Foundations of the Christian Faith- Scripture
1st Baptist Church,
Des Moines, NM
July 9, 2007
Good morning KLMX listeners and welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program. I’m Bryan Kimsey, from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. Yes, I was here last week, too, but due to a cancellation, I was asked if I’d like to fill this spot and you can believe that I jumped at the chance! Before we get started, I’d like to mention that this week is the week of the 55th Sierra Grande Rancher’s Camp Meeting. Think about that! For 55 years, people have been getting together at Weatherly Lake, between Grenville and Des Moines to hear good preaching, eat good food, and enjoy good company. I’d like to invite you to attend this year’s meeting. It really is a lot of fun and a very relaxing time. There’s nothing to do there but eat and talk about God. If it weren’t for the occasional mosquito, I’d think we might already be in Heaven! If you need more information, visit the website at www.sierragrande.org, or call Justin Bennett at 505.278.2167, or you can call 1st Baptist Church, Des Moines at 278.2421 and we’ll tell you all about it. There’s also an ad in the Union County Leader with information and directions. Hope to see you there!
This week, I’d like to examine some “Foundations of the Christian Faith”. These are things that maybe everyone takes for granted, but even so, I frequently deal with misunderstandings or simple lack of information about these foundations among both non-believers and, surprisingly enough, believers, too. I’ll look at 5 foundations, starting with Scripture, then moving on to God, Man, Christ, and finally ending up with Salvation. There is a logical order to these foundations, as I hope we’ll see as we study them. As always, may this message glorify God the Father, through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who took our sins upon himself to reconcile us to God. Amen!
We’re starting with Scripture because it really is the informational foundation of our faith. That is, we know about God, man, Christ, and salvation because of what we read in the Bible. Men and their philosophies are flawed and untrustworty, but Scripture alone is infallible, inerrant, and completely trustworthy.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, (15) and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
We see from this passage that:
Scripture is able to make you wise for salvation through faith
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. The word “inspiration” means, literally, “God-breathed,” that is, God spoke it.
Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness
Scripture makes the man of God thoroughly complete and equipped for every good work.
We know from 2 Peter 1:21 that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, (21) for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” These two passages support what I just said about Scripture being “infallible” and “inerrant”. If Scripture is literally “God breathed”, can it contain error? That would be saying that God makes mistakes, and as we’ll see tomorrow, that is impossible. Can God move men, yet not control them? I think not or He would not be omnipotent or Almighty.
Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
Now, before going further, I should be clear on the definition of “infallible” and “inerrant.” According to Webster’s 1628 dictionary, “infallible” means “not capable of erring” and “inerrant” means “exempt from the possibility of error.” Therefore, we are making the claim that Scripture is not even capable of error or mistake. That is a BIG claim!
If you’re a skeptical type of person, you might come up with some objections to this statement of inerrancy and infallibity. You might say “The verse is talking about Scripture, not the Bible.” Ahhh…good point! However, the Bible, as a book, is a collection of Scripture. The Bible is what you’d get if you gathered together all the existent inspired Scriptures and published them as a collection. In fact, that’s exactly what it is! Therefore, the Bible is Scripture.
Objection, your Honor! “The Bible is a translation! In fact, it is a translation of a translation and therefore errors have probably crept in.” That’s another good point and mostly true. An English Bible is indeed a translation, translated from Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. The Greek manuscripts are themselves translations of Latin manuscripts, which are translations of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek documents. However, the statement “therefore errors may have crept in” is a false statement. First of all, this questions the ability of an Almighty and omnipotent God- one who created all things that exist, from the universe to the smallest electron- to provide for us an adequate translation in our native language. Critics will often point out that we have none of the original documents- we do not have the actual papers written by Moses, nor the actual letters of Paul. Instead, we have copies of copies of copies, often retranslated into other languages. So, how then can we trust this collection of books called the “Bible”?
Actually, these copies and copies help make a case for the accuracy of the Bible! Imagine if you only had 1 copy of a paper. Could you trust it? How would you know it was accurate and the real thing? You really couldn’t since you have nothing to compare it to. You’d have to take someone’s word that it was an accurate document. But suppose you have thousands and thousands of copies, some of which were translations into other languages. Suppose you got all those copies together and compared them and found they were 95% identical. Even though you don’t have the original, the fact that all the copies say the same thing is strong evidence that the information contained within is preserved.
