Summary: In this sermon, we explore questions like: how and when was the canon of the Bible put together, what is biblical authority, and how do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?
A. The story is told of a collector of rare books who encountered a man and began to talk about books.
1. The man told the collector that he had just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, old box and he mentioned that “Guten-somebody-or-other” had printed the Bible.
2. “Not Gutenberg?” gasped the collector. “Yes, I’m pretty sure that was it!,” said the man.
3. “How could you be so foolish,” said the collector, “You've thrown away one of the first books ever printed. A copy like that recently sold at auction for half a million dollars!”
4. “Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth anything close to that much,” replied the man. “It was scribbled all over in the margins by some guy named Luther.”
B. We can be pretty certain that this little story is not a true story, because I don’t think anyone would be that unfamiliar with famous names like Gutenberg and Martin Luther.
1. Obviously a rare book like that has tremendous monetary value, but I want to declare to you today that any copy of the Bible has more value than a pile of money.
2. I believe the Bible is the Word of God, it contains the very words of life – eternal life.
3. King David, the OT Psalmist wrote: The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (Ps. 119:72) Is that the way you feel about the Bible?
4. Today, I want us to discuss the place and purpose of the Bible for Christians and the church.
C. As you know, we are in a series called “Blueprint: God’s Plan for the Church.”
1. I have been emphasizing that we are trying to be Christians only, who are a part of the New Testament church that Jesus built.
2. The church Jesus built has stood the test of time, and has overcome every attack of the evil one.
3. In every time and place, the church of Jesus has had to face the opposition of false teaching.
4. I’ve tried to emphasize that our fellowship of churches has striven to be the simple church of the New Testament and that alone.
5. We are committed to holding no other belief, nor practice any other rite than that which the NT church believed or practiced as found in the Bible.
6. For that reason we have looked to the Bible as our sole source of truth and instruction.
D. Today, I want us to explore our attitudes toward the Bible by answering three questions:
1. How and when was the canon of the Bible put together?
2. What is Biblical Authority?
3. How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?
I. How and When was the canon of the Bible put together?
A. The Bible, as we have it today, leather-bound with 66 books, 39 OT and 27 NT, didn’t come from heaven in that form.
1. Rather, it came from God, little by little, over hundreds of years, and was not complete until the end of the 1st century A.D.
2. The term “canon” is used to describe the books that are divinely inspired and therefore belong in the Bible.
3. The primary difficulty of determining the biblical canon is that the Bible does not give us a list of the books that belong in the Bible.
a. Nowhere in the Bible do we read, “And here is a list of the books that belong in the Bible.”
4. Determining the canon was a process conducted first by Jewish rabbis and scholars and later by early Christians.
5. But we must keep in mind that, ultimately, it was God who decided what books belonged in the biblical canon.
6. A book of Scripture belonged in the canon from the moment God inspired its writing.
7. After that, it was simply a matter of God convincing His human followers which books should be included in the Bible.
B. Compared to the New Testament, there was much less controversy over the canon of the OT.
1. Hebrew believers recognized God’s messengers and accepted their writings as inspired of God.
2. While there was undeniably some debate in regards to the Old Testament canon, some scholars suggest it was fixed by 140 B.C. while others suggest a date as late as A.D. 250.
3. Outside the Torah and the Prophets, the canonization of other books, especially the Apocrypha (which I will talk about in a minute), were debated until as late as the 3rd century A.D.
C. For the NT, the process of recognition began in the first centuries of the Christian church.
1. Immediately, Peter recognized Paul’s writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).