Archive for July, 2009

Is the Word of Paul the Word of God?

July 28, 2009

Title: Is the Word of Paul the Word of God?

Text: 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Peter 3:15-16, Acts 14:8-18

Date: July 23rd, 2009

 

For the past few weeks I’ve been teaching about the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible. I’ll continue on that same subject today. One of the many problems with the Bible that people seem to have today is over the teachings of the Apostle Paul. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked with people who are fine with almost everything the Bible teaches — except for the teachings of the Apostle Paul. And I’m not talking about unbelievers or non-Christians; I’m talking about professed Christians, church members and Bible readers. It seems today the Apostle Paul isn’t a very popular person – even within the Christian church. Now why is that? Why would people in and outside the Christian church have a problem with Paul? There may be many reasons, but probably the main reason why so many people object to the Apostle Paul today is that he speaks forthrightly about controversial topics in his biblical writings. Paul takes the gospel message and explains it in detail and also applies it directly. He speaks bluntly about sin, judgment, God’s wrath, damnation, confession, repentance and faith. He is willing to contend earnestly and argue strongly for the Christian faith. This style of outspokenness and frank truth telling gets Paul into trouble today, as it did in his own day as well. And so we can see how easy it is for some people to question whether the Apostle Paul deserves to have his words categorized as God’s Word in the holy Bible. Now what I’d like to do this morning is answer the question, “Should the words of Paul be considered the Word of God?” I’d like to show that yes indeed the Word of God includes the writings of the Apostle Paul as we have contained in the Bible. And I’d like to clear up some of the misconceptions that people have over the writings of Paul found in the New Testament. I’d like to ask and then answer three questions. First question, “Are we free to disagree with Paul?” I’ll argue that we are not free to disagree with Paul because to do so would be to disagree with a prophet of God speaking the Word of God. Second question, “Are all the writings of Paul the inspired Word of God?” I’ll show that all of the writings of Paul contained in the New Testament are indeed the inspired Word of God. Third question, “Wasn’t Paul just a man?” I’ll prove that Paul was just a man who God chose to inspire for the purpose of bringing forth God’s Word. It seems that most of the problems people have with equating Paul’s writings with the Word of God come from a misunderstanding concerning inspiration and how God inspires the prophets of old to bring forth the Word of God. Another reason why people have a problem with the Apostle Paul today is that they simply don’t like all of what he teaches even though it is perfectly consistent with the other inspired writers of the New Testament. I hope that I can help people understand and appreciate the Apostle Paul better so that they might be able to read, understand and follow his teachings as the Word of God, which it is. It’s simply not acceptable for anyone to pick and choose from within the Bible those parts to believe and follow, yet reject other parts. The fact is the writings of Apostle Paul are part and partial of the Bible; we must believe and follow them. Let’s go further. (more…)

Three More Questions About the Bible

July 23, 2009

Title: Three More Questions About the Bible

Text: Matthew 5:17, 2 Peter 3:15-16, John 5:45-47

Date: July 21st, 2009

 

I’ve been talking about the Bible for the last few weeks by asking and then answering a few common questions that people raise about the Bible. Today I’d like to answer a few more common questions that are raised concerning the Bible. The first question I’ll try to answer is this, “Are we supposed to interpret the Bible literally?” I remember when I was a young Christian going to a church conference in Flint, Michigan and attending a workshop of a Christian author who had written a number of well-known books. At the end of his presentation he had a question and answer session, so I raised my hand and asked him the same question, “How are we to interpret the Bible, literally?” I think he gave me a very helpful answer – but more on that in a minute. The second question I’ll answer is, “Are the teachings of Jesus more authoritative than other teachings in the Bible, for example, the Apostle Paul’s?” I often run into people who say something like, “Well, Jesus never taught that,” or “Well, that’s just Paul who said that.” The implication is that the teachings of Jesus – or the red letters, as some Bibles print the words of Jesus – are more important than, say, the words of Moses in the first 5 books of the Old Testament or the writings of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. I’ll explain why we can’t pick and choose from one part to another in the Bible nor can we judge one part more important than the other. Finally, three, I’ll try to answer the question, “I’ve heard the Bible was put together by unknown editors, not the authors whose names appear on the individual books – is that true?” From television documentary specials presented on ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN to scholarly books found in, for example, Barns & Nobles and Borders bookstores, a general message is given to the public that the Bible wasn’t written by the traditional authors whose names appear on the individual biblical books, but rather the Bible was written by unknown editors who compiled materials from many different sources. I’ll explain this “multiple source” theory is unproven and goes against the very claims of the Bible itself. There are many more questions people ask about the Bible today, but many of these same questions have been asked for hundreds if not thousands of years. Remarkably, not many people take the time to get answers to these questions, but the fact is, there are solid answers to these and other frequently asked questions about the Bible. We have every reason to believe the complete and total reliability of the Bible as God’s Word. We find in the historical record that Jesus and the apostles all assumed the absolute trustworthiness of the complete Old Testament. We also find that Jesus promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance all his teachings and lead them into all truth. This promise is the foundation for our confidence in the New Testament writings. We can have total confidence in the truthfulness of the whole Bible. We can base our lives upon the Bible’s teachings and not be disappointed. But let me go into more detail concerning the three questions I mentioned before. (more…)

Does the Bible Contain Errors and Contradictions?

