Summary: Learn why you can rationally believe that the Bible is God’s trustworthy Word
This morning, we will look at Biblical authority as the third foundation characteristic. This week, I received an email from a Christian lady with whom I worked in the biotechnology field. The email contained signs found in church parking lots:
1. Free Trip to Heaven. Details Inside!
2. How will you spend eternity - Smoking or Non-Smoking.
3. It is unlikely there’ll be a reduction in the wages of sin.
4. If you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.
5. If you don’t like the way you were born, try being born again.
6. If you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep. Talk to the Shepherd.
And the two signs that are relevant to today’s characteristic are:
"Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives. "
"Fight truth decay. Study the Bible daily."
Why do Christians study the Bible and work to pattern our beliefs and lives according to this one book? After all there are many self-help books out there. There are also many religious books out there. Why give the Bible so much authority in our lives? Or for others, why should you give the Bible any more authority in your lives than you do other books?
Let’s try to answer some of these questions. Our starting point this morning will come from Paul’s second letter to his protégé, Timothy, chapter 3, verses 16 and 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."
Because these 30-minute messages do not allow enough time to address many questions about the Bible, I will at least introduce some answers to possible questions you might have. We will look at "What is the Bible?" "Why we believe the Bible is authoritative." And we will close with "What difference does the credibility of the Bible make in our lives." The first two points are somewhat dry, but they provide the information foundation on which we can build some very exciting life-changes. Let’s begin.
What is the Bible? The Bible is not one book. The Bible is a compilation of 66 different books written by 40 different authors from 3 different continents in 3 different languages and written over a period of 1500 years. Yet, within each of the 66 books, we read an incredible unity of themes from Genesis through Revelation, progressively revealing God’s plan to restore His creation.
The 66 books of the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, contain different literary forms or genres, such as historical writings, poetic writings, prophetic writings, gospel biographical writings and the letters. So in studying the Bible, we need to understand and take into consideration these variables, languages, cultures, time periods and genres, in order to correctly interpret and apply the truths in the Bible.
Why do Christians believe the Bible is authoritative? Christians believe in the authority of the Bible because of its origin and credibility. In other words, we believe and live according to the Bible because the Bible is from God, and we believe and live according to the Bible because the Bible is true and stands the test of time and real life.
First, the Bible is authoritative because the Bible’s origin is from God. The various authors of the 66 books credits God, not religious and philosophical thinkers, for the writings in the Bible. The Apostle Paul affirmed, "All Scripture is God-breathe," inspired by God, not by human beings. During Paul’s period of writing, his use of the word "Scripture" would at least include all of the Old Testament.
The Apostle Peter said, "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 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." During Peter’s writing, some of what we now have as New Testament would be included as Scripture.
Second, the Bible is authoritative not only because the Bible’s origin is from God, but because what the Bible contains is true and has stood the test of time. Obviously, not every book is reprinted and sold consistently over the centuries. Many books go out of print because the contents are proven wrong or their demand ceases to exist. Yet, despite intentional burning and destruction of the Holy Bible by the early Roman Emperors before Constantine, and by the Communist government as well as anti-Christian persecutors, the Bible remains in print and in demand.
Voltaire, who was considered the most influential of the French Enlightenment period, made the promise, "Fifty years from now the world will hear no more of the Bible." Instead, fifty years after Voltaire’s death, the Geneva Bible Society used Voltaire’s house as a print shop to produce more Bibles. Not only has the Bible supernaturally stood the test of time physically, the Bible has stood the test of time historically, archeologically and geographically. You would expect this from God.