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001 The Bible – God has spoken

‘For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Spirit of God’  

2 Peter 1:20,21

Key Verse:

‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one’ 

Romans 3:10-12

Introduction

We welcome you at the beginning of this very important Bible study course, The Way of Righteousness. We have called it The Way of Righteousness because in it we plan to explore the Bible –

the Word of God

– which reveals to us how ungodly, unrighteous sinners can become righteous before a Holy God.

To which ‘way’ do you belong—the way of righteousness or the way of unrighteousness? Maybe you do not even know the answer to this question. It is our desire that as you work through these lessons, you will understand and know the way of righteousness that comes from God. The Word of God says, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matt. 5:6)

Perhaps as you are reading these words,

you are already thinking,

“…But I already know the way of righteousness. I don’t need to be concerned with the Word of God. What I already know is good enough for me. I don’t need any more advice! ”  If this is your attitude today, listen to what King Solomon wrote in the Scriptures. “There is a way which seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death!” (Prov. 14:12)

In the Bible, in the book called Psalms, King David, the father of Solomon, spoke much about

our need to know the way of righteousness that God has made.

He wrote, “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one”  (Psa. 14:1,3; Rom. 3:10,12). David understood the situation well, this is why in Psalms 25:4,5, he wrote this prayer:

“…show me thy ways, O LORD, teach me thy paths; lead me in thy truth!”

You see, the Lord can show us His ways, He can teach us His paths, and if we are willing He can guide us in His way. If God does not guide us in His truth, we could never know the way of righteousness. We would be like a little child lost in a big city or like a cow lost in the veld far from the cattle post without water to drink and at the mercy of wild animals. In other words, without any hope of surviving. But the word of God tells us that “God does not want anyone to perish . . . but wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4). Nothing is more important than to know for sure that

you are in the way of truth that leads to God.

Thousands of years ago, Job asked the question, “How can a man be righteous before God?” (Job 9:2) Do you know God’s answer to Job’s question? Do you know how you can be righteous before God? If you want to know God’s response to this question and many others, we invite you to study these lessons on The Way of Righteousness. Truly, the Word of God is deep, wonderful, alive and powerful. And something else:

the Word of God hides nothing.

It shows us what man is really like. So the Scriptures say, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13)

In these Way of Righteousness lessons, we will study the Scriptures chronologically. That is, we will follow the stories of God’s prophets one by one, from beginning to end. The Bible is not just a collection of stories and writings all thrown together haphazardly into one book. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, and as you page through it, you will notice that it has two Divisions called Testaments, Old and New. You will also notice that there are many books with different names, with each book divided into chapters and verses.

It is organised and orderly

We see too that it has a beginning and an end. Therefore we plan to explore the stories found in the Scriptures, beginning at the beginning of all things. We will learn important things about God in this study. We will see that although many prophets wrote the Holy Scriptures, only one Author inspired the prophets:

God.

The Scriptures contain many stories, but there is only one central message. It tells us the Good News about how people can be made righteous before God.

Therefore, we ask you to try your best to study faithfully The Way of Righteousness. God tells us in His Word that He “rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb. 11:6)  To those who truly seek Him, God makes this promise: “If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me!” (Jer. 29:13)

There is an important truth that we must understand. It is this:

God has spoken!

God, the Most High, has spoken!  God has spoken to man. And to say that God has spoken to man, means that God wants to speak to you! If you received a letter from the President, would you not read it? Would you not consider what he wrote to you in the letter? Would you not pay attention to the words of the President? Of course, I’m sure you would. How much more should we pay attention when it is the God who created all things who is speaking to us!

How has God spoken to man?

The Holy Scriptures tell us, “In the past God spoke to our fathers by the prophets at many times and in various ways . . .” (Heb. 1:1)  Yes, one of the main ways God has spoken to man is through the prophets. In the past, God appointed certain men to proclaim His Word and to write it down in books (scrolls). The Word of God says, “For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit [of God].” (2 Pet. 1:20,21)

God could have written the Scriptures Himself or He could have used His angels to write it. But He did not do this. God chose ordinary men to write it for Him, holy men. Some of them were prophets.

They were a little like secretaries.

