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Is the Bible Just Another Book?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 21, 2021 12:01 am

Is the Bible Just Another Book?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 21, 2021 12:01 am

Why do Christians believe that Scripture is the Word of God? Today, Steven Lawson sets forth several stirring reasons why it is impossible for the Bible to be "just another book."

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How would you respond to someone who says the Bible is just another book? The rational argument should be known by each one of us here today.

There needs to be more going in our heads than simply, I was raised this way, or I was brought up this way. There needs to be some strong pillars that uphold our convictions that the Bible is the very Word of God. Today and all this week on Renewing Your Mind, we're helping you respond to the objections that people have about the Christian faith.

We're hearing some of the messages from our 2010 Ligonier Ministries National Conference. Our theme was, tough questions Christians face. And Dr. Stephen Lawson was more than up for the challenge to defend the Bible as the very Word of God. I invite you to take God's Word and turn with me to the book of 2 Timothy, 2 Timothy chapter 3. And I want to begin by reading verses 16 and 17, which will be a launching point for us in this message.

The title that I have been assigned is this, Is the Bible Just Another Book? 2 Timothy 3, I want to begin in verse 16, I think addresses this issue directly. And it needs to be before us and deeply embedded in our heart and in our soul. The Word of God reads, All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

I want to begin by asking you this question. Why do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God? Why do you believe that this book is not just another book? Why are you convinced that the Bible is a supernatural book written by our sovereign God?

That is a very important question before each and every one of us here today. And from a divine perspective, we believe that the Bible is God's Word because its author, the Holy Spirit, has borne witness to our spirit and to our hearts that this book contains the very voice of the living God to us. It is the Holy Spirit who has convinced us of the veracity of Scripture. The Spirit has brought its inward testimony into our hearts and He has persuaded us that this book is like no other book in the world.

That this book is God's book and this is an inside witness that the author himself, the Holy Spirit, has brought home to our hearts. But this does not mean that there are no rational supports for this conviction, as there are many sound evidences and many convincing proofs that the Bible is God's Word. Our faith is built upon facts. The foundation of our faith is this book. And there are many convincing and compelling reasons why we believe that this book is like no other book. Now, it still requires a step of faith, but I trust that as a result of our time together for this session, that you will see that it is a reasonable step of faith. In this message, I want to present the case why the Bible is God's Word.

The rational argument should be known by each one of us here today. There needs to be more going in our heads than simply, I was raised this way, or I was brought up this way, or I went to VBS as a child, and I just always have believed that this book is the Bible. There needs to be some strong pillars that uphold our convictions that the Bible is the very Word of God. So I want to lay out for you 10 reasons why we believe the Bible is the Word of God. I would urge you even to write these down in your Bible, to have these inside the front cover, on the back cover, as a reference point to come back to again and again that, yes, this is why I am persuaded that the Bible is the Word of the living God.

Reason number one, we want to begin at the most basic entry level place. And number one is the direct claims of the Bible. The Bible is authoritative in all matters that it addresses. And this includes its own direct claims about itself. The Bible actually claims to be the Word of God.

And when a defendant is brought into a courtroom, he is allowed to testify for himself. In this passage, 2 Timothy 3 and verse 16, we read, all Scripture is inspired by God. The Bible claims not to be the Word of men, not to be the Word of culture or society. The Bible claims to be God-breathed. The ESV translates it, breathed out by God. This word, inspired by God, these three words, come from one Greek word, theonustos, theos for God.

Nustos is breath or spirit. Theonustos means God-breathed. God literally breathed out the Scriptures as it was recorded by secondary human authors. This verse says nothing about God inspiring the authors.

The authors were moved by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1, verse 21. But this does not say that the authors were inspired. This says that the text of Scripture is inspired. The Scripture is not breathed into by God, such that what men wrote suddenly became inspired. Rather, what this is saying is that all Scripture is breathed out by God.

God is the source. God is the ultimate author of Scripture. The Bible is the product of the divine breaths.

Scripture is the product of the supernatural divine operation. Over 2,000 times in the Old Testament, we read statements like this, thus says the Lord, or the Lord said, or something like this, the word of the Lord came to me saying, or the law of the Lord, or the precepts of the Lord. Again and again and again, we read these direct claims by Scripture.

I will put my words in your mouth, says the Lord. And when we come to the New Testament, we read verses that are equally emphatic. We read, for example, in 1 Thessalonians 4 and verse 15, for this we say to you by the word of the Lord.

