THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD
A. Introduction: We are at the end of this age, and the second coming of Jesus is near. Jesus warned that the
years leading up to His return will be perilous, and that religious deception will abound—specifically false
Christs and false prophets who preach false gospels and deceive many. Matt 24:4-5; 11; 24
1. False teachings have been around since shortly after Jesus left this world, two thousand years ago. The
difference now is that, with the development of social media and worldwide communication technology,
false teachings go much farther and affect multitudes more people.
a. If ever there was a time to know what the Bible says about Jesus and the gospel, it’s now. The only
protection against deception is truth—not a truth, but the truth. God’s written Word is the Truth.
It was inspired by God, and it reveals Jesus, who is the Truth. John 14:6; John 17:17; II Tim 3:16
b. We have begun a new series on the importance of reading the Bible yourself. In this series we are
considering what the Bible is, its purpose, who wrote it, and why we can trust what it says.
2. In the last lesson we said that many sincere Christians have trouble reading the Bible for a variety of
reasons, so I gave you a simple, effective approach to reading that has worked for me. Let’s restate it.
a. Start with the New Testament. The Old Testament is easier to understand once you are familiar
with the New. Try to read for a short period of time every day, 15 to 20 minutes if possible.
b. Read through each New Testament book from beginning to end. Don’t worry about what you don’t
understand. Don’t stop to look up words. Don’t skip around. Just keep reading.
1. You’re reading to get familiar with the text. Understanding comes with familiarity; familiarity
comes with regular, repeated reading. Once you’ve read through all the books, do it again.
2. At first, it takes effort to read like this, and there may not seem to be immediate results. But as
you stick with it, reading will get easier. You’ll begin to see patterns and themes that appear
over and over. Questions will begin to be answered. The Bible will begin to make sense.
3. Let’s briefly review the main points we made in the last lesson. The Bible is actually a collection of 66
books (or documents) written by more than 40 authors over a 1500 year period (1400 BC to AD 100).
a. This collection of books is a gradual unfolding of God’s plan for a family and the lengths to which
He has gone, to obtain His family through Jesus. The books are divided into two parts:
1. The Old Testament (made up of 39 books) was written by numerous Jewish men. It was
originally written in Hebrew, and is primarily the history of the Jewish people—the people
group through which Jesus came into this world.
2. The New Testament (consisting of 27 documents originally written in Greek) is a record of
Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. Its various books were written by eyewitness of
Jesus, or close associates of eyewitnesses.
b. The Bible reveals God’s plan of redemption, His plan to deliver humanity from bondage to sin,
corruption, and death, and transform us into holy, righteous sons and daughters through Jesus.
1. Every book in the Bible adds to or advances this story of redemption in some way. The Bible
is 50% history, 25% prophecy, and 25% instruction for living. Much of the history is
verifiable through secular records and archeological evidence.
2. The Bible is progressive revelation. God has gradually revealed His plan for a family until we
have the full revelation given in Jesus. We start our reading with the New Testament because
it is an account of Jesus on earth and how He accomplished humanity’s redemption.
4. It’s becoming increasingly common to hear people say that we can’t trust the Bible because we don’t
have the original words, it’s filled with contradictions and myths, the books were picked by religious
leaders with agendas, etc.. In this lesson we’re going to begin to look at why we can trust the contents
of the Bible by first getting some understanding of the men who wrote the New Testament.
B. The New Testament was written by men who walked and talked with Jesus, saw Him crucified, and then saw
Him alive again. What they witnessed transformed their lives, and they wrote the New Testament books to
to tell the world what they saw and heard (II Pet 1:16; I John 1:1-3). So, let’s begin with the resurrection.
1. Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus authenticated everything else that He said
when He predicting His death and then rose from the dead. Matt 16:21; Matt 17:22-23; Matt 20:18-19
a. When the resurrection is examined with the same criteria used to assess other historical events, the
evidence makes a powerful argument for the reality of what the eyewitnesses claim happened.
b. We could do many lessons on this topic, but consider just a few examples of some of the evidence
for Jesus’ resurrection from surviving historical documents and records. It’s the kind of evidence
that is used to prove events that occurred in the past, and that is used in courts of law to prove cases.
2. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection took place in Jerusalem (AD 30) at Passover, an annual Jewish feast.
All Jewish adult males were required by their religious law to attend this event.
a. Multitudes traveled to Jerusalem from all over Israel and the Mediterranean region. They came to
sacrifice lambs at the great Temple, in accordance with their religious laws.
