God’s word, we are failing to act like God. The standard, based on the character of God, is pure perfection. Anything less is sin. So you can see that sin is a pretty broad idea.]

II. The Imputation of Sin

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned  for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.   Romans 5:12 19

A. A definition of imputation

Imputation means “to charge to one’s account .” God, the Divine Accountant, credits to each person’s account the debt which he owes.

[It’s a financial term, like charging something to your account. ]

The Bible speaks of three imputations (this lesson deals with the first): 1) Adam’s sin is imputed to all men ; 2) Mankind’s sin is imputed to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 2:24); and 3) Christ’s

righteousness is imputed to believers (Romans 4:3, 22 24).

In the first act of imputation, God charged Adam’s sin to every man’s account. In the second act of imputation, God erased the entry by charging it to Christ’s account. In the third act of imputation, God entered Christ’s righteousness on the believer’s ledger. Because of this wonderful doctrine of imputation, the believer has a positive standing before God. We will examine these great truths in future lessons. In this lesson, however, we will examine the first imputation more closely.

[Why is it necessary to have a positive standing? Isn’t being forgiven for sin enough? No. One must have positive merit to go to heaven. The only way to get this merit is thru the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to your account–justification.]

B. Adam’s sin was imputed to the entire human race .

Because Adam represented the entire human race, condemnation came upon all men when he sinned. Because of the Fall, all men stand guilty before God. Each individual did not actually sin when Adam sinned. Adam’s descendants did not, by any act of their own wills, eat the forbidden fruit; they did not even exist at that time. However, because Adam was the father of the entire human race, the penalty which God pronounced upon him rested upon all mankind.

[Most unsaved people do not realize the severity of their sinful condition. Just because they don’t do terrible acts of sin does not mean they are not sinful and liable for punishment. ]

III. The Extent of Sin

A. Sin extends to the whole race .

In Romans 1:18 3:20, Paul makes it clear that all men without exception are sinners. He asserts that both Gentiles and Jews are sinners, concluding with these words:

What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”   Romans 3:9 12

Every member of the human race has fallen short of God’s standard. All are lost in sin. They are universally condemned by God because of sin.

There is no one who does not sin.   1 Kings 8:46

B. Sin extends to each individual .

  1. Sin is individual because of original sin .

The Bible teaches that every man is born a sinner because of the imputation of Adam’s sin. This is the doctrine of original sin.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.   Psalm 51:5

[Can an infant make a choice to disobey? No. So they have no personal sin. How could someone be sinful at birth? Even infants are sinful because of the imputation of Adam’s sin.]

2. Sin is individual because of personal sin . Each person since Adam (except Jesus Christ) is corrupt because of his own individual sinfulness.

C. Sin extends to the whole person .

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires . . . . The mind of sinful man is death . . . the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.   Romans 8:5 8

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.   Ephesians 4:17 19

[Sin affects the material and immaterial aspect of man. ]

Theologians use the words ” total depravity ” to refer to the fact that man is totally sinful.

1. Total depravity does not mean:

a. Men commit every sin.

  1. Men never do anything good in a relative sense (Luke 6:33).

[That is, even unsaved people do “good” things. They are not meritorious in God’s eyes, but they are good/beneficial rather than bad/destructive. ]

c. Men are at all times as bad as they could possibly be (2 Timothy 3:13).

  1. Total depravity does mean:

a. Sin affects all parts of man’s nature or being .

It affects his body, mind, emotion, and will (Romans 1:28 32).

b. Nothing that unsaved men do is really pleasing to God.

Some of their actions may be relatively good, but none of them is really good. Even their so called good deeds are influenced by their depravity.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.   Isaiah 64:6

[Unsaved people are capable of civic or cultural good, not good in the moral or spiritual sense. They can do nothing to please God, even when they obey the Bible (by going to church, giving, being kind, etc.) In fact, God is not impressed by, nor does he accept, the acts of worship given by unsaved people. See Prov 15:8, 21:27, 28:9]

c. Man is completely unable to lift himself out of his fallen condition.

Just as a dead man lying in a tomb is unable to contribute anything to his resurrection, so men who are dead in sin are utterly unable to exercise saving faith apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in them.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . . Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.   Ephesians 2:1,3 5

[This is why salvation must be the work of God. Man is dead. He wants nothing to do with God. He will never seek God on his own. God must take the first steps in saving a person.]

This is man’s condition from God’s perspective. He sees man as corrupted with the imputed guilt of Adam’s first sin. Because of his corrupt nature, man commits individual sins without number and is totally unable to please God. God sees mankind as a race lost in sin and deserving of divine judgment . Who am I? I am a sinner who has deeply offended the God who created me to reflect His image  a sinner who deserves sin’s penalty , both physical and spiritual death. It is against this backdrop that we now move on to the great doctrine of Christ and His work on the cross for us.

Learning to Live It

1. The following are comments frequently overheard. What errors do each of these statements reveal about a person’s view of sin?

a. “Everybody sins, but I’m not that bad.”

1. This individual is comparing himself with other sinners rather than with God. Compared to God, everyone is utterly wicked. 2. The fact that everyone else sins in no way decreases the seriousness of your own sin.

b. “It’s all right if you look, but don’t touch.”

Sin is more than just an act. It includes the wicked thoughts leading up to the act or just the thoughts alone without the act. To lust after someone is as sinful as doing the act; to hate is as sinful as murder.

2. A popular television preacher [Robert Schuller] has written, “Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self esteem.” He adds, “A person is in hell when he has lost his self esteem.” Finally, according to this preacher, the answer to sin and hell is “faith,” which he defines as a sense of “self worth.” According to this preacher, is sin primarily an offense against God or man?

against man

How does this definition of sin compare with the biblical definition?

It totally contradicts the biblical definition. According to the Bible, sin is an offense against a holy God. The preacher makes his own definition for sin. If one can make anything mean anything, then everything means nothing.

How do we know that faith is not the recovery of a sense of self worth?

The Bible doesn’t come even close to defining faith in such a way.

3. A large city church held a special service on the day new Sunday School teachers were being inducted into office. The message preached that day dealt with the church’s approach to religious education. The pastor stated that there are two notions about the teaching of children in Sunday School. The “old notion” is that children are to be taught that they are sinners in need of a Savior. He proceeded to say that the church has abandoned this old idea and now realizes that the job of the teacher is to “nurture the tender plant of the religious nature of the child in order that it may bear fruit in a normal and healthy religious life.” Are children born good or bad?

bad

Do they need a Savior?

yes

Do children need help to bring out what is naturally on the inside?

no

What is on the inside?

Sin. Jer 17:9–a heart full of deceit and wickedness.

Lesson 11: The Fall of Man | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 11: The Fall of Man

The fall of man took place when Adam and Eve fell from their state of unconfirmed [i.e., untested, on probation] holiness into a state of sin. Before examining the unique aspects of the Fall in this lesson, one should note the following:

1. Sin was present in the universe prior to the fall of man. The Fall introduced sin into the human race.

[What was the very first sin? Satan’s pride. See Isa 14, Ez 27. When did it occur? The Bible does not say. Obviously sometime in between creation and the fall of Adam. ]

2. Genesis 3 reveals that Eve took the initial step of disobedience. However, Romans 5:12 19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21 22 indicate that God held Adam accountable for the Fall. He was the representative head of the human race. Therefore, this lesson will refer to the Fall in terms of Adam’s sin, though Eve bore responsibility as well.

3. The fall of man into sin was a unique event. The circumstances surrounding the Fall have not been nor will they ever be repeated. Nevertheless, the Fall profoundly affects mankind today. This lesson will point out both the many characteristics which were unique to the Fall and the continuing results of this event today.

I. The Circumstances Surrounding the Fall Were Unique.

So God created man . . . . God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.   Genesis 1:27 28, 31

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.   Genesis 2:19 20

A. Adam was given specific commands , which he was responsible to obey.

God gave Adam many commands that were intended for him alone. For example, he was responsible to rule over the animals, to name them, and to care for the Garden of Eden. Negatively, he was forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

[Adam must have named all the animals on one day (Day Six). ]

B. Adam possessed unconfirmed holiness .

Adam was in a state of moral purity which was unconfirmed; that is, his holiness had to pass a probationary test of obedience in order for him to be confirmed in that state.

[How do we know that Adam was holy? Because everything God created was “very good.” He was exactly what God wanted him to be. Therefore, Adam was not in a state of neutrality; he was positively good/holy, having spiritual life and fellowship with God. Some have called this state “unconfirmed creaturely holiness.”

Although the Bible doesn’t say so, if A & E had not sinned, they likely would not have died. They would have eternally maintained their holy condition.

One who is on probation is being tested to see what he is really like.]

C. Adam had a free will and was capable of weighing choices.

God gave Adam a free will by which he could choose to obey (and, thus, be confirmed in moral purity) or choose to sin. Adam, of his own will, chose the latter.

