Here is an excerpt from a recent sermon:
The Word, The Word, The Word
Here’s a preview of coming attractions: This month marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Tradition has it that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses for debate with the Roman Catholic Church to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church on October 31, 1517, beginning the Reformation. Next Sunday, October 29, which is Reformation Sunday, our worship service will be like one used by Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others of the Reformation period. You will find it very different from our service today.
The past two weeks I have preached on the Ten Commandments and spoken of their validity yet today. God’s Commandments are not out of date, have not been revoked, and are good for us, even though they are not sufficient for our salvation, since we are incapable of perfectly obeying them. Still, the Ten Commandments are a guide for us, but it is not just the Ten Commandments that guide us, the entirety of the Word of God is, as it says in Psalm 119, a lamp for our feet and a light for our paths.
God’s Word comes to us in two forms. There is the written Word, the Bible, containing what God has chosen to reveal to His people Israel and to the church. Then there is also the Living Word, which is Jesus the Christ. Jesus is the most complete revelation of God to the world.
First let me say a few things about the written Word – the Bible. Many people have a wrong impression of the Bible. They don’t really understand the purpose, the power, or the wonder of it. The Bible is not a magic talisman. I heard of one person who papered the walls of their room with pages of the Bible to keep out the demons. That is not going to work. Others think that if they have a copy of the Bible in their house gathering dust it makes them a Christian. That doesn’t work either. It is not a membership card. But here is what the Bible is.
First of all, it is Authoritative, that means it is commanding, reliable, and to be obeyed. Some within the church have fallen into Satan’s trap of thinking that the Bible is an authority, that is one among many. They put it on a par with sociology, psychology, history, science, and all the other areas of study and knowledge. But understand this: The Bible is not an authority among many, it is the authority, one might say the final authority, on every subject upon which it speaks. If the Bible says that a baby in the womb is a human being with a personality and a soul (which it does), and some psychologist or doctor or abortionist tells us that it is “just a blob of tissue,” the Bible is right and those others are wrong. If the Bible says that the walls of Jericho fell down while Joshua and the children of Israel marched around it, and some pretentious historian or archeologist says it couldn’t happen, they are wrong, and the Bible is historically accurate. (By the way, the archeologists eventually found the ruins of Jericho with the walls fallen out, not in, as would be the case if they were destroyed by an enemy’s attacks rather than by God’s hand.) If life is a test, the correct answers are found in the Bible.
The Bible is also Inerrant. That means it is free from error. There are no mistakes in the Bible. Every statement in the Bible is to be accepted. Every doctrine taught in Scripture requires our agreement. There is no “It doesn’t really mean that” in Biblical studies. This does not mean that you will never find a mistake when you read your Bible. Typos, mistranslations, and printing errors can creep in. But in the original documents, in the original language, there is no error. The Bible itself attests to its inerrancy. It proclaims that the Word of God is perfect. Jesus said that God’s Word is truth. The Bible is also a reflection of the author; it is as Paul says, “God-breathed.” If God is trustworthy, then His Word is also trustworthy and free from error.
Third, the Bible is Infallible. It is not only free from error, it is incapable of error (again, in the original documents). And again, the Bible proclaims itself to be infallible. In 2 Peter 1:19-21 it says, “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable. No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21). If God is infallible (and He is), then His Word must be infallible, too.
The Bible is completely reliable and true in all matters of faith and practice. In fact, it is our only standard for what we believe, for our actions, and for our moral stands. And the Bible must be taken as a whole. One cannot take this bit that you like and toss out some other part you don’t. The Bible is a “no substitutions” menu item, not a salad bar.
Not everyone is happy about these facts about the Bible. There are atheists, humanists, and even liberal “Christians” who would reject these principles of Biblical doctrine. They usually base their objections on a series of criticism of the Bible. First, they will tell you that the Bible is filled with contradictions (not). Here is one of their example: In Matthew it says that Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt with baby Jesus after the visit of the Magi, while Luke says they stayed in Bethlehem until the time of her purification was complete. Contradiction, right? What they don’t take into account is the fact that the visit of the Wise Men, as told in Matthew, took place as much as 2 years after Jesus birth – so there was plenty of time for Mary’s purification (which was 40 days).
Next they will tell you that the Bible is full of errors (not). Their example: they claim that the Bible teaches a flat earth resting on pillars, quoting Revelation 1:7, Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1, Jeremiah 16:19, and Acts 13:47. But this is nothing more than a false conclusion based upon poetic language. Of course, we must recognize that there are a variety of types of literature within God’s Word – poetry is not the same as prophecy; history is not the same as Law; parables are not the same as accounts of miracles. But the critics want to take every word literally, when they can use it to condemn the Bible, but not when it comes to theological and moral standards. Well, you cannot take every word of Scripture literally. There are metaphors, parables, and poetic expressions in the Bible. Just because Jesus said, “I am the door,” doesn’t mean He is rectangular and made out of wood! But we must take the doctrine and theology of the Bible literally.
Then they will tell you the Bible is out of date (not). As it says on the American Humanist Association website, “Humanists … are convinced the [Bible] was written solely by humans in an ignorant, superstitious, and cruel age.” But if one actually reads Scripture you will find it is quite progressive by the standards of the times in which it was written. Women are elevated above their position in society, slaves are to be freed on a regular basis, the land was to lay fallow on a regular basis, and dietary and cleanliness laws were far ahead of the health standards of the day (or even ours) as just a few examples. The claim that the Bible is out of date is solely based on the humanist/atheist/liberal desire to be free from any absolute moral code.
Here is the foundational mistake the Bible critics make. We do not judge God’s Word, but rather we are judged by it.