The Sanctity of Scripture
Text: 2 Tim 3:15,16; 1 Peter 1: 20,21
Proposition: The sacred nature of all that has been set aside from the secular and profane is best defined and described in the Scriptures.
Introduction: Professor John J. Mearsheimer and R. Wendell Harrison of the University of Chicago wrote a paper entitled "The Aims of Education at Chicago:' He writes: “I believe that this university has three main goals in educating its undergraduates. First, it aims to teach you to think critically. Second, the University seeks to broaden your intellectual horizons. And third, it tries to promote self-awareness in each of you. … “There is a powerful bias at the University of Chicago against providing you with the truth.. … to put the matter in slightly different terms, we expect you to figure out the truth, if there is one.” Last week we looked at the sanctity of truth, we looked at what truth is not, we recognized that truth doesn’t originate within us but comes from God to all mankind especially in the person of Jesus Christ. We talked about how truth was not just good to know but was crucial for your very life and soul. Contrary to what academia declares about truth being unknowable the Scripture has been given for the very purpose that truth would be evident. From the times of the Exodus, about 1500BC, when God used Moses write down for the first time the inspired words we call Scripture, people have looked to the Law, the Prophets and the Writings as the repository of absolute truth. There were 66 books that were eventually compiled into what we know as our modern day Bible. It took approximately 2000 years, three different languages, 40 different writers, shepherds, kings, scholars, fishermen, prophets, a military general, a cupbearer, and a priest penned the text. All this time, language and diversity and yet the theme of the Bible has a unity to it that is so tight that it points to the singular truth of God’s redemptive plan for mankind through His Son Jesus Christ. There is simply no other piece of literature like it on the earth but more importantly the divine inspiration of it which is the source of its unity makes it a library of truth. Last week we very briefly looked the other major religions, sects and cults of the world and to be sure almost all of them have their special writings and written teachings that are centuries old.
So the question then presents itself, how can I know that the Bible is the only written source of truth inspired by God? The answer comes down to one word, prophecy. The Bible makes predictions about the future that can be verified as perfectly accurate. Tim Burns, a guest writer for the Christian Broadcasting network, made this observation, “If the Bible predicted the future to the extent that it cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence, then the source of this book can only be an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God who chose to speak His word through individuals for His purposes and design”. Tim Burns goes on to say, “The writings from the Far East, the teachings of Confucius, Buddhism and Hinduism do not even make a claim to be God’s word. They present to their followers a path to a simpler, more satisfactory life. The Muslim Koran makes no claims to being words from Allah. Rather it is the writing of Mohammed, a religious leader, his record of history as well as his desire for the future.” Let’s look at 2 Pet 1:16-21.
I. The Eyewitness Accounts of Christ and His Claims Compel Us To Belief. The simple fisherman Simon Peter writes these words to us and yet what he saw and heard are his testimony and not some myth or fable. If you were to go to the beginning of this chapter you’d hear Peter say that it was because of the righteousness of Christ that they now are who they are in Christ. You’d hear him say that Jesus made great and precious promises to all who would believe in Him, that they would become partakers of the divine nature, the very character of God would have residence in them. Peter refers to when he and James and John saw Jesus glorified on the mount of Transfiguration, when they themselves heard the voice of the Father. This is eyewitness account of the claims and existence of Jesus Christ. But isn’t this just circular reasoning some might say, using the claims of the Bible to substantiate the Gospel? What then do you do with the testimonies of non Christian writers who were hostile to the existence and events and claims of Christ. From Thallus in 52AD to Phlegon in 140AD,: Pliny the Younger 110 AD; Lucian of Samosata 200 A.D who wrote, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account”. Cold case detective J. Warner Wallace in his book Cold Case Christianity sums up just the evidence of writers hostile to Jesus, “Jesus was born and lived in Palestine. He was born, supposedly, to a virgin and had an earthly father who was a carpenter. He was a teacher who taught that through repentance and belief, all followers would become brothers and sisters. He led the Jews away from their beliefs. He was a wise man who claimed to be God and the Messiah. He had unusual magical powers and performed miraculous deeds. He healed the lame. He accurately predicted the future. He was persecuted by the Jews for what He said, betrayed by Judah Iskarioto. He was beaten with rods, forced to drink vinegar and wear a crown of thorns. He was crucified on the eve of the Passover and this crucifixion occurred under the direction of Pontius Pilate, during the time of Tiberius. On the day of His crucifixion, the sky grew dark and there was an earthquake. Afterward, He was buried in a tomb and the tomb was later found to be empty. He appeared to His disciples resurrected from the grave and showed them His wounds. These disciples then told others Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven. Jesus’ disciples and followers upheld a high moral code. One of them was named Matthai. The disciples were also persecuted for their faith but were martyred without changing their claims. They met regularly to worship Jesus, even after His death.” Evidence, even hostile evidence demands a verdict of truth, Jesus lived and died, Jesus did what no other could, Jesus is.
II. The Prophetic Claims of the Bible Compel Us to Believe It’s Truth.
In verse 19 Peter says, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” To what extent are the prophecies of Scripture proved authentic? There are approximately 2500 prophecies in the Bible, about 2000 of them have already been fulfilled to the letter! Some examples would be
1. Daniel - Some time before 500 B.C. the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel's long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26). He further predicted that the Messiah would be "cut off," killed, and that this event would take place prior to a second destruction of Jerusalem.
2. Zechariah - In the fifth century B.C. a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave—thirty pieces of silver.
3. Shemaiah - He said that a future king of Judah, named Josiah, would take the bones of all the occultic priests (priests of the "high places") of Israel's King Jeroboam and burn them on Jeroboam's altar (1 Kings 13:2 and 2 Kings 23:15-18). This event occurred approximately 300 years after it was foretold.
The statistical evidence for the truth of Scripture is so great, 2000 prophecies fulfilled to the letter, the probability of that happening would be like 1 in 10 to the power of 138. Only God could have known the future so explicitly, only God could have inspired these men write and proclaim what they did with such accuracy and that is exactly Peter’s next point.
III. It Is the Inspiration of Scripture That Makes It Sacred and Full of Truth.
Look at this closing statement that Peter makes, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” That word , “moved” has the same connotation as a ship being moved by a wind. These prophets had no clear understanding of what they were saying other than that it was God was very definitely directing them to do. The message was beyond them but it was given to them to proclaim. Well how can we trust the ramblings of men who didn’t even know what they were saying? The answer is 2000, 2000 perfectly fulfilled prophecies that only God could have known. This makes the Bible more than an historical document, more than the ramblings of bunch of old Jewish men. If you will be truthful with yourself you will have to say that the writings of prophecy in the Bible are impossible for any single person to have ever written down. It is not a matter of my own interpretation, it didn’t come by the will of a man. It could only have come from outside of us, from God and though He chose certain people to write and say what they did, it was the Holy Spirit that moved them, that carried them along, inspiring the very words God wanted to communicate. This is what makes the Bible sacred, the Word of God.