Blue Flower

Beliefs

The Bible, God’s Word, is completely reliable and accurate.

Psalms 19:7-8

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalms 138:2

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

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, throughly furnished unto all good works.

It is a matter of immense comfort to the Bible believer that he or she can be sure that the Bible is reliable – and that it can be shown to be such. Faith, without which we cannot please God, is not a blind credulity arising from wishful thinking, but an evidence-based conviction that God exists, and that the Bible is the way in which He communicates with people. As stated in the three above-mentioned quotations, an understanding of the Bible which arises from daily prayerful reading thereof, grants a sure foundation for life, - a haven and anchor in the stormy seas of life.

That does not mean, however, that the Bible is a simplistic solution to a series of complex problems in this world, but it does supply not only an invaluable perspective for life and a real hope for the future.

Archaeology

Firstly then, there is the evidence of archaeology which confirms the reliability of the Scriptures. Archaeology involves many different disciplines to interpret data, and whilst physical ‘evidence’ from a ‘dig’ may immediately spring to mind, yet there are numismatic, inscriptional, papyrological studies which combine to support the Biblical record. It is remarkable that in the nineteenth century, when German higher critical philosophy poured scorn on the Bible as history, at the same time evidence from the increased activity of archaeologists’ research in the Levant countered that scorn.

Dead Sea Scrolls

Discovered in 1946 in caves near Qumran in the dead sea valley, the Dead Sea Scrolls, were invaluable testimony to the accuracy of the Bible we have in our hands today - to the fact that they have been faithfully transcribed – that is to say, God had preserved those writings throughout generations (Rom.3:1-2) 1 .

