Confessions of a Pastor - I find the Bible to be occasionally confusing.
Easter Invite 2012 Video! Yes, by all means invite. Easter is now less than a month away. Did you locate the Easter Invite card on your chair? I’m giving you one but we have hundreds more. Notice the service times - Sat Night at 6PM. Easter Sunrise Service in the Arena at 7:00A.M and then our current two services at 9:00 and 10:30A.M. If you could help make room in the 10:30 service by coming to either Saturday Night or Sunday at 9AM. That would be extra helpful!
Now plain and simple, why do I want you to invite people period for Easter weekend? People are more likely to come at Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day and Christmas Eve than any other time of the year. Sometimes when people come one time – they never leave! Some you crack me up. You invite people to Easter Services and the week before you tell me. “Greg, I’ve got my Dad, my friend, or my co-worker coming to church with me on Easter. Now make sure you preach a great sermon!” Thanks for throwing a heaping helping of pressure right on my shoulders. Actually, I’m teasing. I don’t feel pressure as long as God gives me a message. Now where do I get that message? The Bible! Let me remove all drama here concerning Easter. Starting next week I will begin a new series called “What’s up with that?” “Unbelievable Stories of the Bible!” Truly, I blame myself. I asked you, encouraged you, and challenged you to read the Bible in 90 days. This entire year we are focusing on what it means to “Be the Church.” It’s one thing to go to church, but an altogether different thing to “Be the church.” The church is the body of Christ and we can’t follow the head of the body if we don’t know what the HEAD said. SOO once again I blame myself. I asked you to read the word of God and many of you are doing just that and now I’m getting emails. “Greg, did you have any idea the Bible said this? What’s up with that?” Actually, I kinda did. The Bible contains seemingly farfetched, unbelievable stories! Here are seven: Using Parts of Genesis and the Gospel of John. March 17 & 18: A talking serpent? March 24 & 25: A woman uses her hair to clean Jesus’ feet? March 31 & April 1: Teachers of God plot to kill a good man who just came back from the dead? (Pastor Reggie Moore) April 7 & 8: A man comes back from the dead? April 14 & 15: A wife encourages her husband to sleep with another woman? April 21 & 22: Two daughters decide to get their father drunk twice? April 28 & 29: God tells Abraham to sacrifice his own son? Let’s practice. Say it with me, “What’s up with that?” Here’s my fourth confession as a pastor. On occasions, I find the Bible to be confusing or farfetched or just plain “out there!” And when I find the Bible to be confusing I then start wondering whether or not I can trust it. Do you? Let’s take my confession head on. Let’s spend the rest of our time today answering this question, Can the Word of God be trusted? The Apostle Peter says yes! (Science, archaeology, fulfilled prophecy) Turn in your Bible today to 2 Peter 3. Do you need a Bible? Let’s use this little three chapter letter to help us gain confidence that the book you hold in your hand is no ordinary book. It’s actually the word of God – the Holy Bible. Our English word “Bible” comes to us from the Greek word “biblia” which means books.[i] Actually the Bible is a “book of books.”[ii] 66 to be exact – 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. 2 Peter is one of the 27. 2 Peter will be Peter’s last letter. He wrote 1st Peter to encourage Christians suffering in their faith. They are being persecuted from outside the church. He writes 2 Peter to encourage Christ followers to grow in their faith. They are being persecuted within the church – this time by false teachers.[iii] I love Peter’s confession in 2 Peter 3:14. (Read 14-16a) You see, I’m not the only one.
