The Study of God Part I, the Bible

Study of God, Part I, The Bible

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Voltaire, the noted 18th century French philosopher, said that it took centuries to built up Christianity, but “I’ll show how just one Frenchman can destroy it within 50 years.” Taking his pen, he dipped it into the ink of unbelief and wrote against God.

 Twenty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society purchased his house for printing the Bible. And it later became the Paris headquarters for the British and Foreign Bible Society. The Bible is still a best-seller; an entire 6-volume set of Voltaire’s works was once sold for 90¢.

I love stories such as that. I like poetic justice.

We believe the Bible is the God breathed Word of God.

Last week I began a study on Christian Doctrine or what I am calling the “Study of God.” As we study God it is critical that we recognize the authoritative source is the Bible. The Bible is the authoritative source and the Bible comes from God.

My theme:

The Bible is God’s Word and is the Reference Point for our Study of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:16)

Preaching Point(s): Christianity thrives or dies based off of a belief in the Word of God.

God has revealed Himself, just think about that. Isn’t that powerful?

  1. Let’s start with Scripture. Scripture affirms Scripture.
    1. I know these passages are not new to many of you.
    2. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    3. 2 Peter 1:20-21: Above all, you must understand that 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.
    4. 2 Peter 3:16: He [The Apostle Paul] writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.
    5. Just a few notes before we move on. We can tell based on those passages that Scripture values Scripture. I say that and you could easily say, “duh,” but realize that the Bible was written by 39 or 40 different Realize the Bible was written over about a 2400 year period. All of these authors affirm the value of the Bible.
    6. The first two passages I shared with you show that the authors affirm the Old Testament. But the last passage lumps Paul in with the other Scriptures. So, the Apostle Peter considered Paul on the same level as the Old Testament prophets and Scriptures.
    7. Some thirty-eight hundred times the Bible declares, “God said,” or “Thus says the Lord” (e.g. Ex. 14:1; 20:1; Lev. 4:1; Num. 4:1; Deut. 4:2; 32:48; Isa. 1:10, 24; Jer. 1:11; Ezek. 1:3; etc.)[1]
    8. The best defense of the Bible is Jesus’ view: Matt 5:17-18: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
    9. Wayne Grudem shares: Jesus referred to dozens of OT persons and events and always treated OT history as historically accurate. He quoted from Genesis as his Father’s Word when he said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:4–6). Jesus not only assumed that the creation story was true, he also freely quoted words from the OT narrator as words that God himself “said.” It is not uncommon for Jesus’ theological arguments to depend on the truthfulness of the OT account (Matt. 5:12; 11:23–24; 12:41–42; 24:37–39; Luke 4:25–27; 11:50–51; John 8:56–58). Jesus’ view of the OT as the Word of God aligns with the way the OT regularly speaks of itself.
    10. Jesus saw his entire life as a fulfillment of Scripture (Matt. 26:54; Mark 8:31). Throughout his life, Jesus used Scripture to resist temptation (Matt. 4:1–11) and to settle disputes (Matt. 19:1–12; 22:39; 27:46; Mark 7:1–13; Luke 10:25–26). At the end of his life, Jesus died quoting Scripture (cf. Matt. 27:46 with Ps. 22:1). On his resurrection day he explained Scripture at length on the Emmaus road and to his disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13–17, 44-47).[2]
  1. Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
  1. We value the Bible today, they valued the Bible is the Bible times, what about Church History?
    1. Let’s start with some of the early church fathers.
    2. Hippolytus, d. c. AD 235: If there is a day on which there is no instruction, let each one at home take a holy book and read in it sufficiently what seems profitable. (Apostolic Tradition 36:1)

Tradition defined by Irenaeus and Tertullian is simply the teaching of Scripture. It was Irenaeus who stated that while the Apostles at first preached orally, their teaching was later committed to writing (the Scriptures), and the Scriptures had since that day become the pillar and ground of the Churches faith. His exact statement is as follows: “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.”

