Big Questions: Why the Bible?
June 23, 2019 (click here for PDF version)
Overarching theme: Living a year in God’s presence through the practice of following Jesus.
Core Point: We all have questions about God, Jesus, grace, etc. This week, we focus on why we believe in the Bible?
Start point: The book of Hebrews develops the theme of the sufficiency and superiority of Jesus Christ and Christianity over other religions, especially Judaism. The author speaks to everyone who is wondering why they should follow Christ. This letter was written sometime before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish temple, which happened in 70 A.D. We believe this to be true because the religious sacrifices and ceremonies are referred to in the book, that may not be otherwise mentioned if the temple had been destroyed.
The author does not name himself, so certainty of the author is unknown. There are some scholars who suggest Paul was the author. In chapters 1 through 10:18, the author demonstrates Christ’s superiority, while in chapters 10:19 to 13, the focus is on the practical instructions for following Jesus. One of the outstanding features of Hebrews is the “Faith Hall of Fame” of Old Testament people, found in Chapter 11. Although addressed to Hebrews who may have been considering Jesus, or Hebrew Christians who were “homesick” for Judaism, this book speaks to everyone who is wondering why they should follow Christ.
Reflect on this Scripture:
Hebrews 1:1-3 (NRSV)
1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
John 1:1-4 (NRSV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Questions to Ponder:
What jumps out at you in the text?
Who is the Son and the Word in these two passages?
How are the two passages similar? Different?
What is the main point you get out of these texts?
These two passages sound very similar. Both are referring to Jesus as the Son of God and as the Word of God. John refers to Jesus as the Word that has been since the beginning along with God. Both passages refer to God creating all through Jesus. Consequently, you can see that Jesus was pre-existent before being on earth. The Hebrews passage describes Jesus as the “reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.” So, when the people in the New Testament saw Jesus, they were actually seeing the imprint of God on earth. That means, when we read of Jesus in the New Testament, we are reading about the movement and work of God on earth making an imprint.
John 14:10-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
We can conclude that if we want to understand the work of God in the world, we need to read about Jesus in the New Testament. We need to pay particular attention to the words of Jesus. Get the Red-letter Bible out!!!! The words of Jesus are the words of God from what John says. Remember, God also spoke through the prophets of the Old Testament, as written in Hebrews. So, read the Old Testament to find out what God said to your ancestors. What was said in the past can have an impact on us now.
Reading the Bible, both the Old and New Testament, help us understand God better. You may want to explore what the Bible says about itself:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NRSV)
16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 (NRSV)
12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
We know that the Bible was not intended to be interpreted as a scientifically accurate document, but it is designed to guide us in all matters of faith and practice. The Bible is living and active for each of us, for when we read it, something usually jumps out at us and makes us reflect on our lives. Many times, while reading the Bible, it will convict on what is being done wrong against God. The Bible is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. What does that mean? The Bible speaks to how we should live in relationship with God through Jesus the Christ and one another. On the other hand, the Bible can lead us to conviction when we do not live rightly in relationship with God and one another. The Bible is a powerful document when read in the power of God’s Spirit. Why the Bible, because it draws us in line with God through Jesus the Christ and helps us to understand how God works in life.
Questions to Ponder:
What do you hear the Bible says about itself?
How should you view the Bible in your own life?
How do you make the Bible relevant in your life?
What is the end result of doing what the Bible says?
How could you use the Bible in training your children/grandchildren?
Activity of for the life of a disciple:
1. Write on a piece of paper:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NRSV)
16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
Place it somewhere for you to read it every day.
2.Get in the practice of reading from the Bible every day, particularly from one of the Gospels. You could also read one chapter of Proverbs every day of the month. Proverbs has 31 chapters. Read a proverb or two of this practical wisdom with your children, and ask them what is means and how they can practice the Proverb.