Sodom and Gomorrah The Biblical record of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is famous, – ‘the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD (Yahweh) exceedingly’ (Gen.13:13). In the Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) of August 2009, the writer commented, ‘There is plenty of reason to suspect that the Biblical tradition surrounding (Sodom) was more than fanciful legend. ..The Sodom story told in the Bible is likely to represent …a single catastrophic event…nearly 4,000 years ago’. The BAR article suggested from archaeological research that the destruction was caused by a massive Richter 8 earthquake discharging sulphur, bitumen and gas deposits ignited by lightning to create a furnace of destruction. The demolition of that civilisation is mentioned some fourteen times in the Bible, including a description by the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 17:29 - 30, as a warning to subsequent generations. King David, ancestor of Jesus The Biblical record of David in the books of Samuel and Kings, as being Yahweh’s chosen king of Israel, has often been challenged with allegations that David, if he existed, was only a local minor chieftain. However, in 1993, Avraham Biran found a basalt 9th century BCE stele at Tel Dan in the north of Israel. Included on it, an Aramean king recorded his defeat of Israelite and Judean kings, and significantly referred to the ‘king of the house of David’. Thus, Israel’s enemies confirm, some hundred years after David’s death, that David not only existed but also established a royal dynasty – as the Bible records (2Sam.2:4, 2Sam.5:3). Reliable in detail There is indeed a massive amount of archaeological evidence to establish the reliability of the Bible – some of that evidence supports major Biblical events – other evidence relates to ‘minor’ features, which demonstrate that even in detail the Bible is reliable. An example of this occurs in Genesis 14:14 and relates to Abraham, the patriarch of the nation of Israel. The term ‘trained servants’ in that verse is the plural form of the Hebrew word ‘chanik’, which is unique to the Bible, but is seen in Execration Texts of the late 19th century BCE, where it is used of retainers of Canaanite chieftains. Prof. W.E. Albright, in his book Archaeology of Palestine, makes the point that this is evidence that Genesis 14 was written in the era it portrays. The Evidence of Bible Prophecy Many examples of fulfilled Bible prophecy could be given, whereby the Bible records in advance, events which then were fulfilled hundreds of years and sometimes thousands of years later. The book of the prophet Daniel (6th century BCE) in chapters two and seven foretells of only four world empires and that the Babylonian empire would be followed by the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire (7th century BCE – 4th century BCE), the Greek Empire (8th BCE – 2nd century) and the Roman Empire (1st century BCE – 1453 CE). Thereafter, the known world would be dominated by empires which would only control parts of civilisation. Further, that situation would pertain until the return of Christ with the subsequent establishment of a world-wide kingdom upon the earth (Dan.2:44-45). Whilst the return of Jesus Christ is still awaited, yet those chapters of Daniel’s prophecy have been accurately fulfilled. The Egyptian empire lasted for 3,000 years (that is approximately 100 generations which compares with the six generations of the British Empire) – and Egypt’s eventual fall would have seemed an impossibility at the time, but the Bible prophet Ezekiel (6th century BCE) forecast that Egypt would become ‘a base kingdom. ‘It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations’ (Ezek.29:14-15). The reader may wish to consider whether this prophecy has been accurately fulfilled. The Jewish people, faithless and scattered throughout the world However, there are major series of prophecies which have been fulfilled down through the millennia and even before our eyes today – and are easily verifiable in the mind of a reasonable person. These prophecies relate to the Israelite people. The Bible regularly shows the Jewish people in an unfavourable light, often describing them as being a hard-hearted, stiff-necked people who had been unfaithful to Yahweh. That, in itself, is very interesting because one would expect that a book which describes a nation’s history, when written by people of that same nation, would be a very complimentary record. The fact that the Bible is so uncomplimentary about the Israelite people is indeed a testimony to its validity. The book of Deuteronomy written in the second century BCE posits in the 28th chapter that if Israel were disobedient and faithless toward God, He would visit a multitude of curses upon them which would eventually and successfully cause them to return wholeheartedly to Yahweh and to the prophet greater than Moses (Deut.18:15) – that is to say, Jesus. Here are some verses from Deuteronomy chapter 28: 28:37 ‘And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD (Yahweh) shall lead thee’. 28:64 ‘And the LORD (Yahweh) shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone’. It is therefore pertinent to ask whether Jewish people have been described for much of their history, as a proverb – where the name ‘Jew’ is used in a pejorative sense – as a gibe or taunt. Likewise, it is pertinent to ask if the Jewish people have been scattered among all people from one end of the earth to the other. One only needs to search for Jewish names like ‘Cohen’ or ‘Levy’ in a telephone directory in most nations to confirm that this Bible prophecy has been fulfilled! There are approximately 7 million Jews in the USA, in France around 700 thousand, Russia 170 thousand, Chile 10 thousand and even China 3 thousand (- there are number of methods of calculating a Jewish population, so these figures are only an estimate). Even the Lord Jesus Christ repeated this prophecy concerning the dispersion of Jews to all nations (Luke 21:24). There is no possibility that the Jewish people would deliberately bring these ‘curses’ upon themselves and therefore the Jewish people can be described as ‘unwilling witnesses’ to the reliability of the Bible and to the existence of Yahweh. The prophet Isaiah records just that in Isaiah 43:10 – 12. The Jewish people and their regathering to the land The above-mentioned information is sad, but there is a further amazing Bible prophecy which has taken place during the lifetimes of many readers. The present writer only asks that readers view this evidence objectively, rather than an assessment of the information be coloured by a ‘political’ opinion upon the rights or wrongs of one side or another in the current Palestinian/Israeli conflict. The matter under consideration in this article is the reliability of the Bible – on whether or not it is possible to reasonably and logically view the Bible as the Word of the living God. It is not to voice political support for the nation of Israel. Bible prophecy and our times This further evidence relates to prophecy about the Jews and Israel in current times. Firstly, it is helpful to think about the prophecy of the prophet Ezekiel, written more than 2,500 years ago. Ezekiel 37:21–22 reads, ‘And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD (Yahweh); Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all’. It can be seen, in this passage, that the Bible states that the Jewish people, having been scattered through the nations, would be gathered