  1. There are over 5700 copies of the New Testament Greek manuscripts. They are being found all the time.
  2. This is evidence of its validity.
  3. In contrast to the Greek classics in which we only have a few hundred copies and the copies we have date over a millennia after the original date of writing. We have New Testament manuscripts dating back to the second century.
  4. Yes, some are torn, but we have copies going back to A.D. 125 (The John Ryland’s Manuscript), this is phenomenal.
  5. David Bauer from Asbury Theological Seminary shared: The very earliest manuscripts are largely fragments; but we also have almost complete early and reliable texts, such as Alexandrinus [ Fifth Century the majority of the Old Testament LXX and the New Testament] and Vaticanus [Fourth century Old and New Testaments, likely 325 A.D].
  6. If we lost all of our New Testament manuscripts, we could put the New Testament back together simply based off of the writings of the church father. The church fathers quoted the New Testament that much. That must lead a conclusion that they valued the New Testament.
  7. Martin Luther said: “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.”
  8. Listen, be encouraged, the Bible is our foundation and it is solid. Be encouraged we can trust our source.
  • How did we get the Bible?
    1. This is a big question and too big for one sermon, but let’s dive into it a bit.
    2. Inspiration:
    3. Benjamin B. Warfield: “Inspiration is, therefore, usually defined as a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness.”
    4. Charles C. Ryrie: “Inspiration is … God’s superintendence of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs.”[3]
    5. People moved by the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible. They wrote by a number of ways. One method is that the Holy Spirit literally spoke to some of them (Habakkuk 2:2; Rev 1:19). Sometimes the Lord literally engraved the Bible on to stone (Exodus 31:18). Sometimes the Lord led a person to write an historical account (Luke 1:1-4). Sometimes people wrote from memory about times with Jesus, such as Mark, writing off of Peter’s testimony, or Matthew’s Gospel.
    6. God moved people to write, yet we have their personalities which came through.
    7. Inspire means “God breathed.”
    8. However, there is more. People could say, I am inspired, God led me to write a book and put it in the Bible.
    9. That gets into the New Testament Canon. We would say that the Canon of the Bible closed with the death of the Apostle John. He was the last of the Apostles to die. The early church fathers had a strict test to determine what books could go in our 27 books of the New Testament. The Moody Bible Handbook shares:
      1. (1) Apostolicity. Was the author an apostle or did he have a connection with an apostle? For example, Mark wrote under Peter’s authority, and Luke wrote under Paul’s authority.
      2. (2) Acceptance. Was the book accepted by the church at large? The recognition given a particular book by the church was important. By this canon false books were rejected (but it also delayed recognition of some legitimate books)
  • (3) Content. Did the book reflect consistency of doctrine with what had been accepted as orthodox teaching? The spurious “gospel of Peter” was rejected as a result of this principle.
  1. (4) Inspiration. Did the book reflect the quality of inspiration? The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha were rejected as a result of not meeting this test. The book should bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit.[4]
  1. The New Testament Canon was affirmed in the first few centuries of the church. There is more to be said about that, but we will save them for another time. If any of you have more questions, give me a call or send me an email.
  1. The necessity of the Bible (my debt to Wayne Grudem’s breakdown on pages 54 and following of “Systematic Theology”)
    1. The Gospel: The Bible is necessary to share the Gospel (Romans 10:13-17).
    2. The Bible is necessary for maintaining a spiritual life. Jesus in Matthew 4:4 quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 as a rebuke against satan.
    3. The Bible is necessary for certain knowledge of God’s Will (Romans 12:1-2).

Close:

God communicated to us.

The message of the Bible in one sentence:

Kevin DeYoung:

A holy God sends his righteous Son to die for unrighteous sinners so we can be holy and live happily with God forever.

Ray Ortlund:

The Lover of our souls won’t let the romance die, but is rekindling it forever.

Application:

Read Psalm 119 this week.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus forever (Revelation 22:5)

[1] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 154.

[2] ESV Study Bible article in the back

  1. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948), p. 131.

Edward J. Young, Thy Word Is Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), p. 27.

Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody, 1972), p. 38.

[4]  Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 172–173.

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Introduction to the Study of God series

Introduction:

Pictures of money on the screen.

I have heard multiple times that bankers are not taught to recognize fake money, but real money. In other words they know the feel of real money so well that they can recognize fake money. They do not spend a long time teaching them about fake money. Instead they spend time teaching bankers how to recognize real money. If they know real money, they can recognize counterfeit. Do you know real and true Biblical teaching? What is the correct Biblical teaching about God? Do you know truth well enough that you would recognize counterfeit Biblical teaching?

The devil has been trying to counterfeit truth since the beginning of time. In Genesis 3:1 the devil, masquerading as a serpent, questioned, “Indeed, has God said…” Then in Genesis 3:4 the devil said, “You surely will not die.” They died spiritually right away and then later on they died physically. The devil has always distorted truth. The devil has always tried to counterfeit truth. So, I wish to talk about true, Biblical teaching. We call this Theology or Doctrine. I am going to title this series: “The Study of God.” My theme today: Studying God is important.

  1. The strong importance of Bible doctrine
    1. W. Tozer shares in the The Knowledge of the Holy. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.
      For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.[1]
    2. It is Christmas season and you are watching your favorite news station, then you hear about a professor suspended from her position because she said Muslims and Christians worship the same God.[2] As you may recall, that really did happen. What do you think? Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?
    3. Can God be known?
      1. In order to understand current events which, have to do with God, one must understand God. Now, it is so easy to think, “We cannot understand God.” It is easy to think, “God is not able to be known.” If one thinks God cannot be known then he is an agnostic. The term “agnostic” literally means, “no knowledge.” This means we cannot have any knowledge of God. To call oneself an agnostic is to claim ignorance. The Latin equivalent would be ignoramus.
      2. However, I believe God is knowable. It is possible to know God. Yes, God is great, but He has revealed Himself to us in the sixty-six books of the Bible. We cannot know everything about God, but we can know God. We can know God because He chose to make the first move. We can know God because He has revealed Himself to us (Gen. 32:30; Ex. 33:11; John 1:1-14; 1 John 4:19). That is an absolutely amazing truth. Don’t miss that. The God of the world, the God of the universe, the only true and real God revealed Himself to us. Going a step further, if He is God then there is no reason to doubt that He can create the world, or the universe, or time. If He is God, there is no reason to doubt the miracles in the Bible. Believing in God means that logically it makes sense to believe in miracles. Believing in God means that logically there is reason to believe in the attributes of God, such as: He knows everything, He is everywhere and He is all powerful.
    4. So, in order to understand current events having to do with God, one must first understand God. We know about God and what He has already revealed to us. This is in the Bible (Deut. 29:29: the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but what He has revealed belong to us and to our children forever… (NIV), this means that what He has revealed is in the Bible). Moving on then, in order to understand the current events, or history, or fiction, or anything else having to do with God, one must understand God. It is important that one studies God. If one is a Christian, instead of starting with all the religions of the world, start with the Christian view of God. Start with what the Bible teaches about God. Certainly, I believe it is important for the Christian and non-Christian to study the other religions of the world, but the Christian must first know God. That is what this sermon series is about.
    5. Theology means the Study of God:
      1. The term “theology” or “theological” has been mocked, even among pastors.
      2. I once attended a conference where the speaker asked various pastors what seminary they went to[3] and as the pastors would answer the speaker would interrupt them as they said the adjective “theological.” This is because the adjective “theological” is in the name of most seminaries. A pastor could say, “I attended the Southern Baptist ‘Theological’ Seminary.” Another pastor could say, “I attended Asbury ‘Theological’ Seminary.” The list can go on and on.
  • At first, I was not bothered by the speaker’s comment, but as I reflected on his comment, it really bothered me. Theology means the study of God. If a pastor is in seminary, wouldn’t we expect that he or she is studying God? I would certainly hope so. Further, that particular seminar was devoted to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the speakers point was that seminaries do not teach pastors to be led by the Spirit. I would counter argue that the first step in being led by the Spirit is to know God.
