Summary: Four reasons why Christians celebrate the Bible as Scripture
Well with this being Labor Day weekend, this week I became interested in some of the more obscure holidays people celebrate in our culture. For instance, I found out that one community celebrates February 12 as "Darwin Day." March 22 is "National Goof Off Day." November 24 is "Buy Nothing Day."
These are some pretty weird holidays. I shared them at our staff meeting this last week, and one of our staff members asked if these were now paid holidays. Usually a holiday is a time people set apart to celebrate something. And if that’s true, it seems like followers of Jesus Christ ought to have a holiday to celebrate the Bible. But since we don’t have a day like that in our calendar, I’ve arbitrarily picked today as a time to celebrate the Bible.
You see, for Christians across our world and throughout the ages, the Bible is more than just a book. Followers of Jesus Christ believe the Bible to be scripture, which is a fancy, religious word that simply means that we believe the Bible to be a divine communication from God. Because of that, we believe that when people hear and understand the words of the Bible people encounter the voice of God. So today we’re going to celebrate the Bible as scripture. Specifically we’re going to find four reasons why Christians celebrate the Bible as scripture.
So if you have a Bible with you turn to Psalm 19:7 and take out your outline. If you’re here today as a follower of Jesus, I hope today’s message will kindle a spirit of joy and celebration for the Bible in your heart. If you’re here today as a seeker investigating the Christian faith, I hope my words will help you understand why Christians view the Bible they way they do.
1. Scripture as Spiritual Bread (Ps 19:7-9)
Now Psalm 19 is a fascinating part of the Bible. As you might know, the psalms are songs that were sung to God in worship. The Psalms are like the lyric sheet you get when you buy a new CD. These are the lyrics people used to worship God both privately and publicly. This worship song naturally divides into two parts, vv. 1-6 and vv. 7-14.
Verses 1-6 deal with how God has revealed himself in nature. The heavens themselves declare God’s greatness and majesty. These first six verses are a celebration of God’s disclosure of himself in the world of nature. I experienced this firsthand just a few weeks ago, as my family and I spent a week in Yosemite National Park. The awesomeness of half dome and El Capitan declared God’s greatness and majesty.
But vv. 7-14 deal with how God’s revealed himself in scripture. Now when this psalm was written, it was talking about the Jewish Scriptures, probably just the first five books of the Bible--Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. However, what’s said here applies just as much to the rest of the Old Testament and the 27 books of scripture we have as Christians hold as scripture in the New Testament.
Vv. 1-6 focus on the title "God". "The heavens declare the glory of God." The word "God" isn’t a name, but it’s a title. However, vv. 7-14 are much more personal. The word "Lord" in all capital letters in most English translations of the Bible represents the Hebrew word Yahweh. Yahweh isn’t a title, but it’s a personal name. Yahweh is the personal name God gave to the people of Israel. In fact, the name Jesus means "Yahweh saves."
In vv. 1-6, we find that through nature we can know certain things about God. We can know that God exists, that God is a powerful God, a good God, a just God. These are things we can know about God by studying the world God has made. But through scripture we can come to know God personally. The Bible isn’t just an information book or a book of data, but its an instrument designed take us beyond knowing about God and into knowing God. This transcends information and moves to the realm of transformation. Through scripture we encounter God and come to know God the way we know a friend.
Now in the second half of this psalm we’re going to find our four reasons to celebrate the Bible as scripture. Let me just give you the first reason: CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE THE BIBLE AS SCRIPTURE BECAUSE GOD USES THE BIBLE TO NOURISH OUR SOULS.
Now let’s look at vv. 7-9. Six different words are used here to describe the Bible: law, statutes, precepts, commands, fear, and ordinances. Of these, we probably get least excited about the word "law." To us "law" sounds boring, kind of like trying to read the California Vehicle Code. A law is restrictive, something we try to find loopholes in, not something we celebrate. But the word for "law" here is the Hebrew word torah, which means "teaching" or "instruction." The Psalmist celebrates the torah of Yahweh because it comes directly from God, giving the psalmist direct access to God’s wisdom. The other five words are different ways of describing the different parts of the Bible.