Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The Bible was written by forty authors over some sixteen hundred years. Today, let's pause in the race of life long enough to put the Bible on the witness stand and hear its own testimony about itself, how it says God spoke through its human authors.
Stay with us. 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, why would a skeptic be concerned with what the Bible says about itself? Well Dave, the remarkable thing which you've already pointed out is the unity of scripture. You know, it has been said that the new is in the old concealed and the old is in the new revealed. We're talking about the unity of the New Testament and the Old Testament and how the New Testament fulfills the old, despite the fact that it was written by forty different authors over a period of many centuries. The Bible has a fundamental unity in its symbolism, in its teaching, in its themes, and when you stop to think of it, it talks about God, angels, Christ, redemption, and all the books agree. A remarkable book indeed. For a gift of any amount, we're making available to you a special resource, a book I've written entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And yes, we can trust the Bible. The Bible is the word of God because it says it is the word of God. How do you like that logic? When I was a student at the university studying philosophy and logic, our professor used that illustration to give us an example of what he called a circular reasoning, where you assume the point that is supposed to be proven. It's something like asking a person, now why did you believe that stranger? And he says, well, I believed him because he told me he was telling the truth. And that seems to be a little naive, doesn't it?
Now, of course, it's true that the statement the Bible is the word of God because it claims to be the word of God just simply as a statement is, of course, circular reasoning. But I want you to know today that there's more to the story than that. It is very important that we as Christians examine the Bible to see what it has to say about its own origin.
And that is only right, it's only proper, and it is only fair. For example, let's suppose that there was someone who were to be washed up and appear on the soil of the United States and we don't know where it is that he came from. Now, it might be interesting for us to get some experts to do an analysis of his clothes, of his facial features, and to see the raft that he came on. And maybe if we were to do that, we might be able to determine his origin, but there would be nothing wrong with asking him where he came from. After all, he might be telling the truth.
As a matter of fact, he might be saying some things to us that we might never know about him unless we were to ask him and to give us those details. In fact, let us also say that in a court of law, sometimes a defendant chooses to speak on his behalf. And we can imagine a defendant giving his own version of the story, and we don't take his words for granted, but it is interesting to hear him and if his story checks out. If we do some investigation and discover that what he tells us is consistent and makes sense and has other ways by which it can be verified, why then indeed his personal testimony is very important. As you may know, I'm preaching a series of messages entitled Seven Reasons Why I Believe the Bible is God's Word. And I preached an introductory message that talked about what we mean by inspiration, that gave some understanding as to the importance of the subject, but today really we are going to discuss the first reason why I believe the Bible is God's Word. And I begin with a quote from Time Magazine, someone who wrote a letter to Time after the Heaven's Gate cult suicides.
This was his response. He says, posters tell us that approximately 34% of Americans believe the Bible to be literally true word for word. When you reflect that this belief includes walking on water, rising from the dead, angels, ghosts, demons, unclean spirits, and miraculous cure rather for blindness, it is clear that there is an enormous mass of ignorance here. Should we be truly surprised that Heaven's Gate leaders hoodwink their followers? Now catch this statement. The leap from biblical beliefs to the absurdities of this particular cult is a very small one.
Well, is that true? Is there not a great difference between Marshall Applewhite and people saying, why should I follow you? And he says, well, you should follow me because I say you should follow me and the testimony of Scripture. Well, one of the things that I hope to do in this series of messages is to prove to you that the gap between a Marshall Applewhite and the testimony of Scripture is not only huge, but it is unbridgeable.
Certainly there are some similarities in the sense that we also believe in demons and in a spirit world, but that's where the similarities end. The question is whether somebody like Marshall Applewhite should be believed or whether the testimony of Scripture should be believed. And may I say to you that in this series of messages we are going to bring many different people to the witness stand. We are going to bring history to the witness stand, prophecy, science.
Jesus Christ will be brought to the witness stand. And we shall see that far from basing our faith on something like Marshall Applewhite, far from that, our faith in the Scripture actually helps us to interpret the stupidities of the Heaven's Gate cult. Our interpretation of Scripture will help us to understand the world and our part in it.
