The purpose of this article is to introduce the members of the New Apostolic Church to the Holy Scriptures as an extremely significant and important document of divine will, as well as of God’s plan of salvation and redemption.. The Bible is more than the doctrine of the New Apostolic Church lets on. It is not stale cistern water and ashes of memory, as a former ‘Chief Apostle’ of the New Apostolic Church once proclaimed. (Guardian Voice, 1.10.1956). The Bible should be the point of orientation even if one is New Apostolic.
We ask you, dear reader, to open your heart wide. May the Lord bless you to know the true meaning of the Scriptures.
This text is slightly abridged from the booklet Orientierungspunkte by Manfred Röseler, published in the series Christsein konkret. I thank the Missionswerk DIE BRUDERHAND e. V. for the permission to include it in our website.
For every journey we make, we need numerous orientation points, otherwise we are in danger of getting lost.
Do you remember a situation where you asked someone for information and were misinformed by them? Where did this eventually lead?
The variety of choices
The journey through life is not as easy as traveling from one city to another. Yes, it is difficult and complicated. On their way, many signs prove to be unreliable, they do not lead to the destination. Is there an ultimate truth to guide us on this journey?
What ‘orientation points’ do you consider reliable? What do you orientate yourself by?
- For me, there are no set standards to which I am committed.
- I am guided by the principles of my parents and ancestors.
- I take my cue from the opinions of the people around me.
- I go by what the science says.
- I take my cue from the statements of certain philosophers.
- I take my cue from one of the world’s great religions.
- I take my cue from the Bible.
Anyone who goes on a long journey needs a map. Anyone looking for a telephone number needs a telephone book. It would be far from wanting to find the necessary information for this in the daily newspaper. If someone wants to find out something about God and his relationship with him, the obvious thing to do is to look up the book that claims to be God’s word: the Bible.
Is it worth considering the Bible as a guide to our lives? If yes why? (1)
What is the Bible?
The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by about 40 different scribes over a period of more than 1600 years. It consists of the Old Testament (with 39 books) and the New Testament (with 27 books) and claims to be God’s Word.
The Bible includes historiography, doctrine, poetry, biographies, epistles, ethics, etc. In no other book is there such a wide range of literary genres as in the Bible. However, it does not include such genres that do not correspond to the truth, such as sagas, legends, fairy tales and novels.
What is so outstanding about the Bible?
The Bible is the most outstanding book in all of world literature. It is unique in its origin, its message, its authority, its dissemination, and its influence.
Their emergence is unique
The Bible was written by very different writers. Among them were statesmen, shepherds, prophets (2), a physician, a fisherman, etc. They wrote in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek), in different states of mind, in different countries and cultures and in a period of 1600 years. Despite this diversity, all parts of the Bible fit together into a harmonious whole. Michael Green writes: “It cannot be denied that the authors of the Bible share a most astonishing, unified vision: Neither in history nor in literature is there anything comparable. Where else do we encounter such a unified view of God over a span of two thousand years?” (3)
Suppose five people were given the task of writing a paper on a particular topic. What would be the likelihood that this would result in a work that is consistent and free of contradictions?
Your message is unique
The central theme of the bible is the relationship between God and man. Man, created by God, has turned away from Him. He rebelled against God and challenged His wrath. Since this separation from God, man’s condition is characterized by wrongdoing (sin) and guilt, and each of us has nothing but eternal damnation to look forward to. But God, in his love, gives us a new chance: through Jesus Christ we can receive forgiveness of our guilt and be reconciled with God. Therefore, God invites everyone to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and begin a new life with Him. This message is unique. No one could tell us better news.
Name some important themes in the Bible that can be used to illustrate its unique message! (4)
Your authority is unique
The Bible claims to have divine authority. In over 2,000 places we read statements like: “Thus says the Lord ...”, “God says …”, etc. So the bible is a direct message of God to man.
