I Believe The Bible

// January 6th, 2019 // Sermons

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series Last Days Christianity

Every church has a story….  You can listen online or download it and listen later…I Believe The BibleThe Garrington story started back in the summer of 1958.  A young Prairie Bible Institute student decided to start a Sunday School in the hall that was on the property until 1997.

The one thing that has continued to be a priority for our church is that we believe the Bible, focus on Jesus, and do our part to reach out to the world with God’s Word.  The Garrington Community Church Statement of Faith, regarding the Bible, says:

We believe the Old and New Testament Scriptures alone to be God’s inspired Word. They are without error and are our absolute authority for life and practice.

When you look at the history of many churches and denominations, you see that although they started out strong on God’s Word but somehow liberalism caused fundamentalist conservative believers to compromise their stand and start to adopt secular philosophies.

Is the Bible the Word of God and will we insist that our ministers preach the divine inspiration of the Bible?  Everything else is secondary.  Even the creation-evolution debate ultimately comes down to the question of whether or not Christians believe the first eleven chapters of Genesis are literally true.

The title of this message is: “I Believe the Bible!”  What does it mean to believe the Bible?  Our text suggests three answers to that question.

  1. Believing the Bible Means Accepting Its Authority in Every Area of Life. Listen to v. 13 – “And we thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you have heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”

Paul uses two words in this verse to explain what he means…first:

  1. You received the word of God. This is hearing the Word in your ear.  It’s objective.  It’s like signing the FedEx gadget – stating that have received a package.  Paul means that the Thessalonians listened intently to the message he preached because they knew it came from God.

#2.  You accepted it as the word of God.  This word means to welcome a visitor into your home.  This is the hearing of the heart.  It’s subjective.  There is a difference because it’s very possible to listen to preaching and not be changed by it.  It’s something else to welcome God’s message into your heart and let it transform your life.

The process is crucial – you hear the message from man but you recognize that the message came from God.  So you respond not as if it were the opinion of man, but as being God’s word.

This makes the debate over the nature of the Bible so important.  If it is only the word of man, then it is changeable, fickle and unreliable.  But if the Bible is the Word of God, then it is utterly and completely authoritative – it cannot be changed and it must be heeded.  If God has spoken in the Bible, then what He says has final claim on my life.

Let me summarize this point with two simple statements:

If the Bible comes from man, we are entitled to sit in judgment on it.

If the Bible comes from God, we must bow in submission to it.

Friends, this is a crucial question:  What do you believe about the Bible?  Does it come from man or from God?  Does it merely contain God’s Word?  Is it on the same level of authority as the daily newspaper or does it speak with Divine authority?

If you say it is the word of God, then you must also say that it is not simply one message among many.  If the Bible is the word of God, it is utterly exclusive in everything it claims.  Further, the Bible does not beg for our approval.  The Word of God is not like the first draft of a thesis where the writer submits it and says, “What do you think?”

I remember in Bible College – for the term paper for a certain course, the instructor wanted us to first submit an outline and he would approve it, change it or ask you to start over.  Next, you would prepare a rough draft of what you were going to present; and again, he would go over it and “red ink” the parts that were not good.  And from that you would prepare your final paper.

But, not so with the Bible.  God never asks us to make corrections to His Word.  He never asks us to review the words of the Prophet Isaiah and make a few changes.  And He clearly won’t tolerate those who add to or take from His Word, according to the Book of Revelation.

The Bible stands approved, without any need for correction, without it having to be changed, no additions/deletions, ever!

That’s why v. 13 says, “…when you received the word of God, which you have heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God…”  But, notice the last phrase of the verse, “which is at work in you who believe.”  Paul ties the power of the word of God to the response of a believing heart.

I suggest you underline the four words —which is at work.”  What does that mean?  God’s Word works!  There is power in the word of God when its divine authority is accepted in a believing heart.

The word “works” that is used in this verse, is like our English word “energy.”  God’s Word is energized within us as we believe it.  It is like farmland that bears a rich harvest when the seed is planted.  It is a like a gold mine that delivers great riches; an investment that pays a big dividends.

When we hear the message outwardly, and welcome it inwardly; when we allow God’s word to rule over every area of our lives…it energizes us and produces within us and through us, a wonderful harvest.

