Summary: Without the Bible there is no Christianity. We need to give it the credit it deserves.
What is the Bible? (2 Peter 1:12-21)
Emperor Menelik II was an African ruler who defeated the Italian army at Adwa in 1896 and established the nation of Ethiopia. He believed that the Bible had the power to cure illness, and he would eat a few pages of it anytime he got sick. He suffered a stroke in 1913, after which he ate the entire book of Kings. As a result, his bowels became obstructed and he died of related complications.
If only we gave the Word of God that much credit today. Obviously, the power is not in the paper or ink but in the words that are spoken, and I believe this book is the powerful living Word of God. The words we read can heal, change people, and change the world. But not everyone agrees even amoung Christians.
If you take away the Bible, you’ve taken away the entire Christian message. Yet a lot of confusion exists today about the Bible. According to a 1996 Barna survey, 42% of North Americans say they believe that the Bible is the literal word of God. Yet almost half of us believe that the Bible is too hard for us to understand, so on any given week very few people actually read the book they claim to embrace as God’s literal word. Clearly there’s a discrepancy between what we say we believe and our true beliefs as demonstrated by our actions.
One of the main arguments people have against Christians is that we claim that the Bible is the Word of God, but other religions believe their book is the word of god. What makes your book better than their’s they ask. We tend to use the Bible to defend itself much like if we said that we are the president because we say so. Before I was a believer I used to hate it when people would answer questions I had about the faith with “the Bible says”. My very next question would be, “why do you believe the Bible, how can a book be God?” This is where many Christians would get stuck and not be able to answer. I think many Christians have never even really asked themselves why they believe the Bible. For many I am not sure it was even a conscious personal choice, but rather something just handed down to them, or something they were told was true, so they just assumed the people who told them it was true were right. We have the “Truth Project”coming up in a couple of weeks and I think it will be excellent in helping us know why we believe what we believe.
I admire this kind of “childish faith” that many people have, but unfortunately in our modern culture there is a lot more skepticism and questioning, people want to come to their own beliefs. Therefore I think it’s important that we really know how to answer questions about the Bible for ourselves and for others who ask. Remember without the Bible there is no Christian faith. It’s not a symbol of our faith, it is our faith, and I believe the need to know the Bible is more important than coming to church, getting baptized, praying, and every other Christian activity combined. The Bible is the only artifact of our faith that is entirely indispensable, and that is why I think God has made it literally impossible for the Bible to ever be wiped out of existence. There are more copies in more languages, that they could never all be destroyed. So helping others know about and understand the Bible is our most important evangelical activity, and the one that will create the most authentic believers.
We don’t have time to get into an extensive apologetic discussion here, but we need to know some of the evidence for the Bible’s authenticity. How do we know it is authentic? Well, as in everything in science and history it is nearly impossible to prove anything as fact, but we can only state beliefs based on the real evidence we have. The conclusion that even atheist researchers have come up with is that of all the writings of antiquity, the Bible has by far the most originally preserved manuscripts that can be verified as historically accurate. This is just one of the many reasons we believe it is from God, because only God could have preserved such a vast variety of documents written over such vast amount of time and distance that fit together and verify each other so perfectly.
In the Scripture reading we see that Peter shows incredible dedication to the word in spite of the opposition. For me this is one of the biggest arguments for the validity of the Bible. These men all risked death to maintain the truth of what they were saying, it would have been so much easier to just forget it. I don’t know if I would have had the courage they did, so what they experienced must have been real.