Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. As a guidebook for the race of life, we must either take the Bible as it is or reject it outright.
Picking only the good parts won't do. To find out why this is so and how this book can be the light to guide your pathway, please 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 isn't it enough to just see the Bible as great literature? Well Dave, to put it simply, if the Bible is simply good literature, it is good literature filled with lies. Because the Bible claims to be the Word of God. And if it isn't, it is fraudulent.
That's putting it very simply. We must recognize that the Bible comes to us as a whole piece of cloth. Imagine this, imagine a book on medicine written by 40 different authors over a period of centuries and they all agree. And yet the Bible speaks about all of the themes of redemption and God throughout all of the history of the prophets and the New Testament writers, and they agree. It is a remarkable book from God. 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.
Simply go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. We believe very deeply that the Bible is the Word of God and that's why we preach it here at the Moody Church. Word of God is like a lamp shining, shining in a dark place to which you do well to pay attention.
Notice that folks, finger on the text. You do well to pay attention to what the Word of God says as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. And when he thinks of the dawning of the day, he thinks of the return of Jesus Christ. And before Jesus Christ comes within our hearts, there is the morning star.
We usually think of it as Jupiter or Mars or Saturn. The morning star that heralds the coming of the sun. And in the very same way, within our hearts there is this desire when you see all these things coming to pass, the Scripture says, know that your redemption draws nigh. And so we look forward, we look to the future. We look to the future, the return of Jesus Christ. And once the sun comes up, we don't need the lantern anymore.
You don't need the lantern. And when Jesus Christ comes, though the Word of God is forever settled in heaven, the fact is that we will not need those promises of forgiveness. We will not need those promises of guidance. God's Word is settled forever in the sense that his promises are eternal and sure, but we will not be looking at the book because then we will know even as we are known. And God is going to show us Christ, show us Christ, and will not have the need that we do today, the same need for the Scriptures. And so that's the word that we have today. We mean when we say the Bible is the inspired Word of God, it is a sure word, completely dependable.
We also mean that it is a shining word. It sheds light in areas that we could never possibly discover. For example, could you by being a scientist discover that God actually exists as a Trinity?
Absolutely not. Even if you believed as a scientist that God existed, you could never deduce the Trinity. And as I already mentioned, you would not know whether God was loving towards us, whether he was loving or whether he was hateful, because there's enough in nature to make us think both. We couldn't figure it out.
Couldn't figure it out. Word of God shines, gives light. Thirdly, it is a spirit given word. Now notice this, but know first of all that no prophecy of the Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation.
That doesn't mean by the way that we can't have individual Bible study. Some people have interpreted it that way. What it means is it's not talking about interpretation as we speak of it.
It means the origin of Scripture. It didn't come to these men privately. It's not as if they were the ones who were interpreting what was being said and it was subject to their own error. No, he explains what he means by verse 20. For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. Now what we need to do is to look at this verse very, very carefully because it shows us the two authors, the dual authorship of the Bible. You'll notice that the Bible originated and we're talking here about the Old Testament Scriptures.
Peter would have had that in mind primarily, but you'll notice that it did not originate with man. This was not somebody having an experience that he wants to write a book about. It isn't as if he says, I'm going to go fasting for 40 days and finally have some experience of enlightenment that I can show others the way.
It's not that. It is a book. It is writings that originated from God. They originated from God. And holy men of God spake as they were moved. The Greek word is carried along. It's like a log being carried along by a river. It's just moved along by the Holy Spirit.
But we need to look at this carefully. Let me talk briefly about the human authorship of the Bible. The Bible is, after all, a human book. It's a human book.
That's the human side. Some of the Bible was dictated directly. When God said to Moses, thou shalt have no other gods before me, that was not written in the style of Moses.
That was in his writing style. Those were the very words of God. When Jeremiah stood up to speak and the Lord said to him, son of man, hear the word of the Lord.
I have set thee as a watchman over the nations. That was verbatim the word of God. But then there are other passages of scripture where God gave man the ideas and allowed him to write these ideas according to his own style. Paul, for example, he reasons, he argues, he tells us about how disappointed he is in a certain situation. He needs to send Timothy a letter and says, you know, be sure to bring my manuscripts and my coat because things are bad here in prison. And Paul's own education, his own approach to how the scriptures would be written, those are his.
