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The Word of the Apostles as the Foundation of Movement, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
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April 16, 2024 9:00 am

The Word of the Apostles as the Foundation of Movement, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 16, 2024 9:00 am

Is the Bible really the Word of God? The apostles and the first-century believers certainly staked their lives on it! That’s our subject Tuesday on Summit Life as Pastor J.D. Greear continues our study in the book of Acts. Discover the validity of the Bible today when you tune in Tuesday to Summit Life with J.D. Greear!

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Thanks for joining us today here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer, pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today we're looking at the Book of Acts once again and learning why the apostles believed that the scriptures carried the full authority of God. In fact, they staked their lives on it, and that type of confidence should give us the same assurance today. It's part of our teaching series called Sent, and as always, you can catch up on previous messages at JDCreer.com. Today's message is part two of a message titled The Word of the Apostles as the Foundation of the Movement.

So let's rejoin Pastor J.D. in Acts chapter one. Why should we trust what the apostles recorded? Why should we think of that as authority from God?

Why should we interpret lordship of Jesus? Why should we interpret that as adherence to what the apostles taught and wrote down? Well, today I want to try to show you why we believe the Bible is the Word of God and why it was the teaching of the apostles that was the foundation of the movement.

So here's what I want to do. I want to show you four things about this passage that support that. Number one, I'm going to show you how the apostles saw Old Testament scriptures. Number two, I'm going to show you the authority that the apostles assumed for writing new scriptures, which is going to be the New Testament.

Number three, I'm going to show you the resolution to an apparent contradiction. And then number four, I'm going to give you a reason for skeptics to consider the apostles' bold claims to authority. So number one, how the apostles saw Old Testament scripture. I'm going to give you two things, two ways they saw Old Testament scripture you can see in this passage. Letter A, they saw them as authenticated prophecies about Jesus.

Bible scholars tell us there are close to, we're not close to exactly, 322 direct prophecies that describe for us the character and the nature of the Messiah, details specifically about his life, his birth, his ministry, his death, his resurrection, and the fulfillment of these prophecies helped prove to them that Jesus really was from God. They were like a divine signature that could not be forged. So it was authenticated prophecies about Jesus.

Here's the second thing, letter B, as words from the Holy Spirit. They saw the Old Testament as words from the Holy Spirit. Because the apostles saw the Bible as divine, their opinions about things ceased to matter. They quit speculating about their opinions and they started to say, what does the Holy Spirit say?

And because they saw the Bible as divine, they devoted themselves to it. Look, it's either from God or it's not. If it's not from God, then choose your own way. If it is from God, then you better surrender to what he says, right? If it's the word of God, you devote yourself to it. I'm trying to show you that at the very beginning of Acts, the apostles have taken on the responsibility because of the promise of Jesus to speak and write authoritatively on Jesus. And from that point on, whenever they speak or write about Jesus under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, what they write is considered to be the words of the Holy Spirit, the very words of God, which is why we trust this book.

And it's why we build everything we do on it because of the promise of Jesus. Number three. Number three, the resolution of an apparent contradiction. Whenever people say the Bible contradicts itself, my response is always, okay, why don't you show me an example. And there's this awkward silence where they're like, well, I can't really think of one right now, but I know there's a lot of them.

And I'm like, well, just pick one. Here's the supposed contradiction. Matthew 27 says that Judas died by hanging himself. But in Acts 1, it says that he died by falling off a cliff and having his bowels burst out.

Okay? Matthew 27 says that the money that Judas earned for betraying Jesus, he threw back into the temple in disgust, and the Jewish authorities used it to buy a field. But when Peter retells the story in Acts 1, he says that Judas bought the field with the thirty pieces of silver.

So which is it? Did he die by hanging, or did he fall down and have his bowels burst out? And did he give the money back, or did he go buy a field with it?

Right? So they both kind of happened. It's not a contradiction. It's just two different eyewitness accounts are the same thing. One guy saw Judas's body dangling from the branch, and he hung himself. Another guy found him after he'd done it. So they put the two together, and you got a fuller story than you do with one account.