It will shed light on science and history and the purposes of God in the world. And so I unashamedly and unapologetically begin today by talking about what the Bible has to say about itself. And we shall talk about what the Bible has to say about itself. We will see whether or not it has a consistent storyline and then we shall see the implications of what I have just described.
Earth-shattering, life-changing implications. And so if you have your Bibles, let's begin today by turning to 2 Timothy, 2 Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16. 2 Timothy 3, 16.
We read these very familiar words. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. The phrase I want us to look at is all Scripture is inspired by God.
Now when Paul wrote this, he was thinking primarily of the Old Testament. Sometimes when we use that word, inspired, we might misunderstand what the Bible is actually saying. You might get the impression that God enabled men to write the Scriptures and then after they wrote what they did, he came along and he inspired them and somehow gave these Scriptures life.
That's the way we sometimes use the word inspire. But in Greek, and the New Testament was written in Greek and when we speak about the inspiration of the Bible, we're talking about the original Greek manuscripts, but in Greek the word is theopneusta, which means God breathed. God breathed. It means that God did not just inspire, but God exhaled. He breathed out and the result was the Scriptures.
Now you think about this a little bit. The same God who created the universe and spoke the word and the worlds were created is the same God who spoke and the Bible, the books of the Bible came into being. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made and the host of them by the breath of his mouth, Psalm 33 verse 6.
There is the Hebrew expression in the Old Testament found here in the text in Greek. God breathed out. He spoke and we have the Scriptures. Now of course the Bible was written by men. We know that.
In the last message it's very important that you get it if you are not here to see it in context. We talked about the vocabulary, the limitations of languages, the human aspects of the Bible, but because he inspired men and holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit, we can say that the Scriptures originated with God. They originated with God.
They are his breath. They are the words of his mouth. For man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Now what I want you to do is to keep your finger in the Scriptures in 2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 16 while you listen to me take a tour of some Old Testament texts because what I would like to do is to show you how often the Bible claims to be the Word of God and the implications will become clear in a moment. Listen to these words from Exodus. Then the Lord said to Moses, see I made you as God to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.
You shall speak all that I command you. Now listen to these words from the book of Deuteronomy. These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness and it came about on the 40th year on the first day of the 11th month that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the Lord had commanded him to give them.
Notice in Deuteronomy again we read he humbled you and let you be hungry and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know that he might make you to understand that man does not live by bread alone but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God. A verse that I quoted just a moment ago. Listen to Isaiah the prophet. Listen O heavens and hear O earth for the Lord speaks. Verse 10 of the first chapter. Hear the word of the Lord you rulers of Sodom.
Give ear to the instruction of our God you people of Gomorrah. And then one of my favorite Old Testament prophets Jeremiah. Notice what he says in chapter 1.
Just listen carefully. These are the words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Ammon king of Judah in the 30th year of his reign. Verse 4 now the word of the Lord came to me saying verse 9 then the Lord stretched out his hand and touched my mouth and the Lord said to me behold I have put my words in your mouth. Verse 11 and the word of the Lord came to me saying what do you see Jeremiah. Verse 13 the word of the Lord came to me a second time saying what do you see. Verse 14 then the Lord said to me out of the north evil will break forth but it is the Lord who said it six times. In Jeremiah chapter 1 alone he says these are the words of the Lord.
I don't know how many times he keeps repeating that throughout the many chapters of his book. Read some of the minor prophets, minor not because they're off key. You know it is true that many people don't know the scriptures very well so some may think that minor prophets are those that you don't like to have an acquire.
The minor prophets are minor because they are shorter, they're shorter. The word of the Lord came to Amos saying and the Lord came to Hosea saying over and over again and what about in the New Testament. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 13 and for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you receive from us the word of God's message you accepted it not as the word of men but for what it really is the word of God which also performs its work in you who believe. Now I know I've been going through a lot of passages of scripture but I want us to just pause for a moment and just let this sink in.
The Apostle Paul would be mad, he would be insane to write something like this unless of course he was writing the very words of God. And what shall we say of Peter who says this in his book, since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart. For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but through the living and abiding word of God. All flesh is like the grass and its glory is like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off but the word of the Lord abides forever and this is the word which was preached to you. Could that be any clearer? You say well Pastor Lutzer, what if we were to go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and look at all the passages that claim that the Bible is the word of God? Well I want you to know that we could do that sometime but I would like you to bring your lunch and a sleeping bag and plan for a long, long time because those who have done it tell us that there are about 1,500 references in the Bible that claim that it is the word of God either directly or indirectly claiming that these writings are the word from God.