1. Passover regulations required that there be a minimum of ten people for each lamb killed. We
know from a census conducted by a Roman governor that 250,000 lambs were slain.
2. From this we can calculate the number of people in Jerusalem when Jesus died and rose from
the dead. More than two and a half million people were in and around the city at that time.
b. No one at the time disputed that Jesus’ tomb was found empty following His death. The argument
was over what happened to His body. That’s why the Jewish authorities (who wanted Jesus dead)
paid the Roman guards to say that Jesus’ disciples stole His body. Matt 28:11-15
1. Yet no one produced a body or came forward with testimony saying that they saw His disciples
move or dispose of the body. This silence is deafening since it would have been in the interests
of the authorities to produce a body and stop this new movement before it began.
2. Women were the first to see the empty tomb and the risen Lord—and the first to spread the
news. Women were not highly regarded in that culture. If you were going to make up a story,
you would not select women to be the source of your story. Matt 28:1-8; John 20:11-18
3. The tomb Jesus was laid in was only 15 minutes from where He was crucified. Anyone could visit the
tomb. A movement based on Jesus’ resurrection could not have taken root in the same city where He
was publicly executed and buried if people knew that His body was found.
a. However, within five weeks, over 10,000 Jews became believers and gave up or altered religious
practices observed for centuries—traditions they believed came from God. Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; etc.
1. These new believers no longer participated in animal sacrifices, the Sabbath (rest) day changed
from Saturday to Sunday (resurrection day), and the ritual Law of Moses was abandoned.
2. The Jewish people were monotheists (believed in only one God), and the idea that someone
could be both God and man was heresy. Yet they began to worship Jesus as God.
b. Jesus made numerous post-resurrection appearances to a variety of people, including more than 500
at once. He also appeared to hostile witnesses like Saul (who became Paul) and James (Jesus’ half
brother), both of whom became believers based on what they saw. I Cor 15:3-9; Acts 9:1-9
4. Some try to say that the apostles made up the story of Jesus’ resurrection. This makes no sense because
their profession of faith in Jesus and His resurrection did not make them wealthy or famous. They were
rejected by much of society, as well as the prevailing religious establishment. They were beaten, and
some were jailed and ultimately executed. No one suffers and dies for something they know is a lie.
C. The men who wrote the New Testament documents were born into a people group that had great respect for
and knowledge of the written Word of God, which influenced them as they wrote their various documents.
1. When Jesus came into this world the writers were looking for and expecting a Redeemer (Messiah),
based on their Scriptures (the Old Testament). The Old Testament opens with an account of man’s sin
and rebellion. At that time God made His first promise of a coming Redeemer (Messiah) who would
undo the damage done by sin, the death and corruption that has resulted from sin. Gen 3:15
a. According to Jewish history, over 2,000 years before Jesus incarnated (took on a human nature in
the womb of a virgin, Mary), Almighty God appeared to a man named Abraham and promised that
the Redeemer would come into this world through his descendants, the Jewish people.
1. In the fourth generation, Abraham’s descendants moved to Egypt, where they remained for four
hundred years, and were eventually enslaved. God delivered them from this bondage through
a series of mighty power demonstrations, under the leadership of a man named Moses,
2. Once they were out of Egypt and on their way back to Canaan (present day Israel), God
appeared to the entire nation at Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia. God promised that if they kept
His laws and commands, He would be their God and they would be His people.
A. God was the first to write down His words: The Lord said to Moses, come up to me on the
mountain. Stay there while I give you the tablets of stone that I have inscribed with my
instructions and commands. They you will teach the people from them (Ex 24:12, NLT).
B. God gave additional instructions and told Moses: Write down all these instructions (Ex
34:27, NLT). God Himself gave them His written Word and authorized a man to write it
down and teach it. This incident at Sinai became part of Israel’s national consciousness.
b. Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. And, subsequent generations of prophets
added to the Scriptures as God gave them additional revelation about His plan of redemption.
2. Jesus was born into first century Israel. The written Word of God (the Scriptures) was vitally important
to these people. The Temple (the place for sacrifices) was located in Jerusalem, but synagogues were
spread throughout Israel. The word synagogue means an assembly of persons.
a. Jews met at the synagogue every Sabbath (their seventh day of the week, Saturday), not for public
worship (singing, praying), but for religious instruction in the Law, the Old Testament (the Bible).
Reading and teaching God’s Word (God’s Law) was the main function of the synagogue.
b. Both Jesus and His first followers went to synagogue from their youth. Jesus went to synagogue
to teach when He began His ministry. Matt 4:23; Luke 4:16; etc.
