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.