[Prior to the fall: they were righteous, but able to sin. After the fall and prior to salvation: man is unrighteous and unable not to sin. After salvation and prior to glorification: man is righteous (positionally) and able not to sin. After glorification: man is righteous and unable to sin. ]

Note the following:

1. Adam was the only man to ever have a free choice.

Every decision that man has made since the Fall has been influenced by his sinful nature. Since Adam had no sinful nature prior to the Fall, he was the only man (other than Christ) ever to make a choice without being influenced by sin.

[Actually, even Christ operated on earth within the sphere of sin’s influence. Adam’s sin shows that even in the very best of conditions/ circumstances, man will choose to do evil. Thus changing one’s circumstances will not necessarily change the man.]

2. The Fall was planned by God.

Nothing is outside of God’s eternal plan. Adam’s choice of disobedience did not surprise God. Since God planned Christ’s death on the cross for man’s salvation before the creation of the world (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:18 20; Revelation 13:8), the Fall must have been a part of God’s foreordained plan as well. However,

because Adam committed the first sin within the confines of God’s sovereign will, his choice was not absolutely free.

[So when we say that Adam had a free will, we simply mean that he was not influenced by the sinful nature. This is the primary way Adam’s will is different than ours. God is the only being with an absolutely free will, and even God has limited Himself to do what He said He would and act in a manner consistent with His character. For man, there is no such thing as an absolutely free will.

Three levels of freedom: Absolute freedom: only God has this; freedom not influenced by a sin nature: only Adam, Eve, and Jesus had this; freedom influenced by sin: everyone else. ]

3. God was not the author of Adam’s sin, nor was He responsible for it.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.   James 1:13 14

Although God is not the author of sin, He allowed man to fall. This is the mystery of evil; it is a problem which mankind cannot solve. Only God knows the solution to this mystery. It is clear, however, that man had no excuse when he fell. Exercising the freedom of his own will, he fell from the state of perfection in which he was created by sinning against God.

[The “mystery” is how can God foreordain something like the fall of Satan or of man and still not be responsible for it. This comes down to the seeming contradiction between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Although God is in control of all things and has planned all events, He still holds man responsible for his actions. How can this be? That’s the mystery. An even bigger mystery is why God allowed sin in the first place. ]

II. The Test of Adam Was Unique.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground  trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”   Genesis 2:8 9, 15 17

The test was whether or not Adam would obey God by not eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Although Adam was given many commands, disobeying this command would result in death. Though men must still obey God today, they do not face a test in the same way that Adam did. Only Adam had the opportunity to be confirmed in holiness by an act of obedience.

[Again, although the Bible doesn’t say so, it seems that if Adam and Eve had obeyed, they would have been confirmed in their holy condition. ]

III. The Temptation of Adam Was Unique.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.   Genesis 3:1 6

A. The means of the temptation was unique.

The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.   Revelation 12:9

A master deceiver, Satan approached Eve by means of a serpent. Although Satan still uses various means to tempt mankind, this was the only time he used a

talking animal .

Note: Eve did not sin by being tempted, but rather by yielding to the temptation.

[Being tempted is not sin. Giving in is. Jesus was tempted (Matt 4). Temptation is strongest for those who don’t give in to it.

Note also that Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. He went into the sin knowing exactly what he was doing. Thus God holds Adam, not Eve, responsible.]

B. The potential consequences of the temptation were unique.

As representative head of the race, Adam’s response to the temptation had far-reaching implications for all mankind. When someone is tempted today, there are potential results for himself and others , but not for the entire human race.

[Read Romans 5:12, 18. Adam’s sin somehow passes on to the entire race. Because Adam was the representative of the entire race, his sin affects everyone after him. ]

IV. The Consequences of the Fall Were Unique.

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”   Genesis 3:14 19

By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam gained a knowledge he did not have before. Prior to the Fall, he knew by experience only good, but now he knew both good and evil. This new knowledge, however, brought with it a changed attitude toward God. Whereas Adam delighted in God’s presence prior to the Fall, he now hid from Him, experiencing the feelings of guilt, fear, and shame which accompany sin. In addition to these results, God immediately imposed judgment on the following:

A. The serpent (Genesis 3:14)

The serpent was condemned to crawl.

B. Satan (Genesis 3:15)

An individual from the woman’s seed (Jesus Christ) would deal a death blow to Satan’s head (at the cross), while Satan would cause Christ to suffer (“strike his heel”).

The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 was only partially fulfilled at the cross, as Satan is still active today. One day it will be completely fulfilled. Because of Christ’s death, Satan will be defeated once and for all. Christ’s resurrection sealed Satan’s doom (1 Corinthians 15).

C. The woman (Genesis 3:16)

1. Women will have pain in childbirth.

2. Though a woman’s desire will be to rule her husband, sinful men will exercise oppressive rule over their wives.

D. The man (Genesis 3:17)

Though man had to work prior to the Fall (Genesis 2:15), the difficulty of his work greatly increased after the Fall.

[Work is pre-fall. It’s not part of the curse. Man was made to labor/work.]

E. The earth (Genesis 3:17 18)

The ground would grow thorns and thistles, increasing the effort required to make it produce food.

[Creation as a whole came into the “bondage of corruption” Rom 8:19-22. The whole universe is suffering the effects of sin and it will continue that way until the millennium and the eternal state.]

F. Mankind in general (Genesis 3:19)

God told Adam that when he ate from the forbidden tree he would surely die. God’s justice required that man’s sin be punished by death (Romans 6:23). That death was both physical and spiritual.

1. Man became mortal the day of the Fall, becoming subject to physical death.

If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would not have died physically. Because of the Fall, Adam and all mankind would one day return to the dust of the ground. This physical death involves the separation of the material aspect of man from the immaterial.

2. Man became spiritually dead the day of the Fall, becoming separated from God.

Adam was the representative head of the human race, and when he sinned, all mankind became “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Since the Fall, each individual is born spiritually dead.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.   Romans 5:12

[The “one man” is Adam. The construction of the words “all sinned” implies that this was a one-time event, the fall of Adam. Also note that Paul regards Adam as a real, literal person, not a figurative character.]

Spiritual death is a break in fellowship with God and was symbolized by Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23 24). The only remedy for spiritual death is regeneration , the impartation of spiritual life to the spiritually dead.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Romans 5:20 21

The Fall affected all human beings, bringing many grave consequences. It was the darkest hour of human history. Once the sin was committed, it could never be undone.

Learning to Live It

While at camp, you hear an evangelist preach on the sin of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 3:1 7. As he preaches, he makes the statements listed below. Read them and answer the accompanying questions.

1. “Adam and Eve had absolutely free wills  and so do you!” Did Adam and Eve have absolutely free wills? Why or why not?

no, not absolutely free; Their wills were limited by factors over which they had no control.

Do you have an absolutely free will? Why or why not?

no; Besides the above, you have a sin nature which often causes you to choose contrary to your will (Rom 7:14-20). In the case of an unsaved person, he is unable to choose the right–he will always choose the wrong.

2. “Just like Adam and Eve, you are faced with a moral choice. You must choose to obey God or to be a sinner. You must choose between spiritual life or spiritual death. You must choose between heaven or hell.” Are these statements accurate? Why or why not?

no; You are already a sinner and, if unsaved, are already spiritually dead and destined for hell. Besides, you really aren’t the one who chooses–God is. You make the choice to accept Christ because God has drawn you to Himself. Nobody would choose God in and of themselves

3. “If you reject God and walk out of this service, you will be separated from God, just like Adam and Eve.” This statement seems accurate at first glance. Upon closer examination, however, what is wrong with it?

If unsaved, you are already separated from God.

Lesson 10: The Creation of Man | Biblical Foundations for Living

Who am I? I am a sinner who has offended the God who created me to reflect His image.

Introduction to the Doctrine of Man

“What is man?” is a question that has prompted several answers. Some say that man is only a body; others say that man’s body is nothing but an idea; still others say that we cannot know anything about man’s make-up. Then the question of sin arises. Some say that men are basically good and that the answers to our problems are within us; others say that morality is subjective  each individual determines for himself what is right or wrong. But how does the Bible answer these questions?

We have learned in previous lessons that the Bible reveals God as the infinite Creator of finite mankind. In spite of this Creator/creature distinction, God has chosen to reveal information about Himself to men through His Word. This study of the doctrine of man (or Anthropology) will give a biblical answer to the question, “What is man?”

Lesson Ten: The Creation of Man

In order to adequately answer the question, “Who am I?,” one must understand the origin, nature, and fall of man, along with the effects of his fall.

[Notice that we start a discussion of man with what the Bible says, not with man’s experience, psychology, history, etc. One knows who he is because God has said who he is.]

This lesson will examine:

1. The origin of mankind

2. The nature of mankind [A “nature” is the basic facts or characteristics of something. ]

I. The Origin of Mankind [I.e., where did man come from?]

A. The creation of man was instantaneous and immediate on the sixth day of Creation.

[“Instantaneous” means that it happened in an instant. “Immediate” means that there was no drawn out process involved. I.e., no evolutionary process is responsible for the origin of man. This also rules out theistic evolution, the idea that God used the evolutionary process to create man.]

