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 (2)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 1/13/2013
If you weren’t here last week, I started off this year talking about the Bible.
Like it says in your bulletin, 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. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about this ancient book, I’m glad you’re here and I hope I can help answer some of those questions this month. I also want to help you discover how the Bible can make a difference in your life!
Last Sunday, I talked about our need for the Bible, the nourishment that we can derive from the Bible, and the nature of the Bible. The Bible is unlike any other book ever published or printed because the Bible contains the very words and thoughts of God. The Bible is God’s book and God’s voice in the world. The Bible “never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21 NIV).
The question today is—how do we know that?
Just because the Bible claims to be God’s Word, doesn’t mean it is. I came across a great intragram picture on Facebook the other day with a quote that said, “That problem with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to verify their authenticity.” And this quote was attributed to none other than Abraham Lincoln. The best part was the comment some girl made on the picture: “Did they even have the internet back then?”
There are a growing number of skeptics and scholars who believe the Bible is nothing more than a collection of myths and legends; that it’s no more reliable than internet quotes attributed to Abraham Lincoln.
I read about a new believer that had an encounter with one such person. She was flying home from a business trip to Atlanta when the fellow next to her sneered at the Bible she was reading and asked if she really believed it? “Of course,” she answered. “Even the story about Jonah getting swallowed by a whale?” he asked. “Sure,” she said. “And how exactly did a man survive in the belly of whale for three days?” he continued interrogating. “I don't know, but I'll find out when I get to heaven,” she said. “What if Jonah isn’t there?” the man retorted. And without missing a beat, she replies, “Then I guess you'll have to ask him for me!”
Max Lucado has commented, “The Bible has been banned, burned, scoffed, and ridiculed. Scholars have mocked it as foolish. Kings have branded it as illegal. A thousand times over, the grave has been dug and the dirge has begun, but somehow the Bible never stays in the grave. Not only has it survived, it has thrived. It’s the single most popular book in all of history.”
So what is that’s made the Bible so enduring? Has God really spoken? And if so, how do we know that the Bible is really God’s Word. Just as most Bibles have a collection of maps in the back to help you discover biblical locations, I’d like to give you a MAP that will help you discover the uniqueness and reliability of the Bible itself.
This MAP is an acronym I borrowed from Hank Hanegraaff that stands for Manuscripts, Archeology, and Prophecy. If you can remember the word MAP, you’ll be able to chart the authenticity and reliability of the Bible.
First, The M in MAP stands for manuscript evidence. Bahrt Erdman, in his book Misquoting Jesus, claims that the process of copying and recopying the Bible over the centuries has resulted in so many mistakes and changes that we can’t even be sure that the Scriptures we have are anything like the ones originally written. Critics of Christianity claim that the transmission of the Bible over the ages is no more reliable than a two-thousand-year-old game of telephone.
Certainly we have to admit that as fallible human beings, we make mistakes. Some of the typos that have been caught in modern printings of the Bible are even kind of humorous. For example:
• In what’s become known as the “Basketball Bible” typesetters accidentally said that “hoops” were used in the construction of the Tabernacle instead of “hooks.”
• In a 1631 edition of the KJV, the seventh of the Ten Commandments was accidentally printed: “Thou shalt commit adultery!”
• A 1964 printing, which I call the Fashionista Bible, said in 1 Timothy 2:9 that women were to “adorn themselves in modern apparel” instead of “modest apparel.”
• My favorite is one the Bible Society of South Africa reported. An early draft of their translation of the Bible into Southern Sotho (one of many South African dialects), the typesetter typed "jwala" (which means "beer") instead of "jwalo" (which is means "so"). The resulting verse in Genesis 1:9 read, “And God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place. . . . And it was beer.”