Intro: Let’s begin with a promise: “…All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)
How many of you brought a Bible with you today – hold up your hands. That is very good. I appreciate it when people bring their own Bibles, because that is what we intend to do is study the Bible. But is the Bible you hold in your hands a reliable guide book today? Can you trust what it says?
Peter quoted God’s promise from Isaiah 40 and applied to the very words he had preached to the people of the first century – 700 years later. The word of God would not pass away; it would abide. Did God keep His promise? Can you trust that the Bible constitutes the words of God today?
1. Many today question the accuracy and authenticity of your Bible. They suppose that modern science and textual criticism has effectively discredited it. Even among those who claim to follow the Bible, it is smugly assumed that only the truly naïve would believe every word, or take it as an absolute guide.
2. Are we naïve, or is there credible evidence concerning the accuracy of the scriptures? Today is the first of a series of lessons on the trustworthiness of the Bible, as the revelation of a trustworthy God.
I. The Value of God’s Word: Matthew 4:4 – But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Jesus places enormous value of God’s words. His words are the source of our very lives. If you believe that God created you, then you must believe this as well. If God has spoken, then as His creation, we must pay attention to every syllable.
A. Our claim today is that God has spoken. In fact, the Bible that you hold in your hand is His revelation, once for all given. God wrote a book, and as such it is the greatest book ever written. Its value is immeasurable, even to you personally. 2 Tim 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (NAS)
B. Imagine that somehow you could gather all religious books ever written. You run these books through a sieve, to winnow out only those that claim to be a true guide book for your life. Next through a second sieve you winnow out those books that claim to be both a guide book and inspired of God. You could count that number on the fingers of a hand! The claim of inspiration at the hand of God is rare indeed.
C. The Bible makes this claim many times. Peter wrote: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21) As an apostle of Christ Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 – 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1. Furthermore, statements such as “God said…” or “these are the words of the Lord…” appear over 4,000 times in both the Old and New Testaments. “There are 2,700 such statements in the Old Testament alone, all of which make direct claim that the Bible is the Word of God” (Ridenour, 1967, p. 2).
D. What are the implications of these claims? If I told you I could bench-press 1000 pounds, what would that tell you about me? You would learn that I am either the strongest man in the world, I am a liar, or I am delusional.
1. Here are the implications of the Bible’s claims
- Either the writers of the Bible told the truth
- or they were liars
- or they were delusional. The Bible cannot just be a “good book.”
II. The Bible is Inspired. What do we mean when we say the Bible is inspired? We use the word “inspired” or “inspiring” to mean that something is uplifting or meaningful. We might say a painting was “inspirational”, or that a player “inspired” his team. But that is not what we mean here. The English term, “inspiration,” derives from a Latin word which means “to breathe upon or into something.”
A. The word inspired in 2 Tim. 3:16 literally means “God-breathed”. Theologically, “inspiration” is used for the condition of being directly under divine influence. Therefore to say the Bible is inspired is to declare the Bible to be the very words of God.
B. But exactly what form did inspiration take? There are two terms that are used to describe Biblical inspiration: verbal and plenary.
1. By “verbal” it is meant that every word in the Bible is there because God permitted it by the direction of the Holy Spirit. Locks the meaning of words to their original audience and intent.
2. By “plenary” (from the Latin, plenus—full), it is meant that each and every part of the Bible is inspired, with nothing having been omitted. This comprehensive view holds that men wrote exactly what God wanted them to write, word for word, without errors or mistakes.
C. Read 2 Peter 1:16-21 – For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory:”This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. These verses clearly teach the comprehensive aspect of the inspiration of scripture. Peter declares that he and the other writers did not follow cleverly invented stories when they told people about Jesus. In fact, they were eyewitnesses to things they recorded. In referring to the transfiguration of Jesus, Peter declares that they heard the voice that came from heaven when they were with Jesus on that mountain.
1. In verse 20, Peter emphasizes that none of the writers ever penned something by their own will. Nor did any writer pen their thoughts or an interpretation of what God had said. The phrase moved by the Holy Spirit means to be “born along” (like a ship being driven by the wind – used in Acts 27:17 to describe Paul’s ship as it was uncontrollable against the wind). Men spoke the very words of God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. No writer was moved by his own will to write something down.
D. The Bible does not contain the word of God; it is the very words of God. The Holy Spirit gave the words to those who were chosen to write it down. This is exactly how the scriptures describe the method of inspiration. Acts 1:16 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;
1. Thus the word of the apostles and prophets are the words of God. The fact that God used men to reveal His will to other men does not lessen the authority of His words. If your dad sends your brother to tell you to come home for dinner, do you have to come? Will your dad punish you for not obeying? God did not have to speak directly to you or to me for us to hear his words and see our responsibility. We are just as accountable, as if God had spoken the words directly to us.
E. Notice the authoritative nature of the prophetic and apostolic writing.
1. In 2 Samuel 23:2, David said, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.”
2. God told Isaiah in Isaiah 59:21 – 21 “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”
3. Turning to Jeremiah 1:9 we read, “Then the lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.”
4. What about the N.T. apostles? In John 14:26 Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the apostles and the Spirit would guide them into all truth. They would then witness to the whole world.
5. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:37 – 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. He also commended the Thessalonians because they had received His writings for what they were, “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (1 Thess. 2:13)
F. The authoritative nature of every word of the scriptures is evidenced from within the Bible itself. In the midst of Jesus’ discussion with the Sadducees about their denial of the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23-33), Jesus referred Exodus 3:6 wherein God said to Moses: “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When God spoke these words, Abraham had been dead some 400 years, yet He still said, “I am the God of Abraham.” As Jesus correctly pointed out to the Sadducees, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:32). Thus, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must have been living. The only way they could be living was if their spirits continued to survive the death of their bodies. Jesus’ entire argument rested on the tense of the verb! If God’s word had been corrupted through the subsequent 1400 years from Moses to Jesus, Jesus could not dare make such a bold argument. But even the tense of the word had been preserved, and was in fact authoritative.
- This exhibits for us Jesus’ view of OT scripture, written 1400 years before His day. He understood and used the OT scriptures as the inspired words of the Father. Was Jesus mistaken about this?
In Gal. 3:16 Paul as well makes an argument about the identity of Jesus in the promise of Abraham by referring to the singular form of the word “seed” rather than the plural “seeds”. This kind of evidence regarding the verbal inspiration of God’s Word should not be overlooked.
G. Even the content of the writings repeatedly show these words to be the very words of God. Sometimes we see evidence of inspiration in what is not recorded.
1. In Acts 12 we read about the death of the apostle James. How much would we have written about the death of the first apostle? We would have written volumes, recording the impact it made on the Christians and what was done in honor of James. Yet the Bible records that James was killed by the sword and nothing else is said.
2. How much would a human have written about the birth and death of Jesus?
- Each of the gospel writers only record about three chapters worth of material about the death of Jesus. (“and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26).
- Two gospel writers record nothing about His birth; Matthew records about 25 verses, and Luke records about 39 verses. This is not way men would have recorded the story. The content of the Bible shows it to be the very words of God.
Conclusion: For the next few Sunday mornings we will explore the value and validity of the Bible. So bring the book that God wrote with you. If you follow it carefully it will change your life forever. The message of the Bible is the message of Christ’s work to bring you forgiveness and life. Do you believe what the Bible says about Jesus? 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.