Foundations of Faith: The Bible

810GA8hhQAL._SL500_AA300_.pngScripture:  2 Timothy 3:16-17

 Foundations are important.  When it comes to building a home, a strong, stable foundation is critical.  When it comes to buying a house, it is always wise to check the condition of the foundation.  Foundations are important in sports.  It’s critical to know the basics of any sport in which we’re participating – coaches will be the first to admit it.  Foundations are important in education.  I’ve talked to more than one teacher in the higher grades who was deeply troubled that their students had never really learned to read and write – reading and writing are both foundational.  Most of all, foundations are important in life.  Jesus knew it more than anyone else.  Listen to how Eugene Peterson paraphrases Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:24-27 in The Message,
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”  So for the next four Sundays, we are going to be looking at foundations of our faith.  We’ll start with God’s Word, the Bible.  Many of us as children learned a song about the Bible, the B-I-B-L-E.

“The B-I-B-L-E
Yes, that’s the book for me!
I stand alone on the Word of God,
The B-I-B-L-E!

“The B-I-B-L-E
Yes, that’s the book for me!
I read and pray, trust and obey,
The B-I-B-L-E!”

Some of us may wonder why the Bible is so important.  The Bible really doesn’t save us, Jesus saves us.  We also can’t have a relationship with a book, we can only have a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ.  The Bible is important because it is the key to knowing God, to having a relationship with Christ.  God is so much higher than us, so much greater than us, that the only way we can learn about Him is if he reveals it to us.  Revelation is critical to us – if God didn’t reveal Himself to us, we wouldn’t know anything about Him.  If God hadn’t revealed to us that Jesus died for our sins and then was raised on the third day, we’d wouldn’t know we could be saved and have new life with Him.  We do know however, because God has revealed it to us in the Bible.  If God had not spoken to us, if God had not revealed Himself to us, we would not know a thing about Him.  Job 11:7 says, “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?”  To put it bluntly, anything anyone says about God, apart from what God says in His Word, is mere speculation.  Even for men and women who have sophisticated degrees from institutions of higher learning, if their perceptions of God are not based in God’s Word, they are merely educated guesses.  In preparing for this message I read about a college student who was taking a course in ornithology, the study of birds.  Before the final exam he spent all night studying.  He basically memorized the textbook.  He also knew his class notes backwards and forwards.  The next morning he went to the classroom and took a seat on the front row.  On the table in front of him was a row of ten stuffed birds.  The problem was that each bird had a small sack covering its body, and only the legs were showing.  The student was perplexed, and when the class started, the professor said they were to identify each bird by looking only at the legs.  They were to give the name, species, habitat, mating habits, etc.,  The professor had never told the class they would be tested this way.  They had never studied the birds’ legs.  Well, the longer the student sat in his chair, the angrier he became.  He had spent all night studying for this test, and now all he had in front of him were ten pair of bird legs.  Finally he went nuclear.  He stood, stormed to the professor’s desk, slammed the exam paper down on it, and said, “This is a ridiculous test.  How can anyone tell the difference between these birds by looking at their legs?  You are biggest idiot I’ve known in my entire life!”  He turned and headed for the door, and as he did the professor shouted at him, “Young man, wait just a minute!  What is your name?”  The student turned around, pulled up his pants legs and said, “You tell me buddy, you tell me!”  The reason the student couldn’t identify the birds is because they were veiled.  Trying to understand them based on seeing just a bit of them was impossible.  In a similar way, God is veiled to us because He is God and we are not.  He is holy and we are sinful.  The only way we can understand Him is for Him to give us revelation about Himself.  That’s what the Bible is – it is God’s revelation of Himself to us.  God communicates truth to us in this book that would have been impossible to know otherwise.  So if we want to get to know God, if we want to have a godly foundation for our life, we start with the Bible, God’s Word.  There are three specific reasons the Bible is so important to us.

First of all to meet with God, I read the Bible.  The Bible is like God’s autobiography that He has written and presented to us.  It is His collection of letters to us.  Someone may ask, “Well isn’t the Bible just a set of books written by men?”  Yes, it is written by men, but it was written as they were moved by God.  2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “…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.”  When we read the Bible, it isn’t just an academic study.  It is intensely personal.  Yes, it is an ancient book, but part of the power of it is that despite its age, it is always fresh and new.  When we read the Bible, we are face to face with God in its pages.  He is presenting Himself to us, communicating with us.  We need to get into the Bible because we need the Bible to get into us.  To meet with God we read the Bible.

Then second to grow in God, I learn the Bible.  God doesn’t just want us to be acquainted with Him, He wants us to get to know Him better.  To do so we not only read the Bible, but we learn it.  As we learn more about the Bible, we get to know God better.  Listen to what Paul writes to the Christians at the church at Colosse, “…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:9-10.  It’s important you grasp this truth:  You can only know God and grow in your knowledge of God through the Word of God.  The only way you can be sure you know God is to have a sure word from God.  You have it in the Bible.  This book is not just another religious book – it is the inspired Word of God.  Our passage for this morning says, “All Scripture is breathed-out by God.”  Some translations say, “inspired,” but the literal meaning here is God-breathed.  Men wrote this book as God moved upon them to write it.  He used them as imperfect instruments to create a perfect work.  Since God is without error, the Bible is without error.  All of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, has been breathed-out by God.  It is His Word.  It’s important we read all of it, because its not only personal, it is progressive.  When you start reading the Bible, it is like God 101.  You start in one of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, then go over to 1 John.  You start by learning about Jesus Himself, then branch out to learn how everything else before and after Jesus revolves around Him.  Then not only is the Bible progressive, it is also perfect.  In other words, we don’t need another book in addition to the Bible to make our knowledge of God complete.  Now there may be books based on the Bible that explain the Bible more fully, but the Bible is the only written foundation.  There is even a warning in the Bible in at least three places – Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, and Revelation 22:18-19.  Those three passages all say the same thing – don’t add to God’s Word, and don’t subtract from it.  It’s interesting God has placed those warnings at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the Bible.  So the more you learn about the Bible, the more you learn about God.  The more you learn about God, the more you love God.  The more you love God the more you trust God.  The more you trust God the more you obey God.  The more you obey God, the more you want to learn about Him.

Then, to show God, I live the Bible.  You can read it, you can learn it, but it doesn’t do you or anyone else much good if you don’t live it.  Our passage says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable…”  The word profitable doesn’t mean we make money from it, it means it has practical benefit in how we live our lives.  The Bible has been written for us and given to us to change our lives.  In other words, the goal of the Bible is not to give information or education.  The goal of the Bible is to provide transformation.  Four practical benefits of the Bible are listed in our passage.  First there is teaching.  It gives us lessons on life – money, sex, power, ambition, greed, anger, heaven, hell, salvation and other things that are right.  Second there is reproof.  Reproof is like a jolt, something to wake us up when we’re apathetic.  Then there is correction.  Correction gets us back on track, it shows us where we’ve missed it and how to draw closer to God.  Finally there is training.  Training makes us stronger, training sharpens who we are.  Teaching, reproof, correction, training – all these things are a part of living the Bible.  Verse 17 then says, “That the man of God (or the woman of God) may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  The Bible equips us to live our life.  Few things are more frustrating than trying to do a job without the right tools or equipment.  When it comes to living, here in the Bible we have the tools we need.  God’s Holy Spirit guides us in using these tools, much like a master craftsman would train and supervise an apprentice.

So this morning how is your foundation? Is it based on the Bible, or something else?  Is the house of your life built on the rock of God’s Word, or the sands of opinion or tradition?

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