The authors were very aware that their message did not originate within themselves. It was not dredged up from the culture or the society, but that this is a transcendent message that is coming down out of heaven through their pen to us. And moreover, we read statements like this in 1 Corinthians 11 verse 23, for I received from the Lord that which I delivered to you. And moreover, when we compare Old Testament verses with New Testament verses, many times what God says in the Old Testament, it is recorded as the Scripture says it in the New Testament, because Scripture is the voice of God. Augustine and Calvin both said, when the Bible speaks, God speaks. So this is where we begin, the direct claims of Scripture.

The Scripture is very crystal clear, this book is the Word of God. Now, second, the perfect unity of the Bible. The more one studies the Bible, the more we are impressed with the amazing unity in the midst of its diversity, the amazing diversity of the Scripture. Sixty-six different books written over a period of some fifteen to sixteen hundred years, over forty different authors on three different continents, writing in three different languages. Consider the diversity of the authors.

Two were kings, three were priests, one was a physician, two were fishermen, two were shepherds, one was a former Pharisee, two were statesmen, one was a tax collector, one was a military general, one was a scribe, one was a cupbearer, and one was a goat herder. And consider the diversity of the literary genre with which they wrote. There's narrative, poetry, prophecy, proverb, parable, gospel, epistle, allegory, song, legal writings. Consider the diversity of where they were when they wrote the Bible.

The Sinai desert, the palace of Jerusalem, a cave in Judea, the palace of Shushan, beside the river of Babylon, the land of Egypt, Macedonia, Greece, Rome, a barren island known as Patmos, and the diversity of its many parts. There are almost three thousand different cast members in the storyline of the Bible, spanning some one thousand one hundred and eighty-nine chapters, comprising some thirty-one thousand verses, requiring seven hundred thousand words, containing three and a half million letters. And yet despite this complex diversity, this book speaks of one plan of salvation, one people of God, one story of human history, one problem of mankind, one solution for this problem, one standard of morality, one design for the family, one chief object of its message. It is always speaking with one voice. It never contradicts itself. How can you account for this unity in the midst of such vast diversity?

And the only reasonable explanation that there is, is that there is one author who stands behind this entire book and has breathed it out, and that author is God himself. Let me illustrate it this way. Suppose every state in the union was asked to excavate its natural stone, box it in a crate, put it on a railroad car, and send it to the nation's capital. All fifty states would participate. There came crates containing limestone, other states would send marble, other states would send sandstone, other states would send granite.

Once those trains arrive in Washington, D.C., they are uncrated and they are all brought together. There seem to be of different size and shape. Some are square, some are rectangular, some are cubicle, some are a cylinder form.

And as they are brought together, all fifty stones interface perfectly and perfectly comprise a replica of the Jefferson Memorial Monument. With its domes, with its side walls, with its buttresses, with its arches, with its transepts, not a gap, not a flaw, nothing missing, a perfect, perfect fit, how would you account for that? Any thinking person who had two brain cells that might be touching one another between their two ears, the only explanation that you could come to is that there was a master architect behind the entire project who had sent out specific measurements for what he desired. And as it all came together, he oversaw the project that it would be fitted together. You would have to assume that there was one major architect. And so it is with the Word of God, every doctrine, every truth, every principle, every practice, every standard of ethics, it all fitting together to form one temple of truth. It is the Word of the living God. Not to believe this would be synonymous with there being an explosion in a print shop and all of the letters just happen to land on the ground and form the Oxford English Dictionary without a mistake in perfect alphabetical order and without any misspelled words.

Do you think that would just happen? Absolutely not. The Bible speaks with one voice on every issue that it addresses, and we as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we ought to have the greatest confidence and the strongest faith that this book is the inspired Word of the living God.

Go ahead and clap. I want to give you a third reason. The third reason is the reliable transmission of the Bible. Far more than any other book of antiquity, the Bible has been passed down to us with extraordinary precision. Now let's begin with the Old Testament. Until recently, the oldest known Hebrew manuscript of any length did not date earlier than the first part of the 10th century after Christ. And that would be a gap of some 13 to 1400 years from the time of the writing of the last book of the Old Testament to the oldest copy of the Old Testament that we had.

Let me state that again, a gap of some 13 to 1400 years. And then in 1947 and in 1948, there was a little shepherd boy in the northwest section of the Dead Sea. He was picking up some stones and chucking them into a cave like little boys would be prone to do, and he heard a thud noise inside that cave. He walked in to discover one of the great archaeological treasures of modern history, the Dead Sea Scrolls. And over the next months and the next period of time, they went into 11 different caves, and they found contained a treasure that had been in there for some thousand years, precious copies of copies of the original text. There were two copies of Isaiah. There was an entire copy of the Psalms. There was an entire copy of the book of Leviticus. And there were thousands of fragments of different sections of the Old Testament. And when the Hebrew scholars gathered together and when they saw this and began to piece these manuscripts together, in a moment, in an instant, our oldest copy of the Old Testament was pushed back a millennium, back to the days virtually of the first century church. And what they discovered was an astonishing accuracy that over those thousand years, the transmission of the Word of God had been passed down with jaw-dropping accuracy. There is no other book of antiquity that has been so carefully passed down to us than this Bible, the Word of God. And the New Testament is even more so. We have almost 6,000 early Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and another 10,000 copies in the Latin Vulgate to say nothing of Syriac and other Semitic languages. We compare this with other ancient books written at the same time.

