8 Pentecost Proper C10
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
2 Timothy 3:10-17 Sermon
July 14, 2013
Click here for internet service broadcast/podcast.
Hymns (from The Lutheran Hymnal & With One Voice)
WOV 716 "Word Of God Come Down On Earth"
TLH 284 "Father Of Mercies In Thy Word"
TLH 294 "O Word Of God Incarnate"
TLH 286 "How Shall The Young Secure Their Hearts?"
WHY WORRY ABOUT BIBLES?
TEXT (vs. 14-17): “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from infancy you have been acquainted with the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
One of the main things we focus upon when instructing children in the Christian faith is the Bible. Sunday School lessons are Bible lessons that will get children acquainted with the various people and stories of the Bible. We even teach our children songs that emphasize the importance of the Bible. One of the simplest songs is: “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me; I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.”
Or think about some of the lines of this most famous song: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Children are taught to trust what the Bible says, and that what they are being told is truth and not fiction. The fact that Jesus loves them is a reality; and how do they know this for sure? It’s because of the promise God makes to them; and they know that God won’t lie to them or lead them astray.
We don’t teach our children to sing, “Jesus loves me, I don’t know,” or “Jesus loves me, this I think.” The fact that Jesus loves all people is what makes the Bible so universally applicable to the entire human race. The Bible proclaims this message of divine love to everybody in every situation. So regardless of the part of the world a person may be from, or whatever their ethnic background may be, God speaks to them through his Word. That in itself is a great testimony to divine verbal inspiration; no other literary work can make a claim like this.
Today we are focusing our attention upon the Bible, which is God’s divinely inspired and inerrant Word. As Christians, that’s a very bold, but necessary statement to make. I asked the question in my theme, “Why worry about Bibles?” I believe this is a good starting point in answering that question.
The Bible is the way God communicates to us. We don’t go around looking for God to appear in other ways, especially in the area of various signs and wonders. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 verses 9-10, the Apostle Paul gives us a warning: “9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
So our faith is not based upon various signs and wonders, because those things can be deceptive. Our faith is based upon the truth of God communicated through the Holy Scriptures. That’s a source we can trust.
I’d like to take a bit of time this morning to talk about the mechanics of the Bible, and address some of the questions I’ve heard over the years. Let’s look first at the Old Testament, and some of the particulars about it.
First of all, we know that the Old Testament as we have it today existed in the same form at the time of Jesus. The 39 books of the Old Testament are the Hebrew Scriptures Jesus frequently referred to, and called the Word of God. Jesus never referred to any discrepancies or problems with it, and he never gave any reason to doubt their authenticity or authority.
Jesus also tells us that the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses. Even though some modern scholars tend to follow a 19th century idea that the first five books of the Bible were written by 4 different groups of people, this has been proven wrong in a number of different ways. We can trust that Jesus knew what he was talking about.
People often wonder how these books of the Bible were transmitted, and how that worked. This was the duty of the faithful Jews known as the Scribes. They would spend their days copying the Scriptures by hand. When they had completed copying one book of the Bible, they had a way of checking their work.
If you look at a Hebrew Bible, at the end of every book is some information. It tells how many words are in the book, how many letters are in the book, what the middle word is, and what the middle letter is. However, this only works in the Hebrew Bible; it won’t work with a translation.
So after the Scribe was done, he’d count every word and every letter. He’d count from the beginning and from the end, just to make sure everything was all correct. And if the scroll didn’t match up the way it was supposed to, then that scroll was destroyed, and he’d have to start all over again. Errors were not permitted in this most exacting work. There has been no other literary work in history that has been communicated as accurately as the Bible.
People often have questions about the books of the Apocrypha, and why they aren’t included as part of our Old Testament. There are two main reasons for this: first, it was not part of the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus used and called God’s Word. These books were never accepted by the Jews. Second, the Apocrypha does not contain any doctrine. Besides, there are also some minor dating discrepancies between the Apocrypha and the Bible.
This doesn’t mean that the Apocrypha doesn’t have value. It gives a very accurate historical account of the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. And there is also devotional content. But even with this, it still is not divinely inspired and cannot be placed on an equal par with the Holy Scriptures.