These words of Peter can help us to put our trust in the Bible! What does the back of a dollar bill say? “In God we trust” Peter would also say, “In God’s word we trust!” Here’s why - read again verse 15 of 2 Peter 3. Peter tells us that we can trust the Bible because he shows us how we got the Bible. (Read vs. 15 again) God gave Paul wisdom. I don’t doubt that Paul was intelligent, but God gave Paul 13 letters worth of words he did not possess. Peter gives us specific details on how we ended up with the Bible! Drop down to verse 2 in 2 Peter 3. How again did we get this Bible? God spoke, men wrote. God spoke to prophets like these men in the OT. (OT Graph-J-I-E-E) Jesus spoke to his apostles. (P-J-J) Pop quiz! What does the word Bible mean again? Bible = Books! What does this word (Canon) mean? The word is pronounced cannon. Canon comes to us from the Hebrew word “qaneh” – where we get the greek word kanon - which means reed or stalk.[iv] People in Moses day or Jesus’ day did not pull out their measuring tape to measure a log or a tree limb. Instead, they would pull out of the water a reed or out of the ground a stalk. They would use the reed or “qaneh” as a “standard of measurement.” The Bible is comprised of 66 books which meet a standard of measurement. What’s the measurement? Every book was written by someone in close proximity to God; either a prophet or priest or an apostle or someone close to the apostles. Pop Quiz #2: How many books in the NT? 27 – 20 were written by three authors - name them - John, Luke and Paul! Peter gives more details in 2 Peter 1:20. How did we get the Bible? It’s called inspiration. The Apostle Paul said the same thing in his last letter before he was martyred for his faith. Read 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness None of us question inspiration in music, in writing, in art or watching a movie, (Brian’s song, Chariots of Fire, Rocky, Water Boy, Happy Gilmore, Christmas Vacation, Elf – Courageous) but we often do with the Bible because the Bible isn’t just another book – it’s the actual word of God.
I have found that experience often leads to inspiration. Peter agrees. Find verse 16 in chapter 1. (16-18) Peter was on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter heard God speak. So did James & John. They saw Moses and Elijah. My sister got on a plane for a business trip. She looked up and couldn’t believe her eyes. Standing on the plane was Hulk Hogan! Now my sister could have called me and told me this, but this picture confirmed her story. But picture or not she’s still an eyewitness. Have you ever eye witnessed a crime or an accident? You were there. I saw the car officer. I saw the guy take the money. He was maybe 5’7”. He wore plaid pants and a red shirt! Peter was an eyewitness of Jesus.
Here’s my next thought. I sure wish I could have been an eyewitness like Peter. It would be easy to believe then. But realize Peter wasn’t an eyewitness to everything. Peter saw Jesus but never saw Noah. He chose to believe just like we do. Turn now to 2 Peter 2:4-5! Peter believed in Noah! You know the ark, the flood, and the animals walking in two by two! I hold in my hand here The National Geographic Answer Book. I find that answer books create more questions. It contains hundreds of fast facts about our world. Here’s one! Why did the dinosaurs disappear? Nat Geo writes, “Something drastic happened on Earth about 65 million years ago. According to one theory, an asteroid more than 6 miles across struck just off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The impact created a crater, more than 110 miles wide, and caused a gigantic dust cloud. The cloud likely caused world temperatures to drop. Scientists link this global cooling to the extinction of dinosaurs and numerous other plant and animal species.”[v]
Can I give you another possible scenario? They all drowned. The dinosaurs drowned in the great worldwide flood found in Genesis 7:11. (Screen 7:11 & 21) Pop quiz #3: Is this the same Noah Peter refers to in 2 Peter 2? God did a wonderful thing giving us this book. Think about when this world was created. No one was here. No one. Not Darwin, not you or me! Neither was Moses. So how was Moses able to write “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God spoke, men wrote. Now the question is - are you going to believe it? Am I going to believe the world just happened or it was created? Both take faith!
Our original question today was Can the Word of God be trusted? Peter says yes. I say yes. But you must decide. Do you know who said this, “No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word.”[vi] (Albert Einstein) Albert says yes. Do you know who said this? “The Bible is a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents.”[vii] Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins. Richard says no. Now what about you? Who or what are you going to put your trust in?
Have you seen this State Farm commercial? (State of Chaos) That robot didn’t like Duane. Many people think God feels the same way about us. That’s not what the Bible says. Doorbell joke. Author Don Miller said the Bible is not a how book. The Bible is a why book!”[viii] Why do we exist? Why is there suffering and death? Why did God send Jesus? That’s the whole theme of the Bible! Because when life gets chaotic, everyone needs a center point, a rock, a North Star pointing them in the right direction. Can you trust the Bible? Peter did. Jesus did. Will you?
[i] How did we get the Bible? www.gnmagazine.org/issues/July/August 2004
[ii] Hal Seed & Dan Grider, The God Questions, 30
[iii] James E. Smith, The NT Books Made Simple, 148
[iv] How did we get the Bible? www.gnmagazine.org/issues/July/August 2004
[v] National Geographic Answer Book, 95
[vi] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, Back Cover Quote
[vii] Ham & Hodge, How do we know the Bible is true, 32
[viii] Don Miller, Why to Bible is a tough book for Americans, churchleaders.com