therefrom, and become ONE NATION IN THE LAND! The Jews began returning in some numbers in the latter part of the nineteenth century, but with the pogroms and then the Holocaust, they returned in greater numbers to the land which Yahweh had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen.12:7, 13:14 – 17). Following UN Resolution 181 in 1947 approving a Jewish State and an Arab state in the land of Palestine, the State of Israel was proclaimed on 14th May 1948. Thus, every time we read in the media, news coverage of events in the Levant, we are seeing evidence of the reliability of the Bible. However, the above-mentioned verses contain something more – events which are yet to happen! The prophet is inspired to reveal that the nation of Israel is to have their king and that Israel will no longer be two nations (a nation in the land of Israel and a ‘nation’ scattered throughout the earth), but a united nation in the promised land. There are many places in the Bible which identify that king and one of these is recorded by the New Testament Gospel writer Luke, where he records the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary, the mother of Jesus: Luke 1:32 – 33, ‘He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end’. (In the Bible, the term ‘Jacob’ is used, when describing a people, to denote ethnic Israel). The Bible reader can therefore be certain that as the people of Israel were scattered throughout all nations, are being regathered to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and are now a nation dwelling in that land, so also it is certain that Jesus Christ will return to establish a kingdom on the earth (Luke 21:27, Acts 1:11, Acts 3:19 – 21, 1Thess.1:10 etc). Whilst this article has only covered some of the words of the prophet Ezekiel concerning the return of the Jewish people to the land from which they went into exile, yet there many books in the Bible which repeat the theme of the restoration of Israel – such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Zechariah to mention a few. Internal Harmony of the Bible The sixty-six books of the Bible written through forty or so different writers over fifteen hundred years, contain a message which is harmonious – the many writers’ words agreeing with and complementing one another. Such is evidence that those many writers were inspired by one Eternal Spirit. For example, there is the major theme of the promised seed, namely, Jesus Christ, which can be seen throughout the Bible from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation. In Genesis 3:15, we are introduced to Jesus ‘as the seed of the woman, a son who would be born of a woman, but who by implication, who would not be born of the will of the flesh of man (c.f. John 1:13). Genesis 3:15 is as follows: ‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel’. In a word, here is a prophecy that the seed of the woman would inflict a fatal blow upon the seed of the serpent, but in so doing, would suffer a serous but non-fatal wound. The outworking of this prophecy occurred when wicked men, the seed of the serpent, crucified Jesus on the stake but were rendered powerless when God raised him from the dead. Through death, Jesus destroyed the devil (Heb.2:14). Genesis 3:15 commences the ‘seed of the woman’ prophetic theme, and contributes to an understanding of why it was necessary for the Lord Jesus to be born of a virgin (Isa.7:14, Luke 1:34 – 35, with God his Father. Salvation was to be the pre-planned work of God, not the work of man. The theme of the promised seed continues in Genesis 12:7 which reads, ‘And the LORD (Yahweh) appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD (Yahweh), who appeared unto him’. Once more, the New Testament elucidates the identification of this seed - in Galatians 3:16, the apostle Paul explains, ‘Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ’. Seed of David The ‘seed of promise’ recurs in the Bible during the era of the kings of Judah and Israel. Yahweh says to king David, in 1 Chronicles 17:9–14, ‘Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at the beginning, And since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel. Moreover I will subdue all thine enemies. Furthermore I tell thee that the LORD (Yahweh) will build thee an house. And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore’. Yet again, the New Testament Scriptures confirm the identification of the seed of son of David as being the Lord Jesus, and this time in Hebrews 1:5 ‘….I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?’ Indeed, without a comprehension of the Divine promises of the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham and the seed of David, there cannot be a full understanding of the New Testament Scriptures, which even commence with the words, in Matthew 1:1, ‘The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham’. And will conclude with the Lord Jesus saying in Revelation 22:16, ‘I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star’. Contradictions in the Bible It is often alleged that the Bible contradicts itself – if that were the case, then the Bible is not reliable, but just a compendium of ancient writings and myths. This article does not have space to attempt to show that such allegations are unfounded, but usually a careful examination of the verses being cited as contradictory can be explained by a careful reading of context, and of what is actually said or not said. A single example is given here. 2 Kings 18:5 ‘He (Hezekiah) trusted in the LORD (Yahweh) God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him’. 2 Kings 23:25 ‘And like unto him (Josiah) was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD (Yahweh) with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him’. It may seem initially to be a discord that the description of ‘none being like him before or after’ is applied to both Hezekiah and Josiah. However, a careful reading reveals that Hezekiah was being commended because he trusted in Yahweh, but Josiah was commended because he turned to Yahweh with all his heart and might according to the law of Moses. Ring of the Truth Readers will realise that the following proposal to demonstrate the reliability of the Bible is subjective, and the writer acknowledges that his reasons are somewhat anecdotal. Very many years ago when the writer first began to systematically read the Bible every day, there were two books which made a big impression in his mind. These were the prophecy of Isaiah and the book of Proverbs. The book of Isaiah seemed amazing because it contained prophecy, which was so relevant to modern times, but the book of Proverbs was so relevant to modern life because it revealed, amongst other matters, principles which describe the propensities of human nature and a better way to live. Whilst in the above-mentioned paragraphs on archaeology, Bible prophecy and the harmony of the overall Bible message, evidence has been cited, yet on the subject of ‘the ring of truth’, the writer is not submitting examples for the readers’ attention. However, the writer respectfully suggests that readers might like to read, for example, the book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, or certain New Testament letters written by the hand of Paul or Peter, and then to ask if the principles contained therein, are not a better way to live now as well as informing those who follow those principles of a glorious future through the gospel of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12).

