"What Do We Believe?"-Bible
Thank you for joining me for another devotional in the series at Grace Evangelical Church that I’m calling, “What Do We Believe?”1. As I shared in the first installment, I’m going to be getting some help to keep me moving at a steady pace and to prevent me for straying too far off topic from an old Radio Bible Class booklet. (You know how some preachers get off track.)
Every person on earth believes in something or someone. They might believe in God (or gods) or they may believe in themselves. Thank you for joining me for another devotional in the series at Grace Evangelical Church that I’m calling, “What Do We Believe?”1. As I shared in the first installment, I’m going to be getting some help to keep me moving at a steady pace and to prevent me for straying too far off topic from an old Radio Bible Class booklet. (You know how some preachers get off track.)
Every person on earth believes in something or someone. They might believe in God (or gods) or they may believe in themselves. Even an atheist believes there is no god. Therefore, everyone believes, and in some sense, everyone on earth is a “believer.” Yet where do our beliefs come from? They might come from our parents, our community, our culture, our education, or our own thinking. While some beliefs are anchored in truth and facts, other beliefs are actually based on wrong facts, incomplete information, or superstitions. So, all beliefs are not equal. Without question, what someone believes is important to them and is therefore a very personal thing.
As a follower of Jesus and as a church, what we believe should be very important and personal to us as well. And what is most critical for us is on what we base our beliefs! That is why we must start with our devotional path with what we believe about The Doctrine of the Bible. To guide us through this, I’m going to ask and answer five questions about this amazing book.
1. What sets the Bible apart from all other books?
The Bible in its entirety claims to be written by men who were inspired by God. And because it is inspired by God (literally “breathed out by God”), the original manuscripts are without any error. We have more ancient documents of the Bible than any other book of antiquity. For example, there are almost 25,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament alone. Compare that number to the works of Homer, who is the most accepted ancient writer, from whom we have just over 1,700 manuscripts.
The Bible is like no other book in the world because it records the faults and flaws of its heroes and well as their strengths. It also records the life and works of the most important Person in the universe, Jesus Christ (before, during, and after He lived on earth). While the natural world exposes the power, majesty, and wisdom of the Creator, the Bible reveals God’s grace and plan for personal salvation. The truths found in the Bible are timeless and universal for all people of all ages. The Bible is therefore different from any other book ever written!
2. How do we know that the Bible we hold in our hands accurately represents the original writings that go back more than 3,500 years?
As stated above, we have more than 25,000 manuscripts of the New Testament alone. There are also an incredible amount of manuscripts of the 39 books of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is rarely ever questioned about its origin or authenticity. In all of these ancient documents, the vast majority of differences are overwhelmingly only in the alterations of the spellings of words, not with their meanings. This, along with many other evidences, presents a strong argument for the accuracy of the earliest documents. Therefore, we can be confident that what God originally inspired, He has also preserved for us to read in our translations today.
3. Is there any evidence that can be given to support the claim that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?
Likely the greatest evidence is our Savior’s repeated expression of His confidence in the reliability of the Jewish Scriptures that He quoted from. In 325A.D. the early church fathers recognized and confirmed the 27 books of our New Testament as being divinely inspired, authoritative, and complete. While one might express that the doctrine that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God is actually a matter of faith, it is a rational faith. The unity of its message in 66 books, written by more than 40 human authors, and over a 1,600-year period is nothing less than astonishing. Its accuracy to historical details, its completeness of storyline, its precision of fulfilled prophecies, its beneficial impact on societies, and its transforming power in the lives of all who read and believe it, prove that it is actually unreasonable to not believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
4. How can we understand the Bible?
The best way to understand the Scriptures is to ask the Divine Author Himself (the Holy Spirit) for help. Seek His wisdom and understanding to determine what was meant by the human authors. Always try to interpret it literally and in its proper context whenever possible. Then humbly submit yourself to its teachings.
5. What should we do if we encounter a Bible passage that we can’t understand or that seems to contradict another Bible verse?
Once you have seriously read and studied a passage without understanding its meaning, first try to find other Bible verses that speak about the same topic. This may shine additional light on the subject. Second, seek out help from a Bible concordance, encyclopedia, or commentary. Third, ask your pastor or church leader for input on the troublesome verse(s). Always begin your search for truth in a difficult passage with the assurance that the problem is with us, and not with the text, and one day we will fully understand its meaning.
Scriptures for today “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 1 Thess. 2:13
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:14-16
“…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Pet. 1:20
Prayer for today Thank you, Lord, for giving us Your inspired and inerrant Word (without error or mistakes).
Help me to know Your Word is different and greater than any other book ever written because it came from You.
Thank you for preserving Your Word for us to read today.
Thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit to guide my understanding and application of Your Word.
Help me to never doubt the truths of Your Word or the impact it can/should have on my life.
Help us to be known in our community as a church who demonstrates that we believe and trust in Your Word as our authority for faith and practice: what we believe.
Help me to continue to reach out to others who are feeling isolated, alone, and frustrated, and to be an encouragement to them. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Blessings, Pastor Tim
1. What We Believe. Radio Bible Class, 1996