The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.   Genesis 2:7

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man.   Genesis 2:21 22

Many people believe that man is a product of evolution. However, God created man immediately , that is, Creation was a direct act of God apart from any intermediate process such as evolution.

[Can one be a Christian and still believe in a form of evolution? Yes. Many Christians believe that God created the world through a process of evolution. But the only way to accommodate the evolutionary viewpoint is to change our interpretation of Genesis 1-11. If these chapters are figurative/metaphorical, then we could accept evolution. But is there any reason to think that the author of Genesis meant the first 11 chapters to be figurative/non-literal? No. The intent seems to be a description of what occurred, i.e., a historical account. Why is it so important that we maintain a literal view of Gen 1-11? Because Jesus and the NT authors did. What if they were wrong? Then our view of the Bible and Christianity is wrong. ]

Note: Though Adam and Eve were created directly by God, all other men (except Jesus Christ) descend from Adam and Eve by procreation (Genesis 3:20 and Acts 17:26).

[“Procreation” = the normal method of conception and birth.]

B. Mankind was created in the image of God .

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . . .” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.   Genesis 1:26 27 (See also Genesis 5:1 and 9:6.)

Unlike everything else God created, man was created “in the image of God.” This image includes both a personal and moral resemblance to God.

[We are, or can be, like God in some ways. This distinguishes man from animals. ]

1. It is a personal resemblance to God. Like God, man has personality.

[“Personality” is not referring to one’s attitude (e.g., outgoing, shy, funny.) Personality is person-hood, the fact that one is a person rather than an animal or a plant or an inanimate object. This is the basic make-up of the image of God. It is the primary thing that sets man apart from animals.]

a. Like God, man possesses intellect, will, and emotion.

The three components of personhood, intellect, will, and emotion, operate in a logical sequence. One can visualize this sequence in the following way:

Mind ? Will ? Emotion

Mind comes first because the other two are dependent upon it. Information must enter one’s mind before it can be responded to. Will comes before emotion, not vice versa. We run into difficulty when we reverse the order by allowing our emotions to dictate our actions.

[Notice how often people mention how they feel rather than what they think. People often make decisions based on feelings/emotions rather than reason.]

b. Like God, man has the ability to use language .

Since man was the only creature made in God’s image, only he has the ability to communicate via language like God.

Note: In the garden, Adam and Eve conversed with God audibly (Genesis 3). Today, God speaks to man through His Word, while man speaks to God through prayer.

[God does not speak audibly (out loud) to people today. Why not? Because we have God’s Word to tell us what to do.]

2. It is a moral resemblance to God. Like God, man has the ability to discern right from wrong.

Mankind was created in a state of moral purity (Genesis 1:31) and possessed the ability to discern right from wrong (Genesis 3:2-3). This image of God in man was marred by man’s fall into sin but not lost ; it was effaced but not erased. Thus, men still possess the ability to discern right from wrong.

[Analogy: words on a page smudged but still readable. All men still possess the image of God, although not to the same degree that Adam and Eve or Jesus had it. Sin has marred or defaced mankind. Note: even unsaved people bear the image of God (Gen 9:6; James 3:9).]

Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. – Romans 2:14 15

Note: The marring of the image of God in man does not reduce man’s responsibility to God.

[Man is the only creature who has this ability. Can animals discern between right and wrong? No. Also, part of this moral likeness to God is the capacity for spiritual things. Man can possess spiritual life, fellowship with God, etc.]

C. Mankind was created in a state of unconfirmed holiness .

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.   Genesis 1:31

God made mankind upright.   Ecclesiastes 7:29

God did not create sin, nor did He create mankind sinful. Mankind was created morally pure (not neutral) and without sin. However, that purity was unconfirmed and, when put to the test by God via Satan’s temptation, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.

[Had Adam and Eve passed the test, they likely would have been confirmed in holiness and there would not have been a fall.]

Note: God chose Adam to represent the entire human race. Therefore, when he chose to sin, he plunged all mankind into sin. However, one cannot blame Adam for his individual acts of sin, because each individual chooses to sin (Romans 3:23).

[In later lessons we will look at the imputation of Adam’s sin, that is, how Adam’s sin affects us.]

II. The Nature of Mankind

When we talk about man’s nature, we are referring to man’s basic or essential characteristics. The Bible speaks of individuals as being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Modern medicine recognizes that each person has several physical systems (nervous system, digestive system, etc.). Though each of these function separately, man still functions as a single person.

In referring to man, the Bible uses several different words (body, soul, spirit, heart, mind, etc.). At the same time, it stresses that each human being is a unity of the different parts  a whole person (Psalm 63:1 and 84:2). One can separate the various components of man’s nature into two categories:

[We take a dichotomist view, that is, man is composed of two parts. Some hold a trichotomist view, that man has three parts: body, soul, and spirit. But the terms “soul” and “spirit” are pretty much synonymous in the Bible, so we don’t make a distinction between soul and spirit. ]

A. Mankind’s nature has a material aspect.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.   Psalm 139:15 16

The material aspect of man is his body.

[Some people say that the body is all there is. That is, they claim that all activities that seem to originate in the soul/spirit are really only physical and chemical process in the brain or glands. Is this what the Bible teaches? No. There are processes going on in every person that cannot be attributed to material causes.]

B. Mankind’s nature has an immaterial aspect.

The immaterial aspect of man is often referred to as his spirit or soul . Some say that man is made up of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. However, both soul and spirit are used interchangeably throughout Scripture to refer to the immaterial part of man (Matthew 10:28; 26:41; 1 Corinthians 7:34; James 2:26). Thus, one should not make hard and fast distinctions between spirit, soul, heart, and mind, all of which describe the immaterial aspect of man.

Note: A person’s human identity results from the union of the material and immaterial (Genesis 2:7). These two parts unite to make a complete human being. At death, the material part of man decays, but the immaterial part lives on in conscious existence.

[Dead believers seem to have some kind of bodily existence between the time of death and the resurrection. At the resurrection, the soul/spirit is reunited with some aspect of the physical body, and a glorified body is formed which will go on forever.]

C. Mankind’s nature is passed on through procreation .

Adam . . . had a son in his own likeness, in his own image.   Genesis 5:3

Although Adam was created in the image of God, Adam’s children were generated in his image (which still bore God’s image). The transmission of man’s being was and is through natural generation or procreation. This is true of both the material and immaterial aspects of human nature.

[In other words, you received your total human nature from your parents. God did not create your soul separately and inject it into your body when you were born. Somehow the immaterial part of the human nature is passed from the parents to the child.

Note: The virgin birth of Christ was necessary to prevent the fallen human nature of Mary from being passed on to Jesus. ]

Note: God created Adam and Eve sinless, but every individual born since then has been conceived in sin (except Christ). All human beings receive their nature (both the material and the immaterial aspects) from their parents. Therefore, our sin nature does not come from God.

[You may have heard that the sin nature is passed down through the father’s blood line. This is false. Sin does not reside in the blood. The sin nature is somehow passed on thru procreation, but the Bible does not explain exactly how this occurs.]

Learning to Live It

1. You have taken a field trip to the local museum. During the tour, your guide continually refers to man as evolving from a lower life form. You finally speak up, stating that according to the Bible, man was created by God as a being higher than animals. The guide laughs and says, “I would far rather believe the facts of science than the fairy tales of a book. Besides, your beliefs are based totally on faith, while mine are based on years of scientific study. Dare you dispute the findings of such scholarly men and women?” How should you answer him?

You don’t dispute the facts, but his interpretation of the facts. You challenge his assumptions (such as uniformitarianism). You inform him that his views are also based on faith–did he see evolution take place? Further, the theory evolution is by no means without problems.

2. When some preachers talk about someone who has heard and understood the gospel, yet has rejected it, they say that the individual has a head knowledge, but not a heart knowledge, or that the individual has “missed heaven by eighteen inches” (the distance between the head and the heart). What is wrong with such a statement?

Both the mind and the heart are part of the immaterial aspect of man, not two separate entities. Thus, you cannot separate the two–the individual has either both a “head” and a “heart” knowledge or neither. Further, it is equating the physical organ with the immaterial aspect of man. It would be better to say that the person knows the facts (meaning) but has not acted upon them (significance).

Lesson 9: The Practice of Biblical Interpretation | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 9: The Practice of Biblical Interpretation

Lesson Eight showed that one must consider historical, literary, and grammatical factors in order to properly interpret any communication. Since the last book of the Bible was written 1,900 years ago, one must attempt to place a passage of Scripture in its historical, literary, and grammatical context in order to determine the author’s intended meaning.

[Historical = why, when, where; literary = forms, figures of speech; grammatical = languages, grammatical units.

Remember that “context is king.” Context is the main thing that tells us what a certain word or idea or sentence means. Words do not have meaning “in themselves.” It is only in the context of other words that a word takes on a specific meaning.]

