Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
July 16, 2017
Living by the Book – VBS Sermon 2017
We had a great Vacation Bible School this year with many children and many workers, some even traveling from other states to be here to help out. We praise God for both, and especially that there were many children from homes of unsaved parents. While our VBS is a great time for kids from church to learn more and grow in Christ, our main purpose in this particular ministry is as a community outreach to be able to share the gospel with those who do know it. We are grateful that the Lord did bring such children.
We used the material from Answers in Genesis this year, and since several other churches in the area are also using it, we were able to take advantage of the wonderful artwork and backdrops created by Faith Bible Chapel in Millerton. They will go to Tabernacle Baptist Church next. We are also grateful for the $741.43 that was collected in our missions project to help with the costs related to our ministry to the Dominican Republic that will be taking place in a few weeks. Boxes of school supplies, clothing and toys are now on their way to the children’s center in which we will be ministering.
The theme for this year’s Vacation Bible School was “Operation Arctic – Exploring the Coolest Book on the Planet.” Each day was filled with lots of activities including games, crafts, snacks, science presentations, and most importantly, a Bible lesson geared to the grade level of each class. Each lesson taught either something about the Bible or the importance of what it communicates to man. This morning I want to go over some of the basic characteristics of the Bible and why we believe it and its message from God to us.
The Bible is Unique
The importance of understanding some basic characteristics of the Bible arises from the many attacks against it. The Bible has always been under attack by atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and other religions, but in our own time, it is increasingly under attack by those who claim to be Christians but who do not believe the Scriptures to be the Holy Spirit inspired inerrant, infallible word of God. These are people who profess to be in our camp that aide and abet our enemies. No doubt some of them are very sincere, but others are tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). They think the Bible is just a collection of ancient writings by religious men. They view the stories in it as historical fiction with mythical elements meant to influence simple people to follow their religion. Sincerity is nice, but it can also be very, very foolish as in this case.
The Bible is rightly called the “book of books” both in the sense that it is one book that contains 66 books in two major sections and in the sense that it is a unique book that surpasses all other books. It was written by about 40 authors writing in three different languages – Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek – over a period of about 1500 years starting with Genesis about 1400 B.C. and ending with Revelation at the end of the 1st century A.D., and yet it is unified. English teacher Robert Gunning pointed out this unique characteristic saying, “The English Bible is the only good writing job that I know of that was put together by a committee” (The Technique of Clear Writing, pp. 170-171). It is unified because it is the product of one author, the Holy Spirit, working through the pens of many men. 2 Peter 1:20-21 explains, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
It surpasses all other books in the subjects treated with it ranging from the deep questions of theology to practical advice for daily living. It truthfully answers all the great questions of philosophy even though most men do not like the answers. It is unsurpassed in quality and variety of literature including historical narrative, poetic, biographical, didactic, wisdom, dramatic, prophetic and apocalyptic. It is unsurpassed in its realistic treatment of man’s condition because man would tend to both exaggerate and diminish the historical record and reality to favor his own interests. As theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer well stated, “It is not such a book as man would write if he could, or could write if he would” (Systematic Theology (Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1947, I, 22.). The Bible’s realistic treatment of man is explained in its origin and purpose as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The Bible’s origin is in God, not man, and its purpose is to direct man how to walk on the path of righteousness and stay on it, and that requires fidelity to the truth about man.
The Bible is also unique in its preservation. It is by far the best preserved of all works from antiquity. There are over 5,300 known Greek manuscripts along with other translations from antiquity with the earliest fragments dating into the late 1st and early 2nd century and full manuscripts from the 4th century. By comparison, the second best preserved document from antiquity is the Iliad by Homer (written in about 900 B.C.) with 643 manuscripts with the earliest fragments from the 4th century and earliest complete text from the 13th century.
Its dominance in the present time is also unique for it remains the most translated and most copied book of all time, and this is true despite the efforts to destroy it by various governments from ancient Rome to modern communism, the prohibitions against reading it by various religions and governments throughout history and in modern times, the efforts to supplant it with perverted translations, and modern denials of its authority. Its preservation should not be a surprise since Jesus said in Matthew 5:18, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished,” and He added in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”
The Bible Transforms
The uniqueness of the Bible is also seen in its ability to change people, nations and cultures without the force of arms. This ability to transform is due to the truth from God that it communicates, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 8:32; 16:8). This is seen throughout the Scriptures, in history and daily life in the present.
