How Does God Reveal Knowledge?

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How Does God Reveal Knowledge?

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

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets …” (Hebrews 1:1 Hebrews 1:1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
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).

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

The Bible itself calls Jesus Christ “the Word” (John 1:1-14 John 1:1-14 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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). And, according to this introductory New Testament passage, the message of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) is the true Word of God (compare Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
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; Luke 4:4 Luke 4:4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
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; Acts 24:14 Acts 24:14But this I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
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; Acts 28:23 Acts 28:23And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
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).

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

“[God] has in these last days spoken to us by His Son …” (Hebrews 1:2 Hebrews 1:2Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
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).

Moses prophesied of a coming, future Prophet similar to himself whose words the Bible encourages us to heed (Deuteronomy 18:15-18 Deuteronomy 18:15-18 15 The LORD your God will raise up to you a Prophet from the middle of you, of your brothers, like to me; to him you shall listen; 16 According to all that you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17 And the LORD said to me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brothers, like to you, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him.
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). The apostle Peter identified this great Prophet as Jesus Christ Himself (Acts 3:20-23 Acts 3:20-23 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you of your brothers, like to me; him shall you hear in all things whatever he shall say to you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
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). No doubt about it—Jesus Christ was that Prophet! (compare John 1:45 John 1:45Philip finds Nathanael, and said to him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
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; Luke 24:27 Luke 24:27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
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).

Jesus Christ, as God’s own Son, is the ultimate Prophet, and His words are the very essence of prophecy (Revelation 19:10 Revelation 19:10And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See you do it not: I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
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). We should listen carefully to what He tells us (Matthew 17:5 Matthew 17:5While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him.
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).

Christ’s words are chiefly found in the four semibiographical accounts of His life and teaching: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. However, in a much larger sense they are found in the whole Bible. Jesus Himself endorsed the truth and the authority of the Hebrew Writings, commonly called the Old Testament, by calling them Scripture (Luke 24:44-45 Luke 24:44-45 44 And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
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). He also provided for the inspiration and writing of the books that would later become the New Testament (John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
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; John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
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).

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

How did God guide the thoughts of His servants?

“For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 2 Peter 1:21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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).

The apostle Paul also tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
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that all Scripture is “inspired” (literally “God-breathed”). Consider his choice of words. Paul described Scripture using the Greek term theopneustos . The first part of the word, Theo , means “God.” The second part is pneustos —meaning “breathed.” So the apostle says, as some translations put it, “All Scripture is God-breathed ,” meaning it came directly from the mouth of God.

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

In fact, Peter ranks Paul’s epistles with “the rest of the Scriptures” —the latter primarily referring to the Old Testament (2 Peter 3:15-16 2 Peter 3:15-16 15 And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you; 16 As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
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). In 1 Timothy 5:18 1 Timothy 5:18For the scripture said, You shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.
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, Paul refers to two quotations as Scripture. One is from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 25:4 Deuteronomy 25:4You shall not muzzle the ox when he treads out the corn.
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), and one is from Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:7 Luke 10:7And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
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). So, when Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy around A.D. 64, some additional writings apparently were already being considered on a par with the Old Testament and were called Scripture.

Nearly 4,000 times, passages in the Hebrew Bible are introduced by such expressions as “The Lord spoke,” “Thus says the Lord” and “the Word of the Lord came.” Scripture is consistently portrayed as coming from the very “mouth of God” Himself (Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
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).

Yet in one sense the authorship of the Bible is dual because both God and man are clearly involved. Our Creator directly inspired these Hebrew prophets. “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 2 Peter 1:21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
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). So God spoke “by the mouth of all His holy prophets” (Acts 3:21 Acts 3:21Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
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)—and by their writings as well (Luke 21:22 Luke 21:22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
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). The natural conclusion is that all Scripture comes from God!

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

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

“Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21 James 1:21Why lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
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, King James Version, emphasis added throughout).

Paul also calls it “the faithful word” (Titus 1:9 Titus 1:9Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the disputers.
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), “the word of life” (Philippians 2:16 Philippians 2:16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.
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) and “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 2:15Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
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). These potent expressions help us to comprehend the true nature of Scripture and the God behind it. The healing qualities and power of the Word can be engrafted (or implanted) into our very beings. As we seek our Creator, His Word will enable us to produce lasting good fruit in our lives (Isaiah 55:6-13 Isaiah 55:6-13 6 Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 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. 12 For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
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).

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

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

The Bible was not designed to be read casually as simply good literature, or as a contribution to our historical learning, or even as an interesting exercise in academic theology. The purpose for reading and studying God’s Word is to gain understanding of His will, to learn to live by His Word. As a result of diligently studying the Bible, God desires and expects action on our part (compare Hebrews 4:11-13 Hebrews 4:11-13 11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
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).