It is not enough for one simply to know the principles of interpretation. One must put them into practice . Lesson Six taught that God has revealed truth about Himself so that men might know His will and do it. To that end, this lesson is devoted to the practice of biblical interpretation. We will apply the principles learned in Lesson Eight to a chosen passage of Scripture in order to demonstrate how one should interpret the Bible. The passage we will study is 1 Corinthians 14:18 19:

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

This lesson will show that in order to determine the author’s intended meaning of a passage, one must:

1. Study the words of the passage.

2. Study the sentences of the passage.

3. Study the paragraphs of the passage.

4. Study the book containing the passage.

5. Correlate the passage with other Scripture .

[As you can see, Bible interpretation takes time and effort. Finding the meaning of a passage is often no easy task. This explains why so many false/incorrect views and interpretations abound–the interpreter is not doing the work necessary to come to the proper conclusions. We must not be guilty of laziness when it comes to interpreting Scripture.]

I. Study the Words of the Passage.

A. Choose words to study.

1. Choose the key words in the passage.

Key words are those that indicate the topic of a passage. The passage at hand has to do with “ tongues .” Therefore, it would be helpful to know something about this word.

2. Choose unfamiliar words in the passage.

The occurrence of unfamiliar words should be rare in a modern translation. In our passage, the author prefers that his readers speak words that are

intelligible .” If this word is unfamiliar, one should look up its meaning.

B. Define words in the passage.

1. Consult an English dictionary.

When we want to know the definition of a word, we usually look it up in a dictionary. However, a dictionary offers several possible meanings for a word based on the word’s usage in contemporary communication. Therefore, one must determine which, if any, definition is appropriate for the word being studied.

2. Consult a Bible dictionary.

[Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words is a good one. There may be several potential meanings listed, that is, several that fit the context. But the author meant only one thing. The job of the interpreter is to get to that meaning.]

A Bible dictionary defines words as they are used in the Bible. A particular word may have several different usages throughout the Bible; however, as we learned in Lesson Eight, a word has only one meaning in a given context. Therefore, one must choose the definition most appropriate to the passage at hand. For example, we have chosen to define the word “tongue.” A Bible dictionary lists two primary uses of this word in Scripture: 1) the word is used literally of the physical organ of the mouth and 2) it is used of spoken languages . Which definition fits the passage at hand? Note that the author writes about “speaking in tongues” (indicating a language) rather than “speaking with tongues” (which would indicate the physical organ).

Most Bible dictionaries, however, do not define every word used in Scripture. Because “intelligible” is a rare word, it is not found in most Bible dictionaries.

3. Consult a Bible concordance .

A concordance lists the verses in which a given word is found. Once the student locates the desired word in the concordance, he can look up the verses in order to find the word’s usage elsewhere in the Bible. The concordance indicates that “intelligible” is used again in the same chapter we are studying:

Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?   1 Corinthians 14:9

Thus, “intelligible” refers to words that allow the listener to “know what you are saying.” Intelligible words are words that one can understand .

Note: Be sure to consult an exhaustive concordance, one which lists every word in the Bible and every verse in which a particular word occurs.

[Young’s or Strong’s are the most popular. They are referenced to the KJV. You can do the same thing with computer programs which are faster and easier.]

II. Study the Sentences of the Passage.

A. Study the structure of each sentence.

All sentences are made up of parts of speech that give each word a function in the sentence. Nouns describe persons, places, or things, while verbs describe action or being, etc. Even seemingly insignificant words such as “to” perform a function. For example, the author of our passage states:

I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others.

In this verse, the word “to” indicates the author’s reason for preferring words that are understandable: so that others may be instructed.

B. Study the relationship of the sentences to one another.

The relationship of sentences to one another is indicated by the use of words which communicate such a relationship. For example, in our passage the author begins the second sentence with the word “but” to indicate a contrast with the first sentence:

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church . . . .

Although the author has the ability to speak in languages that some might not understand, the purpose of speech in the church is to instruct others by speaking understandable words.

[Is this the way charismatic services are usually conducted? No. Usually many people are speaking in tongues all at once with no interpreter. This is not the biblical pattern.]

The following is a list of words used to connect sentences, along with their intended significations:

Word Signification

but contrast

just as comparison

because, for reason

therefore, then result

that, so that, in order that purpose

then, so conclusion

III. Study the Paragraphs of the Passage.

A. Determine the boundaries of each paragraph.

Just as words are logically arranged to form sentences, sentences are logically arranged to form paragraphs. A paragraph begins a new thought that contributes to the overall theme of the passage in which it is contained. Since the boundaries of a paragraph can be difficult to determine, one should keep the following facts in mind:

1. A new verse is not necessarily a new paragraph.

The original manuscripts of the Bible did not contain verse markings. These were added later to help locate passages of Scripture. Therefore, verses may or may not begin a new paragraph. Most modern translations either indent the text at the beginning of a new paragraph or place the number of the verse that begins a new paragraph in bold type.

2. Literary form affects paragraph structure.

As seen in Lesson Eight, the Bible contains various forms of literature: letters, poetry, narratives, etc. These literary forms may group sentences differently. For example, the book of Psalms is poetic . Therefore, the sentences therein are grouped according to the structure of Hebrew poetry. Most modern translations arrange the text to reflect such structure.

B. Determine the message of each paragraph.

Remember, the message of a given paragraph will support the overall theme of the passage in which it is found. For example, 1 Corinthians 14:18 19 forms a new thought supporting the author’s argument that only understandable words are to be spoken in the church. The preceding paragraph (verses 13 17) contains illustrations which show the folly of speaking in unintelligible languages. The following paragraph (verses 20 21) challenges the readers to think maturely on this matter.

IV. Study the Book Containing the Passage.

A. Read the entire book.

One should read the entire book through in one sitting. This enables one to follow the author’s flow of thought and to notice other factors which will aid interpretation. For example, a reading of 1 Corinthians reveals that the Corinthian Church had a number of problems, of which the tongues issue was only one. The book indicates that the root of these problems was pride , which resulted in a lack of love for others (chapters 8 13). This knowledge will help one better understand the situation in Corinth with regard to tongues.

B. Determine the author of the book.

In most cases, the author is identified in the book itself.

Paul, called to be an apostle . . . .   1 Corinthians 1:1

C. Determine the recipient(s) of the book.

Again, this is usually stated in the book.

. . . to the church of God in Corinth.   1 Corinthians 1:2

D. Determine the purpose of the book.

This is either stated in the book or implied by other factors. Paul implies the purpose for the book of 1 Corinthians in two places:

[S]ome from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.   1 Corinthians 1:11

Now for the matters you wrote about . . . .   1 Corinthians 7:1

Paul had been informed about issues in the Corinthian church to which he responded with the letter of 1 Corinthians. Tongues was one such issue.

As always, in those cases where the author, recipients, or purpose of a book is unclear, consult a commentary and/or study Bible.

V. Correlate the Passage with Other Scripture.

Because God is its ultimate author, the Bible does not contradict itself. Its teachings are consistent throughout. This means that one can compare Scripture with Scripture to determine the meaning of a passage. Other portions of Scripture may contain helpful background material or shed further light upon the passage being studied.

[In other words, one part of the Bible often explains another part or parts. This concept is called “the analogy of Scripture.” Remember also that clear teaching should inform unclear teaching.]

A. Study related passages .

In Lesson Eight, we learned that the overall context of the Bible covers both content and time . That is, one must correlate both the message and the chronology of Bible passages.

1. Compare the content of related passages.

Survey the verses listed in a Bible dictionary, study Bible, concordance, or commentary to find any passages that contain information related to your passage. For example, in looking up references to the word “tongue,” an interesting passage in the book of Acts comes to light:

When the day of Pentecost came, they . . . began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.   Acts 2:1 6

From this passage we learn that “speaking in tongues” refers to languages that were understandable to the hearers.

2. Compare the time of related passages.

Consult a study Bible or a commentary and you will see that the events of the book of Acts happened before the writing of 1 Corinthians. In the case at hand, the speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost preceded 1 Corinthians by approximately 25 years. Thus, since Acts 2 occurred first, it defines the purpose for speaking in tongues rather than 1 Corinthians.

[In other words, we learn what speaking in tongues is all about in Acts.

Regarding the time context of a passage, note that there is a large difference between the OT and the NT, especially regarding religious practice. OT passages are often not directly applicable to NT believers (e.g., we don’t sacrifice or go to the temple periodically), and vice versa. So be careful about cross referencing between the OT and the NT.]

B. Develop and apply related principles.

1. Develop principles from the passages.

As noted above, the events of Acts preceded the writing of 1 Corinthians. Further study of the phenomenon of “speaking in tongues” reveals that Acts 2 is the first recorded occurrence of such in the Bible. Therefore, the original purpose for tongues is clearly set forth in Acts 2: to communicate a message to others in their own language.