God planted in their minds what they were to write, and they wrote it down for God. However, God let each man write the Scriptures in his own words. God inspired every word, yet He did not ignore the individual’s personality. God’s Book not only contains the direct words of God, but also the thoughts and prayers and problems of people like you and me. Through the stories of God’s dealings with people,

God wants to show us what He is like and how we can draw near to Him.

Why did God inspire these men to write the Holy Scriptures? He inspired them so that the people of every generation might know what God wants them to know. God spoke to them because

He wants to speak to you and me

through what they have written! All that God has said through them is profitable for us who are living today. God expects each of us to know the message that is found throughout the pages of His written word.

Some people think, “Ha! I don’t need to know what the first prophets wrote. Their words are not important to me. Each prophet had his work to do. A prophet came, performed his work and passed on. Another came, did his work and passed on . . . and so it continued.  We who live today don’t need to know what these first men said!”

Are these your thoughts as well?

Listen to what God says. “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no way pass from the law till all be fulfilled. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven!” (Matt. 5:18,19)  Again in  2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness!”

Truly,

all that they wrote is of great value,

because they wrote it so that people in  every age and at any time might know the way of salvation that God has provided.

Do you know what God’s prophets have written? God wants us to know His Word, believe it and obey it! The Scripture says: “We also have a more sure word of prophecy unto which you do well that you take heed as unto a light that shines in a dark place!” (2 Pet. 1:19)

Yes, sometimes we hear those who fight against the Bible saying, “No one can trust it! It is full of errors. It has been changed!” However,

the one who fights with the Word of Truth is fighting with God Himself.

It is said that an egg should not wrestle with a rock. The Word of God is this Rock, and man is the egg! Man cannot change the true Word of God – but the true Word of God can change man! God is great, and is able to protect His Eternal Word. That is what the Lord Himself said in Matthew’s Gospel“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away!” (Matt. 24:35)

Many people try to fight against the Word of God because

it exposes the true condition of their hearts.

Listen to what God says about His own Word: “The word of God is living and powerful. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

Yes, God’s Word is living and powerful;

it speaks to the heart.

The Holy Scriptures may be the oldest collection of writings in the world, but they are still relevant for every person today. Nothing is more important than the Word of God.

However, the Word of God is like a delicious, satisfying meal. I’m sure that you would agree with me that rice and seswaa is delicious to eat and also good for the body. But unless I eat it, it is of no benefit to me.

I must eat it.

There is no satisfaction in looking at food. It must be eaten to be enjoyed. In a similar way, I must partake of the Word of God, reading and meditating on it, if I want to benefit from it at all. This is why God says that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)  It is only those “who hunger and thirst for righteousness” who will be filled. (Matt. 5:6)

Do you hunger for the Word of God?

It is food, delicious food. It is not food that nourishes your body, but food that nourishes your heart and soul. So we challenge you today, at the beginning of these lessons: Make a serious effort to study regularly The Way of Righteousness, so that you might increase your knowledge of what God has said long ago through His prophets and learn how you can be made righteous before God the Holy One.

God has spoken – and He wants to speak to you!

We need to explain clearly one more thing. In these lessons we will not rely on anything or anyone except that which is found in the Bible; the Word of God. We, who have prepared these lessons, possess no great knowledge or power, except that which God has made known to us in the Scriptures.

John, the son of Zachariah, declared in the Gospel

“A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” (John 3:27)

We do not rely on our own knowledge.

On God’s Word alone we rely.

Our desire is to make known to you what God has declared in His Word through His prophets.

Are you eager and willing to find out what God has to say to you in His Word? Are you among those who hunger and thirst for the Word of God and for true righteousness? In the Bible, God has revealed Himself and His righteous way of salvation. We invite you dear reader to explore the Scriptures with us here in The Way of Righteousness so that you might really understand what God has said. The Word of God tells us:

“For whatever things were written in earlier times were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4)

May we all be certain of this one thing:

God has spoken and He wants everyone to listen and live!

The good news of God’s way of salvation is for everyone; old and young, men and women, rich and poor.

God is saying to every one of you:

“Listen! Open your ears, and come to me. Listen, and your soul will live!” (Isa. 55:3)

Friends, thank you for reading this lesson. In the next lesson, God willing, we will begin our study of God, answering a very important question

“What is God like?”

God bless you as you meditate upon this great invitation from God to you:

“Listen! Open your ears, and come to me. Listen, and your soul will live!” (Isa. 55:3)

Next steps

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