Doctrine is defined as a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group.
The doctrines of our faith serve the same function for our spiritual lives that the skeletal systems do for our physical lives. The skeletal system is the body system composed of bones and cartilage and performs the critical functions for the human body: the skeletal system supports the body, it facilitates movement, and protects internal organs. So the doctrines of our faith support and protect our beliefs As Acts 17:28 says "for in Him we live and move and have our being....."
The goal of this series is to strengthen our understanding of the teachings, the doctrines of the Christian faith.
This first sermon is about the doctrine of divine revelation. The Bible is that divine revelation, or the Living Word.
2 Peter 1:19-21 CEV All of this makes us even more certain that what the prophets said is true. So you should pay close attention to their message, as you would to a lamp shining in some dark place. You must keep on paying attention until daylight comes and the morning star rises in your hearts. But you need to realize that no one alone can understand any of the prophecies in the Scriptures. The prophets did not think these things up on their own, but they were guided by the Spirit of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 CEV Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. The Scriptures train God's servants to do all kinds of good deeds.
Because all doctrines have their roots in Scripture, it is fitting that we begin with the doctrine of divine revelation, the living Word.
Question, what should be a person's attitude toward the Bible?
Some have made a sacred fetish out of the Bible itself—worshiping the book rather than the Christ it portrays. Everything in the Bible points to the salvation of humans through Jesus and His sacrificial death for the forgiveness of sin, and culminating in His triumphant return to eliminate Satan his demons, and evil bring new heavens and new earth.
Revelation 21:1-4 CEV I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared, and so had the sea. Then I saw New Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God in heaven. It was like a bride dressed in her wedding gown and ready to meet her husband. I heard a loud voice shout from the throne: God's home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever.
Others feel that there is some magical value in having a Bible nearby, regardless of whether it is read or studied. These attitudes are dangerously close to bibliolatry—the worship of the Bible as a book—rather than understanding it to be the divine Word of God and the expression of God’s plan for people’s lives.
Before we can properly assess our attitude toward the Bible, we have to discover what really it is. We call it the Word of God, the living Word, the Law of life. All of these definitions are valid. But what do we mean by them?
In answer, let’s consider a few things about what the Bible is:
I. A specific revelation.
People decide that they are going to “study the Bible” and master its contents just as they would study American history, anatomy, philosophy, or any other subject. They immediately become frustrated and convinced that the Bible is nothing more than a mass of unrelated material filled with contradictions.
What's the problem? It is simply that they are natural people attempting to understand spiritual things. Paul commented on this problem to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 2:13-14 CEV Every word we speak was taught to us by God's Spirit, not by human wisdom. And this same Spirit helps us teach spiritual things to spiritual people. This is why only someone who has God's Spirit can understand spiritual blessings. Anyone who doesn't have God's Spirit thinks these blessings are foolish.
On the other hand, when people filled with the Holy Spirit approach the Bible, they find an inexhaustible source of truth. They discover an amazing unity and a beautiful symmetry in its message. They see a magnificent interrelationship between its sixty-six books, each making a contribution toward the overall theme of God’s redemptive purpose for fallen, sinful humanity, which was culminated and revealed in Jesus Christ.
Let's look at a couple of definitions;
What do we mean by the term revelation?
The word itself means “drawing back the veil,” removing an obstruction so that a person's vision is a complete vision. It means to make known something that was hidden. Divine revelation is God through His Word disclosing truths that you could not know otherwise. So whatever people discover about the truths of God must come by divine revelation.
What do we mean by the word illumination?
Illumination means to light or shine a light.
If a specific revelation by God to a person is to take place, that person’s understanding must be illuminated. This is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit—to illuminate the minds of believers so they can understand God’s Word.
Psalms 119:18 CEV Open my mind and let me discover the wonders of your Law.
So the answer to that illumination comes from and through the Holy Spirit.
John 14:25-26 CEV I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you.