Now the implications as I mentioned are going to become clear in a few moments but before we get to them let me simply say what about the Bible, what about its storyline? Is it consistent? You know in a court of law consistency is always important. There are other tests for truth other than consistency but one thing is sure you cannot have the truth if it is inconsistent.
That is impossible. Logic demands consistency. Not even God can make two plus two equal to five. Consistency is the law of logic and in the beginning there was the logos and the logos was with God and the logos was God. The logic of God is Jesus Christ. There can be no inconsistencies. If you become a Christian nobody will ever ask you to believe a contradiction because that is absurdity. It has never been done by sane people. Does the Bible have a coherent story as its witness to itself?
The answer of course is yes. The unity of the Bible is incredible when you stop to think of it. You realize that it evolved over a period of fifteen centuries.
It was written in three different languages. You'll notice that during those fifteen centuries empires fell and other empires arose. You have during those centuries the rise of philosophy such as among the Greeks you have Plato and Aristotle.
You have other Greek philosophers and then after the time of Jesus Christ of course you have what is known as Neoplatonism which was around during the New Testament era. All of these changes are going on in the world and the books are being written and the books are being collected. The Bible was written by forty different authors with a variety of occupations kings, fishermen, tax collectors, prophets, even a physician. Because when you hold the Bible in your hands you know of course that you are not holding a book only you are holding a library of sixty-six different books. And these books were written under different circumstances in different parts of the world. Some were written in Asia, Africa, Europe, Moses on Mount Sinai.
Daniel was written in Babylon and of course there's no way to even enumerate all the different cities from which the New Testament books for example were written. Despite all of these differences you have in the Scriptures an incredible interweaving of truth. So that from beginning to end you have a consistent storyline.
All right my friend I have a question for you today. It is simply this. Why do we have sixty-six books in the Bible when some Bibles have more books in them? We call those books the Apocrypha.
Would you like to have that simply explained so that you can explain it to others? For a gift of any amount we're making a book available entitled Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. This book deals with those kinds of issues and for a gift of any amount this resource can be yours.
Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you that contact info again but I want to emphasize that we here at Running to Win are totally committed to the accuracy of Scripture.
We believe it but we also believe it is important for us to give a reason for the hope that is within us and I believe that this resource will help you do just that. Go to rtwoffer.com. Of course, rtwoffer is all one word.
rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And thanks in advance for helping us. You've heard me say it before that Running to Win is in twenty different countries in four different languages because of people just like you partners to this ministry. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question is in fact about the Bible, about where the Bible came from. Via email, Tim asks, I know you believe that the original words of the Bible are inspired, but where is God's Word today? There are no originals, only copies of copies of copies. Where do I, as an English language only person, go to read the original words?
Well Tim, I want to thank you for your email because obviously you're doing some thinking. And basically your questions got it right. Yes, there are no original copies, but yes, some of us believe that the Bible indeed is inspired in the original copies. So the question is how do we know that we have an inspired text?
Well, you're also right in saying we have copies of copies and these copies are reliable. You have to understand that we have scholars who work on all these details. They have many different manuscripts at their disposal. They collate them, that is to say they put them together, and in doing this they can figure out what the original was. Most scholars say that they can get to 99.5 or maybe even 99.9 percent accuracy.
And you know that little percentage that they perhaps don't get right? Those things really don't affect any articles of doctrine. I could give you some examples of that. So your last question is where do I as an English reader go? You buy a good Bible and you read it. For example, in my preaching now I'm using the ESV. That's the English Standard Version. It's more of a literal translation, more direct. And of course there's the NIV, which is a very popular Bible that speaks in much more contemporary language.
Perhaps not as literal. But at any rate, get a couple of good translations of the Bible, read them, and you can say with confidence that you are reading the Word of God. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to have your question answered on this broadcast, go to our website at rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer, all one word, dot com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or you can 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. Next time, the Bible again takes the witness stand and will hear its claims as being the inspired Word of God. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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