“To suppose the Bible to be human is to raise insurmountable difficulties, and to do violence to every reasonable probability. The only truly rational theory of the book is that supplied by itself. ‘Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21). In this we find an explanation of the whole matter” (Brother Roberts, Christendom Astray, page 20)
As mentioned in the last issue, it is our intention to have younger brethren prepare a synopsis of the salient points which Brother Roberts makes in each lecture of Christendom Astray. By so doing we hope that many may be assisted, both in their understanding of the subject matter set forth and also in their ability to clearly and systematically present the doctrines of the Truth to others. For those who wish to work through Christendom Astray with these brethren it is necessary to first read through the lecture yourself so that these notes may then be of assistance to you.

Lecture 1

The Overall Objective

 To describe what the Bible is and the principles upon which it is to be understood.

Christendom is Astray from Bible Teaching

  • It is a recognised fact that Christendom is astray from the doctrines and practices established by the apostles
  • Some use this fact to justify unbelief, while others (the Church) claim that this is an advancement with the times as the apostolic institutions are now outdated
  • The apostles foretold this apostasy of the Faith (2 Tim 4:3–4; Acts 20:30; 2 Peter 2:1–2; 1 John 4:1; 2 Tim 2:17; Rev 18:23)
  • The aim of the following lectures in Christendom Astray will be to establish what the Bible teaches.         

The Bible – What it is

  • Throughout these lectures the Divine authorship of the Bible is assumed
  • The Bible is a book written by forty authors, living in different ages, without possible concert or collusion, producing a book which in all its parts is pervaded by one spirit, one doctrine, one design and an air of sublime authority which is its peculiar characteristic
  • The writers often suffered trials, loss of friends, loss of personal gain and even death which nobody would willingly undergo unless motivated by something greater than personal ambition (Heb 11:36–38)
  • To suppose the Bible to be human is to raise insurmountable difficulties, and to do violence to every reasonable probability
  • The Bible supplies the answer to its existence “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

Its unity is seen in that the Old Testament writings are endorsed by Jesus Christ (Luke 16:29,31; 24:27), and by Paul (2 Timothy 3:15).

The Roots of Christendom’s Error

  • The natural lawlessness of the human mind is an element in the various attempts to defame a book which exalts the authority of God
  • The early Church became so corrupted that for 1000 years Roman Catholic superstition was universal and enshrouded the world in moral, intellectual and religious darkness so gross as to be termed “the dark ages”
  • The Protestant Reformation, while liberating the human intellect from priestly thraldom, did little to rectify doctrinal error and the greatest heresies of the Church of Rome were retained by Protestants
  • Although the Bible is readily available today people are too engrossed in the common occupations of life to study it. Thus they remain in ignorance of Bible truth, allowing their clergyman to keep them in that darkness
  • If they were to study diligently and devotedly they would make a startling discovery; they would be astonished that they ever regarded popular religion as the truth of God.

  How to Interpret the Bible

  • Paul wrote: “The scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation” (2 Tim 3:15). How is this effect produced? There is only one answer: by the language it employs. The Bible means what it says
  • The message of the Bible, in the main, is to be given a literal interpretation using the normal rules of speech. The theory that it should be interpreted purely as figurative is incorrect
  • The Bible does however use figures on occasions but these do not interfere with the literal interpretation. Both are clearly distinct from the other and perform separate functions in giving its message
  • Metaphorical language in the Bible can be as easily discerned as in everyday speech and rarely confused with the literal. For example Egypt is spoken of as an iron furnace (Deut 4:20) and the nations likened to rivers and waters (Isa 8:7; 18:2)
  • The idea that the literal language of the Bible should be “spiritualised” is incorrect and makes the Bible completely unintelligible
  • To understand the Bible the literal must be recognised and studied as the alphabet of spiritual things and the mind, established upon this immovable basis, will be prepared to ascend to the comprehension of those deeper things of God which are concealed in enigmas, for the study of those who delight to search out His mind.

What is the Relevance of the Old Testament?

  • The New Testament is based upon the Old and the teachings of Christ were drawn from it. He consistently endorsed the Old Testament (Luke 24:27) and Paul claimed that these Scriptures were able to make us wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15)
  • The Old Testament lays the foundation for all that is involved in the New. The New Testament is simply an appendage to the Old, valuable beyond price and indispensable in the most absolute sense; but in itself, apart from the Old Testament, far from being sufficient to give us that perfection of Christian knowledge which constitutes a person “wise unto salvation”. The two combined form the complete revelation of God to man, vouchsafed for his spiritual renovation in the present, and his constitutional perfection in the future.

Conclusion

  • Never mind if others do not consider it their business to study the Bible. Remember the majority have always been in the wrong in all ages of the world
  • Do as Peter told the Jewish assembly to do in Jerusalem: “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40).