Paul explains in Titus 3:5-7 that the transformation of an individual from sinner to saint does not come “on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” What begins with salvation as the Holy Spirit quickens you to understand and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ continues as He enables you to understand and apply the Scriptures to your life. Paul speaks of this in Romans 12 in his command not to be conformed to the world, but be transformed by renewing of your mind. This transformation is so radical that Paul describes it as becoming a new creature in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Examples of such transformation abound in the Scriptures. One of the more well known stories is that of Saul who was a persecutor of the disciples of Jesus, but God radically changed him so that he became the Apostle Paul whose mind and life were transformed so that he was able to use the Scriptures to explain and defend the gospel clearly to friend and foe alike. There are millions of stories of people who picked up a Bible and started reading and were transformed by its message into people whose beliefs were radically changed resulting in lives of righteousness. That includes many people here today. (See: The Conversion of Saul & our Testimony Page)
Nations and cultures have also been transformed by the Scriptures. The early church was greatly persecuted, yet continued to grow. Starting with the apostles in Jerusalem and spreading to Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world, the good news recorded in the Scriptures has changed people and with it the cultures and nations in which those people live. That has continued into modern times.
At this point someone may want to argue that after Constantine, who made Christianity legal in the Roman empire, and then after Christianity was made the official religion of the empire, it was spread with a sword. While I will conceded that a new religion was forced on people who had been pagans, I will point out that this new religion was a perversion of Christianity and not Biblical Christianity since many of its beliefs and practices were contrary to the Scriptures. Pockets of true, Biblical Christians continued to exist throughout the “Dark Ages,” but they were persecuted by the “church” of the empire. The people were generally kept ignorant and the Bible was not available to them.
The transforming power of God’s word is most clearly seen in the Reformation of the 1500’s. This year marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany, which became the event which began the Reformation. However, it was the translation of the Bible into German by Martin Luther and into English by William Tyndale and their availability due to the printing press that enabled the reformation to grow and be sustained. Without that the Swiss Reformation under John Calvin and the Scottish Reformation under John Knox would not have transformed their nations as they did.
At the Foundations Conference sponsored by Sermon Audio, which several of the men and I attended in NYC at the end of June, we were given this print of Tyndale, Luther, Calvin and Knox to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. We will find a prominent place to hang this, and starting in October, we will be having some special sermons and presentations on our reformation heritage. (This print can be seen at: https://store.sermonaudio.com/products/500-years-of-the-reformation-canvas-print)
The Bible is used by God to radically transform individuals, nations and cultures. As a general observation we find that where the Bible flourishes, so does righteousness and freedom. Where the Bible is oppressed, so is freedom and righteousness.
The Bible is a Solid Foundation
The Bible is the solid foundation of truth that enables righteousness and freedom to develop and flourish. Jesus said God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and that truth sets people free (John 8:32). Without truth, man will follow the lies of the devil, of other people and of his own desires resulting in increasing sin and oppression. Only in societies in which individual righteousness controls the sinful desires of the people can there be freedom. You don’t need a policeman in places among people that are self-controlled and do not lie, steal, commit fraud, or are prone to violence. You do need laws, lawyers and police in societies that lack such righteousness and self-control. That is the reason freedom in this nation is being lost so quickly to more and more restrictive laws and why lawyers are necessary for things that should be very simple. A handshake between men of integrity is enough, but teams of lawyers are often not enough to enforce contracts between people who lack integrity.
How do we know the Bible is true? First, it comes from God whom Numbers 23:19 describes, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” God does not lie and He keeps his promises.
Second, the Bible has demonstrated itself to be true in all matters to which it speaks despite the nay sayers. In matters of history, nothing yet has shown it to be in error, in fact, it is the archeologists that continue to be proven wrong as additional digging and research demonstrate their previous claims were only ignorant speculations.