3. In addition to the history, these writings record prophecies about Jesus, as well as events that pictured
(foreshadowed) what He would be like and what He would do (such as sacrificing the Passover lamb).
a. On the day Jesus rose from the dead He appeared to His original apostles, and went through what we
call the Old Testament (the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms) and explained how, over
the previous three days, He had fulfilled everything that was written about Him. Luke 24:44 b.
Then Jesus commissioned them to go out and tell the world what they witnessed and what His
resurrection means for all who believe on Him. Luke 24:47-48; Matt 28:19-20
4. The men who wrote the New Testament documents wrote them as part of this commission. Accurate
reporting would have been vital to them because, like Moses, God authorized them to write His Word.
D. These men understood that the written Word of God (what we call the Bible) is no ordinary book because it is
a book from God. And God’s Word sustains, upholds, affects, and changes those who read and believe it.
1. In one of Jesus’ earliest and most famous recorded sermons, He stated that the one who hearers and does
His Word, the Word of God, is like a man who builds his house on a rock. Matt 7:24-27
a. Because of the solid foundation on which his house is built—God’s Word, understood and obeyed
—that man’s house will withstand and survive a raging storm.
b. The Old Testament Book of Psalms opens with a psalm that conveys a similar message: Blessed is
the man (whose) delight is in the law of the Lord…he is like a tree planted by streams of water that
yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither (Ps 1:1-3, ESV).
2. Matt 4:4—When Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word proceeds from the
mouth of God, His first followers recognized that Jesus was quoting Deut 8:3, part of the revelation God
gave to Moses centuries earlier.
a. The context of the statement is God’s care of Israel when they made the journey from Egypt back to
Canaan. God wanted them to understand that, as much as they needed food, water, guidance, and
protection (natural provision), God’s Word was and is equally important to their survival.
b. Jeremiah the prophet later compared God’s Word to food. God sent Jeremiah to Israel for forty
years to proclaim a message of coming judgment, due to their repeated idolatry and immorality.
1. Jeremiah was hated and despised for his message, and no one repented. It broke his heart.
But God’s word sustained him. In his book he wrote: Your words were found and I ate them,
and your words become to me a joy and the delight of my heart (Jer 15:16, ESV). 2.
First century Jews knew about Job, a man who stayed faithful to God despite suffering great
hardship. Note a statement Job made: I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food (Job 23:12, ESV).
c. Near the end of His ministry, Jesus told a large crowd: I am the bread of life…I am the living bread
that came down from heaven…It is the Spirit who gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes
nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life (John 6:48; 51; 63, NLT)
1. Consider a paraphrase—All the words through which I have offered myself to you are meant to
be channels of the Spirit and of life to you, since in believing those words you would be brought
into contact with the life in me (John 6;63, J. S. Riggs).
2. The Living Word of God (Jesus) was assuring people that by believing His Word, He, by His
Spirit through His Word, would work in them to impart His very own life to them.
3. The Bible not only informs us of God’s plans and purposes, God restores and changes us through His
Word. Note what the New Testament authors would later write about God’s Word.
a. Peter, one Jesus’ first followers, and one of the twelve apostles, wrote: Like newborn babes, long
for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in regard to salvation (I Pet 2:2, NASB).
b. James, Jesus’ half brother, who became a believer when he saw Jesus raised from the dead wrote:
So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle,
modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains
the power to save your souls (James 1:21, Amp).
c. Paul, who was also persuaded by a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus wrote: And we also
[especially] thank God continually for this, that when you received the message of God [which you
heard] from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men but as what it truly is, the Word of
God, which is effectually at work in you who believe—exercising its [superhuman] power in those
who adhere to and trust in and rely on it (I Thess 2:13, Amp).
E. Conclusion: The Bible is no ordinary book. Its authors were guided by the Holy Spirit as they wrote, and
they were aware of the fact that they were writing the inspired Word of God. II Tim 3:16; II Pet 1:21; 3:16
1. Not only does God reveal Himself to us through His written Word (His Book), He works in us to change
and restore us, and to impart to us what we need to live this life effectively.
2. As we said at the beginning, life in this world is going to become increasingly challenging and chaotic as
the return of Jesus nears. We need to know what is happening and why. We need protection from
deception, as well as how to navigate through the years ahead.
a. God’s Word is our guide book. God’s Word will sustain us and uphold us. It is a lamp unto our
feet and a light unto our path. Ps 119:105
b. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to become a regular reader of the New Testament. It takes
effort, but is well work the effort. Much more next week!