2 PETER 1:12-21 JANUARY 11, 2015
“THE WORD OF GOD”
I found it interesting that the dictionary had four different meanings to the word bible. The fourth meaning of the word bible states that it can refer to “any book considered authoritative in its field. I became curious and went online at Amazon.com and began looking up the many different books with the word bible in the title. I will give you a sample: The Bag Making Bible, the Bible of Fly-fishing, The Knot Tying Bible, The Shooters Bible, The Irish Cooking Bible, The Climbers Bible, Outdoor Survival Bible, The Golf Marketing Bible, The Prosperity Bible, and my favorite The Paula Deen Southern Cooking Bible. Isn’t it interesting that people will recognize the authority of all of these subjects by identifying them as bibles, yet refuse to recognize the authority of God’s Word?
According to the Barna statistics, in U Turn, nearly two-thirds of the public accept the Bible as God’s true and invaluable guidance to humanity. The remaining one-third view either the Bible as conveying the ideas by writers who were giving their understanding of who God is or it is a book of popular stories and by those who have not yet decided what they believe about the Bible. (Page 31, U Turn) Whatever people may think about the Bible does not indicate that people actually use it as a guide. Of those who own a bible: 15% read the Bible every day, 13% several times a week, 9% once a week, 27% read the Bible once or twice a month, and 25% never read the Bible.
These statistics might sound encouraging yet when asked if people would be interested in receiving biblical guidance on a variety of subjects most people do not want to know what the bible teaches. Only 22% of Americans are interested in receiving guidance on parenting, 24% on family conflict, and only 28% would like assistance on dealing with illness or death. 54% of people do not want information on what the Bible might say on politics. This goes back to what we talked about last week. “Less than three out of ten adults say that when they make a moral choice they are striving to be consistent with biblical standards.” (Page 39, U Turn)
What is the role of scripture in the life of a Christian? In the Westminster Confession of Faith in the Shorter Catechism Question 3 asks: “What does the Bible primarily teach? The Bible primarily teaches what man must believe about God and what God requires of man.” Many believers have lost sight of this basic truth.
Where does the Bible get its authority? Is the Bible the word of God because the church says it is? Over the centuries there have been different understandings of the place of scripture. The Roman Catholic Church believes that the scriptures are authoritative but they stand next to tradition as yet another source of revelation. This is why Roman Catholics use tradition as another guide in how a member knows what to do.
In the last century many mainline churches have introduced the idea that the individual also has a role in determining what is and is not the Word of God. When the scriptures are about to be read you will often hear “listen for the word of God”. They are saying in effect that only the individual can determine if what they are hearing is the word of God. Thomas Jefferson put together his own bible as he cut out all those passages with which he did not agree.
The effect of these two positions has led many Christians down the path of doubting the bible to be the word of God. When one begins to doubt the word of God then it is natural for people to ignore the teaching of scripture. This is what we see happening in our culture. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says about scripture. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NIV) “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, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In our culture we have become so self-centered in our thinking that we have lost sight of one of the most basic truths. It is God who has pursued us, not the other way around. It is God who has worked in our lives so that we might come to him. Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV) “4 For he (Christ) chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Religions are what man decides God is like. The scriptures are God taking the initiative to tell us what we need to know about him.
Listen again to the Westminster Confession of Faith in chapter one on Holy Scripture.
“It pleased the Lord at different times and in various ways to reveal himself and to declare that this revelation contains his will for his church. Afterwards it pleased God to put his entire revelation into writing so that the truth might be better preserved and transmitted and that the church, confronted with the corruption of the flesh and the evil purposes of Satan and the world, might be more securely established and comforted. Since God no longer reveals himself to his people in those earlier ways (like God speaking to Moses in the burning bush), Holy Scipture is absolutely essential.
It was Peter who reminded the early church that they did not make up these stories about Jesus, that it is God who spoke to his witnesses.2 Peter 1:16-21 (NIV) “16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
“The Bible speaks authoritatively and so deserves to be believed and obeyed. This authority does not depend on the testimony of any man or church but completely on God, its author, who is himself truth. The Bible therefore is to be accepted as true, because it is the word of God.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter One, section 4) Only when we accept that the Bible is the word of God and we begin to use it as our guide to life will we begin to have a biblical view of the world. Hold on to the truth of God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. To God be the glory.
Let us pray.