By John F. Walvoord
As a college freshman I surrendered my life to the Lord and was immediately confronted with questions. What should I make of my life? What did God want me to do? My initial response was that God wanted me to be a missionary, possibly to China. To achieve this goal I decided to complete college and seminary.
It also seemed important that I should learn what the Bible teaches about life, as I recognized it as the Word of God. My mother had given me a Scofield Reference Bible while I was still in high school, and I set myself to read through the Scriptures twice a year. In doing this, I discovered biblical truth as it related to my faith and life.
Later, when graduating from seminary, it became clear to me that God wanted me to dedicate my life to teaching others who were preparing for Christian work, and I accepted a faculty position at Dallas Theological Seminary, where I served for fifty years. I had the joy of seeing thousands of young people, after seminary preparation, going out into the ministry, including many to the foreign field. As I discovered biblical truth through years of study, and passed it on to others, I found that the Bible answers all the important questions concerning this life and the life to come.
From the dawn of history inquisitive humankind has reached for answers to the question of the origin of the world. The Bible reveals that God taught Adam and Eve concerning the divine origin of creation and gave meaning to the order and beauty of nature. But, as the Scriptures reveal, man soon turned from God and divine revelation to find his own answers as embodied in the many false religions that came into existence. As Romans 1:21-32 describes so clearly, idolatry and immorality replaced worship and obedience to God. Then, as now, men forsook the truth and gave themselves to false religion and immorality.
According to the Bible man as originally created was made in the image and likeness of God. As stated in Genesis 1:27, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The history of people as recorded in Scripture reveals that they knew God, that God spoke to them directly, and that He gave them various instructions concerning their life on earth, including the instruction that they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
When Adam and Eve sinned by partaking of the forbidden fruit, however, they immediately became conscious of their sin and of their departure from the righteousness of God. As we study the Bible it reveals to us our own sin and the fact that we too have departed from God, but with this we find God’s wonderful remedy in salvation. Adam and Eve, having been driven out of the Garden of Eden, faced the sad results of the wreckage that sin brought to the human race. But, for many generations God spoke directly to them, giving them instructions concerning who He was and what He wished them to do. This included the instruction to Abel, Adam and Eve’s son, concerning the kind of sacrifice that he was to offer to God, one in which an animal was killed and blood was shed. As Hebrews 9:22 expresses it, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Although the Bible does not record it, apparently man was also given many moral commands, and because he failed, God had to wipe out the human race with the flood. The Bible is a faithful record of the sin of man and the results it brings. It clearly indicates what our response to the temptation of sin should be and how God can help us obey Him. At the time of the flood God gave specific instructions to Noah concerning the building of the ark in which Noah and his family would be saved when the rest of the world was destroyed by a flood. Communication from God, however, continued, and it is apparent from Scripture that people knew a great deal about God long before the Bible itself was written.
An outstanding illustration of this is the book of Job, which records the life of Job and his problem with suffering and sin. Commenting on Job’s problems, his companions stated the many aspects of truth they already knew and some things they had failed to comprehend correctly. The book of Job, however, is so complete in its revelation concerning God and His works that a theology could be written based upon what is stated in that one book. Accordingly, when Abram came on the scene in Genesis 11, humankind already knew a great deal about God and His ways, and Abram received additional important revelation.
Competing with the revelation that came from God were the myths and false religious concepts that were promoted by the devil, even as false religions abound today. These began in the Garden of Eden, where the devil had lied about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and had told Eve, “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). This led to Eve’s sin and partaking of the fruit. Subsequently, the devil continued his work of spreading false religion and corrupting the human race, which God judged with the flood that cleansed the earth of all humankind except Noah’s family. Following the flood, however, the descendants of Noah again were the victims of false religion, which produced the worship of many gods and the creation of many idols. This situation has continued to the present day.
About 1,500 years before Christ, Moses produced the first written Scripture. It served to reveal the truth concerning God and His will for man in an explicit and clear form. Today the Bible in its entirety, the Old and New Testaments, constitutes the revelation of who God is, what His goals and purposes are, and what His rule is for humankind on the earth. Discovering the truth of Scripture is discovering the truth about God.
In Scripture not only does God record history and revelation that relates to history in times past and God’s present purpose of salvation in Christ for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, but also God reveals the future, from the present into eternity future. Understanding prophecy helps us to prepare for the future that the Bible reveals and teaches us how we can live for eternal values.
About one-fourth of the Bible dealt with the future when it was written. Though many of these prophecies have already been fulfilled, Christians justify their faith in the fact that God knows the future completely. The remaining prophecies are yet to be fulfilled and constitute the important truths about the future. A thorough study of this as provided in the Scriptures will give direction and goals to humankind and will serve to alert all who will heed its admonitions that God is going to judge the world. Eventually God will bring in His eternal kingdom, which will continue forever in the new heaven and the new earth.
The study of prophecy is a fascinating subject and does so much to cast light upon our present path as well as to give the believer in Christ a solid hope for the future. The prophecies of the Bible stand out in sharp contrast to the false prophecies that often characterize false religions. Though there is much in prophecy that can only be partially understood, what is revealed is sufficient to give us clear guidance for our life on earth and our hope for the future.
1. What is the first question facing a person who wants to do God’s will?
2. Does God want everyone to be a foreign missionary? Why?
3. What is the role of the Bible in determining the will of God?
4. What is the role of the Bible in answering questions?
5. What does the Bible reveal about the origin of human sin?
6. What is the place of bloody sacrifice in religion?
7. What are some of the important results of sin?
8. How should we respond to the Bible’s revelation of sin?
9. How much did God reveal about Himself before the Bible was written?
10. What did God reveal to Noah?
11. How much does the book of Job reveal about God?
12. Were there early departures from true religious belief?
13. What does the Bible reveal about Satan in the early chapters of Genesis?
14. What was added to divine revelation by Moses?
15. Why does one need to study the whole Bible?
16. What is the special benefit of studying prophecy?
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