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The Canon Of The Bible Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2023 1:00 am

The Canon Of The Bible Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 27, 2023 1:00 am

Why does the Catholic church have some additional books not found in the Protestant Bible? This and many other questions surround the origin of the Scriptures. In this message, we affirm why the Bible alone is the basis for our faith and practice. God superintended the process to reveal Himself to us. 

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Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. To many people, the Bible is something you put your hand on to be sworn into office. But the 66 books that make up our Bible contain powerful, life-changing truth thanks to the God who made sure we're reading what He intended. How those books got there is our focus on today's broadcast.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, what would happen if someone found a scroll somewhere of another prophet or a missing Epistle to Paul? Or have all sources been found already? Well Dave, first of all, I have to say that on my list of things to worry about, what you have mentioned is at the very bottom of the bottom.

I sleep well. I think that if a missing manuscript were found, it would be investigated and be shown to be either fraudulent or for some reason does not fit into the scripture. We have every reason to believe that all the books that should be in the Bible are in the Bible, and those books that shouldn't be shouldn't be in the Bible. God superintended this in ways that I explain in my book entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible, and that of course is one of the issues that we deal with because people have questions about how the canon was collected. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337, and I want to emphasize that this is one of the last days that we are making this resource available. Seven reasons why you can trust the Bible. Now let me talk briefly about the New Testament. How did it come to be? Early on as God inspired the New Testament writers, they began to write the Word of God, but notice the difference now.

Think this through. The ancient Jews could take these writings to the temple. They could put them in the ark. They could accumulate them like a library, but the Christian church was scattered abroad.

It was everywhere. You had congregations throughout all of Asia Minor. So as the Apostle Paul began to write a letter to one church, one church knew about that letter but not necessarily the other church. There was no central depository for all of the books. Consequently, as these books were written, there were some lists of books that might have included some and excluded others. So there was a period of development as the canon began to come to be. I think for the early church, one of the most important questions to authenticate a book was, is it either written by an apostle or someone who would authenticate the apostle? For example, Luke was not one of the early apostles, but he was a companion of the Apostle Paul. So in that sense, Luke had apostolic blessing, even if not apostolic authority. Now as these books began to be written and they were accepted again as the word of God by the Christian church.

Notice how quickly they were accepted as scripture. Take your Bibles and turn to 2 Peter. 2 Peter chapter 3, where Peter comments on the writings of Paul and gives us some encouragement and hope. We all admire Peter.

For some, he is the first pope, but for those of us who perhaps do not take that opinion, nevertheless admire his writings, he was one of the apostles, highly valued. And this is what he says about the Apostle Paul in 2 Peter chapter 3 verse 14. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found in him in peace, spotless and blameless. And regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation.

Now isn't this comforting? Just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you as also in all his letters speaking in them these things in which are some things hard to be understood, hard to understand. Aren't you glad that Peter even struggled with some of the things that Paul wrote?

Which the untaught and the unstable distort as they do also the rest of the scriptures to their own destruction. You see how Peter recognized the writings of Paul as being scripture? Already in that first century, they again saw that what was being written was indeed the word of God. And by the end of the first century, you have all 27 books, they were known and they were largely accepted. Now there was some debate over the book of Revelation and some of the other books of the New Testament, oftentimes because there were churches that weren't acquainted with the book of Revelation or perhaps there were those who thought that it had too much apocalyptic imagery. But essentially the church recognized that these writings were the word of God.

Now, another note of providence. There was no council that ever met to debate what book should be in the Bible, accepting some and rejecting others. That never ever happened. Once again, there was a council that met centuries later that ratified the list of 27 books of the New Testament, but they were only doing what the Christian church had already done centuries before, namely to accept these books as the word of God and therefore it was as if God superintended what was happening and the people of God themselves recognized what books were to be received and that is why we have the New Testament canon today. Now that needs to be emphasized because sometimes you get the impression that there are people who think, you know, that on a hot, sweaty Friday afternoon, some people got into a room somewhere and they began to debate these things and they said, well, let's decide what books are going to be in the Bible.

That did not happen. We believe that God superintended the process in such a way that the Christian church recognized those books that were of God and rejected those which weren't. There was some debate, yes, but it was never done by a council that rejected or accepted a list of books.

Now, let me give some concluding principles here that are very important and I think we can all agree on this no matter where we come from religiously. A book either does or does not have authority. It either has come from God, inspired by God, or it didn't come from God.

In other words, the emphasis is on the writing itself. You could not take a letter of Abraham Lincoln's and say that surely even if we don't know whether it is from Abraham Lincoln or not, if we vote on it, we can say that it is from Abraham Lincoln and that will make it to be from Abraham Lincoln. No, all that we can do is recognize what has been written. We do not have the power to be able to create that which is authentic and that which is not, and of course our Catholic friends would agree with us on that point because it is self-evident.

