Study of God, Part I, The Bible
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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.
We believe the Bible is the God breathed Word of God.
Last week I began a study on Christian Doctrine or what I am calling the “Study of God.” As we study God it is critical that we recognize the authoritative source is the Bible. The Bible is the authoritative source and the Bible comes from God.
The Bible is God’s Word and is the Reference Point for our Study of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:16)
Preaching Point(s): Christianity thrives or dies based off of a belief in the Word of God.
God has revealed Himself, just think about that. Isn’t that powerful?
- Let’s start with Scripture. Scripture affirms Scripture.
- I know these passages are not new to many of you.
- 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 Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
- 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.
- 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.
- Just a few notes 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.
- 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.
- Some thirty-eight hundred times the Bible declares, “God said,” or “Thus says the Lord” (e.g. Ex. 14:1; 20:1; Lev. 4:1; Num. 4:1; Deut. 4:2; 32:48; Isa. 1:10, 24; Jer. 1:11; Ezek. 1:3; etc.)
- The best defense of the Bible is Jesus’ view: Matt 5:17-18: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
- Wayne Grudem shares: Jesus referred to dozens of OT persons and events and always treated OT history as historically accurate. He quoted from Genesis as his Father’s Word when he said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:4–6). Jesus not only assumed that the creation story was true, he also freely quoted words from the OT narrator as words that God himself “said.” It is not uncommon for Jesus’ theological arguments to depend on the truthfulness of the OT account (Matt. 5:12; 11:23–24; 12:41–42; 24:37–39; Luke 4:25–27; 11:50–51; John 8:56–58). Jesus’ view of the OT as the Word of God aligns with the way the OT regularly speaks of itself.
- Jesus saw his entire life as a fulfillment of Scripture (Matt. 26:54; Mark 8:31). Throughout his life, Jesus used Scripture to resist temptation (Matt. 4:1–11) and to settle disputes (Matt. 19:1–12; 22:39; 27:46; Mark 7:1–13; Luke 10:25–26). At the end of his life, Jesus died quoting Scripture (cf. Matt. 27:46 with Ps. 22:1). On his resurrection day he explained Scripture at length on the Emmaus road and to his disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13–17, 44-47).
- Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
- We value the Bible today, they valued the Bible is the Bible times, what about Church History?
- Let’s start with some of the early church fathers.
- 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 Tradition 36:1)
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.”
- There are over 5700 copies of the New Testament Greek manuscripts. They are being found all the time.
- This is evidence of its validity.
- In contrast to the Greek classics in which we only have a few hundred copies and the copies we have date over a millennia after the original date of writing. We have New Testament manuscripts dating back to the second century.
- Yes, some are torn, but we have copies going back to A.D. 125 (The John Ryland’s Manuscript), this is phenomenal.
- David Bauer from Asbury Theological Seminary shared: 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].
- 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.
- 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.”
- Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
- How did we get the Bible?
- This is a big question and too big for one sermon, but let’s dive into it a bit.
- Benjamin B. Warfield: “Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.”
- Charles C. Ryrie: “Inspiration is … God’s superintendence of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs.”
- People moved by the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible. They wrote by a number of ways. One method is that the Holy Spirit literally spoke to some of them (Habakkuk 2:2; Rev 1:19). Sometimes the Lord literally engraved the Bible on to stone (Exodus 31:18). Sometimes the Lord led a person to write an historical account (Luke 1:1-4). Sometimes people wrote from memory about times with Jesus, such as Mark, writing off of Peter’s testimony, or Matthew’s Gospel.
- God moved people to write, yet we have their personalities which came through.
- Inspire means “God breathed.”
- However, there is more. People could say, I am inspired, God led me to write a book and put it in the Bible.
- That gets into the New Testament Canon. We would say that the Canon of the Bible closed with the death of the Apostle John. He was the last of the Apostles to die. The early church fathers had a strict test to determine what books could go in our 27 books of the New Testament. The Moody Bible Handbook shares:
- (1) Apostolicity. Was the author an apostle or did he have a connection with an apostle? For example, Mark wrote under Peter’s authority, and Luke wrote under Paul’s authority.
- (2) Acceptance. Was the book accepted by the church at large? The recognition given a particular book by the church was important. By this canon false books were rejected (but it also delayed recognition of some legitimate books)
- (3) Content. Did the book reflect consistency of doctrine with what had been accepted as orthodox teaching? The spurious “gospel of Peter” was rejected as a result of this principle.
- (4) Inspiration. Did the book reflect the quality of inspiration? The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha were rejected as a result of not meeting this test. The book should bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit.
- The New Testament Canon was affirmed in the first few centuries of the church. There is more to be said about that, but we will save them for another time. If any of you have more questions, give me a call or send me an email.
- The necessity of the Bible (my debt to Wayne Grudem’s breakdown on pages 54 and following of “Systematic Theology”)
- The Gospel: The Bible is necessary to share the Gospel (Romans 10:13-17).
- The Bible is necessary for maintaining a spiritual life. Jesus in Matthew 4:4 quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 as a rebuke against satan.
- The Bible is necessary for certain knowledge of God’s Will (Romans 12:1-2).
God communicated to us.
The message of the Bible in one sentence:
A holy God sends his righteous Son to die for unrighteous sinners so we can be holy and live happily with God forever.
The Lover of our souls won’t let the romance die, but is rekindling it forever.
Read Psalm 119 this week.
Do you know Christ?
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 being with Jesus forever (Revelation 22:5)
 ESV Study Bible article in the back
- B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948), p. 131.
Edward J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), p. 27.
Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody, 1972), p. 38.