Stephen to Victor: Why is it important to know which books are scripture?
- We need to obey all of God’s Words: Matthew 4:4 Man shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
- God judges those who add or take away from His words Jeremiah 23:25-32 I am against prophets, that steal my words from his neighbor, and say, He says, yet I sent them not, nor commanded them…they shall not profit this people.
Stephen to Joel: How did we get the collection of books we call the Bible?
- No printing presses, computer technology, cell phones, cars, or airplanes
- Both the Old Testament and New Testament books were immediately recognized and treated as scripture, though we have no formal statement about the New Testament until the fourth century.
- The authentic books were being quoted, copied, and distributed as scripture throughout the church.
- There was no need to have an official word on the issue in the early hears due to the presence of prophets, apostles, and their disciples.
- The fact that there was no need for verification until the 4th century speaks volumes about the understanding of the church up to that time. These books that were authenticate were not being credibly challenged by a large enough group of people to raise the issue.
Stephen to Eric: How do we know which Old Testament books are scripture?
The key is understanding the office of the prophet, because only they were qualified to write or verify a book as scripture.
- These were holy men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost: II Peter 1:20-21
- Their message bore the full authority of God.
- They predicted future events with 100% accuracy to verify the source of their message.
- There was a death sentence upon false prophets Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
- The message of a prophet or apostle could never contradict previous revelation: II Peter 2:2-6, Acts 20:27-32
Stephen to Joel: How do we know which New Testament books are scripture?
The key is understanding the office of prophets and apostles, because only they were qualified to write or verify a book as scripture.
- They were eyewitnesses of Christ’s earthly ministry, death, and resurrection: 1 Corinthians 15:7
- They received direct revelation from God/verbal inspiration
- They received a personal objective call to this office by Christ
- They received instruction after the resurrection concerning the Kingdom
- They were authenticated by signs of an apostle II Corinthians 12:12
- Their apostolic ministry was predicted by Christ before He went to the cross: John 14:26; John 16:23
Stephen to Victor: Why are these two groups so important?
- There job was to lay the foundation: Ephesians 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ the chief corner stone
- They spoke as God’s messengers: Hebrews 1:1-2 God, spake in time past by the prophets
- They were eyewitnesses: 2 Peter 1: 16-21 We were eyewitnesses of his majesty…no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Stephen to Joel: How did the early church judge which books were scripture and which were not?
- The test of authority: Who penned the book?
- The test of internal evidence: Does the book penned or authorized by a genuine prophet or apostle bear the internal evidence of being God breathed?
- The test of God’s people: Did genuine believers from the penning of these books to the present recognize them as scripture?
Stephen to Victor: Can you give us some evidence for the 39 Old Testament books passing these tests?
- Old Testament books refer to other Old Testament books as scripture: Joshua 1:7–8; 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3; 8:61; 2 Kings 14:6; 21:8; 23:25;
- The Old Testament as a whole are referred to as scripture by Christ: Luke 24
- The Old Testament is quoted as scripture regularly by Christ and the apostles: Jesus and the NT authors quote the words of the OT approximately 300 times… all the Old Testament books are quoted except Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.
- Jewish historians recognized them and spoke freely about them as scripture. (Josephus)
Stephen to Eric: What about the 27 New Testament books?
- Their work was recognized as Scripture at a time when other apostles and prophets could verify that their work was valid: I Corinthians 14:29, 32, 37, 2 Peter 3:15-16; 2 Peter 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 7 times in the pastoral epistles, Paul commands Timothy to preach the word/scriptures, so it assumes that he would know what they were.
- Their work is in theological harmony.
- Their work has stood the test of the scrutiny of church history.
- Their work has been preserved while their others works have vanished.
- Between a.d. 70–170: All the New Testament books were cited in other writings of the period from a.d. 70 to 170. Between them the church Fathers recognized as canonical all twenty-seven books, although not every Father included all twenty-seven.
Stephen to Joel: Is the apocrypha as scripture?
- They do not claim for themselves the same kind of authority as the Old Testament writings.
- They were not regarded as God’s words by the Jewish people from whom they originated.
- They were not considered to be Scripture by Jesus or the New Testament authors.
- They contain teachings inconsistent with the rest of the Bible.
Stephen to Joel: Is the Quran or the Book of Mormon scripture?
- Not written by a qualified prophet or apostle
- Not in theological agreement with the rest of scripture.
Stephen to Eric: What is your final encouragement?
- Each book in this Bible is scripture, and should be treated as scripture.
- We should obey it, and study it diligently rather than trusting in the words of men or false prophets.
- We should take its message about Christ seriously, and embrace Him as the one and only possible Savior from our sins. Have you repented of your unbelief and self-righteousness to place your faith in Christ alone?