Which Books are the Word of God?
I have sometimes been asked by students in my World Religions course at Essex County College about why the Bible does not include other ancient "Gospels". These Gospels include the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, and the Gospel of Judas. It would have been helpful if God had printed the Bible in his heavenly print shop and had his angels deliver this "divinely authorized" Bible, but since God didn't give us such a Bible, we must rely on a more human process. All of the writings found in the Bible (Jews call their Scriptures the "Tanak" an acronym for Torah, Nevi'im or Prophets, and Ketuvim or Writings) were written by God's prophets, poets, apostles, and other holy men. The Apostle Peter said,
Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.(2 Peter 1:21).1 These prophets and apostles were all Jews with the possible exception of Luke who may have been a Gentile. The prophets and apostles made copies of their writings, and communities of Jews and Christians collected these writings into special collections. Christians call these collections the "Old Testament" and the "New Testament". The problem is some people have different collections. For example, the Roman Catholic Bible includes other writings--the so-called "Apocrypha"--that are not in Protestant Bibles. The Apocryphal books include: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (also known as Sirach), Baruch, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and 1 and 2 Maccabees.
Since there are other Gospels, e.g. the Gospel of Thomas, and the Apocrypha, how do we know which writings should be in our Bibles? Authorship is very important. The prophets and apostles believed that God was speaking through them and their writings. Believers accepted these writings as the word of God. Other writings, however, are anonymous. In other words, we don't know who wrote them, writings like Kings and Chronicles. Jews and Christians have accepted these writings as the word of God because through the centuries, men and women of God have recognized the voice of God speaking in and through them. Ultimately, authorship and recognition of the voice and authority of God in the writings have been the most important criteria for accepting these writings as the word of God.
The question is have you recognized God's voice in the Scriptures and have you accepted God's authority over your life?
Trying to keep it real,
Pastor Steve Lorenz
February 15th, 2017
12 Peter 1:21; THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. All other references to the Bible are from the NIV.
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