But here's where the difference comes. You see, because we believe that the church is fallible and the Bible is infallible, the church can make mistakes but the Bible has none, sometimes our Catholic friends say to us, well, you know, I really do think that because you have a fallible church, you cannot have an infallible Bible because maybe the wrong books are in the Bible. And so we have to simply say flat out that yes, it is possible, it's theoretically possible that the church could have made a mistake because the church is not infallible. The church can make mistakes. We believe that they didn't because God superintended them in such a way and the very fact that there is no book that has ever seriously laid claim to be in the canon. If you think that there is some book that should have been included, I'd encourage you to read it and to circulate it and to see whether or not it indeed would have the kind of authenticity that the other books of the New Testament had.

I don't think that such a book exists. You know, years ago in the early church there was a book called The Shepherd of Hermes that some people thought should have been scripture and others thought, no, it shouldn't have been. All that you have to do is to read it and be convinced this is not the Word of God. It is sub-biblical. What is it that I'm trying to say?

Just this. We believe very strongly that ultimately the authority of the church must be limited and must bow before the authority of scripture. The church is fallible. Scripture is infallible. Now this shouldn't come as a surprise because in the earlier messages on this series I emphasized the fact that it was fallible human beings that wrote an infallible text. Look at David and his mistakes and sins and crimes so far as that's concerned.

He was a very fallible human being and yet what he did was he wrote that which is the Word of God infallible. So it should not be a surprise to us that God entrusted infallible scriptures to a fallible church, a church that can make mistakes. But that's the dividing line between Protestantism and Catholicism. Whether or not the church has authority independent of the scriptures or whether it must bow to the scriptures and say that the scriptures alone become the basis of authority. So let me say secondly, first of all, a book either does or does not have an inherent authority. We believe that the only thing that the church can do is to recognize authority. It cannot confer authority. You can't get people together and say that if enough of us agree, we can make something to be that which is not.

That's number one. Number two, we believe that the Bible alone is authoritative. I've already emphasized that and that is known in history by the Latin sola scriptura. In other words, scripture alone, tradition cannot be trusted because tradition sometimes contradicts itself and certainly church history has shown that not only can it contradict itself but many traditions also can contradict that which is in the scriptures and therefore our emphasis always is that the Bible and the Bible alone. We aren't Lutherans but we do agree with Luther who at the Council of forums said, my conscience is taken captive by the word of God.

I cannot and I will not recant for popes and councils have contradicted one another. So let's emphasize the fact that the Bible alone is God-breathed. Let's take our Bibles and turn to one more passage and that is found in 2 Timothy.

2 Timothy where we find the words of the Apostle Paul, I emphasize this in an early message in this series where it says, chapter 3 verse 15 of 2 Timothy, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ. And then he says, all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be adequate equipped for every good work. Now, that can't be said about decrees that are made by church councils.

They are not God-breathed. The Bible alone is. You'll notice it says that it is inspired and it is profitable for doctrine that we might know what is right, for reproof that we might get it right, for correction that we might stay right, for training in righteousness that we might model that which is right. So the Bible alone has that authority. Now, once you accept the sola scriptura, of course, then you begin to think of solus Christus, Christ alone, that when he died on the cross the only means of salvation is through faith in him and that we can add nothing to that.

We cannot contribute to it because when Jesus died he died for sinners. And faith alone, sola fide, all of those solas, as we sometimes refer to them, hang together. But the basis is that the Bible alone is the rule of faith and practice. You say, well, do you think that the canon is open for some other books? I saw a program on television recently that said that maybe it's time to debate the canon and to put some other books in there. Well, first of all, I respond by saying show me the book. But the second thing is turn to the book of Revelation chapter 22.

Now, I know that this ending applied primarily to the book of Revelation because this was written at a time when the canon was still fluid in the sense that maybe there had not been yet a settling down of exactly the 27 books that were going to be in it. But I would think twice before I opened the Bible to insert some other book in it. Have you ever noticed, by the way, that all false cults have their additional book? They have the Bible and then they always bring another book written by somebody else that they bring along with them. And the reason is because the things that they believe are not found in the Bible but they're found in this book and so they spend the rest of the time trying to show that what's in this book actually does not contradict what is in the Bible. But almost always, inevitably it does and, may I say, of necessity it does.

Of necessity. Notice this warning. Chapter 22, verse 18. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book. Have you read the book of Revelation recently?

Do you know something about these plagues? If you ever get nervous about adding to the word of God, I suggest you reread what God said. And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city which are written in this book.

Wow. Be very careful when you add to the word of God. Be very careful when you think that you can combine God's word with traditions and with other beliefs and somehow make it all fit.

No, lest you add to the word. Isaiah said, to this word and the prophecy, if they will not adhere to it, do not hear them. The emphasis is on the infallible written word of God. And then it says in verse 20, he who testifies to these things says, yes, I am coming quickly. Amen. So come Lord Jesus. Grace of Jesus be with all.