Now, a critic would say “You said the Bible is inerrant! Even 1 error blows that statement out of the water. 95% similarity is not inerrancy.” There’s no question that various printings of the Bible contain all kinds of printer errors, spelling errors, translation errors, and so on. I even have a copy of the King James Version that has a very clear error in which one word is repeated twice- I know it’s an error because I compared it with my other King James versions (I have at least 5 of them!). Whoa…did you catch that? I compared the error with other texts! That’s exactly what happens when Biblical scholars compare ancient texts with others. Anyway, there’s no question that there are certain kinds of errors in the actual printed versions of some Bibles. But, that still does not make the information errant. Be sure you grasp that point- the information contained in the text is 100% correct and incapable of error. If you’ve followed some of my other sermons, you’ll know that I’ve preached long and hard on the task of “rightly dividing the word of truth” as described in 2 Timothy 2:15. If you recall those messages, in Matthew 4, Satan attempted to use Scripture in his temptation of Christ in the wilderness. He quoted Scripture and quoted it accurately but out of context and incorrectly applied. Jesus rebuked that temptation using additional Scripture, but used his in context and applied it correctly. In other words, the devil did not rightly understand the meaning of Scripture, whereas Christ most certainly did.
And that’s the case here, too. If we miss the message of the text, then we’re in the same position as the devil. Instead, we’re to seek the message of the text and we can do this in spite of small errors - whether printing errors, typographical errors, or even translation errors- in the text. When we do that, the Bible is inerrant. The message is incapable of error. The message is infallible. Here, I’ll show you. We know from John 16:13 that the Holy Spirit guides us to all truth. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 says:
1 Corinthians 2:14-15 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
Therefore, to those who are guided by the Holy Spirit, and only those guided by the Holy Spirit, the Bible is opened. Those who are led by the Spirit are able to rightly divide the word of God and understand its meaning. For them, it is inerrant and infallible. The natural man cannot understand it. I speak from personal experience here. Prior to conversion, I’d look at the Bible and say “It’s a good book, full of wisdom. But there are other books equally wise and true.” Then, when I was converted and when God opened my eyes and I was no longer blind but could see, then suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, I looked at the Bible and said “It’s true and it alone is true.” This was not something that I convinced myself of but was something that God granted me. And, believe me, I did nothing to deserve or earn this gift, but it was granted out of God’s grace and mercy.
Now, I’ve given just a brief sampling of evidence supporting the Bible’s accuracy. I can go on and on about uncials and manuscripts, textual criticism, the Masoretic text, self-authentication, circular arguments, fulfilled prophesies, Wescott and Hort vs. the Textus Receptus, Cambridge vs. Oxford versions of the King James Bible, King James vs. the Geneva Bible, and so on and so on. But, the simple truth is that I can’t convince an unbeliever, nor would I want to! If he’s converted by my arguments, what will happen with a more convincing argument comes along? If his faith rests in an intellectual conviction, it will fail. God Himself must open eyes and change hearts. The value of looking at this evidence, though, is that it may strengthen the faith of those whose eyes have been opened and whose hearts have been refreshed and yet who do not have the ammunition or the tools to do battle against the devil and the world. Faith in the Bible’s accuracy is one of those tools. So, my goal in this study is not necessarily to try to convince critics (of which I certainly was one!) but to strengthen the faith of believers by giving them ammunition and helping them sharpen their swords, that they may have the tools to resist the devil.
To recap this section, then, the Bible is without error and without fail in its message. The words themselves may contain small errors, due to man’s ineptitude, but God preserves the message and the Holy Spirit guides us to truth in those words. Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. The end result is not the word of God, nor hearing, but faith. In other words, the purpose of the word of God is to produce faith. If one sees the word of God, but does not hear, the mission is in vain. If one sees the word of God and hears, but this does not result in faith, the mission is in vain. The mission is successful when one sees the word of God, hears it, and faith results. We know from 1 Corinthians 2:14 that the natural man cannot receive the things of God because they are foolishness to him, and we know from Ephesians 2:8-9 that “faith is a gift of God, not of ourselves”. We know from 2 Tim 2:25 that God alone grants repentance. We also know from numerous passages, including Luke 18, that the man who approaches God and begs for mercy, as a sinner, is the one who is justified. Furthermore, according to Acts 17:30, “God has commanded all men everywhere to repent”. Therefore, if you are an unsaved person and if these words ring true and if they make just the slightest glimmer of sense to you, I urge you to repent of your sins and grasp the offering of Christ, provided as atonement for your sins through the love and mercy of God. Feed that small seed of faith with truth from the Bible and let it grow. Water that seed daily with the message of truth, and ask God to test your faith so that it might grow stronger and stronger. If you are a saved person, may this message strengthen your faith and help you sharpen your sword for a better defense of the gospel. May God grant these things, to His glory alone. Amen.