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Why the Bible is Different

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Throughout its long and difficult journey, the Bible has successfully withstood the many assaults leveled against it. Forbidden in the Middle Ages, bombarded with higher criticism during the 19th century and grossly neglected in the 20th, the Bible nonetheless continues to offer humankind sure hope and guidance.

As author David Ewert put it, “the Bible has resisted not only the ravages of time but also repeated attempts of the enemies of God to obliterate it” ( From Ancient Tablets to Modern Translations , p. 16).

Although many writers authored the Bible, the perceptive reader gradually becomes aware of one great mind at work permeating its pages from Genesis to Revelation. No wonder the apostle Paul reminded early Christians that the Holy Scriptures are the “oracles of God” (Romans 3:2 Romans 3:2Much every way: chiefly, because that to them were committed the oracles of God.
American King James Version×
). They are divine utterances.

When God revealed His will at Mount Sinai, He commanded Moses to codify and pass on this Word to the people (Deuteronomy 5:31 Deuteronomy 5:31But as for you, stand you here by me, and I will speak to you all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
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; 6:1; 17:18; 31:24-26). Eventually the Scriptures were habitually read aloud in the temple at Jerusalem and elsewhere. Citizens could hear, understand and act accordingly. For instance, we find Jesus Christ had ready access to the Scriptures and read them aloud in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-22 Luke 4:16-22 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered to him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say to them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 22 And all bore him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
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). The audience there marveled at Christ's gracious words as He applied Isaiah's prophecy to Himself.

Later the apostles were inspired to write letters to the Church, often explaining the Holy Scriptures. With other writers and followers of Christ, they also penned the accounts of Christ's life and work that came to be commonly known as the Gospels. God saw to it that these unique writings were preserved for later generations (2 Peter 1:15 2 Peter 1:15Moreover I will endeavor that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
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).

Centuries later, after the invention of printing and translation of the Scriptures into popular languages, the common people increasingly gained access to the Holy Bible. Today this Book of books is accessible in almost all nations. Yet the secular thought patterns of our modern age often act as a powerful restraint on reading and understanding its pages.

The basic thinking of today's world often turns people away from the Bible. This is why magazines and study courses properly explaining and expounding God's Word are absolutely necessary. We need to read the Bible with godly understanding!

How does God communicate with His creation?

It is he who fashions the mountains, who creates the wind , and declares his thoughts to mankind … His name is the Lord, the God of Hosts” (Amos 4:13 Amos 4:13For, see, he that forms the mountains, and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, that makes the morning darkness, and treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.
American King James Version×
, Revised English Bible).

By creating man in His own image, God ensured that communication would be possible. Then with God's help, human beings are able to understand and respond to His spiritual purposes.

When God wanted His people to return to Jerusalem from their Babylonian captivity, was He able to accomplish His purpose by transmitting an important message to an ancient king who could carry out this task?

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing …” (Ezra 1:1 Ezra 1:1Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
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).

God can communicate with anyone He chooses, even worldly kings and rulers like Cyrus. Solomon once commented, “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1 Proverbs 21:1The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever he will.
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; compare Ezra 6:22 Ezra 6:22And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
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; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 23 Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth has the LORD God of heaven given me; and he has charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.
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).

How did God reveal the truth about His Son's divine identity?

“Jesus answered and said to [Peter], 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17 Matthew 16:17And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.
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; compare verses 13-16).

Far more important than messages to unbelieving kings, God has revealed His precious truth to His apostles and prophets—who in turn preserved it for future generations (compare Amos 3:7 Amos 3:7Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
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; 2 Peter 3:2 2 Peter 3:2That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
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; Ephesians 2:19-20 Ephesians 2:19-20 19 Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
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). Today our understanding of God's Word is based on this same written revelation (2 Peter 1:19-20 2 Peter 1:19-20 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
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). Spiritual illumination of the Scriptures continues down to our present age (compare John 17:20 John 17:20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
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; Matthew 28:20 Matthew 28:20Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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).

What was one of the main ways that God disclosed His truth to the early Church?

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42 Acts 2:42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
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).

The term doctrine simply means “teaching.” It relates directly to God's Word. The apostles' teaching summarizes the Christian way of life. Those early first-century congregations did not at first possess the books we now call the New Testament.

However, they did have specially chosen apostles who taught them from the Hebrew Bible as well as continually repeating the things they had learned firsthand from Jesus Christ (compare Luke 6:12-13 Luke 6:12-13 12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called to him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
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; Matthew 28:18-20 Matthew 28:18-20 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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). Their authority came directly from Christ. “He who receives you receives Me,” said Jesus (Matthew 10:40 Matthew 10:40He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives him that sent me.
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; John 13:20 John 13:20Truly, truly, I say to you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives me; and he that receives me receives him that sent me.
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).

Christ's chosen apostles were given a unique role as first-generation witnesses—a function not assigned to any succeeding generation. Jesus told them, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:27 John 15:27And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
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). And the apostle John wrote: “This is the message which we have heard from Him [Jesus Christ] and declare to you …” (1 John 1:5 1 John 1:5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
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; compare Ephesians 3:4-5 Ephesians 3:4-5 4 Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
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; Acts 1:22 Acts 1:22Beginning from the baptism of John, to that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
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; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 1 Moreover, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; 2 By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brothers at once; of whom the greater part remain to this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
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).

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the early apostles and their converts actually lived the New Testament before it was put into writing. Their lives composed the flesh, bone and sinew of what later would become the written New Testament.

Summing up the experiences of these apostolic witnesses, John wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-3 1 John 1:1-3 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show to you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
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).

What are God's intentions for man?

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
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).

God uttered these encouraging words to a nation in Babylonian captivity centuries ago, but they apply equally as well today. His Word offers a message of hope and a bright future, both for individuals and entire nations.

God's words apply today just as well as when they were first recorded long ago. Human nature is timeless. The men and women of old were of “like passions” (James 5:17 James 5:17Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
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; Acts 14:15 Acts 14:15And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach to you that you should turn from these vanities to the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
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, KJV). They weren't some different breed of humanity. The things that happened to them were for our learning, encouragement, hope, comfort—and sometimes as a solemn warning (compare 1 Corinthians 10:11 1 Corinthians 10:11Now all these things happened to them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.
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; Romans 15:4 Romans 15:4For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
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).

What does God guarantee about His Word?

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater , so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11 Isaiah 55:10-11 10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
American King James Version×
).

God does not speak His Word in vain. It will accomplish His great purpose on earth!

What does God require in order that He might share additional knowledge?

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 Jeremiah 33:3Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not.
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).

We must first have a spiritual hunger for God's Word (Matthew 5:6 Matthew 5:6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
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). Then, through reading and studying the Bible, we can discover basic truths about God and His revealed way of living. We can also see them amply demonstrated by real events in the lives of His chosen servants. These biblical teachings and examples illuminate His character and illustrate His will for us (compare Proverbs 3:1-6 Proverbs 3:1-6 1 My son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to you. 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about your neck; write them on the table of your heart: 4 So shall you find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
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). We can trust God to direct our lives into right paths as we give Him our heartfelt obedience. Wrote author John Stott: “The Bible is the prism by which the light of Jesus Christ is broken into its many beautiful colors.” Christ is the living Word of God!

During what time frame is the Word of God to be our guide?

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8 Isaiah 40:8The grass wither, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
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).

The certain destiny of God's Word has been prophesied for thousands of years (compare Psalms 119:89 Psalms 119:89For ever, O LORD, your word is settled in heaven.
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, 111, 142, 152, 160). Jesus Christ said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Luke 21:33 Luke 21:33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
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).

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