Right? So it's not really a contradiction. It's just different. Whenever you have eyewitness accounts, you put them together, and you get a fuller story. That's what's happening here. Now, that is just one resolution to a supposed contradiction. Right? Don't be gullible. Don't be naive. Study it out for yourself.

Right? Number four, a reason for skeptics to consider the apostles' claims to authority. Look at what Peter claims there in Acts 1. Acts 1 21, 22, he says we've got to find somebody who was an eyewitness to the life, the ministry, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. In his intro to the book of Acts, Luke, remember Luke wrote Luke in Acts, so it's like a two-volume set, so the intro to the whole thing is in Luke, and Luke says this, Luke 1, inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning, the apostles, were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, that you may have certainty concerning the things that you've been taught. So in other words, Luke is saying, I'm writing a bunch of eyewitness accounts.

I'm going to record these eyewitness accounts for you. Before you consider the Bible as the word of God, consider it as a series of eyewitness accounts pointing to something supernatural that happened, namely the ministry, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and then evaluate whether these accounts are reliable and ought to be believed. Don't evaluate them as if, I'm telling you, you've got to assume they're the word of God. Forget they're the word of God for a minute, or forget I believe that, and just evaluate them on the face of their claims that they're eyewitness accounts.

Okay? So the most popular idea right now against that, because once you say they're eyewitnesses, it becomes really hard to kind of, you know, deny that what they saw was legit. I'll tell you why that's true in a minute, but the most popular theory against that right now is that the Gospels are a bunch of myths and legends.

The theory basically goes like this. That Jesus was a really nice guy. He had some cool religious thoughts. He was kind of a beatific hippie. You know, he kind of stuck up for the little guy, and he stuck it to the man, and he got this, you know, kind of movement going. And then after he died, his disciples, in order to beef up his authority, they started to, over the years, add these little claims, these legends grew up, so that they kind of added in the supernatural parts.

Like, let me give you a good example. One of my college professors told me this one. He said, well, see what happened is, like the feeding of the 5,000? He said, what probably really happened is when Jesus brings the little boy up, the five loaves and two fish, the little boy shares his lunch, Jesus shows everybody, hey, the little boy shared his lunch. And that makes all the adults feel bad, because they had the lunch hid in their back pocket, didn't want to share. So they saw what the little boy did, so they all pulled out their lunch, and they shared, and that's how the 5,000 got fed. He said that with a straight face. And I was like, oh, let me write that down, you know.

But that's the idea. And later, when they were telling the story, they were like, oh, he's God, and he like made, you know, he did that. All right, so let me tell you four reasons that the Gospels could not be myths or legends.

Four reasons, okay, jot these down. A lot of these come from a book called Reason for God, so you can check it out there, too. Number one, the timing of the writing is too early for Gospels, the Gospels to be a legend. The timing of the writing is too early for the Gospels to be a legend. The books of the Bible were written about 30 years after the death of Jesus, some as early as 20 years. The last one was written 60 years after Jesus' death.

That is just way too early for a myth or a legend to spring up. I found some interesting proof recently that the Bible, the New Testament was written within about 50 or 60 years of Jesus' death. You know how like sometimes you can tell what parts of the world certain things are coming from by which words are used? Like, for example, English. If you see something written in English and the word color is spelled C-O-L-O-U-R, what does that tell you? A Brit wrote it, that's right, because they have these crazy spellings that don't make any sense, like kalauer and Jesus Christ are saviauer and I'm going to go to the theatrical or where's the century. It's just like, yo, why would you spell it that way? So if you see it written that way, that tells you it was written somewhere in England, right?

Or you've got names, same name, but it's going to be written or pronounced differently, John, Johan, Juan, you know, same deal. You've got certain manners of expression show you what time period things are written in. So, for example, if you're reading something and it says, gee golly whiz, that's swell, it's like that probably wasn't spoken by Eminem in the 1990s, right?

That's going to come from, you know, Leave it to Bieber in the 1950s. And so what you find, watch this, what you find is when you study the New Testament, all the names and all the forms of expression are first century, early first century Palestinian, okay, from that part of the world. By contrast, all the spurious gospels, the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, all those ones that are what we call apocryphal gospels, they all use names and words and manners of expression that are dated much later from different parts of the world, right?

