What is the source of God’s truth? (Leader’s notes)

1.    What is the Bible useful for?

2 Tim 3: 16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Leader’s Notes: It is true that the Scripture that Timothy refers to is the Old Testament. Yet what is true of Old Testament Scripture is also true of New Testament Scripture. It is like saying “All dogs bark”. This statement refers to all dogs, whether they are born before or after this statement was made.

2.    According to 2 Tim 3:16, if we have the Bible do we still lack anything necessary for our spiritual life?

Leader’s Notes: That is why Protestants rely on the Bible alone as the source of doctrine. We do not rely on the traditions of church leaders as a source of doctrine. That is not to say we don’t value them. We just don’t treat them as a source of new doctrine.

3.    Through whom did God reveal the Scriptures?

(Eph 3:4-5 NIV)  In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, {5} which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

Leader’s Notes: Therefore we see that what we take as Scriptures are the words and actions of apostles, prophets and Christ. The words of church leaders do not carry the authority of Scripture.

4.    What is the test of a prophet?

(Deu 18:22 NIV)  If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

5.    What is the criterion for someone to become an apostle?

(Acts 1:21-22 NIV)  Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, {22} beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

6.    Who are some of the prophets and apostles whose writings were immediately regarded by the people as Scripture?

(Deu 31:24-26 NIV)  After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, {25} he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD: {26} “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you.

(Josh 24:26 NIV)  And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD.

(2 Pet 3:15-16 NIV)  Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. {16} He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Leader’s Notes: The verses above show that the writings of Moses and Joshua were immediately treated as status because the people recognized them as God’s messengers.  2 Peter 3:15-16 demonstrates that Peter regarded Paul’s writing as Scripture as he referred to the rest of the writing as “other Scriptures”.

7.    How should we treat oral tradition?

Is it wrong to follow traditions?

(2 Th 2:15 NIV)  So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

Leader’s Notes: No, it is not wrong to follow tradition. By tradition we mean the teachings of the church leaders that were not part of the Bible but handled down to us either by orally or by writing.

8.    What is the proper place of Scripture and Tradition?

2 Tim 3:16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

If Scripture is useful for correcting, how should we decide whether an oral tradition/teaching is indeed from God?

Leader’s Notes: Since Scripture is used to correct and reproof then it must be the authoritative standard by which everything else is judged for its truthfulness. Tradition should be checked against Scripture. It cannot have the same weight as Scripture. The Catholic Church, however, teaches that both Scripture and Tradition have equal weight.

82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”

How then should we treat oral tradition/teaching?

(Acts 17:11 NIV)  Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

(Col 2:8 NIV)  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Leader’s Notes: There are human traditions, which do not have any basis in the Bible, and there are traditions that are based on the teachings of the Bible. We have the responsibility to find out if the traditions we are following are in line with the Bible and accept only those that are. Therefore, everything still comes back to the Scriptures.

The Bible does not discourage us from interpreting the Bible. It does not tell us to leave all the interpretation of the Bible to our church leaders.

What did Jesus use to rebuke false teaching?

Matt 22:29Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

9.    Is the Church authority infallible with regards to God’s teachings?

(Gal 2:11-14 NIV)  When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong… {14} When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

Leader’s Notes: Even Church leaders are not infallible in their teachings as in the case of Peter, who was even considered by the Catholic Church to be the first Pope.

10. Did the Bible prohibit/discourage the private interpretation of Scripture?

Does the following verse teach that we should let the infallible church interpret Scripture for us and not resort to private interpretation of Scripture?

2 Pet 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Leader’s Notes: As the context shows, the verse is telling us that prophecy that is contained in Scripture came from God and not because the prophet interpret things as he pleases.

11. What is the church’s responsibility with regard to the truth?

1 Tim 3:15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Leader’s Notes: The Church is not to add on to truth as it likes. The word “pillar” means a column, such as that by which a building is supported, and then any firm prop or support; Gal_2:9. Thus it is with the church. It is entrusted with the business of maintaining the truth, of defending it from the assaults of error. The word rendered “foundation” is taken from architecture, as the use of the word pillar is. The proper meaning of the one expression would be, that truth is supported by the church.

12. Can church leaders impose on us something that the Bible does not?

Matthew 18:18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (NIV) Does that mean that whatever the Church allows, Jesus will allow and whatever the Church does not allow, Jesus would not?

Leader’s Notes: The words `binding’ and `loosing’ `restricting’ and `freeing’ respectively as can be seen from the following verses.

Rom 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.(KJV)

2 Tim 2:9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. (KJV)

The verse Matt 18:18 has also been mistranslated. The words “bind” and “loose” are in the future perfect tense. Therefore, it refers to `bind’ and `loose’ as completed actions, not as future actions. The verse should have been translated:

“Whatever you bind (restrict) on earth must be what is already bound (restricted) in heaven and whatever you loose (free) on earth must be what is already loosed (freed) in heaven.

In other words, Jesus is instructing the disciples to be careful not to forbid or permit anything except that which is forbidden or permitted in heaven.

13. What is the difference between the Catholic and Protestant Bible?

Leader’s Notes: The difference between Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible is the absence of seven whole books and parts of two others from the Protestant version. These are Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiaticus, Baruch, I & II Machabees.

There is no difference between the Catholic New Testament and the Protestant New Testament.

14. What is the difference between the Old Testament of the Protestant church and the Old Testament of the Jewish people?

Leader’s Notes: There is no difference. The Old Testament books accepted by the Protestants are the same ones that are accepted by the Jews. The Old Testament was handled down through the Jews and they are the ones that know which are authentic and which are not.

15. How was the Old Testament referred to at the time of Jesus and what are the implications.

These the names or titles ascribed to the Old Testament writings by the authors of the New Testament: “the scripture” (Joh_10:35; Joh_19:36; 2Pe_1:20), “the scriptures” (Mat_22:29; Act_18:24), “holy scriptures” (Rom_1:2), “sacred writings” (2Ti_3:15), “the law” (Joh_10:34; Joh_12:34; Joh_15:25; 1Co_14:21), “law and prophets” (Mat_5:17; Mat_7:12; Mat_22:40; Luk_16:16; Luk_24:44; Act_13:15; Act_28:23).

What are the implications of the Old Testament being referred to by these terms?

Leader’s Notes: The evidence furnished by the New Testament is of the highest importance. When summed up, it gives the unmistakable impression that when the New Testament was written (circa 50-100 AD) there was a definite and fixed canon of Old Testament Scripture, to which authoritative appeal could be made. Such names or titles assume the existence of a complete and sacred collection of Jewish writings that are already marked off from all other literature as separate and fixed.

Was there any Church Council to fix what the believers accept as Scripture?

Leader’s Notes: There wasn’t any Church Council to do the task of infallibly determining what constitutes Scripture and what does not. A writing was recognized as Scripture because people know who the writer is. Those writings that were not authentic were disregarded.

16. What does the New Testament have to say about what should be in the Old Testament?

Mt 23:35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

This is a difficult question. Why would Jesus specially mention Abel and Zechariah among all God’s messengers who have been killed?

Leader’s Notes: Mat_23:35 seems to point to the final order and arrangement of the books in the Old Testament canon. It reads: “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar.” Now, in order to grasp the bearing of this verse upon the matter in hand, it must be remembered that in the modern arrangement of the Old Testament books in Hebrew, Abel is the first person who was murdered while Chronicles stands last; and the murder of Zachariah is the last recorded instance in the Bible, being found in 2Ch_24:20-21.