Lesson 2

The Authority of the Bible and the Second Coming

(2 Peter 1: 19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Luke 24: 17-32)
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Introduction: Imagine that you and a friend had never been to a place you want to visit. Each of you has an idea of how to get there, but your ideas are different. Could you settle the matter with a map? Only if you both agreed the map was accurate, right?

I will argue about the existence of God with someone who does not believe the Bible, but I will not argue a theological point with someone who does not believe in the authority of the Bible. Why? Because, without a common source of acknowledged truth, they argue my opinion is no better than the opinion of any one else. God gives us a source of truth about His Second Coming, let's jump in and find out why it is reliable!

  1. THE BIBLE


    1. Read 2 Peter 1:19-21. Let's take these verses apart. What is the "word of the prophets?" (The Bible.)


      1. How did the "word of the prophets" come to be? (While "carried along" in the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God.)


        1. What do you think it means to be "carried along" in the Holy Spirit?


        2. Have you ever been "carried" by the Holy Spirit?


      2. Whose will does prophecy reflect? (Not the will of man, but the will of God.)


      3. How do you think prophecy works? Does God inspire the words or the Bible? Or does He inspire the thoughts of the Bible writer? (This text strongly points to thought inspiration. Look again at the language used. We are told the "interpretation," "the will" are God's, but the "words" are man's ("men spoke from God").)


      4. Now that we have looked at verses 20 and 21 to clarify the first part of verse 19, let's look at the rest of verse 19. Why should we pay attention to the Bible?


        1. What is the light? (This brings to mind a famous text: Psalms 119:105.)


        2. What is the "dark place?"


      5. This sounds like we are walking around with a flashlight at night. What is the "day dawning" and the "morning star arising?" (The day dawning refers to the sun coming up. I think this symbolizes the Son coming the second time. In Revelation 22:16 Jesus calls Himself the "bright Morning Star.")


        1. If we are talking about the second coming here, why does verse 19 talk about the day dawning "in your hearts?" (When Jesus comes the second time it will certainly "arise in [our] hearts." Perhaps more to the point, we should never forget that the second coming is never more than 70 years away (depending on your age). A burst blood vessel in the brain recently caused the unexpected death of a young acquaintance of mine.)


    2. Perhaps at this point you are saying, "Sure, the Bible says it is authoritative. What do you expect? Is there any proof it is authoritative, other than its own self-serving statements?


      1. One last piece of these verses (in 2 Peter) deserves scrutiny. Why does the first part of verse 19 refer to the word of the prophets being "made more certain?" What more certainty do we need than knowing that God is the source of the words of the prophets? (This is the "outside" proof. If you look at the chapter, it refers to Jesus' coming. Thus, the prophets are confirmed by the truth of their prediction of the first coming of Christ. The Bible is proven by the historical fact of Jesus' first coming!)


        1. Are there any other "historical facts" that prove the truth of the Bible to you?


    3. Read 2 Corinthians 4:4-7. Who is the "god of this age?"


      1. Is it fair that these people are blinded and cannot see the light? Isn't it only fair that everyone gets to hear the gospel?


      2. Is it possible for us to blind ourselves? If you say "yes," tell me how people blind themselves?


      3. When Paul says we have this treasure "in jars of clay," what is he talking about? The days before Tupperware?


        1. What is the treasure? (We are the clay pots! The treasure is the knowledge of God through Jesus.)


      4. How does the fact that this treasure is in clay pots prove its truth? (Verse 7 says that the fact that we share this power shows it is from God. The power of the gospel is beyond the ability of man.)


        1. Are you a "historical fact" that proves the truth of the Bible - God's message?


        2. Have you considered your influence among your fellow workers? Do you tend to prove or disprove the reliability of the teachings of the Bible to fellow workers?


          1. Is it possible you are more of a "paper cup" then a "clay pot" at work?


  2. ONLY THE BIBLE


    1. How much of the Bible is from God? Let's read 2 Timothy 3:16-17.


      1. Romans 12:6 tells us that one of the gifts that we can potentially have from the Holy Spirit is the gift of prophecy. If you have the gift of prophecy, can you correct some of the errors of the Bible? Or do the Scriptures have a different standing then Holy Spirit inspired prophecy?


        1. Isn't it all from the same source, just your information is more current and more culturally correct than that of the Bible?


      2. If you say "no," the Bible corrects us, we do not correct the Bible ( 2 Timothy 3:16), do you ever find yourself rejecting Biblical advice because you disagree?


      3. Notice a very important point in Romans 12:6. It refers to using the gift of prophecy "in proportion" to a man's faith. What does that suggest? (It suggests that prophecy is perfect only to degree the modern-day prophet's faith is perfect. I strongly believe that when the "Canon closed" (the church agreed on the content of the Bible) that was the end of infallible "God-breathed" truth. Modern-day prophets can be wrong -- consistent with their level of faith. This is not the same with the prophets who wrote the Scriptures and who prophesied "pre-Scripture." For them, being wrong meant death. Deuteronomy 18:20-22. This important distinction means two things. First, we should not ignore a modern-day prophet simply because some of what was said is not true. Second, we should not accept anything from a modern-day prophet unless it squares with Scripture.)


    2. There are many books and commentaries in the book stores which tell us about the Bible. If the Bible is the only source of truth, why would you buy any of these books? Why, for that matter, would you read this lesson? (God's followers have various degrees of inspiration and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. None of these, not even those who appear to have the modern-day gift of prophecy, are able to correct or add to (Deut. 4:2) the Bible. However, they are all capable of helping us to better understand the Bible. The key is to hold these other sources to their proper "helping" place and make our focus of study the Bible.)


    3. Read Luke 24:17-24. What is the state of mind of Cleopas and his companion? (Discouraged. Confused.)


    4. Let's read on. Read Luke 24:25-32. Can this happen in your life? Can God reveal His truth through the Scriptures to take away discouragement and confusion? What is needed to make this happen?


      1. Why didn't Jesus just tell them who He was at the beginning, and give them His version of what happened? Why did He direct them to the Bible first?


      2. Should we go to the same source to determine whether Jesus is coming a second time?


    5. Friend, the Bible is trustworthy. It is the source of encouragement in discouraging times. It is also God's pledge that He will return and make all things right. Are you benefitting from what He has given you by reading it in a version you can understand?


  3. Next Week: Creation and the Second Coming.

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