So the idea that these things, you know, were legend, it just doesn't hold up because they're all too, it's too early for gospels and legends. But you say, well, maybe, maybe the early Christians believed that Jesus was a good religious teacher, but maybe just over time as they were, that's when the divinity of Jesus got added in. No, listen, the very first accounts of the Christian movement, 1 Corinthians is one of the first books we know was written. The very first accounts, Paul in 1 Corinthians quotes a hymn, 1 Corinthians 15.

Now, you know, sometimes when I'm preaching, I'll quote a hymn that you all kind of know and kind of nod your head like, oh yeah, you know, Paul quotes a hymn because he knows everybody knows it. And the hymn is about the resurrection of Jesus, which means that they're already singing about the resurrection of Jesus in the earliest church gatherings. They celebrated communion. The earliest Christians celebrated communion. Why would you celebrate the murder of your leader if it hadn't been swallowed up in some kind of victory?

Right? I mean, if you're a fan of Martin Luther King, you're not like, oh, let's celebrate the day you got shot. No, you mourn that day. They celebrated communion because they believed in the resurrection.

In Philippians, Paul quotes another hymn where they celebrate the deity of Jesus Christ, which means the earliest Christians worship Jesus as God. This is Summit Life with J.D. Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit J.D.

Greer dot com. You know, following Jesus doesn't always seem easy. And if you're like me, you've run into a lot of questions along the way. All of us have.

But I've got good news. We've created a free resource that we've recently been telling you about that's available on demand. It's the Ask the Pastor podcast. Each episode is about 10 to 15 minutes long and features a question from listeners just like you about life, relationships, theology, the Bible and so much more, along with a wisdom filled answer from Pastor J.D. You can listen on your morning commute or during your afternoon workout or any time you want to hear honest questions and quick answers from a biblical perspective. To listen to the Ask the Pastor podcast, visit J.D. Greer dot com slash podcasts or search for it on your favorite podcasting app or find us on YouTube to watch along by subscribing to at J.D.

Greer. It's a great resource to share with others as well. Now let's get back to today's teaching here on Summit Life.

Once again, here's Pastor J.D. So here's your second reason. The content is far too counterproductive to be a legend. So it's written too early to be a legend. Number two, it's too counterproductive to be a legend.

Here's what I mean by that. There's a lot of stuff in there you just wouldn't make up if you were writing a legend to beef up your authority. If you were going to write a legend to beef up your authority, you wouldn't make up the stuff that's in there. For example, on nearly every page, the apostles are buffoons, right?

You're reading the Gospels and following them is like reading the Three Stooges episode. They're always getting stuff wrong. They're being mean to little kids.

Have you caught that story yet? Oh, the kids are annoying. Get them away. You know, they're arguing about who is the most awesome among them. If there were puppies in the New Testament, these guys would have been kicking them. That's just kind of how they're presented.

You're like, who are these guys? If you were writing a legend to get people to believe, is that the kind of thing you would just make up that all your leaders were class A idiots for three years? Or here's one of the very best ones. Matthew records that Peter, Peter, the head of the church now, Jesus called him one time, uncle Satan. Now, is that the kind of thing you're going to make up about your leader? I mean, if you're trying to get somebody to come to church here, are you going to be like, oh yeah, Jesus had a conversation with our pastor the other day and called him Satan. Right? I mean, I'm not tweeting that out if that happens.

You know, Jesus called me Satan, hashtag humbled by this. I'm not going to do that. You wouldn't say that unless it were true. Why would they record that if they were trying to beef up their authority?

Here's one more. All of the first resurrection accounts, all of them were women. In those days, listen, a woman's testimony was not accepted in a court of law.

Right? And again, that's offensive to you women. I understand that. But in those days, if you were trying to build a case and make stuff up to get people to believe you, why would you put women as the first ones to see Jesus resurrected from the dead? You would never do that unless it actually happened. So it's too counterproductive to be a legend. Number three, the literary form of the gospels is too detailed to be a legend. The literary form of the gospels is too detailed to be a legend.

