Summary: The Bible is God’s Word, and we can trust if for living.
How Can I Trust the Bible?
2 Timothy 3: 14-17
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Jesus Seminar. This is a group of biblical scholars (so-called) whose sole purpose is to investigate the life of Jesus Christ in an attempt to determine the “historical” Jesus. Their attempts to accomplish this task have included taking the sayings of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament, holding them up to historical criticism, and passing judgment as to their authenticity. The result has been to seriously call into question many of the traditional sayings attributed to Jesus. The Seminar participants used color-coding to vote on whether Jesus actually said what the gospel writers recorded. The color red meant Jesus actually made the statement, pink meant he possibly made it, gray meant there is not enough evidence to determine the matter, and black meant he definitely did not make the statement recorded in the gospels.
The Lord’s prayer serves as a prime example of how the system worked. Here are the words that got a red vote (meaning they believe Jesus said them): “Our Father.”
Those words receiving pink votes (meaning they believe he possibly said them): “hallowed be Thy name;” “Thy kingdom come;” “give us this day our daily bread;” and “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” There was also some gray matter in the prayer (meaning there was so much disagreement they couldn’t attribute the saying to Jesus): “and lead us not into temptation.” Black words in the Lord’s prayer were: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and “but deliver us from evil.”
When New Testament scholars cast doubt on the validity of the Bible, is it any wonder that the average person who is seeking their own faith, desiring to know more about Christ and Christianity inevitably asks the question: “How can I trust the Bible?” But before we are too hard on the scholars of the Jesus Seminar we need to look and see where their motivation comes from in pursuing their task. I think one answer lies in a recent poll by George Barna. Barna found that 75% (yes, 3 out of 4 Americans) believe the Bible teaches the self-reliant notion that “God helps those who help themselves.” Self-reliance is a false theological cornerstone that finds its roots in thinking we (humanity) and subsequently I (individually) am at the center of the universe.
We are not the center of the universe. The world does not revolve around our lives, our problems, our desires, or our needs. This inherent selfishness (caused by sin) drives our need to look at the Bible and see the things that are wrong with it. One traditional saying puts it this way; “Men don’t reject the Bible because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them.”
Trusting the Bible lies first in understanding what the Bible is. The Bible tells the story of God’s activity. It tells God’s story. The Bible tells the story of God’s creating and redeeming acts, and where we (humanity) and I (individually) fit into God’s story. It is the story of Paradise lost in Genesis, and of Paradise restored in Revelation. In between, we find the character of God as God moves in steadfast love to reconcile humanity and the creation to Himself. The steadfast love of God is revealed through His Son, Jesus Christ, and made real to us through the Holy Spirit. The truth of the Bible is communicated through the story, and to leave out part of the story is to omit part of the truth, and the search is garbled and confusing.
A candidate for church membership was asked, "What part of the Bible do you like best?" He said: "I like the New Testament best. Then he was asked, "What Book in the New Testament is your favorite?" He answered, the Book of the Parables, Sir." They then asked him to relate one of the parables to the membership committee. And a bit uncertain, he began...
"Once upon a time a man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves; and the thorns grew up and choked the man. And he went on and met the Queen of Sheba, and she gave that man, Sir, a thousand talents of silver, and a hundred changes of raiment. And he got in his chariot and drove furiously, and as he was driving along under a big tree, his hair got caught in a limb and left him hanging here! And he hung there many days and many nights. The ravens brought him food to eat and water to drink. And one night while he was hanging there asleep, his wife Delilah came along and cut off his hair, and he fell on stony ground. And it began to rain, and rained forty days and forty nights. And he hid himself in a cave. Later he went on and met a man who said, "Come in and take supper with me." But he said, "I can’t come in, for I have married a wife." And the man went out into the highways and hedges and compelled him to come in! He then came to Jerusalem, and saw Queen Jezebel sitting high and lifted up in a window of the wall. When she saw him she laughed, and he said, "Throw her down out of there," and they threw her down. And he said "Throw her down again," and they threw her down seventy-times-seven. And the fragments which they picked up filled twelve baskets full! NOW, whose wife will she be in the day of the Judgment?" The membership committee agreed that this was indeed a knowledgeable candidate!