Those are his. Would you be shocked if I were to tell you that the Gospel of Mark has some Greek in it that is so rough that it actually contains, Greek scholars tell us, it actually contains what could be called grammatical errors, grammatical errors. Would you be surprised at that? You say, well, if it's a grammatical error, then the Bible isn't reliable. No, listen, you folks know that it's possible to make a grammatical error and still be perfectly clear in what you intend to say. In fact, I know some people who do it all the time.
I know what they're saying. After all, what is a grammatical error anyway? It's just a deviation from standard usage, you know. There's nothing absolutely correct about the way in which we use grammar.
We just like to use it the way most people should use it, that's all. And if someone makes an exception, that doesn't mean that he does not communicate correctly. Now, you'll notice that that's the kind of latitude that God sometimes gave his writers. Now, notice that there were those words that were directly dictated. There were those words where a writer was given his own ideas and was free to use his own style. And then beyond that, the Scriptures even have investigation. Some people did research before they did their writing.
Luke says in chapter 1 verse 3, he says, you know, there are many people who have written accounts about Jesus Christ, and I decided to write one in order, having completely investigated all of these events. That's the human side of the Bible. Now, you can understand what happens when you go to university. You students who are studying religion in the different colleges in the Chicago area.
You know exactly what I'm going to say now. Scholars take the Bible and they see this humanness, and therefore they assume that the Bible is purely human. It is just a human book, nothing more. They come to all the miracles, they come to the statements of Jesus Christ, and they find ingenious ways to discount those statements as so that they can get on with the business of believing that Jesus was nothing more than a mere man and the Bible is a mere human book.
That's why when you study religion in universities, I've done it, I know what I'm talking about. What you find is the Bible is viewed purely as a human book. Now, the fact is that there have been those in the past who sometimes held to a theory of inspiration that says all of the Bible was dictated.
It has no human elements in it at all. It was all dictated by God word for word. Well, that's not right either, because as I've already mentioned, you can see the different styles, the different approaches. The fact is, folks, that the Bible is both human and divine. Both human and divine.
It has dual, dual authorship. Let me give you an excellent biblical illustration. Christ. Was Christ human or divine?
Well, you look at some of the texts. Jesus, being weary with his journey, sat thus on the well, the scripture says. Tired, God? Tired? Yeah. The God-man?
Tired, yeah. Jesus said in the Gospel of John, it is recorded, now is my soul troubled and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour, yet for this cause came I on to this hour. You say, wow, this was God? Now is my soul troubled? Well, the answer is, of course, he was 100% man.
100% man. But he was also 100% God with also a divine nature. Divine nature. That's why he could say before Abraham was, I am. He was both. People often say, well, might it be possible for Jesus to have sinned in his humanity? Because he was man.
I get asked that question quite often. And the answer is no, because it was not possible for him to sin as man without implicating deity. The divine nature would have had to be involved in that.
You can't just separate the two. Well, the people look at the Bible and they say, well, you know, the Bible is a human book. Might it have some errors in it just from its humanness? And the answer is no, because although it was written by human beings, it is also inspired, as we shall see in another message, God breathed. God breathed. And it is impossible that the word of God, the breath of God would be in error.
You see that similarity? In fact, there are many similarities between Jesus Christ and the scriptures. The word of God and the incarnate word, both are eternal. John 1 1, in the beginning was the word.
That's a reference to Christ. The word was with God. The word was God.
What about the scriptures? Psalm 119 verse 89, forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Both are conceived of the Holy Spirit. The angel said to Mary, that which is conceived in you shall be of the Holy Spirit.
What does the text say right here? Holy men of God is spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Both of them have authority. It says in Mark 1 22 regarding Christ, he's spake as one having authority. You look at the Old Testament, Isaiah chapter one, hear O Israel and give ear O earth for the Lord has spoken.
You talk about authority and both of them are human and divine. And we can't allow the divinity to negate the human and we cannot allow the human to negate the divine. Someone said this about the Bible and it could be also said of Christ.
A lovely poem, I don't know who wrote it, but I memorized it many years ago. Deep strike thy roots O heavenly vine into our earthly sod, most human yet most divine, the flower of man and God. When you open your Bible, this book is the flower of man and God. It is a spirit directed word, a spirit revealed word.
Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. That's what you have in your hands, a book from God. Now God is in the writing business and many people don't read what he writes. Isn't that awful?
God has become an author and even though we have translations in English more than we can possibly count or enumerate, many people do not read God's letter. Can you imagine the insult? Imagine the insult. You know it's one thing for me to write a book and to discover that no one in my family has read it.
That happens all the time. My kids brag about the fact I've never read any of dad's books. I can take it.
