Summary: The Bible is the most-read, most-loved and most controversial book of all time. Almost everybody has one and everybody has questions about it. This three-sermon series will help Christians get into God's Word and get God's word into them.
Getting into God’s Word (1)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 1/6/2013
Welcome. I hope that your New Year is off to a good start for you. And there’s nothing better you could be doing on the first Sunday morning of 2013 than worshipping with God’s people. And I don’t think there is any better place to do that, than right here at the Grove. I hope that’s the experience you have as we worship together each week. Because we’re glad you’re here.
For 65 hours one October several years ago, students at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, read the Bible aloud at a crossing in the heart of the university campus. Standing under a tent and reading into a microphone in 30-minute shifts, they read from Genesis to Revelation.
Erica Wothen, a senior student and member of His House Christian Fellowship, led more than 200 students in the event. Erica said, “We came together to read the Word. We didn’t worry about what we would say or do. We just read and watched God move.” (Christian Standard, January 2011).
As each year begins, millions of Christians resolve to read the Bible through—maybe not in 65 hours, but in a year or two. And there are lots of reading plans to help you accomplish that goal—there’s the One Year Bible, the Daily Bible, the Bible in 90 Days. There’s even one from Ransom Fellowship called the Bible Reading Program for Slackers & Shirkers. A lot of us probably fall into that category.
I read of a minister who was visiting one of his members. The lady of the house, wanting to impress the pastor, said to her little girl, “Honey, go get the book that Mommy loves so much,” pointing to the large family Bible on the shelf. The little girl ran over to the shelf and returned carrying the new Sears catalog!
Many of us have more Bibles at home than we can count. In fact, more than 100 million Bibles are sold each year. In 2009, the United Bible Societies gave away 431 million copies of the Bible throughout the world. In the same year, Gideons International distributed more than 79 million Scripture copies worldwide. That is 150 copies every minute. Since the invention of the printing press, at least 12 billion Bibles have been published and distributed. To get some feeling for the enormity of that figure, their publication would take nearly 9 million tons of paper, which would fill approximately 495,240 railroad cars, or a train 4,716 miles long. That’s a lot of Bibles!
But just because we have a Bible or ten on the shelf at home, doesn’t mean we ever really get into God’s Word. In 2002, the Barna Research Group conducted a survey of self-identified Christians and here’s what he found about their knowledge of the Bible:
• 48% could not name the four Gospels.
• 52% cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples.
• 60% of American Christians can’t name even five of the 10 Commandments.
• 61% of American Christians think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
• 71% of American Christians think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.
George Barna said, “Americans revere the Bible, but by and large they don’t know what it says.” So, how about you? How much time do you spend with your Bible? Do you get into God’s Word every day or at least every week?
The Bible is the most incredible, influential, and life-changing book ever written. But it only works when we get into God’s Word and let his Word get into us.
Over the next few weeks, I’d like talk about what makes the Bible so special. And I want to start this morning with the nature of the Bible.
• THE NATURE OF THE BIBLE
What sets the Bible apart from any other book ever published is that the Bible contains the very words and thoughts of God. In fact, this is what the Bible says about itself: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT).
Let’s start with that first phrase, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” What does that mean? Another translation says, “All Scripture is God-breathed” (NIV). It means that the Bible is unlike any other book because it comes from the heart and mind of God.
Peter describes it this way, “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21 NLT).