This is one of my favorites. The idea is this. People think that maybe the apostles made up all these fictitious parables that had a true moral meaning, but they were just making up the stories and they were never intended to be taken literally. Here's the problem with that. The Bible's got all these random details included that don't have anything to do with the grand moral meaning. Every time we get to one of these in the Bible and I'm teaching, I always point it out. I say, why is he pointing that out? This is why. Mark 4.36 is a good example.

I love it. It's just so random. You never underline this in your Bible. It says that Jesus was teaching from a ship out from the shore, and there were a bunch of other little ships around him. Well, what's the point of the other little ships being around him?

There is no point to the other little ships being around him. It's just the guy's remembering it. He's like, oh yeah, there's like some ships there. I better write that down. He's just recalling it from memory.

My absolute favorite one I've pointed out to you is Mark 14. In the midst of a really serious reflection on the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark records a detail about one guy fleeing from the sea naked. Why is that detail in there? I'll tell you why, because no matter what story you're telling, if a guy runs through it naked, you put that in the story, right? If I go to J. Crew to buy some jeans and I come home and tell my wife, the guy run through the store naked, that's making it in, whether it's part of the plot of the story or not, right? The guy's like, oh yeah, we were doing this.

The guy ran away naked. Let me write that down. You say, well, maybe they made up these details so that they would sound historical. So in other words, they were lying.

Okay. Did they have good motives for lying? Did their lying get them out of trouble?

That's why I lie, to get myself out of trouble. Did their lying get them out of trouble? Uh-uh, it got them into trouble. Did their lying gain for them power and prestige? Did it gain for them a lot of money?

Not hardly. It caused them to lose everything. So what's the motive for their lying? That leads me to number four, the message was itself too costly to be a legend. The message was too costly to be a legend. The message that Jesus was Lord and had arisen from the dead didn't get the apostles any power or prestige. It cost them their lives. We know that from the very beginning, those preaching the gospel were a highly persecuted group. Church history tells us that all the apostles died in poverty, martyrs, deaths. James, he believed, listen to this, just let this sink in on you, he came to believe that his older brother was God.

How many of you have an older brother? Raise your hand. What would it take to convince you that he was God?

Is that an easy case to make? You're like, maybe Satan, maybe, you might convince me of that, but not God. James and all of his brothers in Acts 1 come to believe that Jesus is God.

Why? Because of the resurrection. That's why they came to believe it. They were willing to die to testify to it. To say that they just made up the stories about Jesus means, just think this out, it means that one day they're sitting around fishing, I guess, after Jesus has died, and Peter's like, man, I just stinks that Jesus died.

Yeah, it was awesome for a while. You know, they're reeling their fish in. Peter says, I know, I just had an idea. Let's say that he resurrected. Yeah, that's an awesome idea. Then we can be the leaders of this new religious movement. Oh, that's awesome.

Yes, resurrection. Okay, Peter says, okay, but let's tell people that Jesus's kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, we should give away all our money. Yeah, that's awesome. Let's give away all our money. And let's tell them that Jesus was, because his kingdom was not of this world, because he was a God of compassion, that when we're persecuted, we'll never fight back. Let's just go to our martyr's deaths joyfully and teach our friends and family to do the same thing.

Yeah, that's awesome. Let's go die. Does that really, I mean, is that, do you find that compelling? I just don't find that that compelling. There's no way that you're going to go to your death dying for something that you know to be alive, right?

If you're going to make a story up, that's not the kind of story you make up, the kind that loses you everything. Peter, who is the leader here of the church, would eventually be crucified upside down. That's the same Peter who denied Jesus three times in the space of one night. You think the Peter that betrayed the living Jesus is going to turn around and die for a dead one? I just don't think and find that's very compelling. So to the skeptic, those are four reasons for you to consider the claims by the apostles that they really are speaking on God's behalf.

You see, follow this. If the resurrection is true, then it makes sense to me that God would empower his apostles to record an accurate version of all that Jesus wanted us to know and to do, right? Because what's the point of him going to all the trouble to send Jesus to rescue us if we don't have an accurate copy of what he wanted us to know, right?

I mean, it's like me. Let's say I lived in LA and I wanted you to come visit me, and so I'd pay for your plane ticket, not 800 bucks for a plane ticket, but I don't tell you where I live in LA. So when you get off the airplane, you're like, I don't have any idea where he lives in LA. There's 19 million people here.

