Click HERE to listen to this message (my mic was dead the first few minutes, and there’s an un-microphoned time of feedback i the middle; I think it’s better than last week, tho….)
John 1:1-5, 10-14; 10:31-38
“What Is Biblical ‘Author’-ity?”
2nd Sunday in Lent, 02/25/2018
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Through the Written Word,
And the spoken word,
May we know Your Living Word,
Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Today is the Second Sunday of the Season we call Lent – a season of recognizing our own sin-nature, reflecting on what God has already done for us through Jesus Christ, rendering our faith and our lives more deeply into God’s power and presence.
We are journeying through this season with a sermon series wherein we ask some of the important questions of faith – and see where Scripture might lead us in our search for reasonable answers.
Last week we explored the question of God’s existence – and while we probably cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a God, we came to realize that even most atheists believe in some kind of transcendent Being.
So, as believers in this Almighty God’s existence, today we ask if the Bible is God’s Word. I worded this question by asking, “What is Biblical ‘Author’-ity?” Is there a “divine author”, and does this Author’s voice have any power?
What do you think? Does this Book have anything to say to today’s world? Is it worth our time to read it … again? Or, isn’t it just an ancient collection of old fanciful fairy tales and ego maniacal power trips?
This week I watched a lecturer describe how her teenaged students think of the Bible – “It’s a ‘foreign object’ that belongs to somebody else – the church, their grandparents. It’s important. It’s God’s Word, even, but some adult needs to explain it to them because they just can’t read it themselves.” Does anyone here relate to that? Right? We all do, a little…. Here’s another way teenagers describe the Bible: “the Bible is a holy book. It is really big and heavy; it has special paper; and an old smell.” Can anyone relate to that?
Is it relevant for today’s life? “Well, it’s completely true, so … yeah. But it’s big, heavy, special, and old-smelling, so I can’t read it without help.” I think that’s just a polite way to say, “it is so boring”!!
Or, maybe here’s what “more mature” people would argue: Is the Bible the Word of God?
“Well, I dunno, I find a lot of places where it offends me, so if it is, I don’t like the God it represents.”
These same people would affirm the value of Cultural diversity – that’s a thing today’s world loves to promote, and properly so. Right?
Is any one culture any better, or more valid, than other cultures? No… All cultures have good things and bad things….
Well, let’s imagine for a minute that maybe the Bible is God’s Word … – if it is, then every culture, every person in every culture, should be offended – because we all have good and bad things in us.
Right? The Bible says things that I shouldn’t do, or that I should do, that I do not like! But that does not make it not God’s Word – if anything, that makes it God’s Word for sure!
Paul tells us, in I Corinthians 2:14, that unless, until, the Holy Spirit catches our heart we will “not accept the things of the Spirit of God”. Because the Bible is a spiritual book, it will always take more than mere words to convince a skeptic of its Divine Authorship and authority. But that does not mean that our beliefs and our articulation of those beliefs are without value. God has, indeed, provided ways that we can know these words are His Word!
First, we need to see that the biblical books have internal qualities that demonstrate their divine authority. Last week we saw that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19), so does the written Word we call the Scriptures.
Here’s what I mean: it’s not just that the Bible says things, it actually does things!
- The Bible convicts our hearts (Hebrews 4)
- The Bible encourages our faith (Isaiah 40:31)
- The Bible comforts our souls (Deuteronomy 31:8-9)
- The Bible brings wisdom to our minds (Proverbs)
In short, the written Word of God is alive, providing understanding to life’s biggest dilemmas and a coherent and compelling worldview that explains reality like no other piece of literature ever written!
Does anyone have a story of a time when you were facing something beyond your own ability to handle it, and that day something in your Bible reading gave you the exact reference point from which to move forward?
Another internal argument for the God-Authorship of the Bible is contained in the unity and harmony of the Scriptures. This big, special, old-smelling book has writings in it from
- at least 40 different human hands,
- spanning the centuries of nearly 1,500 years, and
- crossing several language and culture and national and religious barriers
– and they all line-up to tell one coherent, compelling story of the redemption of all things through Christ Jesus, of who God is and who we are and what God does for His creation!
Such harmony cannot be the work of human effort! This is compelling evidence of Divine Authorship!
In short, we might know that the Bible is God’s Word because within it we hear the voice of God.
Listen to these opening words from the Gospel According to John – and then we’ll skip forward about 10 chapters and read some of Jesus’ own words. John 1:1-5, 10-14; John 10:25-38….—-
John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1: 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 10: 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
A second way to see the Bible as God’s Word involves the history surrounding each book. Michael Kruger, author of a book called The Question of Canon, says, “These books come from God’s authenticated messengers, prophets and Apostles who were authorized to speak for [God]. The Scriptures contain not just the words of human beings but the words of human beings who were called to be God’s mouthpieces.”
Of course we do not know the human author of every book in the Bible, but we have solid historical evidence that situates each book in time periods and circumstances where we can know God was actively working among His people to reveal His Word!
And, not to be ignored is the fact that these books have been through more scrutiny than any other text in human history, and time and time again they prove themselves to be reliable and worthy of our trust.
And here’s one final thought on this subject of the Author-ity of the Bible as God’s Word: God’s Spirit-filled people, for generation after generation, have recognized these books to be from God!
I agree that this is not empirical proof of anything. Ultimately, we are talking about statements of faith here. This is Holy Spirit-filled conviction of something that cannot be proven. In the same way that we cannot prove that George Washington ever lived or led the Revolutionary War against England 240+ years ago. We believe it’s true, because we have been told it’s true by trustworthy sources. That’s what Paul says to young Timothy in II Timothy 3:14, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it” (namely, his mother and grandmother).
The Church through the ages tells us the roots of these Words. And that testimony deserves its due weight.
I contend that these three reasons provide a great basis for believing that the Bible is, in fact, the Word of God, and therefore trustworthy as an authoritative rule for faith and life: Internal evidence, the historical evidence, and the testimony of the mother-Church. And even weightier than these are the words of Jesus Himself, who unequivocally proclaimed God’s Author-ity in the Bible when He says, John 10:35, “these Scriptures cannot be set aside!”
Michael Kruger affirms that if we believe the Bible we will believe in Jesus, but also, that if we believe in Jesus, we will believe in His Bible!
Ultimately, this is a question of faith – but it is a faith that nothing has yet been able to defeat. And when we adhere to the Word of God, when we believe in its real truth, in spite of everything that tries to be to the contrary, we give glory to God.
As we move toward the cross of Good Friday, never forget that we also move toward that empty tomb of Resurrection Sunday. Amen.
Keller, Timothy; What Is Good Preaching? Lecture 2; Reformed Theological Seminary; Charlotte, NC; 2017.
Kruger, Michael J.; “Is the Bible the Word of God?”; TableTalk; August 2017; Pp. 8-9.
Lang Hearlson, Christy; Tools of Bible Interpretation: starting with teenagers’ interpretation.
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church Thursday Bible Study Group; Spokane, WA; 02/22/2018.