From the archives: part of a series of posts Pastor Brett wrote several years ago, now republished here. -the webmaster
It was one of the most beautiful and remarkable buildings I had ever seen. I am referring to a building in the town in central Iowa where we used to live. It was the former American Legion Hall. The outside façade was straight out of classical architecture. It was wonderful and very memorable.
But really, there was nothing to it. There was nothing to this building, because it had burned down. Just a couple of years before we moved to town, this building had burned to the ground, almost completely. In their efforts, the firefighters managed to save the façade of the building preserved. A reminder of history and a little something for the downtown, of course, but nothing that could last. It was nothing permanent. It was nothing anyone would rely on. There was no foundation, there was no building. It was empty.
You know, that is how our faith is without the Bible. When we think about the Bible, it is really the foundation for what we believe. I know what you’re thinking. We don’t worship the Bible. That’s right. We worship Jesus, God the Father and The Holy Spirit.
But the Bible is the foundation. It tells us everything we believe. We need to know it is trustworthy and reliable.
There is so much to the Bible. We need to know everything we can know about it if it is truly the foundation.
Inspiration (2 Peter 1:20-21)
We have to start here when we talk about the Bible. We have to talk about the fact that the Bible was inspired. This is not something that people made up. The writers of scripture were not writing off of the top of their head.
They wrote and were carried along by the Holy Spirit. God used the writers. He used them as they were. He did not necessarily improve them. What I mean by that statement is that certain writers of scripture had different words they used in different situations. They did not all mean the same thing at the same time. They had different ways of saying the same thing.
But we must recognize the Bible is inspired. If the Bible is not inspired then we are only dealing with the words of men.
But we are dealing with the words of God. This presents us with some questions as we read the Bible.
If the Bible is really God’s Word, why were people allowed to quit sacrificing in the NT? Why were the laws changed about food?
These are important questions. People ask these questions and want them answered.
God inspired the Bible, but we have to remember the point in history that God inspired the scripture.
We believe the Bible to be inspired by God. Here we have something more important though. We also believe the selection of the books of the Bible was superintended by the Lord. We do not have nearly enough time this morning to get into all of this. There are excellent books that have been written on the subject though if you are interested. I am just sharing with you a fact that helps us trust the Bible more.
This fact of inspiration is important. If the Bible is the foundation of theology and what we believe, then inspiration is the foundation of our belief on the Bible. If the Bible did not come from God then there is no need for it. If it did, then it should be our number one.
Inerrancy – 3 – Psalm 12:6
This is something that is very important to our lives. It is connected with the previous one. The Bible is inspired by God. Because of it, we believe it makes no errors in the matters it discusses.
Now, I said the matters it discusses. You will not find a guide to changing a car engine in the scripture. Or tips on how to fix a computer.
But in what the Bible does discuss, it is factual, no matter what the subject area. Here is an interesting one, based on science. In the Old Testament, God told people to not consume blood, because the life of a person was in the blood.
We know today that our circulation system contains our blood and if our blood did not flow we would not live. But people back then did not know that, believe it or not. So here we have God speaking into humanity in the scripture on something people did not even know.
In the book of Job it talks about the springs of the deep. Well, in recent years we have discovered springs fo the deep. There are warm water springs in the ocean, at the floor, that spring foth with warm water. This again is amazing. The Bible spoke of it thousands of years before we knew.
Now, the Bible, again, does not explain everything. It often tells us what, not how. There are details that are not there. We trust the Lord with those details.
Finally, what inerrancy means is that the Bible does not contradict itself. You may hear often about passages htat contradict one another.
I am here to tell you that there are no passages that truly contradict each other. There are some that might appear ot contradict, but only if we do not read them correctly or study them in the right way. As some have said before, If there is a problem with the Bible it is our problem, not God’s.
Interpretation – 1
We would think that we should take the bible literally. There are some objections though. The Bible does have some symbolic language, its true. When the Bible refers to Jeus as the lamb of God, we know Jesus was a man, not a lamb.
Yet, we should try to take the Bible literally, at face value for what the authors spoke. We have to remember, we would not do this with anything else. If my wife wrote me an email at work, which she sometimes does, asking me to be home by 3 and to stop by the store and pick up milk on the way, there would be no need to try to look deeper.
Now, she might mean whole milk. Or 1 percent milk, or skim milk. There might be a detail like that out, but milk is milk. There is no need to overthink it. If I thought of milk as being a symbol, being symbolic for laundry detergent, then I would miss the point.
And so we miss the point, if we try to hard to make the bible say what it does not really say.
We should take the Bible literally, as much as we can. This will help give us a handle on what God wants us to believe.
Authority – 2 – 2 Tim. 3:16-17
We have quoted this verse before. This is saying what we know to be true. The Bible has authority in our lives.
Authority is a very important thing. You don’t have to like it always, but you give it the respect it deserves.
Anyone who has served in the military, or anybody who has worked a job with a boss, knows those in charge are not perfect. The people in charge are not perfect in what they do.
There is a person in authority over you. That person tells you what to do and gives directions for all. You may not always like that person. You may not always understand why that person is making those decisions. But you surely know, you know for a fact, that you have to give that person the respect their authority earns.
It is the same with us and the Bible. The difference is, the Bible comes to us from God. God is perfect and we are not. We could never match God or his perfections. God is perfect and infinite, and His Word has authority.
