A. Introduction: We’re working on a series about the importance of reading the New Testament. I’ve urged
you to read each book from start to finish, over and over. This will help you become familiar with the text,
and help you see the context of individual verses so that you can rightly understand them.
1. To inspire you to read, I’ve been explaining what the Bible is (its purpose) and given you various reasons
why you can trust its contents. We’ve made the point that the Bible is a collection of 66 books that
altogether tell the story of God’s desire for a family, and the lengths He’s gone to, to obtain His family
through Jesus. Every document in the Bible adds to or advances this story in some way.
a. God created human beings to become His sons and daughters through faith in Him. But humanity
has rebelled against God through sin, and is unfit for His family. God devised a plan to undo the
damage done and carry out His desire for a family. This plan is called redemption. Eph 4:1-5
b. God Himself would take on a human nature (or incarnate), and be born into this world so that He
could die as a sacrifice for the sins of men. Following Adam’s sin, God began to unveil this plan
with the promise of the coming Seed of the woman, who would open the way for all who believe on
Him to be restored to their created purpose (Jesus is the Seed, Mary is the woman). Gen 3:15
1. The rest of the Old Testament is a progressive unfolding of God’s plan of redemption, until we
have the full revelation given in and through Jesus. Jesus is God’s clearest revelation of
Himself and His plan to mankind. Jesus is God become fully man without ceasing to be fully
God. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. I Tim 3:16
2. The New Testament was written by eyewitnesses of Jesus (or close associates of eyewitnesses),
men who walked and talked with Jesus, saw Him die, and then saw Him alive again.
A. Before Jesus returned to Heaven, He commissioned these men to tell the world what they
witnessed and teach people what it means for those who believe on Him. Luke 24:44-48
B. These eyewitnesses and their close associates (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Paul,
Peter, and Jude) wrote the documents that are included in the New Testament as part of
their efforts to fulfill the commission that Jesus gave them.
2. In previous lessons we’ve talked about why these writers wrote (their motives) and why we can be
confident that what they wrote has been accurately passed down to us.
a. In the last lesson we dealt with the claim that the Bible is filled with contradictions and mistakes.
We looked at how these so-called mistakes and contradictions can be resolved when we understand
the context, the culture, and the peculiarities of ancient literature. I’ll say more about it next week.
b. Tonight, I want to re-emphasize the place that the Bible (the Scriptures) held in the lives of the
people group that Jesus was born into (1st century Israel), and the place it should have in our lives.
B. Christianity is not just about those of us who are alive right now, and what God is doing in our generation.
We are part of an unfolding plan that includes every human being who has put faith in the light of Christ
Jesus, given to their generation, going all the way back to Adam. We’re connected to these people and part
of something bigger than ourselves and this life.
1. When Jesus was transfigured in front of three of His apostles (Peter, James, and John), Moses and Elijah
(two great prophets in Israel’s past) stepped out of the unseen realm to talk with Jesus: And they were
speaking of how he (Jesus) was about to fulfill God’s plan by dying in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31, NLT).
a. Peter, James, and John knew about Moses and Elijah from the Scriptures which they heard read
every Sabbath Day at their local synagogue. Moses received revelation from God at Mount Sinai
(which he wrote in the first five books of the Bible). They knew about Elijah through the inspired
writings of Jeremiah, a prophet who lived and wrote Scripture generations after Moses and Elijah.
b. On resurrection day, Jesus used the documents written by these Old Testament prophets to explain

to Peter, James, John and the others how that, through His death and resurrection, He fulfilled Old
Testament prophecy and accomplished God’s plan of redemption. Luke 24:25-27; 24:44-45
c. Paul, a New Testament author, while urging a group of believers to stay faithful to Jesus, reminded
them that they were surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses (Old Testament men and women) who
“can’t receive the prize at the end of the race until we finish the race” (Heb 11:40, NLT).
1. God’s plan won’t be fully completed until Jesus returns. At that time He will restore the earth
and bring all who are in Heaven with Him to be reunited with their bodies raised from the grave.
2. The Lord will establish His visible, forever kingdom on this earth and live here forever with His
family of redeemed sons and daughters. There will be no more sorrow, no more pain, and no
more death. Life will finally be all that it was meant to be before sin. Rev 21:1-4
2. Accuracy in what the New Testament writers wrote was critical to them because they had a vital message
to share: The one we’ve been waiting for, the promised Seed (Redeemer) has come, just as the prophets
predicted and salvation from sin now is available to all who believe on Him (Jesus).
a. Accuracy was also important because the writers were aware that they were being inspired by the
Holy Spirit, and that they were writing Scripture on a par with the Old Testament prophets.
b. Peter, an eyewitness (one of Jesus’ twelve apostles), wrote two New Testament documents (I and II
Peter). Peter wrote the second epistle shortly before he was executed for his faith in Christ.
