The Bible: DIFFERENT
Week 1 Oct 26-Nov 1
WHATS THE POINT?
Everyone listening should understand that the Bible is historically accurate, has purpose and speaks truth. The Bible tells us the big story of God’s love for us in Jesus, through stories, poetry, biographies, letters and more.
WORD UPJohn 5:31-40
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favour, and I know that his testimony about me is true. 33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. 36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study[c] the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
“Now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant.”
2 Samuel 7:28
“Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.””
WAKE UP (see video)
The bible isn’t one book, it’s very different from other holy books in the regards that most holy books were given to one person and written by one person and that person handed it out to everyone else. The Bible is not like that at all. In fact the Bible is actually 66 books written over a period of 1500 years in three languages on three continents. It’s written by all kinds of authors. Some were kings, some were paupers, some were poets, some were warriors. It was written in all kinds of contexts, in times of war, and in times of peace. And it is all centred around this one theme that there is a God who loves humanity and is willing to do anything to save us.
To put it in context for you, imagine you have five friends and you give them all a sheet of paper. You pick some sort of controversial topic, and send each friend into a different room for one hour and have them write all of their opinions and views on that subject. After an hour you collect everyone’s paper and compare them. How many of you think that there would be unity in thought and opinions? Probably not. There will likely be controversy, probably some disagreement. And that’s from five people who live in the same cultural context in the same period of time.
And so there is this remark-ability about the Bible that even though it’s written over 1500 years and by so many different people, different cultures, different economical positions, every single author had a unified understanding of who God is and what his story is about. That’s to only virtually impossible, but absolutely incredible!
Fun Fact: The bible has been the best selling book for over 200 years. Why 200 years, because that’s when the printing press was invented. As soon as we could print something, the Bible was the best selling book. It’s been translated into 6000 different languages!!
In 303 AD, there was an emperor named Diocletian who hated Christians because they were a threat to his empire. So he set out to burn any Holy Bibles he could find, any holy text, any Biblical related piece of writing he could find, he burned. The irony in this is that just 50 years after his death, Bibles were being printed and distributed at the government’s expense.
The Bible is incredibly durable! There have been movements to stamp it out, crush it out, wipe it out and yet it remains. It remains loved by so many people and has transformed so many lives.
You can’t just dismiss it as just a book, in fact living in Canada, the Bible has shaped the way you think. You may not like it, you may disagree with it but you can’t dismiss it simply just as a book.
WHY DO I CARE?
If the Bible is accurate, it should matter to me.
Knowing what the Bible is simply won’t help you if somebody comes at you with accusations that it’s made up, or false or a book of myths. If you are someone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus, it is really important that you have asked the question: Is the book reliable?
There are a couple myths that have floated around ever since people started reading and clinging to the Bible.
One of which, is simply that it was Jesus’ disciples that wanted to start their own religion. So they gathered a new group of rules, stories, and ideas and they borrow it from the Greeks and Romans and they compiled it to form a new religion.
Another is that the copy of the Bible that we have today…is actually not the same as the original manuscript. Because it was written so long ago that the words and the meanings in the books don’t actually read like they are supposed too. THINK OF THE GAME TELEPHONE. First person hears “Pink elephants skip on purple ropes” and by the time it gets to the last person it sounds something like, “I really love the pope.” And the myth is that this is what has happened to the Bible.
But here is the thing: When we want to ask questions of truth, reliability, mistakes…. We have to go to the facts. And for today’s talk, we are going to look at two very obvious ways that point to the proof that the Bible you have in your hand today, is accurate, true, and reliable. We have to THINK DIFFERENT.
The First is Translation
Often we can bring our own story and put it on other people.
One way is how we think others would do something because that’s how we would do it. If I asked you, “How do you think ancient Jewish scribes wrote their manuscripts?” Would you have an answer?
See Jews were very careful translating the Bible. There would always be two scribes looking over the writer’s shoulder and if he even made a spelling error – even a single Hebrew letter – they would correct the mistake and then all three would have to initial the correction or the manuscript would be thrown out. So the chances of a mistake in one of the original manuscripts is slim to none. The scribes who wrote both the Old and the New Testaments had a deep passion for preserving the purity and accuracy of all their authoritative texts, making sure they were never altered. Even Jews today, retain deep respect for the scriptures.
The second is “The Number of Manuscripts available.”
When trying to decide if an ancient document can be trusted, scholars compare and contrast all the manuscripts available to check if there are mistakes, possible contradictions, or inconsistencies. So for scholars, the more manuscripts, closer to when the original was written, the better.
CHEERIO/COFFEE BEAN ANALOGY
Watch this video:
Take Thucydides for example. He lived 400 years before Jesus and wrote extensively about Greco-Roman culture. Most scholars trust that what he wrote was accurate. We have in existence EIGHT copies of his writings, with the earliest transcribed 1300 years after the events of which he wrote.
EIGHT CHEERIOS IN CUP
There are 5 copies of Aristotle’s Poetics dated 1400 years after the originals.
FIVE CHEERIOS IN CUP
Caesar’s Gallic Wars, we have 10 copies after a 900 year gap from the original.
10 CHEERIOS IN CUP
Looking simply at the New Testament, it was first written in the first century AD, and the earliest manuscript copy we have is within 50 years of that time. How many copies do we have?… There are about 6000 Greek New Testament manuscripts.
POUR FIRST BAG
But that’s just the greek manuscripts. When we count other languages like Latin, Coptic and Armenian…there is another 20,000 manuscripts!!
POUR SECOND BAG
Critics and skeptics rarely argue that we have the original message of these (point to other cups) writings… but frequently attack the Bible on this point. But when we look at the evidence before us… their arguments really don’t amount to anything.
The New Testament has the greatest number of manuscripts by far of any writing of its kind from the ancient world.
Just think about that. We hold in our hands God’s word, which is true and HISTORICALLY TRUE.
What does it mean for me and for you?
I want to say this gently, but I also want to say this strongly… the point of the Bible is not about you. So often we wrap our own story into scripture that we start to distort God, what he says, who he is, and we are.
The Bible is not about what we can do so God will love us and save us. It’s about what Jesus has done. You and I are not brave like David or Esther or Samson – So God had to be brave for us. That’s why Jesus came. God doesn’t save you and use you because of you, but he does it in spite of you. And that’s the most freeing news of all! The Bible is not about following every law perfectly so that we are saved.
I love Augustine’s, one of the early church father’s quote about the bible, he said:
The bible is “the face of God for us for now.”
Meaning, the purpose of the Bible is to show us God, his love, his character. It’s not simply 66 books that are kind of linked… it is one big story where God makes himself know to the human race, and this reveals himself in the person of Jesus… and then leaves us with the Holy Spirit to help understand and read this book so that it comes ALIVE in our lives.
Are you hurting? God will speak to you through the Bible.
Are you joyful? God will speak to you through the Bible.
Got questions about life, death and the human condition? God will speak to you through the Bible.
The more you engulf the book, not simply just for reading’s sake… but reading to know the main author’s heart… it will change you and it will change those around you.
Next week we are going to be talking about how we put this into practise. How do we actually read our Bibles well? And we will be hearing from a couple of our youth and leaders about their own story reading the Bible and how it impacts their lives!
WHAT DO I DO?
- Wrestle with what has been said today. If the Bible is actually historically accurate, true and reliable, how does that make a difference in your life?
- Start reading it if you haven’t done so already.
- Read some books or watch some videos that will help you understand the Bible better:The Problem of God – Mark Clark
Everyday apologetics – Paul Chamberlain and Chris Price
The Bible Project – Bible Series on YouTube