To receive illumination from God in regard to the meaning of the Bible, we must be faithful to the light, or understanding, that we receive. If the motive of our study is spiritual pride, causing us to be “puffed up” with our intellectual grasp of the Bible, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us. We must carefully apply the scriptural knowledge we receive to our everyday lives.
II. A progressive revelation.
Not only is the Bible a specific revelation of God to humanity, but it is also a progressive revelation. When Christians begin a systematic study of the Bible, they discover that it is a gradual unfolding of God’s plan and purpose.
When children are in kindergarten, they aren’t given Shakespeare to read and algebra problems to work. Rather, they learn how to write the alphabet and how to count. The progressive development of their minds and understanding begins here. So it is with God’s Word. God started with people, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,” until Jesus came and lived among people, showing them what God is like. God had to start with symbols, or “pictures.” The Old Testament is filled with symbols, types and shadows that lead us to Jesus as he is revealed in the New Testament.
For example, there is a “scarlet thread” that runs through the Bible. It begins in the garden of Eden, where the blood of an innocent animal was shed to provide coverings for the nakedness of Adam and Eve after they had sinned.
Genesis 3:21 CEV Then the Lord God made clothes out of animal skins for the man and his wife.
From that time forward, God began to show that people cannot hide their sins from him nor remedy the condition of sin in their lives. Only God can do it. Thus the “scarlet thread” has woven its way through the Bible. It flows on to Calvary to fulfill every symbol in the Old Testament.
The New Testament is a book bathed in blood—the vicarious, redemptive blood of our crucified Lord.
Non-Christians are repulsed by this; the critics of Christianity turn away from it. But without the power of God progressively revealed in the Scriptures, flowing forth in the shed blood of his Son, there is no power to save people from their sins. Therefore God has progressively “turned on the lights” of understanding. The first promise of God in Scripture has in it the anticipation of a completed redemption; and the first act of worship looks toward Calvary!
Genesis 3:15 CEV You and this woman will hate each other; your descendants and hers will always be enemies. One of hers will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel.”
Genesis 4:3-4 CEV One day, Cain gave part of his harvest to the Lord , and Abel also gave an offering to the Lord . He killed the first-born lamb from one of his sheep and gave the Lord the best parts of it. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering,
The Bible is a specific revelation, a progressive, revelation, it's also;
In addition to being a specific and progressive revelation of God to humanity, the Bible is also an inspired revelation. Without an acknowledgment of the divine inspiration of Scripture, the Bible becomes little more than an anthology of history, myth, and superstition.
The word inspiration is found twice in the King James Version of the Bible
Job 32:8 KJV But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
This use of the word refers to God's Spirit giving man intelligence.
Our text taken from the King James Version is
2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Paul’s word in 2 Timothy means “God-breathed” suggesting that God put his Word directly into the minds of the authors.
Here is how our text is translated in the New International Version (NIV).
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When we talk about “inspiration of the whole Bible,” we're talking about the original documents as they came from the pens of the various authors. We no longer have the original manuscripts, but of one thing we can be certain: the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers in the beginning will preserve the truth of the Scriptures.
How was God’s Word inspired? Not by “common inspiration”—or in the same way that human literary geniuses are inspired. Rather, God gave his thoughts to the individual writers, and they then expressed them within the framework of their unique personalities. They spoke and wrote as they were “moved,” or inspired, by the Holy Spirit
2 Peter 1:21 CEV The prophets did not think these things up on their own, but they were guided by the Spirit of God.
Since John wrote the Revelation, God has not given any new or further revelation to humanity. His will for people and for the ages is contained in the Bible. Everything people need to know to be saved from their sins and to live a Christian life is in God’s Word. It tells people that they are lost and condemned in their sin. It also tells people that God loves them and that he demonstrated his love in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All they need to do is accept by faith the message of the living Word of God.
Remember the text from our series on grace.
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.