The authors of the Bible wrote their message under divine direction (inspiration). Compare 2 Timothy 3:16: “For all Scripture is inspired by God’s Spirit. It teaches us to know the truth, to acknowledge our guilt, to change from the bottom up, and to live in such a way that we can stand before God.”
Millions of people have put their trust in the Bible. They confirm that the statements of the Word of God are reliable and that God still stands by them today.
How can we test the reliability of the Word of God in a very practical way? (5)
Is the Bible trustworthy?
When signs provide incorrect information, the consequences can be devastating. We therefore cannot afford to be guided by unreliable signposts. The question therefore arises whether the Bible is really trustworthy.
It was reliably handed down
Until the invention of the printing press, the Bible was handed down by hand. This was done with more care than in any other book of antiquity. There are at least 20,000 old comparative manuscripts of the Bible, with the help of which possible copying errors can be determined. (6)
Of no other book of antiquity can the text be proved today with such certainty as in the case of the Bible. Sir Frederic Kenyon commented, “The number of manuscripts of the New Testament and translations of it is so great that we can be sure of having the true text of every passage of Scripture. This cannot be said of any other book of antiquity.” (7)
Recent research results provide more and more evidence for the reliability of the Bible tradition. For example, in 1947 amazing discoveries were made in a cave near Qumran on the Dead Sea. In the process, two scrolls of the prophet Isaiah were found, written around 200-150 BC. They were about 1,000 years older than the Hebrew manuscripts found up to that time. The amazing thing is that in all these centuries the text has hardly undergone any change in transmission. The reason for this is clear: in Jewish law there were strict instructions that had to be followed when making any new copy of the Scriptures.
Many prophecies have been fulfilled
Most people like to know what will happen in the future. The Bible says a lot about this through prophecies. Werner Gitt writes that the Bible contains 6,408 verses of prophetic data, of which 3,268 have already been fulfilled. The remaining prophecies refer to events that are still future. (8) The prophecies of the Bible are reliable because they are of divine origin (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21). Their truth content is verifiable. There is nothing comparable in any other book of world history. (9)
According to Bill Bright, there are three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament that foretell the coming of Jesus on this earth. (10) For example, the prophet Micah named the city of Bethlehem as the place of Jesus’ birth 700 years earlier (Micah 5:1). The prophet Isaiah, who lived in the time of Micah, said that Jesus would be rejected by the Jews and die for our sins (Isaiah 53:3-5). All the prophecies about Jesus were fulfilled exactly.
Your statements are true
The Bible is not a scientific textbook. But where it makes statements on scientific matters, it is reliable. Some scientific statements in the Bible have even been confirmed by modern science centuries after they were written down. (11)
Robert Dick Wilson of Princeton, America, who extensively researched Oriental languages and dialects, said, “The history presented in the Bible is reliable, but in profane documents unreliability and inaccuracy are commonplace.” (12)
Irwin Moon, the head of the Moody Institute of Science in Los Angeles, said, “I have often examined every word from beginning to end, and so far as I have been able to determine, there is not a single scientific inaccuracy, contradiction, inconsistency of meaning, or error on the leaves of this book [der Bibel].” (13)
So-called contradictions in the Bible are usually quickly resolved by a closer examination of the biblical passage.
What is the most important reason for you to trust the Bible? Or: What is the most important reason for you not to trust the Bible?
Is the Bible still up to date?
Some think the Bible is outdated and out of touch with the times. This may seem obvious, as we are used to textbooks needing constant revision. People’s theories and opinions are constantly changing, often in conjunction with recent discoveries.
It’s different with the Bible. It contains truths and basic principles of life that are permanent. There are many principles that do not change over time, such as the laws of mathematics. It is comparable to the statements of the Bible. The truth about God never changes (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35).
Name some biblical principles that are also commonly accepted today! (14)
In what ways is the Bible a guide?
The Bible contains a wealth of guidance for a wide variety of life situations. Some themes of the Bible shall be mentioned briefly.
For example, the Bible talks about topics of daily life such as: Eating, drinking, sleeping, sports, possessions, wealth, worries, childhood, youth, love, marriage, sexuality, sickness, suffering, old age, death, etc.
