In our last lesson we learned that we should honor Jesus as the Lord of our lives. He is the Son of God who died to save us from our sins, and He will one day return to judge us. We should obey His will, imitate the principles He lived by, and serve Him as our highest priority.
However, Jesus is no longer on earth to personally teach us. Where can we go to learn His will today? This is the theme of this lesson.
I. Jesus’ Teachings Are Recorded in the Bible.
Jesus knew that He would leave earth and return to heaven, so during His lifetime He carefully gave instructions to His apostles. After He left, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles to write His instructions in the New Testament Scriptures.
>>> Read JOHN 16:13. <
*1&2* What did Jesus say the Spirit of truth would do for the apostles? Answer: The Spirit would ______ them into ______ truth.
>>> Read JOHN 20:29-31. <
*3* How can people believe in Jesus even when they have not seen Him? (a) they can’t believe, (b) they need a modern-day prophet, (c) they can believe by reading what the inspired men wrote in the Bible. Answer: ______.
*4* What blessing can people receive if they believe what is written? Answer: By believing we can have ______ in His name.
>>> Read EPHESIANS 3:3-5. <
*5* What did Paul do with the knowledge revealed to him? (a) he wrote it down, (b) he kept it a secret, (c) it is still an unknown mystery. Answer: ______.
*6* How can other people learn what Paul knew? Answer: We can understand when we ______ what he wrote.
Note that, although the gospel message had been unknown (a mystery) in the past, it was revealed or “made known” to the New Testament apostles and prophets. Now we can know it by reading what they wrote.
>>> Read 1 CORINTHIANS 14:37. <
*7* Whose commands did Paul write? Answer: Paul wrote the commands of the ______.
You and I today can know the teachings of the Lord Jesus by reading the New Testament Scriptures written by His inspired prophets.
[See also Matt. 10:19f; Luke 10:16; John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; 11:23; 15:3; Gal. 1:11,12; 2 Peter 1:12-15,21; 3:1,2; 1 John 1:1-4; 2:1-17; Rev. 1:11.]
II. The Gospel Is a Perfect Revelation.
Sometimes people wonder how adequately the Scriptures reveal the teachings of Jesus for us today. Do they contain all we need to know, or are there teachings that we need but do not have? Can we understand what is taught? Has the message been lost or perverted over the years, so that we today no longer have the true and complete will of Jesus?
A. The Scriptures Reveal All God’s Will for Us.
Remember, Jesus promised that the apostles would receive “all truth” (John 16:13), and they wrote down what they received.
>>> Read ACTS 20:20,27. <
*8* How much of God’s will did Paul teach to others? (a) he kept back parts that were needed, (b) he preached the whole counsel of God, (c) there were important truths that he never even received. Answer: ______.
>>> Read 2 PETER 1:3. <
*9* How much of God’s will had people in Peter’s lifetime received? Answer: They received ______ things pertaining to life and godliness.
>>> Read 2 TIMOTHY 3:16,17. <
*10* For what purposes are the Scriptures profitable? (a) teaching and instructing us in righteousness, (b) reproving and correcting us, (c) completely providing all good works, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.
*11* If the Scriptures provide us to all good works, then do we need some standard of religious authority in addition to the Bible? (yes or no) Answer: ______.
The gospel is the perfect law of liberty, which is able to save our souls (James 1:21,25). We need no further revelation because the Bible completely reveals all God’s will for man. It teaches everything we need to know to be saved. Since the first-century apostles and prophets received all truth, it follows that any doctrine taught today, which they did not record in the Bible, must not be true.
[See also Matt. 28:20; Col. 4:12; Heb. 13:20,21.]
B. The Scriptures Are Understandable.
Remember that the apostles wrote down what had been revealed to them, so that others could understand the message (Ephesians 3:3-5).
>>> Read MARK 7:14. <
*12* What did Jesus expect his hearers to do? Answer: They were supposed to hear and ______.
Notice that Jesus spoke here to the “multitude” of common people and He required “everyone” of them to understand what He taught.
>>> Read ACTS 17:11. <
*13* How did these people determine whether or not the things they heard were true? (a) they searched the Scriptures daily, (b) they needed a college education, (c) they needed a priest to explain it to them. Answer: ______.
Could they do this if the Scriptures are impossible to understand? If people cannot understand the Bible, why did God give it to us?
>>> Read 1 CORINTHIANS 14:33. <
*14* God is not the author (or cause) of what? Answer: ______.
