Christians have always been people of the book

Voltaire:

Voltaire, the noted 18th century French philosopher, said that it took centuries to built up Christianity, but “I’ll show how just one Frenchman can destroy it within 50 years.” Taking his pen, he dipped it into the ink of unbelief and wrote against God.

 Twenty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society purchased his house for printing the Bible. And it later became the Paris headquarters for the British and Foreign Bible Society. The Bible is still a best-seller; an entire 6-volume set of Voltaire’s works was once sold for 90¢. 

I love stories such as that. I like poetic justice.

I am preaching through a series about historic Christian beliefs. I am talking about things which Christians agree upon, or more specifically, answering the question, Can we agree? YES WE CAN.

Listen, what binds us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. Christians have always valued the Bible.

The early Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (Nicene Creed AD 325 edited at the Council of Constantinople in 381) which I read last week states “According to the Scriptures.” From the early days of the church we have valued the Scriptures.

We have valued the Scriptures all throughout church history.

A few months ago I spoke about the reformation and this year is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis which was on October 31, 1517. Martin Luther learned Greek and was studying Romans. You see a year before 1517, the first Greek translation of the New Testament was published. Prior to this time the people used the Latin Vulgate. In 1516 the Greek New Testament was published. When Luther got ahold of that Greek New Testament, Luther realized that the Latin Vulgate was wrong. The Latin vulgate had translated the word, best translated in English as “repent,” as “do penance.”

Reformation, the real hero was the Bible, being the Greek New Testament. But I want to show you that long before this time, Christians, Catholics from early on, valued the Bible.

My theme today: Christians have always, ALWAYS, been people of the book.

Application: read Psalm 119 this week.

This sermon will be more left brained, which means more “heady.” I will never do it again.

  1. Let’s start with Scripture. Scripture affirms Scripture.
    1. If you have been with First Baptist for the last few years you know some of these passages.
    2. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    3. 2 Peter 1:20-21: Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.For 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.
    4. 2 Peter 3:16: He [The Apostle Paul] writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.
    5. Just a few noted before we move on. We can tell based on those passages that Scripture values Scripture. I say that and you could easily say, “duh,” but realize that the Bible was written by 39 or 40 different Realize the Bible was written over about a 2400 year period. All of these authors affirm the value of the Bible.
    6. The first two passages I shared with you show that the authors affirm the Old Testament. But the last passage lumps Paul in with the other Scriptures. So, the Apostle Peter considered Paul on the same level as the Old Testament prophets and Scriptures.
    7. Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
  2. We value the Bible today, they valued the Bible is the Bible times, what about Church History?
    1. Let’s start with some of the early church fathers.
    2. Hippolytus, d. c. AD 235: If there is a day on which there is no instruction, let each one at home take a holy book and read in it sufficiently what seems profitable. (Apostolic Tradition36:1)

Tradition defined by Irenaeus and Tertullian is simply the teaching of Scripture. It was Irenaeus who stated that while the Apostles at first preached orally, their teaching was later committed to writing (the Scriptures), and the Scriptures had since that day become the pillar and ground of the Churches faith. His exact statement is as follows: “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.”

  1. There are over 5700 copies of the manuscripts. They are being found all the time.
  2. This is evidence of its validity.
  3. “In evaluating the significance of these statistics…one should consider, by way of contrast, the number of manuscripts which preserve the text of the ancient classics. Homer’sIliad…is preserved by 457 papyri, 2 uncial [all capital letters] manuscripts, and 188 minuscule [small or lower case letters] manuscripts. Among the tragedians the witnesses to Euripides are the most abundant; his extant works are preserved in 54 papyri and 276 parchment manuscripts, almost all of the later dating from the Byzantine period…the time between the composition of the books of the New Testament and the earliest extant copies is relatively brief. Instead of the lapse of a millennium or more, as is the case of not a few classical authors, several papyrus manuscripts of portions of the New Testament are extant which were copies within a century or so after the composition of the original documents.” Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-516667-1
  4. Yes, some are torn, but we have copies going back to A.D. 125 (The John Ryland’s Manuscript), this is phenomenal.
  5. David Bauer: The very earliest manuscripts are largely fragments; but we also have almost complete early and reliable texts, such as Alexandrinus [ Fifth Century the majority of the Old Testament LXX and the New Testament] and Vaticanus [Fourth century Old and New Testaments, likely 325 A.D].  The argument that the manuscript tradition of the NT is such that we do not have a reliable text is specious; your speaker was apparently repeating the Muslim critique of Christianity, viz., that the text of our Scriptures is corrupt.
  6. If we lost all of our New Testament manuscripts, we could put the New Testament back together simply based off of the writings of the church father. The church fathers quoted the New Testament that much. That must lead a conclusion that they valued the New Testament.
  7. Martin Luther said: “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.”
  8. Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
  1. Scripture
    1. 1 Corinthians 14:37: Paul wrote: If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.
    2. Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
    3. The Bible in the early creed, the Bible was valued by the church fathers. The Bible was valued heavily during the renaissance/reformation period. The Bible is valued today.
    4. Christians agree on the value of the Bible. What do Christians agree on?
      1. The Bible
      2. The church
  • The resurrection
  1. The deity of Christ
  2. The virgin birth
  3. The Holy Trinity
  • Salvation by Jesus alone.

Conclusion:

We must read the Bible

We must value the Bible

We must love the Bible

We must submit to the Bible

The Bible is the judge of us, we are not the judge of the Bible.

 

Let me say a word about discouragement. Sometimes we do not read or study the Bible because we are discouraged. We see such a huge book and we think, “Where do I begin?” Please don’t let this happen. The devil wants to keep you from this book. Begin one book at a time. Begin with John’s Gospel. Begin with one Psalm or one Proverb a day. Just read small bits.

 

The message of the Bible in one sentence:

Kevin DeYoung:

A holy God sends his righteous Son to die for unrighteous sinners so we can be holy and live happily with God forever.

Ray Ortlund:

The Lover of our souls won’t let the romance die, but is rekindling it forever.

 

Application:

Read Psalm 119 this week.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

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