When it comes to the New Testament, one of the main tests that we use is the authorship. The 27 books of the New Testament were either written by an Apostle or Evangelist, or written under the authority of an Apostle or Evangelist. So the four Gospels were written by the Apostles Matthew and John, and by the Evangelists Mark and Luke. Luke also wrote the book of Acts. Then we have the Epistles, or letters either written to a specific group, or written in general to larger audiences. The Apostle Paul wrote the greatest number of these. Paul was the master theologian of the New Testament, and he dealt with the various particular issues experienced by a wide variety of groups. However, Peter and John wrote general Epistles.
The fact that these writings are Scripture can be understood by what Jesus tells John in Revelation chapter 22 verse 5 when he says, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And that simple statement can be applied to the entirety of Scripture.
There are other early religious writings sometimes called the “New Testament Apocrypha.” There are many of these that have cropped up from time-to-time; but all a person needs to do is to read them to discover that they have an entirely different flavor than the rest of the Bible. They are often contradictory, and present some rather foreign doctrines. Besides this, the New Testament is written entirely in Greek, while many of these Apocryphal writings are written in Latin.
The 27 books of the New Testament were assembled in the first centuries of the Christian Church, and they have stood the test of time ever since. And one very important thing to remember, is that regardless of how many early manuscripts of the Bible have been discovered over the years, there has not been even so much as one small change in teaching. The Bible just keeps reaffirming itself over and over again.
In our text for today, the Apostle Paul reminds Timothy of the purpose of the Holy Scriptures. The primary purpose is stated in verse 15: “…and how from infancy you have been acquainted with the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” God’s Word is the primary vehicle of the Holy Spirit to bring someone to faith in Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews chapter 4 verses 12-13 we read some rather disturbing words: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
If Scripture ended right there, it would leave us in a state of turmoil and fear. We wouldn’t want to run to God; we’d want to run as far away from him as we possibly could! Who would want their sins to be laid bare and exposed to God’s judgment? That’s the terror of the law!
When our hearts are terrified by the law, then it’s time to be comforted by the Gospel. Dr. Luther once said that looking at the Bible was like looking at two arrows: the Bible either points ahead to, or back to Christ. That’s the central focus of the Word. And it’s the good news of the Gospel light that speaks to us in the midst of the deepest and darkest night of sin we could imagine.
Our souls are blest beyond our wildest understanding through faith in Christ. Through faith in Christ, God promises to forgive our iniquity and remember our sin no more. Through faith in Christ, God doesn’t just promise to cover those sins up, but to completely remove them, as far as the east is from the west. King David came to appreciate this so very much when he wrote in Psalm 130, “If thou, Lord shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”
I know we’ve all been caught under God’s law. We know we are sinful. But instead of despairing, we have hope. This is nothing we have done, but what Jesus Christ has done for us. The love of Jesus and our faith in Jesus is what makes us Christians. We have something that no heathen religion could ever offer.
When I asked the question, “Why worry about Bibles,” I think the Apostle Paul answers this when he writes to Timothy that Scripture first and foremost makes us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. And then he continues in verses 16-17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The Bible is a teaching tool, a tool for defense of the truth, a correcting tool, and a guide for a Christian’s life.
Today I wanted to talk about the importance of the Scriptures because of the work of the Gideons. These men exist for the purpose of distributing as many Bibles as possible in a wide variety of different languages. And as we look at the high regard Paul has for the Scriptures, Paul speaks volumes to us as well.
The Bible is a vehicle of the Holy Spirit! Each and every time a Bible is put into circulation someplace, it is unleashing more and more power of the Holy Spirit upon an unbelieving world. God’s Word is living and active, and the Holy Spirit is working through it to turn sinners into saints through faith in Jesus Christ.
Not everybody will darken the doorway of a church. Not everybody will have the opportunity to hear someone witness Christ to them. But with the few dollars a Bible costs, it is all in there. The Scriptures themselves are sufficient to make a person wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus their Saviour.
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…the B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me; I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.”