In matters of science, my specialty since that is my background, true science based on what is observable, testable and repeatable backs up the Bible including things such as: a round Earth (Isaiah 40:22; Proverbs 8:27), an infinite number of stars (Jeremiah 33:22; Hebrews 11:12), the Law of Conversation of matter and energy (2 Peter 3:7; Genesis 2:1,2; Exodus 20:11; Hebrews 4:3; 1:3), the Hydrologic Cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:7; Job 36:27-28), the law of increasing entropy (Psalm 102: 25-27; Isaiah 51:6; Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:21-22), atmospheric circulation (Eccl. 1:6,7; Job 28:25; 37:9), life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), springs in the oceans (Job 38:16; Gen 7:11; 8:2; Prov. 8:28), stars emitting sound (Job 38:7; Psalm 19:1-3), animals reproducing after their own kind (Genesis 1:21; 6:19), and the earth and moon formed separately (Genesis 1:1, 14-19), and catastrophic geology (Genesis 7-8). All of these things I have mentioned were in the Bible long before they were discovered by science. It is philosophical science such as evolution that disagrees with the Bible, but then, it is not observable, testable and repeatable, so it is not true science. It is simply man’s speculations in an effort to blind themselves from the clear evidence of the Creator in order to ignore His coming judgment (Romans 1:18-20; 2 Peter 3:3-7). (See: The Importance of Creation and Why Evolution is not Science)
In matters of telling the future, Biblical prophecy has always been 100% accurate because that was required of prophets or they were subject to being executed (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). We can trust the prophecies that are still to come, such as the return of Jesus as the conquering king (Revelation 19), because of the prophecies already fulfilled, such as the coming of Messiah as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53).
In matters of ethics, departure from Biblical standards always leads to a decline. Changing divorce laws to “no-fault” has increased the divorce rate and number of broken and unstable homes for children. Changing the consequence for having children outside of marriage from negative to a positive economic government subsidy has resulted in an overall rate in the USA of 1/3 of all children being born to single mothers with some demographics reaching 3/4. The average age of giving birth to a first child is now younger than the average age of a first marriage. The rate of poverty and abuse is much higher in such households. How many of the more than 55 million children aborted in the USA since 1973 would be alive today if not for that travesty of the Supreme Court? I could go on in this vein for a long time concerning other ethical issues such as physician assisted suicide, homosexuality, gender confusion, our penal system including capital punishment, the role of government, taxation, environmental issues, etc., but I think you get the idea. Rejection of Biblical truth for man’s musings results in ethical confusion and catastrophe.
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus concluded His Sermon on the Mount with a parable in challenging people about whether they would be wise or foolish. The wise were compared to a man who built his house on a rock that withstood the storms that came against it. The foolish were compared to a man who built his house on the sand that collapsed when the storms came. Life is full of storms. Those who build on the solid rock of God’s truth will be able withstand them. Those who reject truth in favor of man’s wisdom will find their lives damaged by those stores and eventually destroyed when they have to face God on the day of judgment. Are you wise of foolish?
The Bible is God’s Love Letter to Man
Man naturally does not like the truths of the Bible because they warn and restrict him from being able to do what he would like. Sinful man views that as a restriction on his freedom only because he does not recognize his bondage to sin. The commands and precepts of God in the Bible are actually part of His love letter to man.
Loving parents restrict and train their children to become both self-controlled and wise by learning the truth. They teach their children to know right from wrong, distinguish good from evil, and discern what is safe and what is dangerous. Included in this process of raising children are both instructions and warnings, freedoms and restrictions, praise and punishment. Children often do not like the warnings, restriction or punishments since they think they know better, but good parents do it anyway because they do know best. Good parents also provide for their children what children cannot provide for themselves and teach them to be thankful for it.
Good parents follow the model God has given us in Himself as the loving heavenly Father. The Bible is God’s love letter to us instructing us about life and how to live it, and as a good Father, He tells us the truth instead of what we want to hear. He also tells us what He has done to provide for us what we cannot provide for ourselves.