The Bible - God's word

2 Timothy 3:16-17
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, throughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Peter 1:19-21
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

From the quotations above it can be perceived that the Bible claims to be the Word of God – the way in which God speaks to us today. Indeed, there are many more places in its pages, where this is emphasised. Frequently, we meet the words, ‘saith the LORD ’ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 ) and the prophets claim to speak the words of God – as, for example, King David 7 . The apostle Paul emphasised this when he wrote...

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds’. (Heb.1:1-2).

Reading these verses informs us that the same power, God’s spirit, that was operative in the creation of the heavens and the earth was employed to inspire holy men of old in the writing of the Bible. Creation is the evidence of the spoken Word of God ( 8 , 9 ) and the Bible is the written Word of God.

The reliability of the Bible, God’s purpose revealed in it, and our need to listen carefully to its message will be the subject of further essays in the WHAT WE BELIEVE section of our website.

It is most helpful to consider how the Lord Jesus Christ himself regarded the Bible. Surely, anyone who wishes to follow him, must follow his teaching on the matter, and the Lord Jesus was clear that the Bible – Old and New Testaments - are the Word of God...

Referring to the Hebrew Scriptures, he prayed to his Father, ‘…thy word is truth’ 10 and used the term ‘the word of God’ of the Old Testament in John 10:34-35 11 . All of his teaching was based on belief that the Old Testament is the Word of God – including the first few chapters of the book of Genesis, which describe Creation. As an illustration, we note that he bases his teaching concerning marriage on the Genesis Creation record. Matthew 19:3-6 reads...

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female [This is a citation from Gen.1:27], And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? [a citation from Gen.2:24] Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder’.

Thus, Christ’s teaching is founded upon the Old Testament books being true, including such events as the Noahic flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as words of the prophets.

Similarly, the Lord Jesus taught that the New Testament would also be the Word of God, when he promised the Holy Spirit to the apostles, saying...

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit , whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’ (John 14:26).

Likewise, concerning future events, including some which are taking place in our own day and age, the Lord Jesus promised at the beginning of the book of Revelation...

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John’ (Rev.1:1).

As Christadelphians, we therefore believe that the book we call the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, is the only source of knowledge concerning God and His purposes at present extant or available in the earth, and that the Bible was given by inspiration of God upon the writers, and is consequently without error, except such as may be due to errors of translation and transmission.

[Mouse over or tap the red numbers in the text to read the supporting Bible quotations.]

