Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Bible Is So Old, Why Should I Believe It?
No Video This Week

The Bible Is So Old, Why Should I Believe It?

Intro.: I have decided to start a new religion.

  1. Don't panic, I just wanted to get your attention and to set up the discussion that follows.

  2. Now, if I really wanted to start a new religion, I would want to start it based on one of these two book: The Bible The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

  3. I mean, there are lots of people who love one or the other or both books. There is already a well established audience from which to draw the members of my new religion. And think of the parallels: Translated into innumerable languages Studied for centuries Shakespeare is 1600 years newer-probably more like us

  4. We can probably find a dozen more reasons to base a faith – notice, I did not say “my faith” - on Shakespeare's works.

  5. I would like to spend the next few minutes together exploring why it makes sense to find support for our faith in the Bible.


Trans:Why is question of scripture so important anyhow?

  1. After all, faith is “the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” So why not just rely on faith to tell us that we can use the Bible as our scripture.

  2. But faith does not mean that there is nothing supporting what we believe in. Take the atom for example – there is a great deal of evidence that they exist, but no one has every seen one. The picture we occasionally see of atoms are not atoms, but, rather, are pictures of the effects of atoms on their environment. But even though we have never seen them, scientist around the world base their work on the existence – it is faith, but faith based on evidence.

  3. Returning to a moment to the question of basing the truths that define our faith on the Bible or the works of Shakespeare – there are two questions that must be answered

    1. First, do the documents that we have represent the work of the original author. In case of the Bible it is a collection of works by about 40 authors. Does our Bible represent their original work?

    2. Second, given that the documents are accurate, we also must determine whether those words are really God's word – or just some collected works from one or more authors.

T.S. These two questions will form the basis for our discussion over the next few minutes.

  1. Is the Bible we use today an accurate representation of what the authors originally penned?

    1. The Bible is unique. Josh McDowell points out a number of points that make the Bible unique:

      1. Written over a 1500 year span with the newest book written about 100 years ago.

      2. Written by over 40 authors from every walk of life – kings, generals, peasants, poets, musicians, fisherman, tax collectors, scholars, statesmen, and shepherds

      3. The Bible was written in some very different places – in the wilderness, in dungeons, behind prison walls, while traveling, on while forced to live away from home on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean.

      4. Written in different moods – some authors are experiencing the heights of joy, or the depths of sorrow and despair, written during times of certainty and during times of doubt and confusion.

      5. Written in three different language – mostly Hebrew and Greek, but the book of Daniel was written in Aramaic.1

    2. But given all that – it all points to a single God, a God that loves mankind and made provision for them. They all point to a single God that loves you and had made provision for you to be part of His family throughout eternity.

    3. But do these documents represent the original words of the authors. Let me give you some facts.

        Like many ancient works, we don't have the original documents. But there are far more documents available to support the reliability of the scriptures than of similarly dated material. For example, there are ancient 643 copies of Homer's Iliad – but the earliest of these was put to paper 400 years after the Iliad was written. But take the NT there are over 5300 ancient copies of the NT and earliest copy was written within 50 years of its original writing. And even the newest of these 5300 copies was written within 300 years of the events they describe. The point is this, compared to other ancient documents, we know more about the composition of the NT than any other piece of literature from its time.2

    4. Amazingly, even for the most liberal scholar, the text of the scriptures are not in question. In fact, I remember being told that in all of the NT, there are maybe 50 verses which are in doubt – and none of these are significant as we begin to understand our theology.

    5. As you read your Bible, you can be assured that what you read is what the authors intended for you to read.

    6. Thus we are led to the second question ...

  2. Is the Bible the word of God?

    1. This is really a 21st century question – the early church just accepted the fact that God was speaking through the scriptures. The early church leaders quote the scriptures over 36000 times. There was no doubt in their mind.

    2. Timothy may have summed it up best when he wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

(Ill.) You may have heard the comment made by many - “But what about all those contradictions?” I first met Dr. Gleason Archer at California State University Sacramento – I was enrolled in an Introduction to the Old Testament course taught on state college campus. The text we used was by Dr. Gleason Archer. Dr. Archer was on the seminary faculty at seminary – and while I was there he wrote another book entitled The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Having worked through as many contradictions as he could locate, he writes, “There is a good an sufficient answer in Scripture itself to refute every charge that has ever been leveled against it. But this is to be expected from the kind of book the Bible asserts itself to be, the [words] of the infallible, inerrant Word of the Living God.”3

Conclusion: Let me conclude with this – this sermon has may not have touched any of you where you live. But if I have done my job, it will prepare you for next week, next month, or next year.

  1. John Scotus Eriugena, a believer who lived at the end of the first millenium, wrote “The authority of Scripture must be followed in all things, for in it we have the truth as it were in its secret haunts.”4

  2. This week as you pick up the Bible, you are not reading just any book. You are not merely picking up a devotional book. You are not picking up a novel. You are picking up the Word of God. Pick it up this week and let it speak to you.


1McDowell, Josh (1999). The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.



4John Scotus Erigena in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (117). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

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