The Fundamentals of Our Faith;
What We Believe Sermon Series
“We Believe In the Bible”
Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, “How can I get the air out of this glass?” One man shouted, “Suck it out with a pump!” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.
How God Reveals Himself to Humanity
Remember (week 1), God is transcendent, meaning God needs nothing, is self-sufficient, and is therefore outside of our reality. The only way for us to accurately understand and know God is for Him to reveal Himself to us.
So, we use the word revelation to mean “the manifestation of God himself (personal) and His will for us (propositionally). It includes His mighty acts, but with an accompanying explanation. It is not human discoveries about God but divine self-disclosure.”
The revelation of God was not given to humanity to satisfy some sense of curiosity, or to give us something to think about – it is given to shape the lives and hearts of those that encounter it. There are two broad categories that describe how God has revealed himself to the world.
General/Universal Revelation (accessible to all)
The Bible teaches that God is revealed to everyone in at least two ways:
In The Creation.  If all we had to study was nature, then we would be able to determine that God exists, His glory, goodness, eternal power, and divine nature.
Psalm 19:1-2 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”
In Human Nature. “Being made in the image of God, there is some vestige or reflection of Hod nature in us. One such vestige seems to be the moral law written on our hearts (what we may call a conscience).” The fall (Gen. 3) has greatly affected the moral compass of the conscience, but all peoples agree that certain things are right, and certain things are wrong. This reflects the moral nature of the Creator, though distorted.
What we see today is not what God intended at the origin of creation. Creation has been affected by the fall of man, and human beings have been greatly influenced by Adam’s decision in the Garden of Eden.
Because of our fallen nature we do not clearly perceive God’s general revelation. Our vision is blurred; what we need are glasses to clearly see how mankind’s nature and the created order point to God. We can’t clearly see what He is like, and what He prescribes for His creation.
Special Revelation (giving more particular specific knowledge of God)
God reveals Himself. We see throughout Scripture that the reason God reveals Himself to humanity is so that a relationship can be established. 1 Samuel 3:21 “And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.”
Isa. 40:5 “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” God’s glory is a “visible representation of the invisible.”
God reveals Information. God reveals His plans (2 Sam. 7:27, Amos 3:7), the future (Dan. 2:28), the “mysteries” involved in the gospel message (Rom. 16:25-26, Eph. 3:3, 5; 1 Cor. 2:10, 11:25), and the identity of Jesus (Matt. 16:17); the Holy Spirit reveals truth to the disciples about Jesus (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13-14), and Jesus himself is a “light for revelation” (Luke 2:32).
Hebrews 1:1-3 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. . .” “One cannot accept the Incarnate Word as Lord (Jesus) without accepting the written Word as God’s authoritative revelation.”
God reveals things about Himself and He has given us certain portions of information that He wants us to know. The Bible is a witness and record of God’s acts of self-disclosure in the past to chosen prophets and apostles. But God also, uses the Bible, His Holy Word, to speak to us today just as He did long ago, for His word is living and abiding.
1 Peter 1:23 “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” In this passage Peter is talking about how flowers and everything created fades and eventually dies – but the Word of God is living, it does not fade, and it is enduring.
Peter also explains that “the new birth comes through the living and abiding word of God. God’s word is living because it imparts life, His word endures because the God who speaks it is eternal, faithful, powerful one who keeps his promises.”
The revealed Information of God is Gathered Together in the Canon. The meaning of the word canon in Greek and Hebrew is that of a straight rod, a standard or criterion. For theology, it refers to those books that have formed the standard or criterion for first, Judaism, and later, for Christianity. The canon of Scripture protects from the danger of adding to the Bible, or the danger of taking something way.
By Jesus’ day, the OT was already divided into three sections and essentially canonized; The law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Jesus says this in Luke 24:44). As the early church was developing, there arose heretics who denied the validity of some of the books commonly used by God’s people. Marcion is an example of one of these heretics – he denied all of the OT and Most of the NT. So, the church needed a list of the books they accepted.
Many of the church fathers were quoting books early and most of the books were accepted as authoritative – over the years there was debate as to which books should be included, but by 397 at the Council of Carthage it effectively ended discussion and the matter was resolved.
Some may ask, why did it take so long – this was a time of great persecution against the church, so meetings to debate and work out doctrine and the books was very dangerous. The time from Constantine becoming emperor (and conversion) and the finalized canon was relatively quick.
There we believe that the canon is closed. God is not going to give any further authoritative normative revelation today. Therefore, anyone who feels that God has led them to say or do something, the church should always compare that to what Scripture says, to see if they align. But ultimately, we would say Sola Scriptura – the Word Alone is authoritative to Christian living.
