Our Lord and Savior, our Superior in the chain of command, has given us a mission. We call it the GREAT COMMISSION. Remember the commanding words Jesus spoke as He was ascending to heaven while the disciples looked on:
“All authority has been given me in heaven and earth. Therefore, go to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I am with you always as you do this.(Matthew 28:18-20 )
Our mission of leading people to accept Christ and become His disciples must take priority in our day to day existence. Lives depend on this. The eternal destinies of men and women hinge on this. We should center our lives as Christians and as members of this church on this task and on the essentials that enable us to accomplish it.
If we allow ourselves to be sidetracked into dealing with non-essentials, then we will only slow ourselves down. In fact, we will risk not being able to accomplish our mission. We will hinder our ability to be a part of the greatest task God has ever given to His people. And, to accomplish this mission, there are three essential things we must know and believe.
- We must have a correct belief of the nature and authority of the Bible.
- We must have a precise understanding of who Jesus is. And,
- We must have an accurate comprehension of how a person is saved, converted, how someone comes to be a Christian.
These three beliefs encompass what I believe are the bare essentials that we need if we are to complete the task God has given us. I have always loved the following saying and would love for it to be able to be said about the Christians here at Redland ….that in this place we have freedom in the non-essentials, UNITY IN THE ESSENTIALS, and love in every thing. So for the next three weeks we will take a close look at these essential beliefs. Today we look at the first essential–our belief about the Bible. So listen as I read to you our text for today.
Let’s consider this:
- Why is our belief about the Bible important?
- Why is this an essential?
- Why do Christians revere this book?
We do this because the Bible involves the whole issue of the revelation of God. Think about it. How can we know God exists? How can we know what He is like? You and I are not intelligent enough to even scratch the surface of understanding the nature of God. He is infinitely above you and me. Job 11:17 expresses this when it says, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?”
The answer is no…we can’t. God is simply too big for us to understand.So if we are to have a relationship with God then He must reveal Himself to us. He must take the initiative. And He has. God has revealed Himself in several ways.
- God has revealed himself through nature… Romans 1:20 says, “…ever since God created the world, His invisible qualities, both His eternal power and His divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made.”
- God has revealed Himself through History. The Old Testament is full of expressions that reflect a recognition of God because of His activity in the affairs of men and nations. II Chronicles 33:13 reflects this acknowledgment of God as being active in the history of Israel when it says, “Then Israel knew that the Lord is God.”
- God also revealed Himself through the prophets He sent. These men often used the phrase, ” The WORD OF THE LORD came to me…”
- But God’s fullest revelation came in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by HIS SON.”
So in past millennia God has taken the initiative to reveal Himself in many ways. But what about people like you and me who were not present in years long gone and did not see God’s involvement in history or the events surrounding Christ’s life, death, and resurrection? To reveal Himself to all people something more was required — a WRITTEN RECORD was needed. And so, God has given us this in the Bible… He has revealed Himself to us on the pages of this book.So our beliefs about this book are important because these pages are the written story of God pursuing a relationship with humanity. Suffice it to say that this book is unique. There is no other book like it and never will be.
And this morning, as we look at the unique characteristics of the Bible we will see why it is so important for us to give it the authority in our lives that it demands.
So the Bible is not just another book…..it is different….in several ways….
1. First of all it is different from any other book — in that it is the WORD OF GOD and not man.
As the verses in our text for today put it, “All scripture is GOD-BREATHED….none of it originated in the will of man….” And the entire Bible beginning with the Old Testament makes this claim. If you were to sit down and read from Genesis to Malachi you would count over 3800 times in which phrases such as “Thus says the Lord” or “This is the word of the Lord” are used. The writers of the New Testament repeatedly recorded their belief that the Old Testament was God’s word by directly quoting the Old Testament over 300 times as being the “Word of God”.
Jesus affirmed the authority of the Old Testament, when He said in John 10:35 — “for we know that the scripture is true forever” In fact every tenth recorded saying of Jesus is a direct quote of the Old Testament. In Luke 16:17 Jesus says, “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest detail of the Law to be done away with.”
2. The Bible is also unique in that, unlike any other book it is a book that is alive.
Remember the words of Hebrews 4:12 that we read earlier, “The word of God is living and active”? Well, it is living and active. And so, when we read its words, they reach out and touch the needs of our lives in an almost tangible way. Isaiah 55:11 describes scripture as being a living agent or messenger that God sends to touch our lives. Listen to what God says in this passage: ” ….My word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
So, unlike any other book, the Bible is living and powerful.
3. The Bible is also unique in that by reading its words a person can come to know God personally.
Remember the words of II Timothy 3:15-17 “….from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. ” Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the WORD OF GOD.” Remember the words of John 20:31. “…these words are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in Him.”
You know perhaps the best way to summarize the make-up of this book is to say that it is an invitation from Creator to creation. It is God’s written invitation to all of us. In this book God invites you and me to live our lives according to His wisdom. He invites us to give this book authority in our lives–to adopt it as our guidebook–our instruction manual for life.
In these pages God has issued a written invitation to us–to know Him personally, to walk with Him daily. Like all invitations this book calls for our response.
How will you respond?