The Bible teaches that, before the foundation of the world, God planned to have a son who would be the very centre of His purpose with mankind and the earth 1,  2, 3 .

Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth is revealed as the focus of God's divine plan and the highlight of all His promises that make up the Gospel.

In prophecy Jesus is described as:

  • the seed of the woman  4 , the one who would deal with the enormous problem of sin:
  • the seed of the patriarch Abraham 5, 6 : the one who would inherit the land of Israel and indeed the whole earth 7 :
  • the prophetic fulfilment of important features in the Law of Moses such as that of the high priest and the sacrifices 8, 9 :
  • the son of king David of Israel 10, 11 who would eventually sit upon the throne of David in Jerusalem.

For God’s promises to Abraham and David to be fulfilled, Jesus must return from heaven to be king over the earth, and reign from Jerusalem 12, 13, 14, 15 . This is the Good News of the Bible – the Gospel of the kingdom of God 16, 17 .

Jesus was conceived – that is to say, came into existence, by the power of the Holy Spirit operating on the womb of the virgin Mary 18, 19, 20 . He is therefore called ‘the son of man’ being born of Mary and also called ‘the son of God’ having God as his Father.

As son of man, through his love of his Father, 21 and also his love for his spiritual brothers and sisters 22, 23, 24 , he was able to overcome the natural desires of the flesh – that is to say, using Bible words, he destroyed the devil 25, 26 . In order to achieve this, Jesus had to be of the same flesh and blood as those he came to save 27, 28, 29 . If Jesus had existed before his birth or had a nature like that of the angels, it would not have been possible for him to have overcome in himself that same human nature, which has enslaved men and women from the days of Adam and Eve.

During his ministry, as recorded in the four Gospels, Jesus demonstrated his roles as prophet, priest and king in his conduct, his preaching and by performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit 30, 31 .

Jesus died because it is right that all flesh is worthy of death 32 . Yet because he lived his mortal life without ever sinning, 33 it was right that God should raise him from the dead after three days and nights 34, 35 . Because of this, those people who believe the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ 36 , can be accounted as righteous, have their sins forgiven and have the wonderful hope of eternal life 37 .

Jesus is now at His Father’s right hand as an immortal high priest through whom faithful believers have access in prayer to the Almighty Creator 38 .

Jesus will return to the earth, and with the help of his brothers and sisters 39, 40, 41 will restore the earth to its Edenic state 42, 43 before delivering it to his Father 44 .

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Jesus Christ in God’s creation 45, 46 .

[Mouse over or tap the red numbers in the text to read the supporting Bible quotations.]

Although quoting from the King James Version of the Bible, this essay will follow more modern translations of the Bible by using the term ‘holy spirit’ rather than ‘Holy Ghost’.

In Luke 1:35 1 , it can seem that the second phrase containing the words power of the Highest, is a further description of the Holy Spirit in the preceding phrase. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the power of God. Similarly, in Luke 5:17 2 , as the Lord Jesus healed people, it is recorded that the power of the Lord was with him to heal.

The word spirit is a translation of the Greek word pneuma which is not masculine in gender, but neuter, although translators often treat the word as masculine.

Whilst the words 'the holy spirit' are mostly a New Testament term, they correlate to Old Testament usage of the Spirit of the LORD [Yahweh)’ or sometimes just ‘the Spirit’ 3 , 4 , 5 . All these terms describe God’s energy or power. Psalm 104:4 says, ‘Who (God) maketh His angels spirits’, - so the angels are embodiments of God’s Spirit. At the start of Creation, ‘the earth was without form, and void….And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters’ which originally covered the planet 6 . By the end of the sixth day the earth was transformed into a paradise, in which a physically perfect man and woman dwelt and worked 7 . God had made the earth by His power 8 . Previously, by His Spirit, He had garnished or adorned the heavens 9 .

Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh’s prophets spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit 10 . Often their words were written down deliberately for the benefit of successive generations 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 .

Occasionally, those prophets performed miracles – for example, both Elijah the prophet and Elisha who followed him miraculously fed the hungry and raised the dead 15 , 16 .