  1. If we do not know God, if we do not understand God, then we do not understand whether we are led by the Spirit of God or by demons (2 Cor. 11:14).
  2. Theology is not a bad word, but a necessary practice for the Christian. The noun translated as “doctrine” is used seven times in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus and these short New Testament letters are about pastoring a church. Certainly, our understanding of God is important just as our doctrine is important for our understanding of God is a large part of our doctrine.
  1. I believe it is important that every Christian is trying to grow spiritually and that begins with understanding who God is.
  2. Let’s try to understand who God is and in doing so, I believe, we will love Him more. Even as I study and preach this sermon series I believe I will grow in my relationship with God. I will realize more of His greatness and more of the awesomeness of the salvation God has graced me with and I will be caught up in God’s love for me. I hope that happens to you also.
  3. Before I move on there is one other important part of Christianity and that is having a Biblical worldview. Everyone has a worldview. When things come up in the news we interpret those events based off of our worldview.
  4. James 4:4 teaches us that friendship with the world is enmity with God.
  5. 1 Thess. 5:21 says to test everything. The point is that the world’s ways, meaning the worldview of the world or the culture, is different than the worldview of God.
  6. This is why we must study God, we must study Theology in order to have a Christian worldview. Let’s study God together. It is my goal that this study is simple and straightforward. I hope not to go too deep. I hope that this gets you into the pool of the study of God, but not into the ocean where you may get discouraged by the big waves. So, please don’t be discouraged.
  1. Think of Bible Doctrine and Theology as “knowing God.”
    1. Jesus prays in John 17:3: This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
    2. How awesome it is that we can know God. How amazing that God has made Himself known to us.
  • Think about Sound doctrine.
    1. 2 Tim. 4:3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wantingto have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires
    2. Titus 1:9: holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
    3. Take from those two Scriptures how critical it is that we assure our doctrine is sound.
    4. By the way, Doctrine means “teaching or set of beliefs taught by a church or institution.” Correct Theology should lead to correct doctrine. Or, the correct study of God should lead to the correct knowledge of God which should lead to the correct beliefs and teachings about God.
  1. How to study Theology (with help from Wayne Grudem’s book, “Bible Doctrine”)
    1. With prayer: Psalm 119:18: Open my eyes, that I may behold
      Wonderful things from Your law
      .
    2. With humility: 1 Peter 5:5: You younger men, likewise, be subject to yourelders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
    3. With reason:
      1. God gave us reason.
      2. God is a God of order. 1 Cor. 14:33: for God is not a Godof confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
  • God cannot contradict Himself: 2 Tim. 2:13: If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
  1. With help from others: 1 Cor. 12:28: And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
  2. Collecting all the relevant passages of a given topic.
  3. With praise: Psalm 139:17: How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them
    !

Conclusion:

By the time this sermon series is over you will know the correct Biblical teaching on several topics concerning God. You may ask, “How do we know it is the correct Biblical teaching?” I am glad you asked, you will know because I will be using the Bible as the source. So, next week we will talk about the Bible and our understanding of the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word, we are studying God, so let’s talk about His Word first. Then we will talk about the broad topic of “Who is God.” Then the sermon series will include: “Who is Jesus,” Who is the Holy Spirit,” “What is the church and who are the church,” “What does it mean to be human,” “Who are angels,” “What is Heaven and what is hell,” “Where did it all come from which will be about Creation” and “the study of last things.” Lastly, I plan to have a sermon on the difference between the god of the Koran and the Lord of the Bible.

Remember, we do not want counterfeit money and we do not want counterfeit Christianity. Please join me for this study.

Pray

Let’s pray.

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Excerpt From
A. W. Tozer Books Collection
A. W. Tozer
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-w-tozer-books-collection/id780535142?mt=11
This material may be protected by copyright.

[2] http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/december/wheaton-college-hijab-professor-same-god-larycia-hawkins.html

[3] A seminary is a graduate school which specializes in ministry training.