Summary: No, I didn't actually tear up a Bible, but my audience didn't know that. Find out why I pretended to do that, and what that means to those who actually do tear pages from Scripture.
Last week I said that we’re going to make one statement over and over throughout this series:
We don’t have to APOLOGIZE for our faith. We don’t need to rally to God defense. Our God is bigger than we are – and doesn’t really need our help. But in spite of that… God calls us to contend for the faith.
One of the tools God has given us to contend for the faith is that book you have in your hands – your Bible. Charles Spurgeon once spoke of Scripture this way: "Defend the Bible? I would just as soon defend a lion. Just turn the Bible loose. It will defend itself." It’s a powerful book that is THE main weapon we have in contending for the faith.
Because of the power Scripture has to do that, I’ve discovered over the years is that there are people out here who seemingly do everything they can to undermine the Bible. God’s Word gets in the way of things what they want to believe or do.
(I placed a book that looked like a Bible – but wasn’t - on stage to use for this illustration).
ILLUS: At the first church I served – about the 6th year I was there – I sensed a darkness in the ministry I couldn’t understand. I spent a great deal of time praying about that feeling, and not long after I began praying I became aware of why I sensed this darkness: I found out that one of the Deacons in the church was committing adultery. What was frustrating was that I later found out that many in the church knew about the situation long before I did. I ended up “firing” the Deacon… which didn’t make me real popular with him.
It also didn’t make me real popular with the Deacon’s cousin Stan, who was kind of like the “head” Elder at church. That Elder called a Board Meeting and reinstalled the Deacon to his position. In a later Elders’ meeting Stan told me “I know Paul said we should discipline someone who has done this, but Jesus didn’t… so we don’t have to discipline him.” (Let that soak in for a minute.)
I thought up a real good comeback about two days later, but at the time I was flabbergasted. They didn’t cover this in Bible College. And when I quizzed various preachers in the neighborhood trying to find a solution to my situation I couldn’t find anyone who had an answer to my problem that I could wrap my mind around.
But then I met with Jack Cottrell (he’s one of the “Big Men in our Brotherhood”). Jack was/is a major theologian in our brotherhood and has written numerous books and he just happened to be in our area for a men’s meeting. I got a few moments alone with him and explained my situation – including the comment by my Elder about “Paul said it… but Jesus didn’t.” He said “Oh yeah. That’s one of the 3 great heresies entering church right now.” (I forget what he said the other 2 were). But that was the only comment that seemed to help.
Now, at the time I was preaching through Exodus and I’d just come to the part where Moses and the Israelites had gathered at the base of the Mt. of God to receive the 10 commandments. I’d seen the Charlton Heston version of this and it had always been puzzled that Moses (Heston) went up to the top of the mountain to receive the commandments, and on his way down he discovers the Israelites doing things they ought not to have been doing. God’s mad, Moses is mad and he breaks the tablets of stone. But it puzzled me because it didn’t seem that the Israelites had even seen the laws yet – so why was everybody so mad all of a sudden?
Then I read the text (always a good thing to do if you’re going to preach about it) and I discovered that before Moses went up… God came down. And God thundered down the 10 commandments (the Israelites knew they were doing wrong). And there was thunder and lightning and a trumpet that seemed to blow forever. And the people were so frightened that they said to Moses (the Reader’s Digest version here) “You go talk to Him because we can’t stand to listen to Him anymore.”
I thought to myself – I’ve never had such a powerful text to preach from. And I went out and bought a book at a garage sale that looked just about like a Bible. I brought it home, put it under the pulpit, and Sunday morning I got up and explained the story. And I told about Charlton Heston and the fact that the Israelites had told him to go talk to God because they couldn’t stand to listen to Him anymore.