"Tell Me the Old, Old Story"
It is good to be reminded of the story of what Jesus has done for us. It is good to be reminded that the Bible is not a made-up book,but a God-breathed message. Let me tell lyou the old, old story and why it is important to me.
Tell Me The Old, Old Story
(2 Pet. 1:12-21)
A. If history is used as indicator, the book of 2 Peter was probably written about 30 years after the ascension of Jesus. If that is the case then we have had a generation of people who were born after Jesus ascended back into heaven. We have a movement of the church reaching the Gentile world that would have never seen Jesus and most had probably not even heard of him from history. So why was Christian movement spreading to people who never saw one miracle of Jesus, who never hear him speak, and would not have even know he existed if it were not for people talking about him?
B. We come back on one word: faith. Not a blind faith, not a faith that simply accepts because a person is gullible and will believe anything. No. A faith that comes by being convinced that this Jesus, whom many had not met not only lived in Israel, but was actually God in the flesh. These are people who were willing to leave the religion of their family, the state religion, or the religion influenced by the economy of the region. There had to be a reason why they would walk away from that than just a good feeling.
C. Today the Bible is under attack. People talk about it like it is simply a novel or a book of possible teachings, but not as one of authority. I believe most, if not all, present today would say that the Bible is God’s word to man. But if that is the case, how much does the Bible play in your daily life? How much do you want to hear God speaking to you? How much do you want God dictating you attitude and actions? If the Bible is God’s word then God has all authority over his creation, then if God says it, I must follow it. Do you really believe the Bible that much?
D. Rom. 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing the message about Christ.” The only way I can gain faith is to hear and understand the message about Jesus. By the time Peter wrote his letters faith was defined as believing that Jesus was the Christ and that through him alone we can have a relationship with God and salvation from our sinful nature. No longer offer sacrifices to God on an alter and others no longer offer sacrifices to idols. Instead we our connection to God through Jesus alone and follow his teachings.
I. Peter’s Testimony
A. Why do I believe so strongly that the Bible is God’s message to mankind? I want to start with the text of Peter and examine a few things he mentions and then I want to give briefly a few more reasons.
B. In verses 12-15 we see that Peter is not questioning their faith, but affirming it and wanting them to know is writing this as a testimony to live on after he dies. Peter knows that his life is coming to a close, but that does not mean the message from God is coming to a close. Just because the apostles were dying off was not the end of the Christian faith. Faith believed in truth and evidence of that truth from Jesus. Peter was writing to give them a reason to believe.
C. The evidence he gives is personal testimony. In a court of law how much weight does circumstantial evidence hold in convicting a person of a crime? None. But an eye witness testimony is huge. Peter says to these people who may not have seen or heard Jesus speak that he was an eye witness. There were already some who claimed Christianity was based simply upon stories and not fact, but Peter says I know what I have seen and heard. He then takes them back to the transfiguration. Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell this story of Jesus on the mountain with Peter, James and John when Jesus is transfigured from his human state to brilliant white and then appearing with him are Moses and Elijah. When the disciples want to build a tabernacle for all three God descends in a cloud and speaks saying, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” The testimony of Jesus being greater than Moses and Elijah (the Law and the Prophets) came directly from God himself, and confirm in Peter a faith that knew Jesus was the only one to follow.
D. Peter does not desire to negate God’s message in what we call the Old Testament. He affirms that it too was from God, but that message was point people to Jesus who is our Bright and Morning Star. Pay attention to what God has said throughout all time, but know that it is Jesus who brings you to God.
E. Peter then closes with these words in verses 20-22. Understand this fact – the Bible was not written by 40 men, it was 40 men who wrote ONLY what they were guided to write by God in the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not Paul’s letters, Peter’s letters or John’s letters or anyone else – OT or NT. It was always God.
A. The Bible claims its own testimony. We think that is not much evidence, but those who penned it knew it was great evidence. When Paul tells Timothy, “all scripture is God-breathed” he was teaching Timothy a reason to hold to the faith that he grew up learning. The reason Timothy could stand strong is because the scriptures taught to him by his mom and grandma were God’s word to mankind and had usefulness to us in our daily lives. They lead us to salvation. I can be saved without knowing God’s manner of how to be saved. The scripture teaches me God’s message.
B. The Bible is not the only book ever to claim it is inspired by God. The Mormons claim their “other” Bible is inspired by God and given to Joseph Smith. The Koran of the Islamic faith claims its inspiration through the one they call the prophet Mohammad. My point is self-claiming inspiration does not mean it is inspired. Examine the evidence. Maybe the greatest evidence of the Bible’s claim of inspiration is that of the fulfillment of prophecy. All of the prophecies in the Bible that have come to pass can be verified by secular history. Man’s historical writings confirm what God said would happen did happen. Archaeology has also helped to prove the truth found in the Bible. People have said some place in the Bible did not exist only to find out that it did. Even then people wanted to say it wasn’t really that place.
C. Think about it — no one knowingly dies for a lie! For example, the September 11th suicide hijackers may have sincerely believed in what they died for, but they weren’t in a position to know whether their beliefs were absolutely true. The hijackers put their faith in religious traditions passed down over many generations. In contrast, the Bible’s martyrs were in a position to know the truth. They were eyewitnesses to the historical events they recorded. Either they saw what they claimed to see or they didn’t — plain and simple. Nevertheless, these men clung to their testimonies, even to their brutal deaths at the hands of their persecutors, and despite being given every chance to recant their stories. Why would so many men knowingly die for a lie? They had nothing to gain for lying… and everything to lose.
D. The weight of the manuscript evidence is staggering. There are more than 14,000 OT manuscripts and fragments throughout the Middle East that agree with each other. With the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls we see an even great reliability of the Hebrew OT. The NT has over 5.300 copies and fragments of which nearly 800 were copied before 1000 AD. We trust the writings of Julius Caesar’s “The Gallic Wars” (of which only 10 manuscripts remain and the earliest one is 1000 years AFTER he wrote it). Homer’s “Iliad” has 643 copies of manuscript support. In those there are 754 disputed line compared to only 40 disputed lines int eh all the NT manuscripts.
A. Brethren, we have the Word of God made more certain and you would do well to pay attention to it. If you and I really believe this Bible is God’s message to us, then we need to read it, understand it, and live by it. If not, then it is just a another book and of no more weight than other religious books.
B. God has spoken. Do you know what John calls Jesus in his gospel? The Logos, that Greek for “the Word.” Jesus himself is the living Word of God and his teachings and the guidance of the church were written down by men who were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Yes, I believe in the old, old story.
C. If you are here today and want to talk more with me privately about the proof of the Bible as the inspired Word of God talk to me. Don’t leave wondering, leave in faith that saves.