By the time 1 Corinthians was written, the practice had apparently degenerated to the point that unintelligible speech was considered to be a gift from God (1 Corinthians 12 13). Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth sought to correct this and other errors. The teaching of 1 Corinthians 14 on tongues is consistent with the original purpose set forth in Acts 2. This is why only words that “instruct others” are deemed by Paul to be appropriate for a church service. Thus, the principle of “edifying” or “building up” others is taught in this passage (1 Corinthians 14:4 5).

2. Apply the principles to your life.

[A passage has only one correct interpretation, but may have several legitimate applications. This is what makes the Bible timeless. Our main task is to discern eternal, unchanging principles taught in the Bible and apply them to our lives. Principlizing is especially important when dealing with narrative sections of the Bible. Remember the description vs. prescription idea.]

Activity which directly builds up or contributes to the building up of others is to be our primary concern in the church. Preaching, teaching, singing, etc. is to be done for the edification of others, not self glorification.

Suggested Bible study tools:

A. Good Bible translations: New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV)

B. Study Bibles: NIV Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible

C. Bible dictionary: Unger’s Bible Dictionary

D. Bible concordance: Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

E. Bible commentaries: The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 2 volumes; Bible Study Commentary, 49 volumes; Everyman’s Bible Commentary (multiple volumes); Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 volumes

F. Bible encyclopedia: Baker’s Encyclopedia of the Bible, 2 volumes

G. Bible doctrine resources: Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie; Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns

H. Bible handbook: Halley’s Bible Handbook

I. Bible atlas: Moody Atlas of the Bible

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned that in order to determine the author’s intended meaning of a passage, we must:

1. Study the words of the passage. Choose the key and unfamiliar words and define them by consulting an English dictionary, a Bible dictionary, and an exhaustive concordance.

2. Study the sentences of the passage. This includes both the structure of each sentence and the relationships between the sentences.

3. Study the paragraphs of the passage. After determining the boundaries of each paragraph, determine the meaning of each.

4. Study the book containing the passage. Read the entire book to become familiar with it and to determine its author, recipients, and purpose.

5. Correlate the passage with other Scripture. After studying related passages, noting the content and time of each, develop and apply principles from them.

[Let me reemphasize that Bible interp. is no quick and easy task. Pastors and teachers spend years honing their skills so they can better interpret the Bible. The better you are at things like grammar and syntax, the easier it will be for you to implement these steps. Think about that when you are studying grammar in English class.]

Learning to Live It

The following exercises will help you put into practice the material learned in the last two lessons.

1. One Protestant denomination refuses to have paid preachers on the basis of 1 Timothy 3:3 (“not a lover of money”). Is this a proper interpretation of this verse? How does 1 Timothy 5:17 18 relate to this issue?

no; It clearly teaches that pastors are to be paid for what they do.

2. You find out a friend is seriously dating and planning to marry an unbeliever. While pointing out passages like 2 Corinthians 6:14 17 to her, she responds by quoting 1 Corinthians 6:12 (“Everything is permissible for me.”). Is her understanding of this passage correct? What does the context indicate? What should you tell her?

no; that this is a Corinthian slogan (hence, italicized in the NIV), not Paul’s words–Paul argues against it; that her interpretation is incorrect and that she should end the relationship based upon 2 Corinthians 6:14-17; you could use that slogan to validate anything.

3. Some people teach that Deuteronomy 22:5 (“A woman must not wear men’s clothing.”) indicates that women today should not wear pants. Is this a valid interpretation? How would an understanding of men’s and women’s dress in that period help? Does an understanding of the original audience help? Does a knowledge of the other commands in chapters 21 22 contribute to a proper understanding of this verse?

no; both wore similar clothing; Moses is writing at a time when there were no such things as pants; yes–if Deuteronomy 22:5 is applicable to us today, so are the other commands in chapters 21 and 22, such as stoning rebellious sons (21:18-21), building a parapet around your roof (22:8), mixing seeds (22:9), mixing plowing animals (22:10), and mixing fabrics (22:11)

4. Some parents read Proverbs 22:6 (“Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”) and consider it an absolute promise from God that if they rear their children correctly, they will turn out well. Did Solomon intend for this to be interpreted as a guarantee? Are proverbs guarantees? (Does an apple a day always keep the doctor away?)

no; no (no)–Proverbs are general truths, not absolute ones.

5. Some people take Paul’s statement in Acts 20:20 (that he taught “from house to house”) as a biblical example of door to door evangelism. Was Paul referring to door to door evangelism here? How would an understanding of Paul’s normal evangelistic practice help? Does a knowledge of his original audience help? Does the context provide any helpful information?

no; Paul did not practice door-to-door evangelism. Rather, he went to the synagogue and into the marketplace.; yes–Paul is speaking to the Ephesian pastors; yes–He is speaking about edification, not evangelism. Furthermore, the houses spoken of were probably house-churches.

6. People in the charismatic/healing movement take Isaiah 53:5 (“By his wounds we are healed.”) to mean that when Christ died, He secured a life of perfect health for His children. Does this passage teach that? Is the context talking about physical sickness as the problem to be healed? If they are correct, what do we do with the clear teaching of 2 Corinthians 12:7 8 that Paul had a constant physical ailment which God would not remove?

no; no, spiritual sickness; Paul either was not a believer or if he was, he lacked the faith to be healed.

Lesson 8: The Principles of Biblical Interpretation | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 8: The Principles of Biblical Interpretation

In Lesson Seven, we learned that the Bible has both divine and human authorship. Although God is the source of Scripture, he used men to write it. In order to communicate His message to mankind, God has providentially overseen the production, compilation, and preservation of the Bible. The successful communication of any message, whether from God or man, requires correct interpretation . Interpretation is the process which allows one to understand the author’s intended meaning .

[The intended meaning is also known as “authorial intent,” that is, the message the original author intended his audience to receive. The primary task of the interpreter is to get back to this intended meaning and build his interpretation from there. Doing this is important because a text cannot mean what it never meant. That is, one should not try to get from a text something that the author never intended to be there.]

We usually do not think about the principles of interpretation because we use them naturally. We automatically understand the author’s intended meaning because we are familiar with the author’s language, customs, and circumstances. The Bible, however, was written thousands of years ago by men living in cultures much different from ours. Therefore, we must strive to consciously apply the various principles of interpretation that we unconsciously use every day.

[The rules or principles of interpretation is called hermeneutics. ]

The proper method of interpretation is called literal or normal interpretation. The consistent application of the principles of normal interpretation will yield consistent interpretations. [The normal/literal/literary approach can successfully handle every type of biblical literature. We need not switch interpretive methods when we switch to a different literary form.] Varying interpretations of the Bible’s message exist because not all interpreters “play by the same rules .” This lesson will explain the biblical principles of interpretation based on the following facts:

1. All communication has a historical context.

2. All communication has a literary context.

3. All communication has a grammatical context.

I. All Communication Has a Historical Context.

Each book of the Bible was written at a particular time in a particular place for a particular purpose. These and similar factors make up a book’s historical context.

A. Interpret every biblical text in light of its purpose .

Every author has a purpose for writing that which he writes. His audience, his theme, and his tone are some of the factors which reflect his purpose. Therefore, in order to understand a text’s meaning, one should determine the author’s purpose.

[Audience = who written to; theme = what it’s about; tone = the character of the text. Differences in authorial intent would explain some of the difference found in the Gospel accounts, for example.]

1. The purpose for a book may be stated .

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.   1 John 5:13 [See also John 20:31]

2. The purpose for a book may be implied . [I.e., there are hints. ]

a. The purpose may be implied by statements within the book.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.   Galatians 1:6 (See also 3:1 and 6:12.)

It is apparent from these and other statements within the book that Galatians was written to attack false teaching that threatened to win over the Galatian believers.

b. The purpose may be implied by what one knows about the author and recipient(s) of the book.

For example, Paul wrote two letters to Timothy. In the first, he explicitly stated his purpose:

I am writing you these instructions so that . . . you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household.   1 Timothy 3:14

Although Paul did not state his purpose in the second letter, one can easily recognize such by noting the relationship between Paul and Timothy seen in 1 Timothy (See also Acts 16:1 5.). In light of Paul’s “mentor” relationship with Timothy, the purpose for his second letter becomes clear: to prepare Timothy to assume greater leadership responsibilities as Paul’s ministry comes to an end (2 Timothy 2:1 7 and 4:1 8).

Note: This point assumes that one can determine the author and/or recipients. Often, these are stated in the text. In cases where they are not, a good study Bible and/or commentary will be helpful. Recommendations for these and other resources will be included in Lesson Nine.

B. Interpret every biblical text in light of its chronology . [I.e., time frame ]

As stated in Lesson Seven, God did not produce the Bible all at once . Rather, the Bible was composed over a period of 1,600 years. Furthermore, the last book of the Bible was written almost 1,900 years ago! Therefore, in order to recognize the author’s intended meaning, one must place a given book within the time period in which it was written. One can often determine this by statements made within the book regarding events and/or people about which dates are known. Again, a good study Bible or commentary is helpful.

[For example, when Luke tells the story about Jesus’ birth, he gives the date by saying who was governor, who was Caesar, etc. By finding the dates of these well-known people or events, we can accurately date the account. This is especially important for dating OT events.]