I was born again at the age of 12, and throughout my teenage years, I was privileged to have a number of godly men in our church, pour into my life – Pastor Leonard Sawatzky, John Hein, Abe Wall, Pete Dyck, Peter B. Dyck, Isaac Neudorf, and a few others.  Through these men, I learned the idea of having a daily “quiet time with the Lord”.

A quiet time/devotions means that you set aside a few minutes each day to read the Bible and pray.  Over the 32 years of pastoral ministry I have read many books that deal with victory in the spiritual life, but when all is said and done, I don’t think there is anything that is more important for maintaining a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ than a consistent, regular, quality, devotional life.

Believing the Bible means accepting its authority in every area of your life.

When I was young, I envied those older than me, because I thought it would just get easier and easier to live a victorious Christian life…this is not true; in many ways it keeps getting harder and harder.

And for this reason, I exhort each person to get into the habit of the daily habit of reading God’s Word and praying.  After all, can we really say we believe the Bible and accept its authority if we do not daily spend time in the Word?

New Christians rarely have to be convinced about this.  It seems that the older you get – in Christ – the harder it is to maintain the passion for God’s Word.

So what does it mean to believe the Bible?  Believing the Bible means accepting its authority in every area of your life.  Answer #2 – v. 14:

  1. Believing the Bible Means Accepting the Opposition God’s Word brings. Listen to v. 14…

If you believe the Bible, you likely will have some strong enemies.  And, it that’s not bad enough…when Paul uses the word “countrymen”, he is using a word that is absolutely unique – not found anywhere else in the NT.  The word means the people closest to you.

So, if you decide to believe the Bible is the word of God, you need to know that many people who are close to you will not share your faith or your enthusiasm.  However, our deepest commitment is to the Word of God and not to man.

When we take a stand against homosexuality, gay marriage, gender confusion, GSA’s, SOGI curriculum, alcohol and drug abuse, the opiod crisis, abortion, euthanasia/assisted dying, suicide and the universal slave trade….we are not taking a stand against individuals, we are taking a stand against things that are not accepted by God’s standards found in His written Word, the Bible.

Many believers would prefer their surrounding community liked them and joined them in their stand…but they don’t.  If people around us despise us for telling the truth about homosexuality, then so be it.  If they think we are narrow-minded, bigoted, homophobes, then so be it.

We don’t hate people who think differently than we do…at least we shouldn’t hate them.  We should welcome everyone to Garrington—regardless of their lifestyle—all are welcome to attend our services.  Our doors are open to all people without exception.  We don’t run background checks on those attend our services.

Some years ago, Oprah asked Dallas mega-church Pastor T.D. Jakes, his opinion on homosexuality?  I really like his response:

“I’m not called to give my opinion. I’m called as a pastor to give the scriptural position on it.  Doesn’t mean that I have to agree with you to love you.  I don’t dislike anybody.  I love everybody.”

Then he expanded that just a bit:

“I think that sex between two people of the same sex is condemned in the Scriptures, and as long as it is condemned in the Scriptures, I don’t get to say what I think.  I get to say what the Bible says.”

“I’m not called to give my opinion.”

I think this is fine way to handle a difficult topic on national TV. You could always say more, but on this point T. D. Jakes is exactly right. The preacher isn’t called to give his opinion on anything. He is called to say what God says.  “I don’t get to say what I think.  I get to say what the Bible says.”

And, we make no apology for the fact that our deepest commitment is to the word of God.  We will preach it, teach it and proclaim it, because it is the only hope for a lost and dying world.

Here is the sober truth:  Believing the Bible means you must be willing to accept the opposition that it will inevitably bring.

Now, #3 – what does it mean to believe the Bible?

III. It means accepting the Bible’s judgment on society.

Listen to v. 15-16 once more (read)…

These are sobering words.  Paul mentions 4 ways that the Jews opposed the early Christians:

  1. They killed Jesus and the prophets
  2. They drove the apostles out of Jerusalem.
  3. They are hostile to all men
  4. They hinder the preaching of the gospel.

This last one is very dear to Paul’s mind and heart.  You see, it’s one thing to say, “That’s not for me, but it’s okay for you.”  But, many in our society today are saying, “It’s not for me, and it’s not for you either.”

