How Did We Get Our Bibles?

Can We Cound On The Bible?

The Canon of the New Testament

Tonight we continue our study of the integrity of the Bible. We have established thus far that the 39 books which comprise the Old Testament ARE rightfully considered Canon (the collection of books that are considered inspired of God and therefore authoritative) and that the Apocrypha does NOT belong in the canon.

In this lesson, we want to examine the integrity of the 27 books which comprise the Canon of the New Testament. As with the Old Testament, there were other books which surfaced during the 2nd to 4th centuries (AD) dealing with the life and teachings of Jesus and His disciples which some have considered to be sacred or even part of the Canon (more than 200 such books have been mentioned), while others question whether or not some of the books which are in our New Testament actually belong there. In our lesson tonight we are going to notice why the 27 books we have in our New Testament DO belong there and why other books should be rejected.

I. How The Word of God Spread

a. AS we begin our study of the New Testament Canon, we want to notice how the gospel spread in the first century. When the church began on Pentecost (around AD 30-33) as recorded in Acts 2, it only took a few decades for Paul to be able to write, “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Col 1:23) HOW did that happen?
b. From the teachings of Jesus to the written word.
i. While on earth Jesus revealed the word of God (John 14:10, 24, His words were not by His own authority; John 5:19, 7:16, “My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent Me.”) During His ministry He taught and trained them continually to be His ambassadors.
ii. Before He died and ascended, He promised a Helper who would “guide you into all truth” after He left – John 14:24-25. John 16:7-11 –describes the work of the Helper – He would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.
iii. But HOW would he do this? Through the apostles and other inspired men.
He began to instill confidence in them while upon this earth. Matthew 10 records Jesus sending out the twelve. Matt. 10:16-20 notes that the Spirit would guide them in their message.
The book of Acts and the epistles demonstrate this. Acts 2:1-4 records the Holy Spirit falling upon the apostles and they began to speak in tongues. Their message is recorded in this chapter and some 3000 souls responded by obeying the gospel.
Acts 4:13 notes that even though John and Peter were uneducated, their boldness and message caused the council to marvel and realize they had been with Jesus. Vs. 8 notes that they were filled with the Spirit (Peter is specifically mentioned).
Paul was also filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18, 13:9)
iv. The apostles spoke the message WITH AUTHORITY and then they began to write the message. In their letters they demonstrated this authority and often appealed to the Spirit as the source of their message – in 1 Cor. 2:6-14, esp. 10-13, Paul explains the place and purpose of the Holy Spirit speaking.
Gal. 1:12 – Paul message came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 11:23, 15:3, he received that which he delivered to us (the message)
Ephesians 3:3-4 speaks of the WRITTEN word revealing the message of God.
1 Cor. 14:37 – Paul challenged them to acknowledge that his message was from God.
2 Peter 3:1-2 – the things Peter wrote this epistle to remind them of what they had been taught.
1 John 4:6, “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
v. In time the letters were written down, copied and circulated –
Col. 4:16, “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
1 Thess. 5:27, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.”
Revelation was written to the 7 churches of Asia (Rev. 1:11)
Galatians written to the churches of Galatians 1:2
1 Peter 1:1, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia…”
2 Peter 3:14-16 where Peter makes reference to Paul’s epistles. This implies the circulation, and possibly the copying of these letters.
c. NOTE: On more than on occasion, we read that what was revealed was referred to as the work of the apostles (revealing Jesus Christ). This is IMPORTANT when we consider WHAT to accept as Canon.
In Acts 2:42 when the church began we read, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayers.” NOTICE how it was the apostle’s doctrine they continued in (that which Jesus instructed them they would be guided into).
Eph 2:19-21, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord”
2 Peter 3:1-2, “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that 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.”
d. One more thought: If the New Testament is the word of God (and it is) then it is not unreasonable to think that God had a hand in its preservation and that we have what He intended for us to have.
(To BE Continued)
Sunday, March 13, 2011 pm


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