Summary: This sermon, on the importance of the Bible in the life of the Christian, was preached on Bible Sunday 2007.
Standing on the Promises
--Romans 15:1-6 [Text: verse 4]
When I was a teenager I remember that the pastor of my home Church Eugene F. Black would often observe Bible Sunday sometime near the holy days of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have long wanted to observe such a day in my own ministry and Church setting, but until last week I thought it was no longer a common practice to observe Bible Sunday.
Most of the Calls to Worship and many of the Closing Blessings or benedictions we use each Sunday come from a British source to which I subscribe entitled ROOTS WORSHIP, and while studying it last week, I found that the British and Foreign Bible Society normally observe the last Sunday in October as “Bible Sunday.”
Further research enlightened me that the American Bible Society has observed such a Sunday since 1915 usually on the Sunday preceding Thanksgiving, but both in the United States and the United Kingdom it is permissible to observe any Sunday in the local Church as Bible Sunday. Therefore, today is our Bible Sunday at Trinity. Our primary text is Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
As Christians our sole source for matters of faith and practice is the Bible. Although reason, tradition, and experience aid our interpretation of the Bible, the Bible alone is the basis for our Christian faith and our personal relationship with God.
It was so in the life of John Wesley and all orthodox disciples of Jesus Christ throughout the ages. In his preface to his standard Sermons John Wesley shares his personal testimony to the authority of the Bible in his life: “God Himself has condescended to teach me the way, for this very end He came from heaven; He hath written it down in a book. O give me that Book! At any price, give me the Book of God. I have it; here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be “homo unius libri,” “A MAN OF One Book!” [SOURCE: The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A. M. (London:
John Mason, 1829), Thomas Jackson, editor, VI:ii, iii.].
Today Bible Sunday calls each one of us in 2007 to be “homo unius libri,” “A person of One Book. Christians are “People of One Book” because the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God Himself. Paul testifies in II Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” The term Paul uses for “inspired” literally means “God breathed.”
The sixty-six books of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures speak with Divine authority. Although God spoke through the unique personalities of the persons He selected to pen his written Word, He directly communicated His message to each of them. Note Exodus 24:12, “The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”
The Hebrew Law was written by God’s own hand. Do you remember Cecil B. DeMille’s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS? When Yul Brynner’s character Rameses issues a commandment from Pharaoh’s throne, he always declares, “So let it be written, so let it be done.” At the end of the movie, the final credit says, “THUS IT WAS WRITTEN, THUS IT WAS DONE.” God wrote the tablets of stone with His own hand.
The Hebrew prophets were inspired by God to pen their prophecies. We continually read the phrase in the Old Testament, “The Word of the Lord came to me.” Note for instance Ezekiel 1:3, “The Word of the LORD came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar [KEE-bahr]; and the hand of the LORD was on him there.”
The Christian writers also affirm their messages come directly from God. Paul continually identifies himself in his epistles as “Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ,” and other writers of New Testament Scripture identify themselves in similar fashion. In beginning the Book of Revelation John testifies in Revelation 1:9-11, “I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was IN THE SPIRIT ON THE LORD’S DAY, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.’” The voice that spoke and told John to “write in a book” was our Risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and if you have a red letter edition of the Bible, those words of Jesus are written in red signifying they come directly from His very mouth. The Bible is our sole authority for faith and for practice because it is “God breathed.”