This study outline is based on a course from the Emmaus Correspondence School and original material by R. E. Harlow.
The purpose is for use as a personal Bible Study aid in examining and grasping the basic doctrines of the Bible, carefully using the information and Bible references in arriving at your conclusions, with the understanding that what God reveals through His Word is for our spiritual benefit . Presently there are so many false teachers of scripture, and some of the theological terms are being altered to be different in meaning to what they are in the scriptures; therefore, every believer in Christ must have a thorough understanding of Bible doctrine.
All Scripture quotationsare from the New International Version (NIV), unless otherwise indicated.
Where used, “cf” means to compare.
There are 10 subjects of consideration:
1. The Bible
4. The Holy Spirit
9. The Church
10. Future Events
1. THE BIBLE
The Bible is a revelation from God about Himself.
REVELATION: Why would God desire to reveal Himself to mankind? He expects all mankind to obey His will; therefore, He has to reveal His will to us. All mankind is restricted in the knowledge of an immeasurable God, and any human philosophy usually begins with an attempt to remove any need of a revelation from God, but it is apparent that God would not have created a race of humans if He had no intention of revealing Himself to them. Therefore, He is able to, and has revealed Himself through His Word – The Bible.
GOD’S REVELATION OF HIMSELF: of all the religious books in existence the Bible claims to be God’s revelation on the basis of evidence alone. In respect to Unity of content the Bible is a collection of sixty-six individual books written by various authors over a period of approximately 1500 years, and unlike any other collection of writings over such a period, there is one unifying theme revealing one person – the Lord Jesus Christ. Any apparent contradictions, claimed by some, disappear when the entire Scripture is carefully studied. Supported by ancient history and archaeological discoveries, Biblical accounts have been confirmed. Old Testament accounts can be confirmed by comparing historical records and many archaeological results. Prophetic statements recorded in the Old Testament saw fulfillment in the New Testament accounts, indicating that only God could give such information hundreds of years before it occurred. Compare Psa.69:21 with Matt.27:34, 48. The convincing power of the Bible causes the reader to experience the guilt of sin. The Old Testament records of the Law and it’s demands causes us to understand that we are unable to attain the perfection that God requires, thus all readers are aware of their condemnation before God. Differing from all other religious writings, the Bible emphasizes that salvation is a free gift graciously provided by God. The life-transforming power of the Bible prepares each reader for salvation. After reading of the condemnation of the Law, the reader is introduced to the provision of God for sin’s penalty in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is evident in the many millions of converts who have found peace with God and continue to live in that peace. The preservation of the Bible is proof of it’s divine source. It has miraculously survived numerous attempts at destruction over the centuries, God has secured it because it is His Word.
All these are reasons why any individual who reads the Bible can expect to hear God speaking through His written Word.
Inspiration and revelation can sometimes be used interchangeably, but we should understand that “revelation” is used only for those accounts in Scripture in which the writer could not have known what to record apart from God specifically communicating the information. Consider Moses who recorded the creation account; he was not present at the time so God had to reveal this to him. Similarly, other writers recorded what they saw, did, or learned from others; and all were “inspired” by God. God inspired them to record specific events and to omit others ; because God has given us a written account of what we need, and no more, in revealing Himself to us; “All scripture is given by inspiration of God….” . So we can say that many accounts contain revelations from God but the entire record of the Bible is inspired. There are two terms in reference to inspiration: “Plenary inspiration” meaning that all subjects in scripture are fully inspired, and “Verbal inspiration” indicating that all written words of scripture are fully inspired.
Most, if not all, Old Testament writers claimed that God spoke to them: Moses, Joshua, David ; and all sixteen prophets from Isaiah to Malachi made similar claims. Christ taught His disciples that the O.T. was inspired, and they in turn also believed and taught the inspiration of the O.T. . Christ promised His disciples that they would have the help of the Holy Spirit as they wrote the New Testament accounts and we see this in the writings of Paul and John (in Revelation) . The Gospels are correlated with, and on the same level as the O.T. in such terms as “according to the scriptures”and “the scriptures”: “For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.”” .
God in His wisdom has allowed all the original manuscripts of the chosen authors of the scriptures to be lost, no doubt to avoid the worship of objects . However, He has preserved excellent copies of these originals. Language differences have made it impossible to have a perfect translation, but what we have today is completely adequate for God to reveal Himself to us and for our study of the scriptures.