One of the most notable actions of the Spirit of God was the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary without the aid of a human father 17 . After his baptism, Jesus was given the power of the Holy Spirit 18 , 19 , by which he spoke the word of God and performed so many miracles such as feeding the 5,000, healing the sick and raising the dead 20 , 21 , 22 .

In the New Testament context, the term ‘the holy spirit’ is the power or energy of God when it is ‘set apart’ (the meaning of the word ‘holy’) for miraculous works of a redemptive nature. When given to a person, it was never given for that person’s own benefit, but for the benefit of those to whom the recipient was ministering. Indeed, a careful reading of both Old and New Testaments shows that the Spirit was never given for the recipient’s personal benefit. So, the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the first century were miraculous powers to confirm the preaching of the Gospel and to edify the early ecclesias (congregations). Hebrew 2:4 reads, ‘God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit….’ Similarly, in a cosmopolitan world, it was necessary, for example, that some members of the ecclesia could immediately speak foreign languages for preaching the Gospel, without the normal process of learning a language 23 , 24 .

When the Lord Jesus Christ promised the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in John’s Gospel chapters 14 to 16, as is evident from the above-mentioned quotations, he promised miraculous support to the apostles. For example, in John 14:26 , Jesus declared, ‘But the Comforter, which is the holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’. Thus, to facilitate their preaching work and especially also for the completion of the Bible, the apostles were promised an infallible recall of his words. For us today, as we turn the pages of the Bible, that particular promise is invaluable as we are assured that we have the true words of Jesus therein!

The purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit was to act as a witness to, and support the words of the prophets and apostles – not to replace their teaching. Additionally, it can be seen the miracles performed were prophetic of the Kingdom of God to be established when Christ returns. For example, in Acts 3:2-10, there is a healing of a man lame from birth. Amongst other things, this was prophetic of the time when Christ returns to set up a kingdom and ‘the lame man (shall) leap as an hart’ 25 .

For the first century believers, they had the Old Testament Bible and whilst the New Testament was being compiled, they also had the gifts of the Holy Spirit to compensate for not having a complete Bible. After the New Testament was completed, then the gifts were no longer available or needed. Today we have the complete Bible available to us – both Old and New Testaments - so we are in a no better or worse position that first century believers.

Finally, it is appropriate to ask how long were the gifts of the Holy Spirit available after the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost 26 ?

  • It can be noted that Israel in the wilderness were greatly helped by miraculous support in the form of the manna, water from the rock, the pillar of fire and cloud 27 together with clothes and shoes that did not wear out 28 . These gifts ceased after they entered the land under the leadership of Joshua 29 . This was for a period of 40 years. As shown below, the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the first century were available over a similar period of 40 years from Pentecost.
  • Acts 8:17-18 and 19:6 reveal that these gifts were transmitted by the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Hence when the apostles were dead (by the latter part of the first century), the Holy Spirit could no longer be given to ordinary brothers and sisters. 30

  • 1 Cor.13:8-11 teaches that the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge would come to an end ‘when that which is perfect is come.' Paul was inspired to compare the period during which those gifts were available to a childhood, after which childish things were put away (v.11). The ‘perfect’ refers to the completion of the Bible 31 c.f. James 1:23-25)

  • In Acts 2:17, the apostle Peter, citing the prophet Joel, revealed that the pouring out of the Spirit would be upon three generations. The verse reads, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…’

  • In John 9:4 Jesus said that the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit would cease ‘when night cometh,…’ This is a reference to Micah 3:6 (with a similar context of the elders of Israel refusing the testimony of the Spirit - vs.1 & 8) ‘Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision;….and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them’. Mic.3:12 places a precise dating as to when that would happen – ‘Therefore shall Zion ….be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps,…”, which took place in AD70 with a final demolition in AD135. Thus the witnessing gifts of the Spirit were no longer passed on after AD70 and weere extinguished from the earth by AD135.