It's really embarrassing. The full plethora of manuscripts that we have that substantiate the reliable transmission of the Word of God down to us in the entire copying process. For example, let's just take Homer who lived 800 years B.C. There is a time gap between when he wrote what he wrote and the oldest copy of Homer, some 400 years. With Plato, it is 1,300 years. With Caesar and his writings, 1,000 years. But when we come to the New Testament, the earliest document that we have that has pieces of the Old Testament, it's not 1,300 years. It's not a millennium. It's 50 years. And then the earliest copy of an entire New Testament, it's but some 200 years.

And the copies are not six or seven, it's 6,000. No, the confidence that we should have in this book being passed down to us, it is unsurpassed for any books of antiquity at any level. Why do we believe that what we hold in our hand is the written Word of the living God? There is its direct claims.

There is its perfect unity. There is its reliable transmission forth the historical accuracy of the book. Take, for example, the historical accuracy with which Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.

F.F. Bruce of the University of Manchester in England, in a work entitled The New Testament Documents, Are They Reliable? Bruce writes, one of the most remarkable tokens of Luke's accuracy is his sure familiarity with the proper titles of all the notable persons who are mentioned in his pages. This was by no means an easy feat in his day, as it would be in ours, because it was not so simple to consult convenient books of reference. And Bruce goes on to talk about, as Luke records the book of Acts, not only is he geographically spot on at every point without having an atlas in front of him, but that as he addresses the various titles of Roman officials, he does so with absolute perfection.

And Bruce goes on to argue it would be like going to Oxford University, your very first day on campus, and being able to address everyone on faculty and everyone in higher administration by their proper titles, provost, master, rector, president. And many of the original Roman leaders, they were moving up the ladder, and some of their titles were being changed. And every time that Luke records what they were, he has it exactly right. Never a mistake historically. And the more the archaeologists begin to dig into the sand of the Middle East and they uncover treasures, they are not finding mistakes in the Bible. They are bringing confirmation of the historical accuracy of the Bible. They have uncovered the pool of Bethesda in John 5, verse 2, that for many years liberals said, see, the Bible is wrong. It cannot be correct because there is no pool of Bethesda.

Oops. And the archaeologists have discovered it now. Many feet below the surface, buried in the sand of time, the Bible is always correct. For years, the first five books in the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the liberals threw every assault they could at this and said, well, there wasn't even the use of language and letters that would allow someone to write the Pentateuch at that time. Well, the archaeologists have discovered not simply that, yes, Moses was able to write that using the language of the day.

There was a postal system that was functioning in that part of the world as people were writing and exchanging letters with one another. There has never been a book written in antiquity with the historical accuracy of the Bible. That's Dr. Stephen Lawson with a message titled, Is the Bible Just Another Book? After hearing his reasoned and impassioned answer, I think we can respond with an emphatic no. I'm glad you've joined us for Renewing Your Mind today.

I'm Lee Webb. All week we're featuring messages from the conference, Tough Questions Christians Face. And as we'll find, the answer to every tough question comes from the pages of Scripture. That's why we want to get today's resource offer into your hands. It's Dr. R.C. Sproul's book, Everyone's a Theologian. In order to answer tough questions, we have to work through the key doctrines of the Christian faith diligently and accurately.

And in this book, R.C. teaches us how to do just that. Let me give you our phone number. It's 800-435-4343. When you call us with a gift of any amount, we will be glad to send you the paperback edition of this book, Everyone's a Theologian. You can also reach out to us with your gift at We do appreciate your generosity to Ligonier Ministries.

It's only through the gifts of friends like you that we're able to continue producing and distributing teaching like this. How many times have you heard someone say it's just not fair to say that Christ is the only way? And the argument is a pretty simple one from those who oppose us.

It goes really like this. You say you are a Christian. Well, I thought that Christians were supposed to be humble. If you were humble, you would not continue to suggest that Christianity has got it right and others have got it wrong. Alistair Begg will be our teacher tomorrow, and we hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-21 20:24:17 / 2023-08-21 20:32:19 / 8

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