Examining Objections About The Bible:
Interlocking, Front to Back
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Here we are at mid week and mid-way thru a series on answering objections toward the Bible. Faith in the Bibleís accuracy is critical to the Christian life because it is from this collection of books that we get virtually all of our knowledge of God, Christ, and salvation. I freely admit that Iíll never change anyoneís mind as it will indeed take an act of God to do that. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is:
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
And a passage a little further along says:
1 Corinthians 2:14 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.
Jesus himself says several times:
Mark 4:9 And He said to them, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
And says clearly that many cannot hear:
Matthew 13:13-15 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (14) And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'HEARING YOU WILL HEAR AND SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND, AND SEEING YOU WILL SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE; (15) FOR THE HEARTS OF THIS PEOPLE HAVE GROWN DULL. THEIR EARS ARE HARD OF HEARING, AND THEIR EYES THEY HAVE CLOSED, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, LEST THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND TURN, SO THAT I SHOULD HEAL THEM.'
And even Moses goes on record in:
Deuteronomy 29:4 Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.
So, my arguments will never, of themselves convince anyone. It is up to God to open a manís eyes and ears to understand the truth. Nevertheless, weíre told:
Romans 10:13-14 For "WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED." (14) How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And because of this, we preach the gospel to all, whether they hear or not. May God be glorified in this truth and may He bless this message, through Jesus Christ.
AlrightÖweíve been looking at the Bible and why I personally think itís exactly what it claims to be; the living word of the Almighty God, testifying to salvation which is in Jesus Christ. On Monday, I showed a little bit about the testimony that others give toward the Bible, yesterday we looked at the internal prophecies of the Bible, and today Iíd like to look at the thing that changed my heart and that is the interlocking of the text from front to back. When I first came to the Bible, it was with an attitude of unbelief. Every time I read it, I made excuses for it and tried to interpret what it said in light of what I already knew (or thought I knew!). So, when I read Genesis and it says that man was created on Day 6, Iíd think to myself "Yeah, but those days were millions of years long and man didnít really become a man until he learned to reason and use tools." Iíd read something like the Sermon on the Mount and think "Those are good ideas! Jesus is just preaching universal truth there. What a great example he is!" And so on.
Then one day, just as I was making up another one of those thoughts, another thought entered my mind- "Why canít you just accept the Bible as truth and let it tell you how to read it?" I wrestled with that for awhile, and then finally had to agree that if the Bible was what it says it is, then who am I to be correcting it? Who am I to be skewing the Bible based on my experiences? That moment of realization- and Iíll give God all the credit for speaking to me in that way- was the moment that the Bible changed from a "pretty good book" to the only source of life and truth. It was from that moment on that the Bible opened up and I saw it linking from front to back.
As we read thru the Bible ask yourself some questions- ask yourself "What if this is true?" and then ask yourself "What if this is not true?" If the Bible is true, then we need to truly consider which side of the cross weíre on. Are you on the side where the cross is foolishness? If so, then according to the Bible, you are among the perishing. Are you on the side where the message of the cross is the power of God? If so, then God be praised! How are you doing? Are you still clinging to your sins and to your old man, or are you growing in the Lord and being confirmed to the image of Christ, as Romans 8:29 promises. Now, if the Bible is not true and 100% true at that, then itís no better than any other book. We might as well base our lives on "Tom Sawyer" or "Crime and Punishment". Both of those books contain some truth and I guess itís just up to us to determine whatís true and whatís not. And donít think that Christianity is just a good idea. What I mean is that some people will say "Well, even if itís not true, itís still a good idea." Thatís not what the apostle Paul said. He said:
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
1 Corinthians 15:32 ÖIf the dead do not rise, "LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE!"
Paul clearly acknowledges that if Christ did not die for our sins and rise again, if the gospel is not true, then the Christian faith is empty, our lives are pitiable, and we might as well "eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Therefore, it is most critical that we determine for ourselves as to whether or not the Bible speaks truth.