If you prefer to live in darkness, that’s your privilege.  But, it is so wrong to turn out the light so that no one can see!  There is something fundamentally wrong with any religion that restricts the rights of others to hear and practice what they believe.  The greater sin is not in refusing salvation, but in trying to keep others from believing.

If someone prefers to rebel against God and go to hell, that’s their business – their decision.  But, God has not given them the right to take others with them.

There are those who will never attend a church or anything “churchy”, but who will do what they can to stop others from attending.  This mindset will seek to threaten a lawsuit against anyone who wants to pray or read the Bible in a school or public square.  These kind of people are all around us today.  Not all unbelievers are this extreme, but some are.  V. 16 tells us two things about God’s judgment on these people:

  1. They heap up their sins to the limit. The word means to “fill to the brim.”  It implies that there is a limit, a line, and a point of no return for each person.  We don’t know where that line is….but this is the case for nations, for families, and for individuals.  They heap up their sins to the limit!  Secondly:
  2. Wrath has come upon them. The word is both present and future.  Although our God is patient, His patience has limits.  Eventually the clouds will break over the heads of unbelievers.  It seems they are delayed, but the fires of hell will come to those who reject our Lord.

Please understand.  This is God’s judgment on any society that rejects His revelation/His truth.  No nation or individual can reject Him or sin against Him forever, without facing a divine consequence.

I want to leave you with two concluding thoughts:

#1. There are certain unchangeable facts – absolutes – which are true and which must be believed if we are to be truly Christian.

These truths are not like the changing mood-swings of human opinion.  These truths make Christianity what it is and if they are neglected or denied, our faith loses its foundation.

Our only basis of authority is the Bible.  We need to come to the same conclusion that Martin Luther stated at the Diet of Worms, “Our conscience is bound by the Word of God.  Here we stand.  We can do no other.”  Friends, our only basis of authority is the Bible!

This kind of stand will not win us brownie points with the world…or with the media.  This church has been founded on the Word for over 60 years and I see no reason to stop doing so now!

Suppose someone were to ask why you are a Christian.  It is not enough to say, “I believe in Jesus because he solves all my problems” or “I come to this church because I meet so many nice people here.”  Those statements, though they may be true, are missing the point.  We must not claim to be Christians simply because of some advantage we receive from it.  We must be believers because the message is from God and for this reason it is true.  No other answer will do.

#2. God’s wrath is a terrible reality that comes upon every individual, institution and nation that turns away from Him.

You and I are sinners by nature, by birth, and by choice.  If we deny this, or try to soften it, or shy away from it, then we are making the choice to not believe the Bible.  This stand for truth is badly needed today and we do not help people by hiding it from them.

It is when people understand that they are under the wrath of God are they ready to hear about God’s great love for them.  Our as Billy Graham used to say, “You have to get people lost before you can get them saved.”

Once a person acknowledges their personal need, then you can tell them about Jesus and how His death and resurrection provides the full payment for their sins.  Once that is properly understood, they are ready to enter into a personal relationship with God.

So, this means that every person faces a solemn choice:  We can all choose to go our own way and face judgment and wrath…or, we can turn to God and through Christ receive salvation, forgiveness and a brand-new life.

When a person says in his heart, “I have decided to follow Jesus”, that person has made the choice to step off the path that leads to death and destruction, and has stepped onto the path of life; they have turned off that steep road that leads to hell and set their feet on the path that leads to heaven.

You could sum up this message by saying that there is good news, sad news, and bad news:

  • The Good news is that the Bible is true and when we believe it, God’s power is released in our lives.
  • The Sad news is that there are those close to us who will often oppose our Christian faith.
  • And, the Bad news is that God’s wrath comes upon those who reject His Word.

Part of the little chorus, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”, says, “No turning back, no turning back.”  Believing the Bible is serious business.  No turning back, no turning back.  It involves a decision to put all of our eggs in the “God’s Word” basket – no plan B!

Pastor Ray Pritchard tells of a time when he went to have lunch with a friend at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago.  As he was walking back to his car he noticed a van from a downtown ministry – under the name of the ministry was the slogan:  “There is no substitute for the Word of God!”

It’s not very catchy but it’s true and to the point.  It sums up everything that I’ve been trying to say this morning.  There is no substitute for the Word of God!

Let’s pray…

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