Welcome to Christ Lutheran today. Welcome as we continue our series on “What does the Bible say about….”
I want to start by asking, Why is the Bible so important? Why is it the best-selling book of all time? It’s impossible to be exact, but estimates are that between 2.5 and 6 billion Bibles have been sold (billion with a “B”).
In a 2015 poll, why did 98% of Americans say that people should have access to the Bible? Why is the Bible quoted or alluded to more than any other book in other literary works? Why are some people willing to risk their lives to share Bibles with people who don’t have them? Why have some people been willing to lose their lives for the right to own and read the Bible?
There are huge numbers of people (even in our confused world today) who, on one level or another, recognize the great power that is in the Bible. But as Christians, we don’t worship the Bible. We worship the God who reveals himself to us in the Bible.
(Show Grandfather’s Bible)
This Bible was given by my grandmother to my grandfather. My grandfather gave it to my father and my father gave it to me. Why are Bibles passed down through families from one generation to the next?
A lot of questions. So let’s look at “What the Bible says about the Bible.”
In our 1st reading this morning we heard what Paul wrote to Timothy at the time that he was in prison in Rome, believing that he did not have long to live. And so he wants Timothy to know how to lead the Christians in Ephesus and beyond. So listen to where Paul tells Timothy to look for strength and guidance---
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
All scripture is God-breathed. The first thing we have to know about the Bible is that it states very definitively that it comes from God. It is God-breathed---God-inspired.
All through history there have been some who have said that the Bible is mere human words about God. If it’s only human words, human opinions, then it has limited meaning. But that’s not what the Bible says about itself. It says it is God-breathed. It comes from God. Just as God breathed life into Adam at creation, he also breathed life into the Scriptures.
Our CLC constitution puts it this way----“This Congregation believes, teaches, and accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired, revealed, and inerrant Word of God, and the sole authoritative source and norm of our proclamation, faith, and life.”
When we refer to the Bible as inspired, it means God-breathed, coming directly from God. This means far more than when we talk about a writer or musician being inspired. And God is often involved in those kind of things we find inspiring. After all, when people get creative, they can only create using what God has made for us. But when we talk about the Bible being inspired, we mean that God, through his Holy Spirit, speaks through the writings of the Biblical authors to people of all times and places, with a power that can transform lives.
Of course it's true that a number of people were responsible for recording the words of the Bible over the course of several thousand years. But God was the source of those words. God was the One who brought them to life.
As God often does, he works through us humans to do the work of his kingdom. And with the Bible writers, he used their background and their personalities to record what he wanted to reveal to people. They wrote God’s word to us without error. That doesn’t mean God dictated the Bible in a robotic way, but that these writers accurately recorded what God had to say and God saw that it was done right in the original manuscripts. Even in the copies of those original manuscripts that we have today, the comparison of them by scholars shows that they have been transmitted with a high degree of accuracy.
The apostle Paul, who wrote other books in the New Testament besides Timothy, made it clear that what he wrote had its source in God---
1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”
The apostle Peter, another Biblical author, also identified God as source of the Scriptures---
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.”
So the Bible says that---All scripture is God-breathed----
2 Timothy 3:16 “and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”
Paul implies that if something is useful for the purposes listed there, it is also true.
So the second thing the Bible says about the Bible is that it is true.
Here are a few Scripture passages that affirm the truth of God's Word---
From Psalm 19----
Psalm 19:7-8 “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
Jesus also declared that the Bible is true--- in his prayer to the Father in John 17---
John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
Now that doesn’t mean that everything in the Bible is meant to be understood literally. There are various types of literature in the Bible that need to be interpreted properly. And some parts are easy to understand and some parts are hard. But it’s all true because it comes from God.
The Bible tells us that it is not speculation or fairy tales, it is true.
2 Peter 1:16 “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
John, another eyewitness, writes---
1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
God spoke through eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus Christ and his truth. In fact, John refers to Jesus as God’s word personified, God’s truth in person.
John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for what?---for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
The Bible is true and useful for teaching---to learn the will and ways of God, his wisdom, his grace. The Bible teaches us how life works best, from the one who designed and created us.
The Bible is true and useful for rebuking---As we read the Bible there will be times, many times, when God’s word will show us where sin has twisted us and we need to be realigned and forgiven.
The Bible is true and useful for correcting---to change and improve us.
The Bible is true and useful for training in righteousness---we are made righteous by God’s grace through Christ’s death and resurrection for us. We are able to live more and more as God created us to live.
The third thing that the Bible says about the Bible is that it is relevant, it is pertinent, it is alive.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness---
2 Timothy 3:17 “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
There was a man who heard some gun shots and went around the corner of a barn and saw a younger man shooting at bull’s eye targets on the side of the barn. In every chalk circle there was a hole dead center. The man was impressed and said so and asked the young man to do it again.
The younger man lowered his head said—“I’m not as good as it looks. I shoot first and then I draw the bull’s eye around the hole!”
We often do that with the Bible. We shoot out some idea of our own, and then we start circling verses that seem to prove our point. But since God’s word is alive, a better way to find what the Bible has to teach us is to let it speak first before we draw our conclusions.
The Bible equips us to live not in any old way, but in Christ’s way.
Each time we read the Bible, if we do more than just mouth the words, it will interpret our lives. It will teach us something new.
Jesus said that the Bible is as necessary for a healthy life as good food and nutrition.
Matthew 4:4 “Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'"
When we read the word of God, what happens is more than an academic exercise. Because God’s word is living, it begins to work in our lives to make us more like Jesus.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Mark Twain said, “The parts of Bible that trouble me aren’t the ones I don’t understand, but the ones I do.”
God’s word in the Bible has an amazing way of cutting through the barriers we use to protect ourselves from the truth about ourselves. God’s word then opens us up and goes right to the heart of what needs to change in us. God’s word shows us then how to live as his new people in Christ.
Tom Wright says that this double edges sword of God---“though obviously intended as a warning, can also lead to a great encouragement. If this is going to happen sooner or later, you had much better get on with it. If you have a choice between letting the doctor examine you right away, uncomfortable though it may be, or waiting until he or she can do a post-mortem on you after it’s too late, it’s wise to go for the first.”
Because God’s word is truly alive and intended for our good.
Let’s listen and watch--------
Video----Casting Crowns The Word is Alive
You may still be thinking---Just because the Bible claims to be God’s word or true or relevant doesn’t mean I have to believe it.
And I understand that argument. It still takes faith to believe God’s word. God does not force us to accept what the Bible says.
So when it's all said and done---
The best way to evaluate what the Bible says about the Bible is to read God's Word for yourself. See for yourself.
And let God’s living word start or continue to open your heart to Christ, to his love and to his way of life.