Amen. When you read the Bible, you need to understand that from Genesis to Revelation, it has one unified message. It has to do with Christ. And I would not want to be here today and to preach a message like this without remembering in the words of the song, beyond the sacred page, I see the Lord, my spirit pants for thee, oh living word. The Bible was not written to be studied, though we should study it. It wasn't written just simply to give seminary students something to do. It was written that it might lead us to God through Christ.

That's the whole purpose. And there could be some of you here who have never believed in Christ for yourself. You've never come to saving faith in him.

And even today, you can do that. John in emphasizing the unity of the Bible and the theme of Christ has said, in Matthew, he is the Christ, the son of the living God. In Mark, Christ is the miracle worker. In Luke, he is the son of man. In John, he is the door by which every one of us must enter. In Acts, he is the shining light that appears to Saul on the road to Damascus. In Romans, he is our justifier. In 1 Corinthians, our resurrection. In 2 Corinthians, our sin bearer.

In Galatians, he redeems us from the law. In Ephesians, he is our unsearchable riches. In Philippians, he supplies every one of our needs. In Colossians, he is the fullness of the Godhead bodily. In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, he is our soon coming king. In 1 and 2 Timothy, he is the mediator between God and man. In Titus, he is our blessed hope.

In Philemon, he is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. In Hebrews, he is the blood of the everlasting covenant. In James, he is the Lord who heals the sick. In 1 and 2 Peter, he is the chief shepherd.

In 1, 2, and 3 John, it is Jesus who has the tenderness of love. In Jude, he is the Lord coming with 10,000 saints. And in Revelation, lift up your eyes, O church, for your redemption draweth nigh.

He is king of kings and Lord of lords. That's the heart of what the Bible is all about. What do we believe here at the Moody Church? Solus Christus?

Yes. Sola Scriptura. The Bible alone is the basis of faith and practice. Would you join me now as we pray? Father, I pray that you will take these words and grant that they shall help us to understand. I pray today, Father, that you will give to us a sense of appreciation for your book. And as we've learned a little bit about its history and a little bit about the debate that continues to swirl around it, we ask today that you shall engender great faith in our hearts that you have revealed yourself and that we can depend upon it. And the promises that we have sung about earlier are great enough and grand enough to lead us all the way to God forever. Father, receive our thanks, we pray, for your love and your mercy and your grace.

In Jesus' name, amen. Just this week, as a matter of fact, someone asked my opinion about a man who I believe to be a false prophet. And one of the points I made in response was the fact that this person thinks that he received special revelation from God. He takes the words God told me quite literally and believes that he has some insight into God that others don't have.

And in the process, he came up with some brand new teachings that are not found in Scripture. When we say sola scriptura, what we mean is the Bible alone is the Word of God. And we believe that very deeply.

I hope, my friend, that you attend a church where that is believed. And since this is Friday, I want to encourage you to go to church, be with the people of God, listen to the Word of God, which I trust is preached wherever you may attend. For a gift of any amount, you can receive a book I've written entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible.

In it, I discuss such things as the canonicity of Scripture, how the books were collected, archaeology, science, the Dead Sea Scrolls, everything that relates to the Scriptures. Thank you in advance for helping us because together we are making a difference. I want to thank the many of you who pray for this ministry.

I always look at running to win, not as the ministry of a man or an organization or a church. It is really the ministry of God's people who help us as we continue to expand and get the gospel to many. This will be one of the last times we're making the book available, Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. Go to Thanks in advance, by the way, for helping us. or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Yes, my friend, you can trust the Bible. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Get set for a plunge into one of the deeper parts of the theological pool as Pastor Lutzer fields these questions from one of our listeners. Often I hear pastors say that God does not will that evil happen, but that He just permits it to happen.

Is this a legitimate distinction? If God permits something, does that not in some way mean He is responsible for it? Well, my friend, today you've asked a very deep theological, philosophical question, but the quick answer is yes. If God permits something, He could choose to not permit it. Therefore, in that sense, God is responsible. Now, when we talk about God being responsible, I don't like that word responsible because that implies accountability.

You know, we talk about children being responsible or I have to be responsible to someone. God is responsible to no one. So I like to say simply that God is in charge of everything. Now, that is not to say that God does evil because the evil that He permits, which He could choose to not permit, I grant that, but the evil that God permits is not the evil that He does. And so we must recognize that the only way to harmonize all this is to see that God intends to use evil that He permits for His purposes. Of necessity, evil is a part of His plan. Doesn't mean that He justifies the evil. Doesn't mean that we aren't responsible for what we do. It does mean God is using it for a greater good.

Well, my friend, I hope that that helps you. This, of course, is a very deep subject. It's been talked about many different ways from many different standpoints. But keep probing, keep asking, keep asking the hard questions, and then go to the scriptures and see if you can find the answer. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer, for diving into that deep theological pool. If you'd like to hear your questions answered, you can. Just go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago. Next time, don't miss the final reason why you can trust the Bible, the power of that Bible to change lives. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-27 03:56:50 / 2023-01-27 04:05:45 / 9

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