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Notice it says, “All Scripture” – we should not have a personal canon, where we cut portions outs, ignore sections or teachings we don’t like or offend us. All of the Bible is the Word of God – we must be obedient to all of it. If we don’t then we are not complete in our following Christ, we are not properly equipped, not are we able to do every good work.
God’s Word Should Guide A Believer’s Life
Because It is Inspired by God
Looking at 2 Tim. 3:16 earlier, and 2 Peter 1:20-21 “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
When a biblical author sat down and began writing the book, what developed on the page was directly influenced by the Holy Spirit; they were “carried along” by God. The book was God breathed. But they were not dictating what God said – instead, there was a blending of the author’s personal history, personality, life experience, along with the information God wanted to be shared.
“It was written in human languages, using human conventions and culture, reflecting human research (Luke 1:1-4), and human memory (1 Cor. 1:15-16) and the individual styles of the human authors. Thus, we may use the word “confluent” (two streams coming together) and “dynamic” (force stimulating change or progress) to describe the coming together of divine and human elements in inspiration, and the word “superintend” (responsible for the management or arrangement) to describe the nature of the Spirit’s activity.”
Because It is Inerrant
“Inerrancy means that when all facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything that they affirm, whether that has to do with doctrine or morality or with social, physical, or life sciences.”
Psalm 119 speaks to the truth of God’s Word, “Your law is true (v. 142); “all your commandments are true (v. 151); and “all your words are true” (v. 160). Proverbs 30:5, 6 say that “every word of God has proven true.”
The Bible tells us what is true or shows us truth without any mixture of error – Aristotle defines truth as, “To say what is, is, and what is not, is not, is true. And to say what is, is not, and what is not, is, is false.” I would also add, that if the Bible has mistakes, how would you know then if all of it is not a mistake or in error in some degree. The only way for the Bible to be authoritative and true – is for all of it to be true.
There are some that get tripped up on the conservative view of Scripture is that we take everything in the Bible literally – instead we interpret the Bible according to the specific genre that it is written. “The main genres found in the Bible are these: law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, prophecy and apocalyptic literature.” For example, we don’t interpret historical narratives the same as we would poetry.
The Holy Spirit has been a constant presence in our receiving and having access to God’s Word. This book that we carry to church, and get out for our personal Bible study times, times of prayer, etc. The Holy Spirit has been there at the beginning, throughout the whole process of it’s development, and is present today as we seek to understand it, and apply it to our lives. He is present in our lives to guide us through His Word.
1 Peter 2:2-3 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
You do not have to have a newborn home for very long before you realize what this word crave means. They will scream, wiggle, flail, they will do all that they can to get milk. Every three to four hours a timer goes off inside the child and you had best not ignore it. Does a timer go off in your heart?
This verse says that we should crave God’s Word – but to be honest it is an acquired taste. 3 types of Bible study – There’s the medicine quiet time – yuck, but good for what ails them.. Then there’s the shredded wheat quiet time – nourishing but dry. Then there’s the strawberries and cream quiet time – delicious can’t get enough, time flies, etc… How do you go from medicine to strawberries-n-cream? You spend time with God everyday.
Psalm 19:9-10 “The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.”
Notice in the 1 Peter passage it says “so that by it you may grow” not “so that you may know.” We study His word so that we may change. Spending time with God is not about knowing more about Him, that’s great, but it’s knowing and changing. Taking what we know and applying it to our lives.
We have the Bible not to satisfy our curiosity, but to help us conform to the image of Christ. Not to give us loopholes to sin, but to make us like our Savior. It’s more than facts, it’s about transformation.
 Today in the Word, September, 1991, p. 30.
 John Hammett, Systematic Theology class notes, SEBTS 8.
 Psalm 19:1-6; Acts 14:15-17, Rom. 1:18-20; Rom. 10:14-18.
 Gen. 1:27; Acts 17:28-29; Rom. 2:14-15.
 Hammett, 8.
 Gen. 3:14-19; Romans 8:19-22
 Eph. 1:17; Rom. 1:17-18; Gal. 1:12, 16; Matt. 11:27.
 Hammett, 17.
 Hammett, 20.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 12 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1981) 227.
 Jesus and the NT authors quote from the Hebrew canon hundreds of times, but never quote from the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha.
 Hammett, 31.
 Norman Geisler, Inerrancy (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1980) 294.
 Geisler, 294.
The Fundamentals of Our Faith;
What We Believe Sermon Series
“We Believe in Salvation”
Humanity Is Made in the Image of God
We will begin our talk today with the question of where did men and women come from? What is the origin of humanity? Both the Old Testament and New Testament writers viewed Adam (and Eve) as a person, a person as historical as Jesus Christ Himself. These accounts leave no room for a mythical or allegorical interpretation.
