Summary: To help people have a strengthened confidence in the Bible and an increased awareness of why this is so important.
For 40 years, Gallup has been asking America its view of the Bible, and over that period of time, there has been an interesting trend. While more people now say they believe the Bible is God’s inspired word, the same group of people also say that it isn’t meant to be taken literally. I believe them, because another poll showed that 48% of Americans believe there is no one set of values that is right. 7 in 10 Americans now say that religion is losing its influence in American life – one of the highest responses ever to this question. Something about the way people regard the Bible is keeping them from accepting its direction for their life.
The Church of today is up against a challenge it didn't face 50 years ago. When inviting people to Jesus 50 years ago, you could assume something about the average person: the average person in the US accepted the Bible as God's word and that it was meant to be read, understood, and applied to my life. Of course there were exceptions, but in general, it was accepted this way. If you could show someone that the Bible said something, that settled the issue. If you could say, "The Bible says…" then that was it.
That's not true anymore. In fact, the Bible is generally not accepted this way - even by church members across our country in many churches. It has been bumped out of our schoolrooms, our courtrooms, and our workplaces. The Bible isn’t just less accepted, it’s even unsafe.
Come to think of it, it's not safe.
Oswald Chambers - "The Bible treats you like human life does--roughly."
No other written work places on me the demands this book places on me. Oh, they may make demands, but few of them suggest that the outcome is of eternal significance! The yellow pages affect my life, but only for a while. This book is asking to affect my life drastically. Should I let it? Why should I believe that this book, actually a collection of 66 books, is from God and deserves to direct the way I live?
Ill - 2 young men came to my door one Sunday afternoon. I engaged them in a discussion on my porch. They were from another group - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - the Mormons. They wanted me to accept their teaching as a word from God. They wanted me to accept the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price as a word from God and as books that should affect the way I live. We discussed why I believed the Bible was true. So why wouldn't I accept these other books as true also? Then they told me that if I would just read them, I'd develop a feeling, an inner confirmation, that they were true. That's why they believed them, and that's why I would too. But, I told them, there's too much at stake here. I don't want to bet my eternity on how something makes me feel! I'm not willing to make that gamble!
But many of you are, or maybe you've been unwilling to acknowledge the Bible because you haven't ever been faced head-on with a reason to question it.
I hope to change that this morning. I want you to have an honest, although brief, look at some good reasons to accept that the Bible really is God's word to man today and that it ought to be listened to, understood, and allowed to direct your life.
September 8, 2004, less than 2 months before the Presidential Election, Dan Rather on 60 Minutes presented several documents critical of President George W. Bush’s service in the Air National Guard. They were supposed to be letters, written about him, but they weren’t carefully authenticated. The public demanded to see them, and immediately there were problems – they contained dates in them that didn’t line up with history. The type style and spacing wasn’t available in 1972, when they were supposedly written. They were fakes, and in the controversy that came to be referred to as Rathergate, CBS finally issued an apology to the public and some people lost their jobs. Dan Rather lost his credibility. People wanted to know - Are they real? Who wrote them? And do they speak the truth? This had bearing on a presidential election. People cared about knowing the truth, and were angry when they were misled by someone who they felt is supposed to deliver the truth.
The very same kinds of questions that have been asked about the Bible have also been asked about the "Killian documents." And, sure enough, the same kinds of tests have been applied to the Bible to help us understand if it's the real thing or not.