You're no closer to me in LA than you were in North Carolina in that thing, so I just wasted all my money. Why would God go to all the waste of sending Jesus to resurrect from the dead and then not authorize an account that would tell us accurately and authoritatively what he wanted us to know? So I believe the Bible for the same reason these first believers did. I believe it because I am convinced of the testimony that the apostles gave us is true. I'm convinced that Jesus really did resurrect from the dead. I'm convinced he really was on a rescue mission to save us, that he died not for his sin but for mine, that he really was God in the flesh, and he is to be worshiped by all peoples of all nations at all places at all times forevermore. That's why I believe the Bible is the word of God.

Now, let me flip it on you. That's why I believe the Bible is the word of God. Why do you believe it is not the word of God? Why do you believe it's not?

Be honest with yourself. Have you ever read it? It's amazing to me how many people tell me they don't believe the Bible and they've just never read it. They've just never read it.

Or maybe, how about this one? You don't like some of the claims that it makes about morality or about what God wants to do with your life, and so just kind of from the beginning you say, well, there's no way I could consider whether it's true because I won't let this right here be challenged. I won't let this view of morality be challenged.

I won't let this be touched. Let me ask you a question. I'm not trying to be snide or catty. Does that sound open-minded to you when you from the beginning say this couldn't be true because if it's true it's going to challenge this over here that I believe? That sounds to me like the definition of closed-mindedness. And I would say, if you're honest with yourself, that's probably more the reason why you don't believe. And not all of you, but I'd say it's probably a big reason for some of you. Frank Mead said it this way, men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself.

Men reject the Bible because it contradicts them. And maybe you should just be honest, see, because you'll never know the truth about God until you are willing to let God shatter all of your categories. And until you're willing to come to God and say, God, what I believe may be wrong, and you're God, and I'm not, and I'm just going to say that whatever I find to be the truth, I'm going to surrender what I believe to what you say is right. You see, I would say that there's a number of you that for the last several weeks God's been working on your heart, right? That's why you're here. You've seen, you've seen the power of the Bible go to work in one of your friends' lives.

And you're seeing it transform them. Maybe you should just start reading it. Maybe that's your act, just start reading it. Maybe read it with that person and say, could we get together once a week and just discuss what we're reading?

Maybe if you're the Christian friend, you ought to invite them to do that. You realize that more people have believed the Bible is the word of God in history than any other religious doctrine ever. It's at least worth you taking time to consider whether or not it is actually from God. This is why we devote ourselves to it. It's why we memorize it. It's why we obsess about it because we believe it is the very words of God. As Psalm 119 says, the word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Do you see it that way? If not, it's time to treat it that way. You're listening to Summit Life with pastor, author, and apologist J.D.

Greer. Pastor J.D., this month we're giving away your newest book to all of our faithful supporters. Tell us a little bit about Twelve Truths and a Lie, answers to life's biggest questions. Twelve Truths and a Lie are basically twelve answers to the biggest questions, most frequently asked questions I get as a pastor. The lie is that the presence of these kinds of questions and the presence of doubts means there's something defective about your faith or that you're a bad Christian. You know, some of the questions lean more of like, how do you answer the difficult question of a skeptic?

Some of them are more just practical. As an added bonus for the Summit Life audience, we got a chapter by chapter discussion guide that we will send to go along with the book. We've never provided that before, but we'll give it to you.

It should be really helpful and maybe studying with your small group or just being able to reference it when your teenager or your grandkid or your neighbor ask you one of these questions, being able to have a good answer. So request Twelve Truths and a Lie and the discussion guide. You can request that when you give to support the ministry of Summit Life at J.D. Greer dot com.

We'd be grateful to send you your copy of Twelve Truths and a Lie and the accompanying discussion guide as our way to say thank you when you give thirty five dollars or more to this ministry or when you join us as a monthly gospel partner to give now or join our gospel partner family. Call us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can head over to J.D.

Greer dot com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to listen tomorrow when Pastor J.D.

discusses the miracles in the message of Jesus. That's Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-16 12:17:24 / 2024-04-16 12:28:34 / 11

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