The Bible begins with Creation because that sets up a proper relationship with Him as creatures He has made. It continues on to the Corruption of Adam and Eve when they fell into sin by pursing their own desires instead of obeying God for that explains the reason for the curse that is on the world and our own bent to sin. It also gives the first prospect of hope for a future redeemer. Next is the Catastrophe of the great flood that God used to destroy the world because man’s wickedness had increased so much that “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). This taught not only God’s hatred of sin and His just punishment of it, but also His grace in preserving Noah and his family and all the air breathing creatures that were on the ark. Next comes the Confusion God had to bring upon man’s language because instead of dispersing around the world as God commanded they stayed in Babel to build a tower that would reach the heavens. Not being able to talk with each other forced them to spread out around the world. God is still in control.
Next comes Christ, the good news of God’s love expressed when the Messiah promised by the prophets came to redeem mankind. Jesus, the second person of the eternal Godhead, did that by becoming a man through the power of the Holy Spirit upon the virgin Mary to conceive without a human father. He then lived a sinless life in perfect obedience to the Law and God’s will. He then willing died on the Cross of Calvary as the substitute payment for man’s sin. He redeemed man with His own life as the required blood sacrifice. There is no greater love. As stated in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” But Jesus did not stay dead! He physically rose again from the dead on the third day proving all His claims about Himself and all of His promises are true. Jesus said in John 6:40, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” We look forward to that day with the Consummation of the ages when Jesus begins His millennial reign upon David’s throne in a restored Jerusalem. This will be followed by eternity in which a new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells will replace the current ones. Those whose names are not in the book of life, the wicked, will be judged according to their deeds and condemned to everlasting punishment in Hell shut out from the presence of God and the glory of His power (Revelation 20:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). That is an overview of history in seven C’s: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross and Consummation.
The Bible is to be Loved
The warnings in the Bible are given so that you will repent from your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Hell was made for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41), and the people who are cast into it are those that have rejected the Revelation of God in Creation and in the Bible so that they would not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:8). The proper response to God’s revelation of Himself and plan of redemption of man in the Bible is to love it because it gives the truth which brings righteousness and life through faith in Jesus Christ.
David expressed the nature of the Bible and the value of it well in Psalm 19:7-11. 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. 10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.”
It is my prayer that you fully realize the value of the Bible and desire it in the same way as David, for those that love God’s Law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble (Psalm 119:165).
Sermon Notes – 7/16/2017
Living by the Book – VBS Sermon 2017 – Selected Scriptures
The Bible is Unique _____________________________________________________
Book of Books: ______________________________________
The Dominate Literature_______________________________
The Bible Transforms _____________________________________________________
Nations & Cultures____________________________________
The Bible is a Solid Foundation___________________________________________
The Bible is from God_________________________________
The Bible is true in History______________________________
The Bible is true in Science ____________________________
The Bible is True in the Future___________________________
The Bible is true in Ethics______________________________
The Wise and the Foolish Man__________________________
The Bible is God’s Love Letter to Man_________________________________________________
The Bible is to be Loved________________________________
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the Bible is mentioned. 2) Discuss with your parents what make the Bible unique and trustworthy and the importance of its message. God
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why would those who profess to be Christians attack the inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible? How is the Bible unique as a compilation of many books? How does the Bible surpass other books in the subjects it addresses, the types of literature contained in it? How does it differ from all other books of antiquity in its preservation? Why does it continue to be so popular even with so many attacks against it? How does God use the Bible to transform a person? Give examples of the Bible transforming someone? Was the Christianity of the Roman Catholic Church during the “Dark Ages” Biblical Christianity? Why or why not? How has the Bible transformed cultures and nations? Give examples. What is the relationship between truth, righteousness and freedom? How do you know the Bible is true? If you do not believe it is true, how do you know it is false? What is your source of authority? What is the origin of the Bible? Does the Bible give an accurate historical record? Explain. Define science and the scientific method. Does true science support the Bible? Explain. Is evolution science or philosophy? Explain. What happens when a culture departs from Biblical ethics? Give examples. What are some of the things loving parents do with their child? How does that reflect God as a loving Father? Explain each of these events of history: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation. How does the Bible express God’s love? What is the danger of not loving God and His word? What should the proper response be toward the Bible? What is your response toward the Bible? Does it need to change? If so, when and how?
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