2010-06-27 (pm) BC 3&4 2 Timothy 3:10-17 God Breathed
Last time we looked at the Belgic Confession, we considered general revelation—creation. We looked at Romans 1 and Psalm 19. In Psalm 19, we observed how all of creation declares God’s glory, so that in the end, no one will be excused by saying, “I just didn’t know there was a God.” The evidence of God, the mark of the creator is all over creation.
But we noticed, from Romans 1, that people love darkness more than light, that they suppressed and ignored the reality of God, exchanging the truth for a lie and so God has given them over to every kind of evil expression.
But we also recognised that God didn’t simply give us a general revelation concerning himself, but he also gave us a book that teaches us all about him, about us, and the reason why we’re here.
Now the purpose of our lives is to give glory to God. We exist for God’s delight, for the furtherance of his glory. Indeed, when God created the world, we see, over and over again, that God observed what he had made and it was very good, and when he was done creating he declared it was very good. Indeed, it declares then, that God is very good!
And the Bible declares God’s goodness, his work, his creating and sustaining abilities and his creating us to be in relationship with him. In order to be in a relationship with someone, you need to know who they are. The Bible teaches us everything we need to know about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This evening, we’re going to look at God’s special revelation to us, the Bible.
Now, Guido de Bres, in writing the Belgic Confession, was dealing with something a wee bit different from what we deal with. It wasn’t so much that the church and the people of his day denied the Bible, but rather that they didn’t emphasise it enough. First of all, there weren’t many Bibles around, the average person didn’t own one because they were very expensive, and the Roman Catholic Church denied the lay person from owning one.
Second, the Roman Catholic Church placed the church tradition, and the pope’s writing and teachings on par with the Bible. The Bible wasn’t the sole source of authority for the church. The reformers, Luther, Calvin and de Bres, all believed that scripture alone has authority. This is still a major difference between protestant churches and the Roman Catholic church. The Roman Catholic Church still believes that the pope is the vicar of Christ, Christ’s physical representative on earth, blessed especially with infallibility to proclaim, as it were, God’s word from Rome.
So, into that situation, the Belgic Confession speaks. But the Belgic Confession speaks against another authority: science and atheist rejection of scripture.
Now, if you compare the reception of ancient documents, there’s something strange that happens. People have no problem receiving as true, as real, as acceptable, the writings of Plato, even though we don’t have any autographs of his work, in fact, we don’t even have any copies of his work in the original language he wrote them in, we only have translations.
Contrast that with the scriptures. People, even Christians, question the validity, the truth of the scriptures. Is this what Paul really meant to write? Haven’t there been changes to the texts over time? Look at all the footnotes, in lots of places it says, earlier and best manuscripts have such and such. So, clearly there were changes made, how do we know that this is what God really meant?
What we discover is that people are reluctant to receive the Bible, for the same reason they’re reluctant, even militant against receiving general revelation. Let’s face it, if they refuse to see God in creation, they’re going to fight hard against seeing him in the scriptures.
But, as we see from our passage in 1 Timothy, the scriptures are useful for teaching people about God. They are authoritative, they are true!
But again, how can we know this?
Well, there are several ways. First, this book is attacked far more than any other book. Do you see people demanding proof that the Koran was truly dictated by Allah to Mohammed? Do you see people demanding to know if the ancient writings of Buddhism and Hinduism are true? No, no one really challenges them! Why? Because people, when they look at those documents, are not confronted by truth.
But when people look at the Old and New Testaments, they have one of two options, accept it as true or reject it as false. The Bible itself allows no other position. You can’t ride the fence on this. Either it is God breathed, or it is not. Either it is true, or it is false.
Now, what argues for the truth of the Bible? Well, again, compared to the sacred writings of other religions, the Bible is historical. It is constantly grounded in history. It describes physical places. If you go to the Elah Valley where David fought Goliath, you can see the land as it is described. You can picture the army encampments, the stream flowing between them.
Actually, during the six day war, when Israel was defending itself from the attacking Arab nations, the armed forces commander, used the same tactics found in the Bible to sneak through the land to avoid attacks, and to surprise their enemies, just as King David did—how was that possible? Because the land today is pretty much the same as the land was back then!
But even more obviously, the Bible grounds itself in historical events. You can look to other accounts, written by other nations, and find a correlative story. So, there are records among the Babylonian writings that mesh with the Biblical account of the rise and fall of Babylon.
The New Testament is full of historical references, to people who were in leadership, ruling over the nations, Quirinius, Caesar, Pontius Pilate, and so on. In fact, as would be expected, there are sources, apart from the Bible, that talk about Jesus, his claims, his death, the remarkable following, even after his death—remarkable because whenever there were false leaders who died off, their causes died also, but not with Jesus, even though he died, these records report, his disciples kept on following, and teaching, and growing, and influencing—the natural conclusion: it’s the truth!
There’s a sense where as, I’ve already mentioned, there’s only two options, acceptance or rejection. We accept this book because it is breathed out by God. It resonates with what we know of the world, it makes sense, it is reasonable.
If you reject this, you have to come up with some other explanation. You can turn to science, but science can’t answer why there is evil in the world. In fact, science does not deal with morality, morality is subjective, it isn’t objective which is what science addresses.
Now, people are quick to dismiss the scriptures as myth, one more myth among many others. But that isn’t fair, really, because this book doesn’t read like other books. This book tells one consecutive story throughout history. It has a beginning and an end, and many points of contact, that are or were verifiable when they were written.
And, what you find in this book resonates with reality. It describes life as we experience it! It provides an answer, not always the most satisfactory answer to life’s issues and problems