C. Interpret every biblical text in light of its geography .

Most of us live thousands of miles from the locations where Bible events took place. Therefore, we should become familiar with the Bible’s geography. It is also valuable to learn about the terrain of Bible lands. Bible atlases are valuable resources for this type of information.

D. Interpret every biblical text in light of its culture .

Modern thought and behavior are different from that of Bible times. Furthermore, there are cultural differences between groups of people mentioned in Scripture. For example, the Roman culture of Paul’s day was totally different from the Hebrew culture of Moses’s day. Thus, it is important to understand the culture behind a text.

[For example, several NT passages deal with whether or not it’s OK to eat meat offered to idols. This practice was a cultural issue that the early Christians had to deal with. We don’t. So we’ve got to determine whether or not something is specifically addressed to the cultural setting of the first century, or if the principle is timeless. This is often clear, but sometimes quite difficult. A book on manners and customs of Bible times and lands is helpful in this regard. ]

II. All Communication Has a Literary Context.

In addition to the historical setting, interpretation is influenced by literary factors. The Bible uses various literary forms and figures of speech which the interpreter must take into account in order to correctly interpret a text.

A. Interpret every biblical text in light of its literary form .

The Bible contains various forms of literature, such as poetry , narratives , proverbs , parables , and letters . Each of these must be interpreted accordingly. For example, narrative passages describe the actions of others, while the epistles often prescribe actions for others. Thus, Acts 1:12 14 (narrative) describes the fact that the disciples went to Jerusalem. However, it does not tell others to do so. On the other hand, Paul’s letter to the Romans (epistolary) [an epistle is a letter] prescribes actions for us:

[O]ffer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.   Romans 12:1

[Understanding the literary form of a text is very important because you interpret different forms in different ways. You can’t handle every part of the Bible the same way. I.e., you don’t interpret a poem (like the Psalms) in the same way as you do historical narrative (like Acts).]

B. Interpret every biblical text in light of its figures of speech .

Normal human communication often employs figures of speech such as metaphors . For example, one might say, “My mouth is on fire,” if he has just tasted something very hot. In John 10:7, Jesus said, “I am the gate.” Obviously, Jesus was using a metaphor to make a point. Just as one’s mouth is not actually in flames, Jesus is not actually a gate. Literal (or normal) interpretation takes into account those places where the Bible employs figures of speech.

[Jesus used figures of speech all the time. He said, “I am the door,” and “I am the good shepherd,” but he wasn’t really/literally a door or a shepherd. He was describing one thing in terms of something else. The literal/normal method of interpretation makes room for such figures of speech.]

III. All Communication Has a Grammatical Context.

The difference between the original language of a biblical book and the language of modern readers creates a further obstacle to interpretation. However, one can overcome this by applying the following rules of interpretation:

A. Interpret every biblical text in light of its original language .

As mentioned in Lesson Seven, the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek (and a small portion in Aramaic). Since most individuals do not know these languages, one should consult a good translation which converts the original languages into one’s own language.

[To some extent, if you don’t know Hebrew and Greek, you are at the mercy of the translation you use. That’s why it’s so important to get a translation that is accurate and understandable. It may also be beneficial to compare how two or three versions translate a troublesome text. Pastors and teachers spend a great deal of effort to learn Hebrew and Greek so that they can more accurately handle God’s Word.]

An important principle to keep in mind when interpreting the language of Scripture is that a word can only mean one thing in a given context. If this were not the case, communication would be impossible because any word could mean anything.

[For example, you take it for granted that when I say “dog” I mean the four-footed hairy animal that barks. If, when I say “dog” I really mean “fruit loops,” then we have a problem. Effective communication can happen only when the speakers/writers and listeners/readers agree on the general meaning of words. Words like “run” can have many meanings, but the context generally tells you what such words mean. That’s why understanding the context is so important.]

B. Interpret every biblical text in light of its larger grammatical units .

All communication is made up of sentences . Sentences, however, are only one part of a larger grammatical chain: words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books. Thus, the interpretation of a given word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph is dependent on the other larger units of which it is a part.

[So it may be necessary to understand a previous verse or paragraph before you can reach the correct interpretation of the verse you are trying to figure out.]

C. Interpret each biblical book in the light of its overall biblical context.

Since the Bible as a whole has but one author, the largest logical unit for a biblical text is the entire Bible. Overall biblical context refers to both content and time . That is, an individual book of the Bible fits into the overall message of the Bible and was written at a specific time within God’s progressive unfolding of biblical revelation.

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. All communication has a historical context. Interpret a biblical text according to its purpose, time, place, and culture.

2. All communication has a literary context. Interpret a biblical text according to its literary form and figures of speech.

3. All communication has a grammatical context. Interpret a biblical text according to its original language and larger grammatical units.

Learning to Live It

You and your family have just moved to a new community and have begun the search for a new church. You are determined to find a Bible preaching church. One Sunday morning you visit a church whose pastor is an interesting and dynamic speaker. On this particular morning he is speaking from Judges 16, the story of Samson. In his sermon, he states that Samson’s compromise and loss of spiritual power represents the sin that God’s people fall into today. Each lock of Samson’s hair that Delilah cut off represented a step of compromise. The first lock of hair was his sanctification, the second was his separation, and so on. By the time the sermon is finished, each of Samson’s seven locks is made a symbol for lost spiritual strength.

[This is what we call an allegorical interpretation. Details of the text have been assigned meanings that the text does not justify. ]

Evaluate this sermon by answering the following questions:

1. Is there any indication the author of Judges meant the locks to represent these steps when the text was written? no

2. What type of literature is this text? narrative

3. Therefore, was this passage written to prescribe action for us? no

4. Whose message did this sermon communicate? the pastor’s

5. Since the pastor is preaching his own message rather than God’s Word, what should you conclude about your search for a Bible preaching church? Your search is not over.

Lesson 7: The Bible: Human & Divine | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 7: The Bible: Human and Divine

In the previous lesson, we learned that God’s only means of special revelation today is the Bible.

[Review difference between special and general revelation.] The Bible is unique in that it was written over a long period of time by many people. Therefore, God has taken special care to guide man in the production, compilation, and maintenance of the Scriptures.

[Production: it’s inspiration/writing; compilation: it’s assembly/canonization; maintenance: it’s endurance/preservation ]

In this lesson, we will learn that:

1. The Bible is inspired .

2. The Bible is complete .

3. The Bible is preserved .

I. The Bible is Inspired.

The word “inspiration” is used to describe the process by which God gave the Bible to man. “God superintended the human authors of the Bible so that they composed and recorded without error His message to mankind in the words of their original writings” (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 71). This definition includes both the divine and human activity involved in the production of Scripture.

A. The divine aspect of inspiration

1. God is the source of all Scripture.

All Scripture is God breathed.   2 Timothy 3:16

The word “God-breathed” is a descriptive way of saying that God is the source of the Bible. Even though God Himself did not do the actual writing, the words, sentences, and thoughts of the Bible are those which God wanted written .

Theologians use the word “ plenary ” (meaning “full”) to indicate that the Bible as a whole is the Word of God. The Bible does not merely contain God’s Word; rather, the Bible is God’s Word.

[What’s the difference? If the Bible only contained God’s Word, it could possibly contain factual errors and parts that are not really God’s Word. Saying the Bible is God’s Word means that every part of it is exactly what God intended.]

2. The significance of the Bible’s divine authorship

a. The Bible is without error (inerrant).

God, who does not lie . . . .   Titus 1:2

Your word is truth.   John 17:17

[What about matters of history and science? It’s still true, although the Bible is not a science textbook.

Does inerrancy pass over to a specific version? No. Inerrancy properly pertains to the original autographs, the manuscripts that the biblical authors penned. No version or copy is truly inerrant, because there are very likely minor scribal errors, mistranslations, and the like. Does lack of inerrancy make our versions useless or corrupt? No. Several versions have a high degree of accuracy and are thus very reliable. But they are inerrant in a derivative sense–to the degree that they reflect the inerrant original, they are inerrant.]

Since God Himself is the source of the Scriptures, they are without error. Furthermore, since the entire Bible is inspired, the entire Bible is inerrant.

b. The Bible is authoritative (infallible).

The Scripture cannot be broken.   John 10:35

Although closely related, inerrancy and infallibility are not synonymous. Inerrancy emphasizes the Bible’s truthfulness , while infallibility emphasizes its

authority . Infallibility means that because the Bible is the Word of God, it is the final authority on all matters.

[Inerrancy and infallibility are pretty much synonymous. Infallibility stresses the idea that the Bible makes no false or misleading statements and is incapable of leading one astray. ]

c. The Bible is relevant .

[Relevant means meaningful, useful, practical. It speaks to us today. ]

All Scripture . . . is useful.   2 Timothy 3:16

Although God has revealed truth about Himself to specific people in specific places at specific times, the value of the Bible’s message is not restricted to any particular time or place.

d. The Bible is unified .