Genesis 1:26 tells us, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” We are carefully though out and purposely planned. It also says in Genesis that God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” and to complement man, He made woman to be Adam’s helper (Gen. 2:18), 22).
So How Are We Made in the Image of God?
Moral likeness. God has given humanity an inner sense of right and wrong (Eccl. 3:11; Rom. 2:15). We call it our conscience (or they were self-conscience), in intended to prompt us to act in a moral way, and when we do we reflect God’s moral likeness.
Spiritual likeness. Like God is a spirit, humanity also has a spirit (John 19:30; Acts 7:59). We relate to God in prayer, praise, and in worship (John 4:24). Since God is spirit, our spirit reflects His likeness. God made Adam from the dust (body), and breathed life into Him (soul) – God is spirit, and there is a part of man that is spirit as well.
Intellectual likeness. Mankind can reason, think logically, and learn in a way that sets us apart from the animal kingdom. Adam was given the responsibility to name the animals when they were presented to him (Gen. 2:19-20). Only humans ponder the future, create beauty (music, art, literature), and make scientific and technological advancements. As we use our intellect we reflect the image of God.
Social likeness. God is a Trinity, there is one God existing in three coeternal and coequal persons. It takes all three members of the Trinity to make up God. Likewise, both male and female make up humanity. Humanity reflects the trinity in how men and women cooperate together, each being equal to live out different roles assigned by God.
Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” When God created human beings, He created them in His image. This image has been distorted by sin, but not lost completely because of man’s sin (Gen. 9:6). This distorted image of God will be restored when Jesus returns (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49).
Humanity’s Image of God Has Become Corrupted.
At the beginning of time, Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. Before the rebellion man’s natural inclination was toward God. This rebellion contaminated their spirits so that their inner nature now tended toward sin (Rom. 7:14-15), and while they were still capable of doing good, they became incapable of not doing wrong.
The very nature of man changed with the fall. Before the fall mankind’s heart was oriented toward God, but after the fall mankind’s will was to war with God – to fight against Him. We are not sinners because we sin – we sin because it is our nature to do so. An apple tree is not an apple tree because it produces apples. It produces apples because it is an apple tree.
John 3:19 “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” Mankind’s nature is bent toward sin, and we don’t like it when our sin is called what it is – wrong, sin, corrupt, etc.
Why did God not stop this evil from happening in the beginning? There, at the tree of knowledge of good and evil, He could have kept the serpent from tempting Eve, or stopped her before she took a bite, or done something to keep sin from entering into His perfect creation. He is all powerful, all knowing, and present everywhere. God could have created Adam and Eve so that they would not sin – but to do so would remove the freedom of choice.
The consequences which God warned them of involved both physical and spiritual death, that is a separation from their creator. This “Fall” involved all of the natural creation (Rom. 8:21-22).
This corrupted nature is passed down from generation to generation (Rom. 5:12-25). This condition is called “total depravity.” This does not mean that we are totally bad, or as bad as we could be – but it means that every part of our humanity has been corrupted by sin (physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, socially – in every way).
In Romans we can look at two verses and from there we cannot avoid the fact that humanity is lost and in need of salvation. Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is no room for debate, humanity is lost and needs to be saved.
There are typically two schools of thought with regard to this problem. 1) everyone has to earn his or her salvation. 2) thinking everyone will be saved, regardless, the idea that God is too loving and kind to send anyone to hell. The Bible shows that both of these ideas are false. Titus 3:5 shows that you are not going to heaven based on your good works,“ . . . he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” and,
Matthew 7:13-14, Rev. 20:15 shows that not everyone is going to heaven, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Humanity Needs a Savior.
Humanity must have God’s grace, or “unmerited favor.” God is love, and from that love He has provided you a way (the only way) to be spared the normal consequences of sin, which is eternal separation from God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The gift that is given to humanity is God’s grace and mercy offered to a person who places their faith in Jesus as the way to be saved from their sins. The faith mentioned here is not just acknowledging that God exists, — to believe information about something. It means to place our trust in that information.
The Smithsonian tells a story of the Daredevil of Niagara Falls. During the winter of 1858, a 34-year-old French acrobat named Jean François Gravelet, better known as Monsieur Charles Blondin, traveled to Niagara Falls hoping to become the first person to cross the “boiling cataract.” He always worked without a net, believing that preparing for disaster only made one more likely to occur. A rope 1,300 feet long, two inches in diameter and made entirely of hemp would be the sole thing separating him from the roiling waters below. Blondin would say, “do you believe I can cross without falling?” The audience would say, “yes, we believe.” “Then he would say, then get on my back.” Or “get in the wheelbarrow.”