God is the author of the Scriptures. Now if the Bible has been written in such a way that it is impossible for men to study and understand it, then God would be the author of confusion. Since He is not the author of confusion, then the Bible must be a book that we can understand.
Remember that the Scriptures are profitable to teach, reprove, instruct, and supply us completely to all good works (2 Timothy 3:15-17). They are able to make one wise to salvation. But if we could not understand the Scriptures, then they would not profit in any of these things.
God revealed the Scriptures so men could understand His will. Anyone who believes God is all-wise and all-powerful, must also believe the Bible is a book that can be understood.
[See also 2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 5:17; Isa. 55:11; Psalm 119:104,105,130.]
C. The Scriptures Have Been Accurately Preserved.
The Holy Spirit guided the New Testament writers to record Jesus’ teachings so those teachings could guide future generations. In order for the Scriptures to accomplish this, God would have to preserve them.
>>> Read 2 PETER 1:12-15; 3:1,2. <
*15* Peter was writing so that people would have a record of his teachings after he died. What would this message do for them? Answer: It would ______ them of the apostles’ commands.
>>> Read JOHN 12:48. <
*16* By what standard will men be judged? (a) by their own consciences, (b) by the teachings of their priests, (c) by Jesus’ words. Answer: ______.
Jesus’ words will judge men at the last day. This means that Jesus’ words must endure till the judgment and must be available to men, so we can know what to do to prepare for the judgment. Jesus’ words are preserved for us in the written word of the Scriptures.
>>> Read 1 PETER 1:22-25. <
*17* What is the seed by which we are born again? Answer: We are born again by the incorruptible seed, which is the ______ of God.
*18* How long will God’s word endure? (a) forever, (b) 2 generations, (c) like a plant that grows then dies, it was lost in the middle ages. Answer: ______.
>>> Read 2 JOHN 2. <
*19* How long will the truth be with us? Answer: The truth will be with us ______.
God intended for the faith to be delivered to His people only “once” (Jude 3). He delivered it in the first century, then He preserved it through the centuries till today. We today have the perfect and complete teachings of Jesus in a form we can understand in the Scriptures.
[See also Psa. 12:6,7; Heb. 13:20; Isa. 30:8; 59:20,21; Matt. 24:35.]
III. Jesus’ Instructions for Today Are Found in the New Testament, Not the Old.
Some people believe that we today need a special priesthood or should rest on the seventh day of the week because the Old Testament law required this. Others claim that God never changes His law, so if He ever commanded anything, then everyone must always keep that command. But God once commanded a man to build an ark and another man to sacrifice his son (Gen. 6:13-7:5; 22:1-19). Must we do these today?
God Himself says He has changed His laws about circumcision (cf. Gen. 17:9-14 to 1 Cor. 7:18-20; Gal. 5:1-8; 6:12-16), the Levitical priesthood (cf. Ex. 40:12-16; 29:1-9 to Heb. 7:11-18; 1 Pet. 2:5,9), and animal sacrifices (cf. Num. 15:1-6 to Heb. 10:1-18), just to name a few examples.
These Scriptures clearly prove that God has made changes in his laws. Some commands were intended just for certain specific people, not for all people everywhere. Other commands served a temporary purpose. When they fulfilled their purpose, they were no longer needed, so God removed them.
What about the Old Testament laws, including the laws given through Moses. Are they still in effect today, or do we follow only the teachings of the New Testament?
>>> Read ROMANS 7:2-6. <
*20* When is a woman free from her husband? (a) when she divorces him, (b) when she becomes a Christian, (c) when he dies. Answer: ______.
*21* What is our relation to the law? (a) we are subject to it, (b) we are freed from it and joined to Christ, (c) we should still keep parts of it. Answer: ______.
>>> Read HEBREWS 10:9,10. <
Hebrews is a lengthy comparison of the “first” or “old covenant” compared to the “second” or “new covenant.” The first covenant included the animal sacrifices, the Levitical priesthood, the tabernacle, and the “tables of the covenant” or the 10 Commands (see 7:11-14; 9:1-5; 10:1-8). In fact it included “every precept” given through Moses (9:18-21).
*22&23* What did Jesus do to these two covenants? Answer: He ______ the first that He may ______ the second.
Because of what Jesus did, “the law” (first covenant) was changed or annulled (7:12,18). It was made old, so it vanished away (8:6-13). All this was done in harmony with God’s will, not contrary to it.
>>> Read COLOSSIANS 2:14,16. <
*24&25* What did Christ do to the handwriting of ordinances? Answer: He took it ______ nailing it to His ______.