July 18, 2009

Title: Does the Bible Contain Errors and Contradictions?

Text: 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:16, Matthew 4:4

Date: July 19th, 2009

 

I’ll be talking about the Bible for the next few weeks by asking and then answering a few common questions that people raise about the Bible. For nearly two thousands years of Christian church history it was assumed that the Bible is completely reliable and true. Even during the time of the biggest schism in the church – the Reformation – both sides agreed that the Bible was totally true and free from all errors. But starting roughly a couple hundred years ago during the time of the Enlightenment, people began to question more and more the accuracy of the Bible. Today, as a result of the Enlightenment and modern secular skepticism, most people, sadly, doubt the reliability and truthfulness of the Bible. We even find this unbelief in parts of the Christian church, within denominational structures and local churches, as well as church institutions such as colleges, seminaries, and publishing houses. It is commonly accepted and widely assumed that the Bible contains many errors and contradictions, so much so that it can’t be totally relied upon to give us the whole truth. Many people read the Bible for inspirational value, but also refuse to interpret it literally because they feel that it can be wrong in places. Still others do read the Bible for more than just inspiration – they really do read it for instruction in spiritual and moral matters – but outside of these two strictly religious areas they have their doubts as to its reliability to present an accurate picture of reality. For example, in areas of science, history, and psychology, some people may feel the Bible contains errors and contradictions because it was written by ancient people limited as they were to the knowledge of their times. So we see a lot of skepticism today concerning the Bible’s main claim to being the Word of God. This skepticism as to the Bible’s truthfulness in all matters leads to a hesitancy by most people to trust in it completely with their lives. And we see this tragic result reflected in the life of the average Christian whose life is very often no different than the people of the surrounding culture. This lack of conviction concerning the truthfulness of the Bible effectively negates any form of discipleship in the church – which explains why Christianity is a mile wide but only an inch deep in our culture today. There will be no revival or renewal of Christianity here or anywhere unless the Bible is given its rightful place of authority in Christians’ lives; and that won’t happen until its truthfulness and trustworthiness is restored. I hope to make a small contribution in that direction this morning by showing how alleged errors and supposed contradictions all fail to demonstrate any real errors or contradictions in the Bible. I hope to show that we can rely totally on the Bible to teach us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Let me say a couple things on this topic. (more…)

Can We Trust The Bible?

July 16, 2009

Title: Can We Trust the Bible?

Text: Matthew 4:4, John 14:26, 2 Timothy 3:16

Date: July 12th, 2009

 

I’ll be talking about the Bible for the next few weeks by asking and then answering a few common questions that people raise about the Bible. In our modern 21st century age there seems to be a great misunderstanding about what the Bible is and what it’s role should be in our lives. Not only are most people vastly ignorant about what the Bible teaches, they are also vastly confused as to its purpose. Consequently, most people do not read the Bible on a regular basis, and among those that do read it regularly, it is read in a smorgasbord way – picking and choosing, selecting passages for one reason and rejecting other passages for other reasons. For many people the Bible is simply an ancient source of religious writings upon which they may or may not draw inspiration. Yet they may also consider other writings just as inspirational, such as ancient Greek poetry or even modern day poetry. Others use the Bible along with the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or Hindu or Buddhist writings to inspire them spiritually. However, most people simply ignore or neglect the Bible altogether because they think it either doesn’t speak to them very profoundly or maybe they feel they understand it enough to respect it spiritually but not enough to read it regularly. For whatever reasons, most people do not seriously read the Bible today on a regular basis. Consequently, most people do not apply its teachings to their lives in any consistent way. Even most church people and those who would call themselves Christians don’t seriously dedicate themselves to learning and living out the teachings of God in the Bible. Some do, but this is only a small percentage. Now if we were to step back and ask the question, “Why isn’t the Bible having a more profound effect on people today in the 21st century?” — I think it would all come down to one basic issue – people don’t trust the Bible. Most people today think that the Bible contains errors and contradictions and therefore it can’t be totally trusted. Other people point to the supernatural miracles and conclude that the Bible is filled with ancient myths and fairy tales. Still others claim that modern science and modern knowledge today have proven the Bible wrong, that it can’t be trusted in presenting a true and accurate picture of the world. On and on the list could go as to why most people today don’t trust the Bible enough to read it regularly and rearrange their lives to conform to its teachings. People don’t seem to trust that the Bible is really, ultimately from God; maybe they think it’s mostly full of the thoughts of man. And so on. Today, I’d like to help people trust in the Bible as God’s Word by showing how we can know that both the Old and New Testaments are true and from God, not by going verse-by-verse through the Bible defending each teaching, but by simply asking the question, “What did Jesus think of the Bible?” — and then following Jesus. Personally, I know I can trust the Bible because Jesus himself trusted it. We can’t go wrong by following Jesus. Let me explain further. (more…)