1. Peter knew he was going to die soon. He wrote to urge believers to remember what he and the
other apostles told them about Jesus. II Pet 1:14-15
2. Referring to when they saw Jesus transfigured (Matt 17:1-5), Peter wrote: For we were not
making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his
coming again. We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes (II Pet 1:16, NLT).
A. Peter told his readers, now that we have seen Jesus and heard God call Him His Son, we
have even greater confidence in the Old Testament prophets. II Pet 1:17-19
B. Peter urged them to “pay close attention to what they wrote…and above all, you must
understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves. It was
the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God” (II Pet 1:19-21, NLT).
c. Then, in this same letter Peter put the writings of the apostles (eyewitnesses) on the same level as
what the Old Testament prophets wrote and called Paul’s writings Scripture.
1. II Pet 3:2—I want you to remember and understand what the holy prophets said long ago and
what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles (NLT).
2. II Pet 3:15-16—Paul wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him—speaking of these things in
all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and
unstable have twisted his letters around to mean something quite different from what he meant,
just as they do the other parts of Scripture—and the result is disaster for them (NLT).
3. We need to understand the esteem that the New Testament authors had for the Scriptures. They grew up
hearing how God visibly appeared to their ancestors at Mount Sinai and gave Moses commandments,
which God Himself wrote. Then, the Lord instructed Moses to write and teach His Words. These
Words from God (the Law and the Prophets) dominated their lives. Ex 24:12; 34:27.
a. The apostles now understand that these Scriptures pointed to Jesus whom they’ve seen. Based on
what Jesus told them the night before He was crucified, they expected Him to continue to reveal
Himself to them through His Word as they obeyed His commandment. John 14:21
b. Jesus further promised His apostles that, after He left this world, the Holy Spirit would bring to their
remembrance the things He told them, and guide them into all Truth. That same night Jesus told
these men that He is the Truth and that God’s Word is the Truth. John 14:6; 14:26; 16:13; 17:17
C. Consider something that Paul said about the importance of the Scriptures in one of his epistles—a letter to

the Ephesians (believers who lived in the city of Ephesus, located in present-day Turkey). In this city, both
Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) came to faith in Jesus through Paul’s preaching. Acts 19:1-20
1. Paul opened his letter by reminding the Ephesians that God chose them (and us) to become His sons and
daughters and has redeemed us by Christ’s blood. Eph 1:4-8
a. He wrote: For God has allowed us to know the secret of his plan and it is this: he purposed long ago
in his sovereign will that all human history should be consummated in Christ, that everything that
exists in heaven or earth should find its perfection and fulfillment in him (Eph 1:9-10, J. B. Phillips).
b. Paul went on to explain that part of God’s plan is that both Jew and Gentile become members of
God’s family (Eph 2:19). Note the next verse: We are his house, built on the foundation of the
apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We who believe are
carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord (Eph 2:20, NLT).
1. Using the metaphor of believers being built up into a temple (dwelling place) for God through
Jesus, Paul gives us a vital point about the place and importance of the Bible. He said God’s
family, obtained through redemption, is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.
2. Paul’s statement refers to the men who wrote the Old Testament and predicted the coming of
Jesus (the prophets), and to the men who saw Jesus, and were sent to proclaim His gospel and
write the New Testament books (the apostles).
3. The church is built on the foundation of the Scriptures given through the apostles (eyewitnesses
of Jesus) and the Old Testament prophets, not on people today who call themselves prophets
and apostles. Not the Kansas City prophets, the Flashpoint prophets, or the multitude of
prophets and apostles all over the internet and social media.
c. When Paul the apostle preached the gospel and established churches, he reasoned with people from
the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 17:2), and he also wrote New Testament Scriptures, which were
then used to instruct and build up believers in their faith.
2. I am not saying that there are no prophets or apostles today, because the Bible indicates that Jesus has
provided apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for His church. Eph 4:11
a. I’m bringing this up to reinforce the importance of reading the New Testament. Social media is
filled with all kinds of so-called prophets that make all sorts of predictions that famously don’t come
to pass. Yet Christians continue to listen to them and make decisions based on the prophets’ words.
b. I’m not going to do a detailed teaching on prophets and prophesy, but I want to make several
statements before I make my point in connection with our present series on reading the Bible.