*26* Should we let people judge us for not keeping the sabbath? (yes or no) Answer: ______.
The Old Testament law, given through Moses, applied only to the nation of Israel and only till Jesus died. The teaching of Jesus for people today is recorded in the New Testament, the gospel. It is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).
[See also 2 Cor. 3:6-11; Gal. 3:24,25; 5:1-6; Eph. 2:11-16.]
IV. We Should Reject Man-Made Doctrines.
Many people today claim to follow Jesus, but they participate in religious practices and organizations that are not authorized in the gospel. Yet the New Testament provides us to all good works, so other practices cannot be from Jesus. They are human in origin [cf. Matt. 21:25].
A. What Does Jesus Think of Man-Made Doctrines?
>>> Read MATTHEW 15:9,13,14. <
*27* How does Jesus describe our worship if it is based on human doctrine (v9) ? (a) it is vain, (b) it is acceptable, (c) it doesn’t matter. Answer: ______.
Fallible men cannot know what pleases God without revelation from God. The “way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Only by following the teaching of Jesus can we know what is pleasing to God.
>>> Read GALATIANS 1:8,9. <
*28* What is the condition of one who preaches a different gospel? Answer: He is ______.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
>>> Read 2 JOHN 9. <
*29* What happens to someone who teaches things not found in the teachings that come from Jesus? Answer: He does not have ______.
Remember that all Jesus’ teachings were recorded in the New Testament by the original apostles and prophets. To follow Jesus, we must do only the things taught in His word. If we follow practices He has not authorized, then we are following men instead of following Jesus.
Even if no passage specifically forbids a certain practice, that does not mean the practice is acceptable. Instead, we should ask, “Where did Jesus say we should do this?” If a practice is not authorized in His word, we should avoid it.
[See also Rev. 22:18,19; Col. 3:17; Prov. 3:5,6; 2 Cor. 10:12,18.]
B. Some Examples of Human Authority in Religion
People often accept man-made religious practices without realizing why they accept them. Often they are following human authorities such as those we are about to consider. (Note that some of these things do have a right to exist. The danger comes when they are viewed as authority which people follow to determine what they believe or practice.)
Some people think, “It was good enough for my mother (or wife, etc.), so it’s good enough for me.” This makes the family our authority, instead of Jesus. We should be glad if our families follow the Bible, but most people’s families are in error (Matthew 7:13,14). Most Christians in the New Testament had to leave their family religion.
*30* If our family is involved in practices not found in the gospel, should we still practice as they do? (yes or no) Answer: ______.
[Note Matt. 10:34-37; Acts 5:29; Gal. 1:13,14.]
Conscience, feelings, sincerity
We need sincerity and a good conscience, but these become the standard for some people. “Just let your conscience be your guide. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.”
>>> Read ACTS 23:1; 26:9. <
*31* Even before his conversion, Paul was sincere and had a good conscience. At that time was he (a) right, (b) wrong, (c) it didn’t matter? Answer: ______.
One can be sincere and have a good conscience, yet be the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:13-15). Your conscience only tells you whether or not you are doing what you believe to be right. Like a clock, it will not be reliable unless it has been set properly.
[See also Prov. 14:12; 28:26; Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Cor. 10:18.]
Some people just accept whatever their preacher says. “My preacher is well educated, and he would not mislead me?.” Preachers can help us learn Jesus’ will, but they must not become the standard of authority. Preachers are wrong when they differ from what Jesus said. [See also Acts 17:11; 20:29,30; Matt. 7:15; 15:14; 1 John 4:1,6; 2 Cor. 11:13-15.]
*32* Should we accept what our preacher says if he cannot show it in the Bible? (yes or no) Answer: ______.
Church creeds, traditions, and decrees of councils
Many denominations write books that the group follows as authority or doctrinal standards. Any creed that contains more than the Bible contains too much. Any creed that contains less than the Bible contains too little. All human creeds and church laws are made on the assumption that fallible humans can write a better standard than the Bible!
“And by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3-6). A true disciple devotes his lifetime to serving his Master’s will. During your lifetime you must choose whether or not you will serve Jesus. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15; cf. 1 John 5:3). Do you follow Jesus or do you follow men?
Personal application questions:
(These questions are for you to ponder. Your answers will help us understand your thinking, however they will not affect your “score.”)
*33* Do you believe we need any source of religious authority other than the Bible? ___________
*34* What conclusion do you believe we should reach about religious doctrines or practices that are not found in the Bible? __________
*35* What do you believe about Old Testament practices that are not included in the New Testament? __________