What does that mean for us? That means there are things written in the Bible, and we might not always like them. There might be parts we do not understand. But that does not mean we deny the Bible’s authority.
Not knowing why the Bible says something is very normal. But that is no excuse to not give it what it deserves.
Authority is a matter of position. We are under the text. The Bible supersedes us, not the other way around. We are underneath the scripture. It has authority over us. That means, when it gives direction, we are to follow that direction as best we are able to, with God’s help.
And it is for a reason that we are under this authority. We need it! No child is born learning how to read. Very, very few learn how to read on their own. They need the help of a teacher. They need this help to guide them alogn the way of learning to read, because they will not be able to do it on their own.
It is the same for us. V. 16 says it is useful for training, correcting and coming together in righteousness. Why? So we can be equipped for eveyr good work. Eveyr good work, we will be equipped to do, because we need it. I could not sit here in my own power nad ocme up with eveyr good work I needed to do. I need the help of God
And the Bible is God’s help for me today. God has given me the help I need. The help I seek is in His Word. If we lived in the days of Jesus walking on earth, that would be the help we needed. But we live in the days of the scripture being complete. This is our final authority for what we need to do so we can be equipped for every good work.
Clarity – 1 – Deut. 6:4-9
So we read part of this passage last week as well. And verse 7 is the bedrock with what we are talking about here, which is clarity.
We said last week that even children can understand this book. At least parts of it. God has written His Word in an amazing way. We know on the one hand that there are scholars who have spent their entire lives studying this book. And yet children understand it.
The best way to explain this, I think, is in the Bible with the book of John. There was a time, especially, where if anybody just beame a Christian or was a new Chrisitan, someone would tell them to read John’s Gospel. The same would happen if someone was wondering about Christianity. They would be told to read John’s Gospel.
So John’s Gospel was thought to be simple enough that even a new believer could understand it. But on the other hand, there are commentaries that near 1,000 pages in length that have been written about John’s Gospel. John’s gospel is simple enough for new believers. It is alos deep enough for the most savvy scholar.
The same is true of the entire scripture. We can never fear giving the Bible to a new believer. It is good and necessary. God has written His Word in such a way that any could understand it. But also, we never need fear that we might, somehow, in some way, outgrow the Bible. We could never become too deep or too much for the scripture.
Necessity – 1 – Matt. 4:4
We read this verse last week too. It says very simply that we need the Bible. It is not optional for our spiritual lives.
I spoke on authority a few minutes ago. The authority of the Bible, that it had a place of honor in our lives in correctness. But we need to also realize it is needed.
In our physical lives, some things are needed and some are just good options. Eating is needed. We have to have nourishment. It is necessary to drink water. At some point we need sleep. Some more and some less, but ultimately we all need it. Now how about running 3 miles a day.
That can be good. But it’s not necessary. And the extras come after the main things. My wife Sarah nad her sister Rachel won their age group in a 5K yesterday. But Sarah did not get up and run after skipping a meal. She ate and was nourished first, and then she ran.
It is the same for us with the Bible and our spiritual lives. Man does not live on bread alone, the words of Jesus are ture. For our spirutal lives, this book is not a 5K race. It is not opitional. This is meat. Bread. Potatoes. Water. It is what we need, it is what we must have, for our spiritual nourishment.
Now, there are other thigns out there. I know someone who studied the Greek language for 8 years hoping to understand more of the Bible. That’s fine, and there’ snothign wrong with it, but I think we can all be glad that Is not required. That is exta. That is something you can choose to do in addition to reading the Bible.
But the teachings of this book? They are essential. They are vital. They are as important to us as the food we eat to our body is.
Now you might not remember everything you read. That’s okay. You don’t remember eveyr meal you have ever eaten either. The important thing is, though, that day-by-day you feast on the Word of God.
Again, we talked about Psalm 1. That was our call to worship this morning. A tree planted by the water that yields fruit. We have to realize a tree needs water. It needs to bear fruit. Planted ourselves in God’s Word is not in option for us, spiritually speaking. And as we fininsh, we will realize there is nothing morwe we need.
Sufficiency – 1 119:1
This is in connection to the previous point. Not only is the bible necessary for our spiritual lives, it is sufficient as well.
We don’t need another source. WE talked aobut food earlier. We eat food and ew drink water. The bible is not just food or just watner. We don’t need to study the Bible and do something else for ou spriutal well-being.
We only need to study the bible.
There is also a sufficiency to God’s Word for salvation. For our spiritual preservation. We don’t need to look elsewhere.
What is needed for salvation is explained totally and completely within the pages of this book. That is comforting. We live in a blessed time. The people of the Old Testament longed for the day when salvation in Jesus Christ would be revealed.
It has been revealed. That time is now. We are the ones who live in this age. The scripture is complete. No more will be added. All we need for salvation is laying here before us like an open book.
Since we are so blessed to have so complete a word, what are we going to do about it? I myself know I do not give God’s Word proper place in my life at all times. I need to respect His Word. I need to respect the fact htat he has given it. His Word is good, sweet and pure.
God’s Word is from God. It is the ultimate authority in our lives. It is not only the ultimate authority, it is also the final and sufficient one. This is a blessed age. Praise God for it.
At the start we read Psalm 1. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked. The man who plants himself in the word of God will reap a bountiful harvest.