1. New Testament prophets don’t have the same status as Old Testament prophets. The penalty
for them giving a prophecy that didn’t come to pass was death. Deut 18:20-22
2. There is no Bible basis for seeking personal guidance through a prophet in the New Testament.
We have the Holy Spirit in us in a way that Old Testament men and women did not.
c. This doesn’t mean that God can’t give you a word of wisdom or knowledge through another believer
(I Cor 12-14, lessons for another day). The point for now is that popular prophecy today bears no
resemblance to what we see in the Bible—Old Testament or New.
1. In the Scriptures, predictive prophecy was given in connection with the outworking of God’s
plan of redemption, not to predict who’s going to win elections or tell us what the New Year
will bring, who to marry, and which car to buy.
2. Rev 19:10—For the essence of prophecy is to give clear witness for Jesus (NLT); It is the truth
concerning Jesus which inspires all prophecy (Knox).
3. God has prophesied His redemptive plan for us in general, beginning with Gen 3:15. All that
we need to know about His plan for us is in His written Word—that’s why He gave us the Bible.
3. Many of these so-called prophets today are masters at proof texting—using an out of context verse to fit

the point the speaker’s trying to make rather than allowing the Bible to speak for itself. For example:
a. Amos 3:7—“The Lord does nothing without revealing it to his prophets”. This verse is wrongly
used to say that we need to listen to God’s current prophets. But here’s the context of that verse.
1. Israel was about to be judged for years of idol worship, and moral and social corruption. Less
than thirty years later, the northern kingdom was in fact conquered by the Assyrian Empire.
2. God warned Israel before judgment came so that when it happened, they would see clearly that
He keeps His Word. God had told their ancestors, when He brought them out of Egypt, if you
abandon me for other gods, I will allow your enemies to overrun you. Deut 4:25-28
b. II Chron 20:20—“Believe God’s prophets and you’ll prosper”. Note the context. Israel faced an
overwhelming enemy army. They sought God for help, and He gave them specific instructions by
His Spirit, through a Levite.
1. As Israel went up to the battlefield, the king reminded his army that if they followed God’s
instructions, they would be successful in battle—which is what happened.
2. This verse has nothing to with prospering financially or politically because you believe the
prophets. God preserved the redemptive line the people Jesus was born into.
c. Heb 4:2—When what today’s so-called prophets predict doesn’t come to pass, some attribute the
failure to believers who didn’t mix faith with (or believe and act on) their prophecy.
1. This verse has nothing to do with predictive prophecy. It refers to the generation of Israel that
God delivered from Egypt, who then refused to enter and settle the land God gave them.
2. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as the prophet Micah decreed He would (Micah 5:2), not because
Israel believed his prophetic word, but because Almighty God decreed it as part of His plan.
4. Paul stated the purpose of the New Testament apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
a. Eph 4:11-13—Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church,
the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will
be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ (NLT).
b. These ministers do this primarily by teaching God’s Word to believers. We know this from things
Paul modeled. He himself spent three years with the Ephesians, teaching them God’s Word (Acts
20:31). When Paul left them, he made these two statements to the leaders and the church:
1. Acts 20:28—Be sure that you feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his
blood—over whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers (NLT).
2. Acts 20:32—And now I entrust you to God and the word of his grace—his message that is able
to build you and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself (NLT).
c. Note how Paul finished his statement about what the result of the ministry of the apostles, prophets,
evangelists, pastors, and teachers should be in our lives: Then we will no longer be like children,
forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different
or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth (Eph 4:14, NLT).
d. God’s Word is the food that builds believers up, makes us strong, and protects us from deception
(Matt 4:4; I Pet 2:2; James 1:21). But we must eat it (take it in by reading it) to benefit from it.
D. Conclusion: If ever there was a time to know what the New Testament says, it’s now. Regular reading
will build a framework in your mind that will help you assess the constant inflow of information.
1. Then, when someone supposedly speaks in the name of the Lord, you’ll be able to recognize whether or
not what they says bears any resemblance to the Christianity found on every page of the New Testament.
2. You’ll no longer be moved by every wind of doctrine and every “new” revelation that comes along.
You’ll become convinced that God is working out His plan of redemption and realize that everything we
see is temporary and subject to change by God’s power (either in this life or the life to come). And
you’ll be convinced that not only will His plan be complete, He will get through until He gets us out.