So, the thing that really opened up my eyes and the part that fascinates me to this day is the way the Bible connects from front to rear. And these are not simple, bold, up-front, and obvious connections. Sometimes they are, such as the prophecies that Christ fulfilled, which we discussed yesterday but the ones that really get me are the foreshadows, the allusions, and the parables. Iíve discussed some of these in one of my first KLMX messages where I talked about Christ in the Old Testament- you can find the text of those messages on our church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org. Briefly, though, we see Christ or the actions of Christ all thru the Old Testament. The book of Ruth, for instance, is a story of a non-Hebrew woman who is brought into the family of God thru marriage, lost from that family due to a death, and then redeemed again through the purchasing power of a kinsman. This is an absolutely perfect picture of Christ acting through us. We were lost in Adam, estranged from God, and then redeemed by Christ who paid the cost to purchase us. Keep in mind, of course, that the book of Ruth was written long before any of the New Testament. Plus, the major theme that Iíve just mentioned is only a very small part of the image of Christ that we can find in Ruth.
If the message of the cross is indeed the focal point of Godís message as a whole, then we should see evidence all throughout the Bible. And indeed we do. We find either Jesus himself, a foreshadow of Jesus, or the reason for Jesus everywhere in the Bible. We find Him in Genesis where God tells that woman that her seed will crush the head of the serpent while getting his own heel bruised. We find Jesus in Godís meeting with Moses when he hides Moses in the cleft of the rock- Jesus likewise shields us from the wrath and full glory of God. We find Godís holiness and our failure to meet those standards in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus- our failure to meet those standards reveals our lack of righteousness and thereby our inability to stand before God; this is why we need a perfect Christ as our mediator. As the author of Hebrews so patiently explains, the blood sacrifices for sin in the law foreshadow the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus whose sinless blood was shed for our sins. We see the Christ in the grace and mercy extended to David, a man after Godís own heart who was, nonetheless, a sinner. We also see that it is from the line of David from which Jesus will come, a prophecy fulfilled. David himself writes of the Christ in his Psalm 110 when he states "The Lord said to my LordÖ" a fact which Jesus uses in Matthew 22:44 to show the Pharisees who He is. We see Christ in Joshua as the one who leads his people to the Promised Land. We see the disobedience of man all through Isaiah and Jeremiah along with Godís promise to give His people a new heart and send them a true servant. Everywhere I look in the Bible, I see Christ.
A critic will say "Well, of course you see Christ in the whole Bible- thatís because men put it together so that it would do that." But, again, if several men writing over a span of many years were capable of writing this story in such a way that it details Jesus the way it does, then I say they are worthy of my adoration! Over the years, Iíve read quite a few arguments against the Bible, including some hypothesis that claim that the entire New Testament is copied from Buddhist writings. Granted, there are some similarities, but the one thing I always see when someone suggest a pre-Christ figure or a substitute Christ is that there is no substitute. What I mean by this is, yes, Buddha seemed to say things similar to Christ (if we can trust the writings attributed to him! Why is it that people are so quick to attack the Bible and so quick to swallow the alternative?), but did Buddha offer himself as an atonement for our failure to achieve righteousness? I donít see that he did. But Jesus Christ did. Jesus didnít merely say "You must do this and you must do that in order to achieve righteous standing with God." No, Jesus said "What you cannot do, I can do for you." This vicarious atonement- that is, someone standing in for us- is something that Buddhism doesnít allow and yet it is the key to Christianity. Jesus Christ as a substitute for us IS the gospel. The gospel is not living a good life or helping little old ladies across the street. The gospel is my sins laid upon Jesus and paid for, and His righteousness laid upon me, thereby granting me the ability to stand before God Almighty. No one but Jesus Christ offers that.
We get that information solely from the Bible. There are no other writings which detail the offer of substitution. All religions lay the burden directly on you. And so, once again, the Bible stands alone. It is unique in itís offer, unique in its presentation, and unique in his author. Inspired by that author, Paul said it best:
2 Timothy 3:15 Ö you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
May God Almighty grant you ears to hear and eyes to see, to His glory alone, thru the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. Amen.
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