She also talks about the fundamental questions of life like: Where do I come from? What do I live for? Where am I going?
In particular, she talks about God: Who is God? What is God like? How can I have a personal relationship with God and get peace with Him?
In what question do you long for reliable guidance?
Humans need some kind of guidance all the time. That’s why manuals, textbooks, user guides, etc. are written. If he is guided by the wrong information, devastating consequences can occur. An aircraft can crash if the pilot is responding to misleading signals.
Regarding our relationship with God, we depend on reliable information. We find these in the Bible. It shows us how we can have a living relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Many people have trusted this message and experienced God’s power in their lives as a result. The bible is a good, reliable basis for the organization of our life.
All Bible quotations are taken from the Bible edition ‘Hope for All’.
(1) The Bible has already become for many people a foundation on which they have based their lives. King David was guided by God’s instructions. He experienced again and again that God came to his aid in seemingly hopeless situations. God kept his word, he never disappointed him. That’s why David wrote in Psalm 119:105,“Your word is like a light in the night that illuminates my path.”
(2) Prophets were men specifically called to proclaim God’s message from God. They spoke not only about the future, but also about the past and present. They taught, exhorted, and encouraged the people to pay attention to God’s Word.
(3) Michael Green, Gordon Carkner, Ten Prejudices about Christianity, 2nd ed. (Basel: Brunnen-Verlag, 1990), 49.
(4) In the Bible there is a consistent picture of God from the beginning to the end. He is shown to us as the creator of this world, who is just, holy and full of love. In it there is also a unified image of the human being. He was created to live in communion with God. However, he went his own way and fell away from God. There is great agreement in the Bible about Jesus Christ. Already in the Old Testament his coming into this world was announced by the prophets. In the New Testament we see prophecies fulfilled literally. The central theme of the Bible, “the salvation of man,” runs like a thread throughout the Bible.
(5) In Joshua 1:8, the one who earnestly follows the Word of God is promised wise action and success in life. In John 1:12 and John 3:16, the one who entrusts his life to Jesus Christ is promised a personal relationship with God. Millions of people have gotten involved and experienced that God keeps His promises.
(6) It is interesting to realize that of the history of Thucydides, written about 400 B.C., there are today a whole eight manuscripts. The remaining books of the Roman historian Tacitus (A.D. 100) can only be attested by means of two manuscripts. The great classical works of the past were thus transmitted by only a handful of documents. Yet hardly anyone doubts the text of the classics. Cf. Neil R. Lightfoot, The Bible – Origin and Tradition, 3rd ed. (Wuppertal: Verlag und Schriftenmission der Evang. Gesellschaft für Deutschland, 1977), 90-91. An interesting treatise on the reliability of the biblical accounts is also found in: Josh McDowell, Who Is This Man?, 5th ed. (Neuhausen-Stuttgart: Hänssler-Verlag, 1994), 33-57.
(7) Neil R. Lightfoot, The Bible – Origin and Tradition, 91.
(8) Werner Gitt, Questions that keep getting asked, 3rd ed. (Bielefeld: Christian Literature Distribution, 1989), 26.
(9) Islam cannot point to any prophecy that speaks of Muhammad’s coming hundreds of years before his birth. Nor is there any other founder of any cult who can legitimately point to an ancient text that accurately predicts his appearance. Cf. Richard Bennett, On the Quest (Bielefeld: Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, 1990), 19.
(10) Bill Bright, Die Tür zur Begegnung mit Gott (Neuhausen-Stuttgart: Hänssler-Verlag, 1993), 41.
(11) Cf. Gitt, Questions, 32.
(12) J. Blanchard, How do I get to God? (Asslar: Verlag Schulte & Gerth, 1989), 11.
(13) Blanchard, How to Get to God, 11.
(14) As examples can be mentioned: The appreciation of the individual person as a personality, the law of mutual love (charity) or the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated by them.