There is a difference between saying you believe in something (while standing on the shore), and then place your whole life in their hands (sitting in the wheelbarrow).
Part of placing our faith in Christ and being saved, is that a person must repent of their sin. Repentance means “changing one’s mind.” It is the other side of the coin of belief – faith and repentance go together.
CS. Lewis in Mere Christianity once said, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement; he is a rebel who must lay down his arms . . . This process of surrender – this movement full speed astern – is what Christians call repentance.”
What Happens with Salvation? There are several words that help us to understand the meaning of salvation:
Redemption – this means “to purchase from the marketplace.” This would be the same word agarazo, that you would use for buying a piece of fruit from the grocery store. You will pay the price that is required for the piece of fruit.
With regard to our salvation, there was a sin debt that was owed, or in order to pay the price for our redemption. But it does not just mean we have been purchased, it also means that it takes us out of the market. Just like your piece of fruit is yours, it’s “out of the market.” We have been removed from the marketplace of sin.
Justified – this means to be declared righteous by God. We can not be declared righteous by God unless we are righteous in God’s eyes. But how can God see us being righteous when we know we have sin in our lives?
Romans 4:2-3 “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” We are justified before God by our faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus acts as our representative, and by dying in our place we are justified by our faith in His act (1 Cor. 15:45). When we give our lives to Christ to follow Him, our sins are forgiven, we are born again, and Jesus’ righteousness becomes ours.
Adoption – when a person is adopted, they are made a legal member of another family, with all the rights and privileges of that family. Ephesians 1:5 “he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”
We were in the power of sin, of the world, and we belonged to the family of Adam – we were lost and without hope. But God, through Jesus took us from that family and adopted us into His, and adoption wipes out the past and makes us new. God knows all the sins that we have ever committed and will commit in the future and they are true even if we don’t feel different. The earth is round and rotates, whether you believe it or feel it – its still true.
Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” This is a deeply person term, Abba, Daddy – God has chosen us to show love and kindness to us forever.
How Do I Know If I Have Been Saved?
It is not uncommon for Christians to struggle with doubt as to whether or not they are saved. But the Bible gives assurance that we can know that we are saved.
Psalm 130:4 “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” It is possible to be forgiven.
John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” A person must come to Jesus, believe in Him, and ask Him to save us – but when we do, God will not ignore our pleadings for forgiveness.
1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” God has given us the Word of God, so that we may know that we are saved.
Can I Lose My Salvation?
Eternal security is the belief that once Christians are saved they will always be saved. So in order to see if eternal security is true, then we need to remember what happens when a person is genuinely saved:
1) They are made a new creature: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” A new believer is not simply an improved version of who they were, he is an entirely new creature, in Christ.
2) You have been purchased at the price of the death of the Son of God. Your sin debt has been paid – there is nothing left to pay. All your sin past, present, and future have been taken care of. You can not lose that, it is already been done.
3) The have been declared righteous by God (justified) – God has told those that place their faith in Christ that they are declared righteous. God would have to go back on His word and declare unrighteous that which He already declared righteous.
4) You are sealed with the Holy Spirt – Ephesians 1:13-14 “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
When a person placed their faith in Christ they are sealed with the Holy Spirt until eternity. The guarantee of our inheritance of eternal life in heaven is the presence of the Holy Spirit – not our actions. There is nothing that a person can do for the promised seal to be broken.
There will come a time when the Christian will be glorified in eternity. Romans 8:30 “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (not will glorify)
A Christian is guaranteed glorification. According to Romans 5:1, justification is ours at the moment of faith. According to Romans 8:30, glorification comes with justification. A Christian cannot lose salvation.
Most, if not all, of what the Bible says happens to us when we receive Christ would be invalidated if salvation could be lost. Salvation is the gift of God, and God’s gifts are “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
A Christian cannot be un-newly created. The redeemed cannot be unpurchased. Eternal life cannot be temporary. God cannot renege on His Word. Scripture says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
Do you realize that you have a nature corrupted by sin? Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin, and pulling you to give your life to Christ today? You need to be saved – God in His limitless love and compassion provided Jesus as the way to fix your sin problem (that you can’t do on your own). Won’t you accept His free gift of salvation today
 Alternate title, “Man’s Disorder and God’s Design”
 Paul Little, Know What You Believe, A Practical Discussion of the Fundamentals of the Christian Faith (Colorado Springs, Colorado; Cook Communications, 1999) 71.
 1 Tim. 1:5
 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York; New York; Macmillan, 1960), 38-39.