Because God Himself is the author of the Bible, it never contradicts itself. Passages that are difficult to grasp may be understood by comparing them with the clear teachings of other biblical texts. As a result, the Bible often interprets itself .

[You may hear the phrase “Scripture interprets Scripture.” This means that one part of the Bible explains another part. “The analogy of Scripture” is the same idea. Rule: always let the clear passage interpret or explain the unclear passage. Also, never base a doctrine on an unclear passage.

What about apparent contradictions? There are several places in which the Bible does apparently contradict itself. E.g., 1 Sam 17:51 vs. 2 Sam 21:19. Often times with study, the contradiction disappears. Or a scribal slip (especially with numbers) could be the reason. There are no real/valid contradictions, only apparent ones.]

B. The human aspect of inspiration

1. The Bible was written in human language .

The Bible was written in the languages commonly spoken by its writers and readers (the Old Testament primarily in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek). Therefore, one should interpret the Bible as he would interpret normal written communication.

[For some time scholars thought that the Greek of the NT was some special, heavenly Greek. But researchers found that the Greek of the NT is actually “koine” or common Greek. It was the language of the market, of the common person, not a special language at all.

Why do pastors, teachers, theologians, etc. want to study Greek and Hebrew? To achieve greater accuracy in understanding the text. We pay great attention to the language (grammar and syntax) of the Bible because through them we are able to better understand and interpret God’s Word.]

2. The Bible was influenced by the human authors’ backgrounds and personalities .

The Bible was composed over more than 1,600 years by over 40 different authors. Each author wrote from the context of his own vocation, circumstances, intellect, etc. Each of these elements influenced the final product.

God did not mechanically dictate the Scriptures to the human authors. Rather, He superintended or “carried along” the writers (2 Peter 1:21) without destroying their individual vocabularies, writing styles, etc. in such a way that the final product was exactly what He wanted.

God’s guidance of the human authors extended to the very words they wrote (1 Corinthians 2:13), not merely to their thoughts or ideas. Theologians refer to this as verbal inspiration.

[You may hear the expression “verbal, plenary inspiration.” This simply means that each and every word is fully inspired. Matt 5:18 indicates that the smallest details of the words of the text are preserved. ]

3. The Bible contains various writing styles .

Because the Bible ultimately has but one author, one might expect a consistent style of writing throughout. However, one finds many writing styles in Scripture. This is a further indicator of the human aspect of inspiration.

[The language and style of writing between authors sometimes differs widely. E.g., the styles/vocabularies of John and Paul differ widely.]

II. The Bible is Complete.

The word “ canonization ” refers to the process by which the individual books of the Bible came to be recognized as Scripture. The word “canon” literally means a “rule” or “standard.” In time, the word was commonly used to refer to the collection of inspired writings. The 66 books found in our Bibles were included in the canon because they met various rules or standards of canonicity set forth by the early church.

A. The Old Testament canon is complete.

1. God’s people collected the Old Testament books.

[Joshua] drew up for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God.   Joshua 24:25 26

2. Christ confirmed the Old Testament books.

Jesus replied, “. . . this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.”   Luke 11:46 51

The arrangement of the 39 books of the Old Testament in Jesus’s day began with Genesis and ended with 2 Chronicles. The deaths of Abel and Zechariah are recorded in Genesis and 2 Chronicles respectively. So, this was Jesus’s way of saying, “From the beginning to the end .” In this way, Jesus was confirming the boundaries of the Old Testament canon.

Christians have little difficulty recognizing which Old Testament books meet the standard for inclusion in the canon, seeing they have the words of Christ Himself   the standard.

B. The New Testament canon is complete.

1. Christ pre authenticated the New Testament books.

In Lesson Six, we learned that the apostles were uniquely chosen and commissioned by Christ to write the New Testament. As a result, their writings carried divine authority and, thus, were to be included in the canon.

2. God’s people recognized the New Testament books.

a. The apostles recognized their own writings as Scripture.

Paul recognized that his letters were inspired and expected his readers to recognize this as well.

If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.   1 Corinthians 14:37

“Scripture” is a technical term for those writings which believers recognized to be God’s Word. In the New Testament, it usually refers to the Old Testament (Luke 24:27 and 2 Timothy 3:15 16). However, Peter applies the term to Paul’s letters, showing that God’s people began to recognize the New Testament books as canonical shortly after their composition.

[Paul] writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.   2 Peter 3:16

  1. The church recognized the apostles’ writings as Scripture.

The early church applied several “ tests ” to determine which books were Scripture. These tests did not determine a book’s authority; rather, they simply helped the church to recognize such.

1) The church recognized books which had apostolic authority.

To be considered Scripture, a book must have been composed by an apostle or under the direction of an apostle (For example, Luke wrote under the direction of Paul.).

2) The church recognized books which were commonly accepted as authentic.

Since apostolic authority was the primary criterion for authenticity, it was only natural that the very churches the apostles established would readily accept the authenticity of their writings.

3) The church recognized books which were orthodox .

A book had to teach doctrine which was consistent with that of the other books of the Bible in order to be considered canonical.

[“Orthodox” literally means “straight,” and it refers to doctrine that is accepted or approved or correct. Something unorthodox is unapproved, different, odd, and/or incorrect.

Note: the Scriptures were authoritative the moment they were written. They were not recognized right away, tho.

The Apocrypha is not part of the canon because it does not meet the criteria. By the way, the 1611 KJV included the Apocrypha.]

Note: The canon of Scripture has been closed for nearly 1,900 years. John, the last of the apostles, died at the end of the first century A. D. shortly after writing the book of Revelation, which closed the canon.

III. The Bible is Preserved.

Not only has God used men to produce and compile His Word, He has also used them to maintain it. Theologians call this process preservation . God has preserved His Word providentially , not miraculously .

[Why do we draw a distinction between miraculous and providential preservation? Because miraculous describes a special, supernatural intervention by God beyond the normal state of affairs. If miraculous preservation were the case, we would expect to find no problems or errors with any Bible copies or versions. Unfortunately, that is not the case. No version of the Scripture is miraculously free from error. The miracle was in the inspiration, not in the preservation. Providential preservation stresses the fact that God maintained His Word through normal, every-day processes. Such processes may have introduced a certain number of mistakes or differences into various copies, which is what we find. Had God preserved the originals, perhaps that could have been called miraculous.]

A. The Old Testament is preserved.

1. Christ confirmed the preservation of the Old Testament.

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished   Matthew 5:18

One should note that Jesus’s comments regarding the extraordinary preservation of the Old Testament Scriptures were made at a time when no original manuscripts of the Old Testament existed! Jesus’s confidence in God’s preservation of the Bible extended to the copies that had been passed on for centuries.

[It’s interesting to note that Jesus and the apostles most likely used the Septuagint (LXX), which is quite corrupt in several places. Yet they had confidence in it as the Word of God. Thus, even if a version is not totally accurate, it can be considered Scripture.]

2. The apostles confirmed the preservation of the Old Testament.

The New Testament writers frequently quoted from the Old Testament, thereby showing their confidence in its accurate preservation. For example, in one New Testament passage, Paul quotes from no less than eight Old Testament passages:

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:1 3; 53:1 3; Ecclesiastes 7:20). “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit” (Psalm 5:9). “The poison of vipers is on their lips” (Psalm 140:3). “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness” (Psalm 10:7). “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know” (Isaiah 59:7 8). “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Psalm 36:1).   Romans 3:10 18

B. The New Testament is preserved.

There are approximately 5,000 extant (known to exist) Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Comparison of these manuscripts confirms the amazing degree to which God has providentially preserved His Word.

Note: It is important to distinguish between “inspiration” and “preservation.” Inspiration deals with the original writings of the Old and New Testaments. Preservation deals with copies . Technically, the copies are not inspired. Rather, they derive inspiration as they accurately reflect the content of the originals. Therefore, it is incorrect to equate inspiration with a particular version of the Bible.

[There is a whole debate concerning which Greek manuscripts (of the New Testament) ought to be used or which are the best. Our English versions are based on different Greek manuscripts. This is why we see differences in translations. The differences between the Greek manuscripts are many, but they are relatively minor. Most of the differences are in spelling, word choice, and word order. Only about 40 of the differences are of any major significance, and none of these change the overall teaching of the Bible. As far as versions go, we recommend or use only a few, such as the KJV, NKJV, NIV, or NASB. Later lessons will deal with this issue more fully.]

Learning to Live It

1. As you are scanning the dial on your radio, you come across a sermon. The preacher’s topic is the inspiration of the Bible. During the sermon, the preacher describes God’s activity upon the human writer by saying, “God said to Paul, ‘Take a letter.'” Does this preacher’s illustration accurately reflect how inspiration took place? Why or why not?

no; God did not dictate the words to the human authors.

Later in the sermon, the preacher makes it clear that he believes that the particular version from which he is preaching is the only “inspired” version. What is wrong with the preacher’s assertion?

Versions are not inspired; only the originals are. Versions are valid/good to the degree that they conform to the originals.