I can take it. God writes a book. God moves upon authors that they might write accurately his will for men and the Bible remains closed. How do you think God feels? How do you think God feels?
He writes a love letter. People don't read it. A couple of conclusions. First of all, the Bible obviously is a book of answers. It is not a book of questions.
Isn't that nice to know that? We've got a lot of books that raise a lot of questions. The Bible is a book of answers. Do you want to know how you can be at peace with God?
Do you want to know how you can have a relationship with him? Do you want to know where you're going to spend eternity and what kinds of eternity there really is? Do you want to know whether or not God really loves the world?
Do you want to know whether the world is controlled by God or the devil or both or how they interact? All of that is in this book. It can be found nowhere else.
Nowhere else. Secondly, the Bible speaks to us today. It speaks to us. Some of you say, oh, I wish that my way were blessed. I wish that my paths were honored of the Lord. Well, what does it say in Psalm 1? His delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night and he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth his fruit in his season.
His leap also shall not wither whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Now there's a promise for you if your delight is in the law of the Lord. Delight in the law of the Lord. The scripture says man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Imagine that statement for inspiration of scriptures because you see inspiration means that God so superintended the human authors that without destroying their individuality they recorded accurately that which he would have them right and so much so that Christ could say we should live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Then he's quoting the book of Deuteronomy. Quoting Deuteronomy. You say, well, I have no appetite for the book. None.
Don't see its relevance. I just listened to a preacher recently say my people aren't interested in the Bible. They don't care what the Bible has to say and that's why you shouldn't preach the Bible, he said. You have to preach what they are interested in. Well, he may be true but he's not persuaded me to change what I'm going to preach because this is the word of God. You don't have an appetite.
You know why? My mother used to always tell me, you know, don't eat before a meal. Don't eat before a meal.
Don't eat all those sweets because it'll spoil your appetite. Here are people who are hung up on their computers and their television sets and this great idea and that great idea and therefore all of the appetite for things that are pure and good and lovely and wholesome is squelched. I hope that during this series of messages that one of the things that God would do is to enliven our appetite for the book so that we can't really go through a day without it, that the more we're in it and the more we learn it, the more it grows on us until we say, oh God, I can't live apart from the word.
Some of you may not be interested in the Bible for another reason. You have not yet been born of the Spirit, the same Spirit that inscripturated the word of God then moved the authors that carried them along, is the same word and the same Spirit by which we are born again. It says in the book of James, of his own will he begat us through the word of truth. And Peter talks about being born again of the Spirit, the word of God and the Spirit of God coming together to do a miracle of God in the hearts of those who are open, who are being wooed by his love, wooed by his love. And so that is his word to you today. See, I can't look you in the eye and tell you that you have to be born again. By what authority?
By what authority? But I can because these are not the words of a man. This is not what I've made up. This is not what Christians have made up. This is the word of God, the word of God. And if you are disposed to worship the God of the word, would you bow with me now in prayer? Our Father, we want to thank you today for your faithfulness, thank you for your love, and thank you, Father, greatly for the fact that you have not left us without a witness. We ask you, Lord, to give us a love for this book.
We pray that Moody Church might be known as the Church of the Book. We pray for those who may not know Christ as Savior today, that they would come to saving faith, that they would believe in him even where they are seated, to say, Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner, I need your forgiveness, and I need your salvation, I need to be born again of the word. Grant them that today, Father. Now before I close this prayer, what is it that you need to say to the Lord today?
You just talk to him. Father, do not let us go until you have blessed us, do not let us go until you have done in our hearts all that you would desire. Continue the work this afternoon, this evening, all next week that you've begun today. In Jesus' name, amen, amen. My friend today, I'm so thankful for the word of God. I'm glad that we have a sure word from outside the universe, namely from God himself, that can give us guidance and direction. I'm reading a letter from someone who wrote, I'm so thankful for your program which leads me in my faith and spiritual life. Recently I was listening to the podcast and prayed with Pastor Lutzer. I was freed from a long-term sin. I'm grateful for running to win and its head-on approach dealing with sin. You're unafraid of the struggles we face, so you preach the truth. I have to say that a comment like that certainly is encouraging to all of us, but you have a part in all the lives that we touch. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. You need more info, go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com and when you're there click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Every blessing that is received as a result of running to win is shared by all those who participate. We want to thank you in advance for helping us. Simply go to RTWOffer.com, click on the endurance partner button, or as I mentioned pick up the phone call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Together we're making a difference. 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, the first reason why you can trust the Bible, the claims it makes for itself. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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