To sum up: the Holy Spirit is the power or energy of God, and the term equates to the Spirit of Yahweh in the Old Testament. By that power, the heavens and earth were formed. By the Spirit of Yahweh, God’s prophets spoke and wrote down the words of God in the Old Testament and sometimes they performed miracles.

In the New Testament, Jesus himself was inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak the words of His Father, and perform miracles which demonstrated that he was sent by God. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was achieved by the power of the Spirit. Likewise, spirit-inspired apostles such as Peter and Paul preached and wrote the word of God in the New Testament. The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were a prophetic witness that their preaching was of God. The apostles had the particular ability to lay their hands on believers that they also might share in some of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Transmission of the spirit by laying on of hands passed away as the apostles died.

So today, believers do not have the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but what they do have is the whole Bible – Old and New Testaments, that those believers might be ‘sanctified’ (John 17:17), that they might be wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’ (2Tim.3:15).

[Mouse over or tap the red numbers in the text to read the supporting Bible quotations.]

The Bible reveals God to be the Creator and Sustainer of all things 1, 2 .

He dwells in the heavens in unapproachable light 3 .

He is all powerful, all wise, a God of love, mercy, holiness, righteousness and truth 4 .

God is one, 5, 6, 7 and is Spirit 8 and both these descriptions convey the meaning of a single unlimited power as opposed to the limitations of flesh and blood or a pantheon of gods.

God’s Name is Yahweh 9, 10 11 .

God sends his angels to carry out His work in controlling the nations 12 , and also to direct the lives of individuals who seek to live in accordance with His commandments. 13, 14 .

The existence of God can be proven in at least two ways...

1. There is repeated emphasis in the Bible that God is the Creator of all things 15, 16, 17, , 18, , and the evidence of the Creator’s hand is clearly seen in the design and beauty of creation 19 .

2. Fulfilled Bible prophecy shows that there is a God Who has foretold events, sometimes a few years, and sometimes thousands of years, before they happen 20, 21, 22 .

Examples can be seen in the story of the Jewish people, whose history was described in advance in the Bible - in particular in Deuteronomy chapter 28, written about 1400BCE. It contains a large section describing in detail terrible events which would overtake Israel if they abandonned belief in their God. In verses 64-67, there is a prophecy of their extreme suffering during the Holocaust (1941-45) . 23 . In fact, Scripture not only contains Yahweh's warnings of punishment for disobedience, but also the sad fact that his people would, repeatedly, disobey, and because of this, He declares that the Jewish people are unwilling witnesses to His existence 24 .

There are also many passages of the Bible which describe the Jewish people returning to the land of their forefathers and becoming a nation state in that land, albeit in unbelief of the messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth 25, 26 .

Similarly, the Old Testament prophecies are filled with descriptions of the Lord Jesus Christ. A wonderful example is found in Psalm 22, which describes the death by crucifixion of Jesus in detail 27 . Isaiah chapter 53 is another accurate prediction of the life and suffering of Christ 28 .

Many more examples of fulfilled Bible prophecy are available, and it must be emphasised: these are not generalised predictions but are detailed and verifiable revelations.

The grand purpose of God with mankind and the earth is contained in His name Yahweh, which means He who will be. It is the Divine purpose that His character of mercy and truth will be demonstrated by a family of men and women who have chosen to believe in Him 29, and whom he will adopt as His sons and daughters. This wonderful hope is open to all those who truly believe that God is righteous but merciful and that His promises to the patriarchs Abraham 30 and David 31 will be fulfilled. These promises of a glorious future world are called The Gospel of the Kingdom of God 32 .

Membership of this family depends on committed acceptance that salvation from sin and death is only available through belief in the name of Jesus Christ 33 , and an earnest desire to have a character like Jesus. At the resurrection, when Jesus returns, such men and women hope to be graciously granted such a holy character, and a body which will live forever 34 , so that they populate the earth and work at filling it with God’s glory 35, 36 .

This simple belief in Yahweh, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, brings settled hope, and confidence for the future.