2. A friend of yours is not a believer but has shown interest in religious issues and likes to talk with you about them. After coming across a book that says there are several lost writings of the New Testament, he comes to you for answers. What would you tell him?

Since God has not seen fit to providentially preserve them, we can safely conclude that these writings are not canonical. Any “lost” writings are not part of the canon.

3. The same friend says the same book claims that the writings we do have are not accurate because our translations are so far removed from the original writings. What do you tell him now?

How does the author know this–Has he seen the originals? Our copies are not distant from the originals, especially in the NT. Only a few years passed between the making of the originals and the oldest extant copies. Furthermore, textual criticism has shown that our translations are reliable and accurately reflect the originals to a remarkable degree. The quality and care of the copying process, plus the number of available manuscripts, yields a product that very closely reflects the originals, even if many years have passed between the original composition and the oldest extant copies. E.g., little difference exists between a copy of Isaiah from 9th century AD and one from 1st century BC found in Dead Sea caves.

Lesson 6: God Has Revealed Himself to Man | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 6: God Has Revealed Himself to Man

To study God as we have done in Lessons 1-5 is an awesome task. It is impossible for finite sinners to fully grasp the greatness and goodness of their Creator. [Part of what is called the incomprehensibility of God–God can be truly known but not fully known.] What is perhaps even more awesome is the fact that this infinite God has chosen to communicate to finite men. Yet this is exactly what God has done. In this lesson, we will learn that God has chosen to reveal truth about Himself to mankind both generally and specifically.

I. God Has Revealed Truth About Himself Generally.

God has revealed general information about Himself to every man. Theologians call this revelation “ general ” because it is general in content and is available to all men in general. This means that everyone has access to some knowledge of God.

A. The means of general revelation

1. God has revealed Himself through creation .

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.   Psalm 19:1 4

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities  his eternal power and divine nature  have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.   Romans 1:18 20

2. God has revealed Himself through man’s conscience .

Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.   Romans 2:14 15

[Conscience is that internal sense of right and wrong that everyone has to one degree or another. The ability to understand right and wrong is part of the image of God in man. Conscience can be callused or seared, making it less sensitive.]

B. The purposes of general revelation

1. General revelation reveals general truth about God .

According to Romans 1:18 20 and 2:14-15, general revelation communicates a

limited message to man. Through it man understands that:

a. God exists .

b. God is the Creator .

c. God has established standards of right and wrong which must be obeyed .

Note: While men do have some knowledge of right and wrong, it is only through God’s Word that they can learn all of God’s standards of right and wrong.

[What do you think of the statement “Let your conscience be your guide”? Not exactly right. Conscience decides on the basis of the standard given it. If the standard is wrong, the behavior will be wrong. Conscience is not infallible. People often feel no guilt whatever about their sins/crimes, so conscience is not a reliable guide.

General rev. shows man that there is a God, that God created him, and that he is thus responsible to God for how he lives. ]

2. General revelation renders men inexcusable before God.

a. General revelation will always be rejected by men.

An unsaved man will never accept the implications of the truths of general revelation. Therefore, he is “without excuse” before God. We will examine the reason for this in Lesson Twelve.

[Rom 1 says that men suppress or hold down what truth they get from general revelation. ]

b. General revelation cannot save .

General revelation communicates enough truth about God to make a man responsible to seek God for salvation. However, it does not communicate the content of the gospel. It communicates only enough truth to condemn men.

[In order to be saved, a person must understand the content of the gospel. One cannot be saved by observing the natural world. General revelation is condemnatory—it takes away man’s excuse, but it does not provide enough info to save anyone. No one responds to general rev. by being saved. There’s not enough content. That’s why we need special rev.

The following scenario is often brought up: What about the native in some remote corner of the world who has never heard the gospel? If he follows the light that he has, acknowledges the God revealed in nature, and sincerely seeks to do what is right, won’t he be saved? Answer: John 14:6; Acts 4:12. ]

II. God Has Revealed Truth About Himself Specifically.

God has revealed specific information about Himself. Theologians call this revelation

special ” because it is specific in content and is revealed only to specific individuals.

[Special rev. is special because of it’s content (direct rev.) and it’s recipients (a select person or group). ]

A. The means of special revelation

1. In the past, God revealed specific information about Himself in different ways .

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.   Hebrews 1:1

a. God revealed Himself through dreams (Genesis 20:3, 6 and 31:10 13).

b. God revealed Himself through visions (Isaiah 1:1 and 6:1).

c. God revealed Himself through angels (Luke 2:8 14).

d. God revealed Himself through direct address (Exodus 3:4ff).

e. God has revealed Himself through the prophets (Habakkuk 2:2 3).

  1. God’s special revelation culminated with Christ.

[Culminate = brought to it’s highest point or perfected with Christ.]

a. Christ is God’s final revelation to man.

1) The Old Testament pointed to Christ.

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets (i.e., the whole Old Testament), he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.   Luke 24:27

2) Christ is superior to all other means of special revelation.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.   Hebrews 1:1-2

b. Christ spoke through the apostles .

The apostles were a select group of men chosen by God to perform some unique tasks essential to the founding of the New Testament church. They were chosen by Christ (Acts 1:1-2), witnesses of His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22), and commissioned to record Scripture (John 14-16) and authenticate its message through miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12, Hebrews 2:3-4). There are no apostles today because there is no longer anyone who meets these qualifications.

[The purpose of the miracles the apostles did was to authenticate their message. The “Jews require a sign” (1 Cor 1:22). Miracles proved that they were sent by God.

It’s interesting to note that miracles did not always change people’s mind regarding the gospel. That is, many people saw the miracles and still rejected Jesus, his message, and the apostles. E.g., the Pharisees at the resurrection of Lazarus admitted that a great miracle had been done, but still sought to kill Jesus. ]

B. The purpose of special revelation

1. The explanation of the purpose

The purpose of special revelation is to enable us to know God’s will and to do it. The Bible is the only vehicle of special revelation through which God communicates His will today.

[Why is it dangerous to separate knowing God’s will from what God has revealed in the Bible? Because finding God’s will usually ends up being subjective/feeling-based or situation-based.]

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   2 Timothy 3:14 17

2. The accomplishment of the purpose

Since the purpose of the Bible is to enable one to know God’s will and to do it, one must understand how this is accomplished.

a. Illumination enables us to know God’s will.

Illumination is that act of the Holy Spirit whereby He enables believers to understand the significance of God’s Word. We are illumined only after determining the meaning of Scripture by properly interpreting it.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.   1 Corinthians 2:14

[Can an unsaved man understand the meaning of the Bible? Yes–an unsaved man can understand words/language just as well as we can. Can an unsaved man understand the significance of the Bible? No. One can understand the text and yet reject it’s significance. You act on what you believe.

We’ve got to be very careful about interpreting the Bible correctly. It’s easy to come up with “horseback interpretations” if you ignore the rules of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation–we’ll study that later).]

b. A biblical mindset enables us to do God’s will.

God wants us to approach life with a “ Bible soaked ” logic. As we learn of God and His will through His Word and begin to view life as He does, we will be able to make decisions that honor Him. The key to making proper, God honoring decisions is knowing God’s Word and, thereby, learning to think as God thinks.

[A “Bible-soaked logic” is the state of mind in which biblical principles are so well understood and accepted that one naturally applies them to any circumstance. You determine the will of God when it’s not directly revealed in the Bible (e.g., who to marry, where to go to college, what career to pursue, etc.) by applying biblical wisdom to the situation. How do you get a “Bible-soaked logic”? By repeated exposure to the Bible and a commitment to obey it in all areas of life. You eventually come to see and appreciate general biblical principles that apply to many situations.]

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

  1. God has revealed truth about Himself generally. We call this general revelation. Creation and conscience are the two means of general revelation.

  1. God has revealed truth about Himself specifically. We call this special revelation. The Bible is the only means of special revelation today.

Learning to Live It

Your cousin calls you one evening and excitedly relates her experience at a recent charismatic church service. She states, “God revealed to the pastor that he is supposed to build a youth complex and that all those who do not sacrificially give toward it are disobeying God.” What kind of revelation is the pastor claiming to have received?

special or direct revelation

What is the only means of special revelation available today?

the Bible

Therefore, what kind of authority is the pastor assigning to his words?

He is saying that his words carry the same weight as Scripture.

Whom did God commission to produce Scripture?

the apostles and those in close relation with the apostles, like Luke

Is your cousin’s pastor an apostle? Why not?

no; He doesn’t meet the qualifications.

Therefore, is the pastor’s claim valid? Why not?

no; because God is no longer giving special revelation, and since he’s not an apostle, he has no commission to produce Scripture. Other dangers: no check on the system of receiving revelation. That is, anyone could claim to be receiving revelation.

How would you advise your cousin?

1. Show her that the pastor has no right to claim that he has received revelation directly from God because he is not an apostle. 2. Tell her to be careful about any claims from such a person. 3. Tell her to find a church where they preach the Bible rather than what someone claims is the word of God.