Have any of you ever been in a situation like that? What do you do when you finally man up and try to have “that” conversation? What do you do when objections to what you believe seem so convincing? Have you ever felt like you needed to defend the Bible…but then have no idea what to say?
Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher from the 1800s said this about defending the Bible:
Defend the Bible? Would you defend a lion? Loose him; and let him go.
Throughout his ministry, Spurgeon willingly entered controversy only because of his uncompromising commitment to the authority of the Scripture. However, Spurgeon’s aim in such controversy was not a meticulous defense of the Bible’s inspiration and authority. Instead, his aim was simply to “unleash the lion.” (from theresurgence.com)
Now, the reason we’re going to talk about the actual Bible today is because some of you don’t realize it’s a lion to be unleashed.
It’s like the first time my 2-year old daughter saw a Great Dane and said “look at the horse!” Some of you look at the Bible and see an ancient document full of contradiction and error. Today, we’ll hopefully change some of that.
WHAT IS THE BIBLE?
- The Bible a book. But in this book are other books. So it’s a book of books.
- There are 66 books. 39 in the Old Testament. 27 in the New Testament.
- Each of these books points to Jesus.
- Each of these books was written by a human author, inspired by God.
- There are over 40 different authors
- These books were written over a 2,000 year period from before Jesus was born to a generation after Jesus was crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended.
- They were written in the native language of the day. OT=Hebrew. NT=Greek.
- There’s a table of contents. Each book has chapters. Each chapter has verses. These are addresses to help you find certain parts of the Bible.
Now that you know what a Bible is, there’s 3 important things we believe about the Bible.
1. A surprising and previously unknown fact, esp. one made in a dramatic way.
2. The making known of a secret or the unknown.
According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Bible reveals “all things necessary for God’s own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life”
This is what Jesus (in prayer to God the Father) says about revelation:
John 17:6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.
When God revealed all things necessary for His own glory; for man’s salvation; for faith; and for life, He did so through human authors. They were inspired men of God and wrote down, with 100% accuracy, the things of God. Peter affirms this in
2 Peter 1.21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Paul wrote this:
2 Timothy 3.16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This can be further illustrated in the book “How To Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee. He says:
“in order [for God] to communicate His Word to all human conditions, God chose to use almost every available kind of communication: narrative history, genealogies, chronicles, laws of all kinds, poetry of all kinds, proverbs, prophetic oracles, riddles, drama, biographical sketches, parables, letters, sermons, and apocalypses.
God revealed Himself through His Word. We only know the character, work, plan, and will of God because he revealed it to us in Scripture. And since the Bible says “the Word became flesh” (talking about Jesus) you cannot know God apart from Jesus; you cannot know God apart from His Word: the Bible.
1. Lighting or light
2. Spiritual or intellectual enlightenment.
According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Bible is filled with the “heavenliness of the matter, efficacy of doctrine, majesty of style, content of all parts, scope of the whole (which is to give glory to God), full discovery of the only way of salvation, entire perfection YET…our full persuasion of infallible truth is from the work of the Holy Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 2.12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
It’s like looking at a Magic Eye Picture. You can see it but never see it. You can read the words of the Bible but unless the Holy Spirit illuminates it, you won’t get it. This happens all the time in youth ministry. Students who have been involved for 6 years finally give their lives to Christ and say “I’d just never heard that before” when in all reality, you’ve heard it constantly for 6 years. You just never had it illuminated before.
1 Corinthians 1.18 says “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” It takes the work of the Holy Spirit for us to actually see the Bible for what it really is. If the Holy Spirit hasn’t illuminated it for you, then of course it sounds hokey.
1. The action of explaining the meaning of something:
Finally, be a diligent student of the Word. The Holy Spirit has to work, but you do too.
Interpretation, though, does not mean we interpret it to make it mean what we want it to mean (like, “what does this verse mean to you?”).
We interpret to understand the full meaning of what God has revealed and what the Holy Spirit has illuminated. Gordon Fee says this:
“In speaking through real persons, in a variety of circumstances, over a 1,500-year period, God’s Word was expressed in the vocabulary and thought patterns of those persona nd conditioned by the culture of those times and circumstances. That is to say, God’s Word to su was first fo all his Word to them. If they were going to hear it, it could only have come through events and in language they could have understood. Our problem is that we are so far removed from them in time, and sometimes in thought. This is the major reason one needs to learn to interpret the Bible.”
2 Timothy 2.15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
The best evidence of how we don’t believe this about the Bible is Christian bumper stickers (God helps those who help themselves; don’t let the car fool you, my treasure’s in heaven; if you want to get high try the Most High; try Jesus, if you don’t like him, the devil will always take you back)
If you do not begin to understand the meaning of the Bible, then you’re going to drive a mini-van full of these bumper stickers for the rest of your life. And you’ll “like” all kinds of homespun philosophy posts on facebook. Is this our best at presenting ourselves to God as one approved?
How Do We Respond To This?
This series is about What We Believe.
And as Christians, we believe the Bible is from God and is therefore true and without error in its original manuscripts.
The Bible is how we know God.
The Bible is how we know the plan for man’s salvation.
The Bible is deep enough to confound scholars for generations and simple enough for children to understand the need for a Savior.
Hold a Bible in your hands. Look at the words. Feel the pages. Understand that in this book we see the revelation of God, through inspired human authors, which the Holy Spirit illuminates for us, and to which we respond by not only reading it, but being changed by it.
It’s more than a book.
It’s more than a manual dictating right and wrong.
It’s the very breath of God that gives us life.
And this is what we believe.