This is the sermon for Sunday, October 11th 2009. This is a new Sunday morning series.
Faith Foundations part 1
The Bible – God’s Word
Today we begin a series of studies into the foundations of our faith. Over the next couple of months we will be studying some of the foundational principles and teachings which guide our faith and practice.
One of the things most lacking among Christians today is a firm grasp of the doctrinal truths whereupon their faith should be built. Now, I know, when someone mentions the word doctrine, many things come to mind. For some the very word conjures up images of stuffy classrooms where men in bad suits and monotone voices speak endlessly. For others, doctrine is frightening because they feel that they are somehow academically inadequate to grasp the complexities of theology. And for others doctrine is well and good but to them it seems far removed from their everyday experience where they struggle to live out their faith in practical ways. But nothing could be further from the truth. Doctrine teaches us how to think and how we think always determines how we act. If we do not think right we cannot act right. Doctrine is the foundation whereupon our practice is built.
Let’s begin looking into our first Faith Foundation – The Bible – God’s Word. Let’s look at some Scriptural truths when it comes to the preaching Scripture, the nature of Scripture, and the purpose of Scripture.
The Bible tells us that Jesus preached doctrinally.
Matthew 7:28-29 ESV – 28And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Matthew 7:28 says that after Jesus finished preaching the Sermon on the Mount, that the people were astonished at His teaching or doctrine.
Doctrine, simply put, is nothing more than a systematic way of understanding scripture. In the Greek the word translated “doctrine” literally means “teaching, instruction or that which is taught.” In the New Testament it also carries the idea of a more developed set of truths or practices which are to be learned and followed. This is the foundation of our understanding of what doctrine is.
The point I’m trying to quickly make is, if Jesus doctrinally taught Scripture, and so did Apostles in their writings, then when we preach, it must be for doctrinal purposes: to teach and instruct the people.
2 Timothy 4:2 ESV – Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Nature of Scripture – Word of God.
As we seek to understand the nature of the scripture, that is, what the bible is, there are three terms we should understand. The first is the term, “revelation.”
The Bible is Divine revelation.
Revelation is the direct divine influence which communicates truth from God to man.
There are two types of revelation: General revelation and special revelation.
- General revelation is where God reveals His nature and purpose through creation and through history.
Psalm 19:1 ESV – The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Romans 1:20 ESV – For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
You see, God has revealed Himself to all humanity through creation. But general revelation, by itself, is insufficient to tell us all God wanted us to know about Himself and His plan for humanity. That’s why He gave us scripture.
- Special revelation is God’s written revelation of Himself to us through the Holy Scriptures we commonly call, “The Holy Bible.”
It is the only source available to us of certain knowledge about God. Without scripture, each of us would be left on our own to figure out Who He is, what He is like and how we can relate to Him. Scripture is God’s written revelation of Himself to us.
The second term we need to understand is “Inspiration.”
The Bible is Divinely Inspired.
When the bible says that all scripture is inspired by God, it is speaking about a special kind of inspiration. It’s not the kind of inspiration Mozart or Beethoven had when they composed musical masterpieces and it’s not the kind of inspiration you have when you see a sunset and are moved to write a poem. This is a different kind of inspiration; a unique type of inspiration.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB – 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
In 2 Timothy 3:16 the Bible says that all scripture is inspired by God. This word “inspired” literally means, God-breathed. The doctrine or teaching of the inspiration of scripture simply tells us that the scripture is an accurate transmission of truth from God to man in languages which we can understand.
The divine inspiration of scripture assures us that it is the word of God not merely the words of man. It is exactly what God wanted us to know, nothing more and nothing less. It is inspired, or breathed by His Spirit. This gives us a confidence and a certainty that we can rely upon.
The third term we need understand is the word “Canon.”
The Bible is a completed Canon.
You may have heard people speak about the Canon of scripture. What they are talking about is the completed record of God’s word. A canon is a list or a catalogue of books. As Christians we have inherited the Old Testament from the Jews and the New Testament from the apostolic age. One scholar describes the canon as, “the collection or list of Bible books that are recognized as genuine, inspired Holy Scripture. The collection is complete with thirty-nine Old testament books and twenty-seven New Testament books in the canon.” (Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life, Pg. 413)
Jude 3 ESV – Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
God gave the Bible and we are not to add to it. It is complete. The Bible we have is the complete canon or catalogue of books He wants us to have.
Purpose of Scripture – Revelation toward application.
It is true that the Bible is the bestselling book in America and yet remains one of the least read books. Some polls estimate that only ten percent of Americans read their bible every day. Remember that God did not give us His word to fill our heads; He gave us His word to change our hearts. That having been said we must understand that God gave us the Bible so that we can apply it, so that we can practice what it instructs us to do.
Consider three things which will help as we seek to apply the Scripture to our everyday lives.
- Know it. God expects for us, as His children, to know His word. The man who will not read his bible is no better off than the man who has no bible to read.
Colossians 3:16a ESV – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…
- Understand it. Many people read the scripture like literature, but fail to understand the spiritual significance of what they read. But such should not be the case for Christians.
John 14:26 ESV – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
So as Christians who have the Holy Spirit, we should be able to see clearly into the spiritual truths of scripture.
- Practice it. The purpose of scripture is action oriented. It was given so that we can do it.
James 1:22 ESV – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Jesus puts it about as plainly as it can be stated in Matthew 7:24-27.
Matthew 7:24-27 ESV – 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
What about you this morning? Are you like the wise man or like the foolish man? What is it that God has told you to do? What is it that would keep you from obeying Him today?