A few months ago, I was sitting at a coffee shop in town with a friend. We were doing a weekly Bible study together. We had just started talking about discipleship, trying to be like Jesus when a lady stopped us and asked if we were talking about the Bible. She was pretty forward; she asked to sit down with us because she happened to be reading some books that strangely related. She pulled up a chair, apologized for interrupting, and then unleashed on us a fury of reasons why she didn’t trust the Bible. She had been a child in VBS and memorized Scripture, but now she said, “I believe in God, but I don’t need the God of the Bible…I’m beyond that!” She isn’t alone. It isn’t a new phenomenon. Thomas Jefferson famously had the Jeffersonian Bible where he cut out everything that was miraculous or supernatural, later on the Jesus Seminar, a group of self-appointed scholars came together and voted on what they thought the Jesus in their image would have said.
A lot of you might be able to relate with that honest outburst. The Bible might be a family heirloom, might have in the front cover family history, but for most people it is only busted out on “holy occasions, Christmas and Easter, maybe,” but generally people seem to have moved beyond that” outside of the church. Today, we continue in our sermon series called DON’T ASK ME THAT! Sometimes that are first response when our faith is challenged. Today we take another step in being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for the reasons for our hope in Jesus Christ. We take on the dreaded question that maybe stopped you dead in your tracks as you opened your Bible to share an important verse: Why Should I Trust The Bible? How do I know that what’s written in the Bible isn’t just a myth that developed with time.
It all beings with:
Move #1: What Was? People want to know if what the Bible writes about actually happened! Was Jesus death and resurrection widely accepted in the early church, was it’s importance realized? Paul starts to answer that question in more than one way in 1 Cor. 15:3-7, it is a passage written in 55AD, about 25 years after Christ was crucified, but there is more than meets the eye: 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Paul gives us what is agreed on by scholars to be a early church creed. Think of a creed like the early slave songs, passed along as a way to teach a mostly illiterate group important information in a memorable pattern. Paul highlights the most important teachings that he had received and was now passing along. But what’s even more interesting is the timing of the creed–how early did Christians hold to these core teachings. Walk through the timeline with me. Paul was martyred in 64 AD, wrote 1 Corinthians in 55 AD, gave them the teaching when he visited in 50 AD (second missionary trip), and first received it as Galatians 1:18-19 remind us that three years (after his conversion), I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord’s brother. 15 days of comparing experiences, talking about doctrine, seeing how the Gospel had changed lives—and receiving a creed from the early church at the latest 36AD. James D. G. Dunn went so far as to point out, “we can be entirely confident (this creed), was formulated as tradition within months of Jesus death.” The closer to the actual events, the most precisely they can be remembered.
The early church held firmly to what we have in Scripture, lived and died for these truths. Let’s see what you remember. Finish these statement: “To infinity and __________” Which movie? You remember (Toy Story 1995), Hakuna Matata “Ain’t no passing thing” (Lion King, 1994), Seinfeld (No Soup for You), A Place Where Everyone Knows Your Name—(Cheer)—When I say the grassy knoll, Texas Book Dipository, and Lee Harvey…Who are we talking about—and where were you in 1962? For the younger crowd where were you on September 11th?
Now you probably don’t remember all the details from these iconic moments, but these are only television shows—and they are from over 20years ago. For the disciples this was their turning point in life—they were eyewitnesses, everything was riding on Christ, their very future. They remembered what had rocked their world. Paul’s entire life had imploded as a result of following Christ. He even was daring enough to tell people to challenge his teaching–ask those who were there, eyewitnesses, many who were still living.
Here is the thing, your friend, neighbor, rebelling son or daughter cannot ask the eyewitnesses, and they probably don’t just want to take the Bible at its word but what’s amazing is they don’t have too. Josephus, a Jew, no fan of Christians told us Jesus lived virtuously, crucified, and his believers didn’t abandon him in death, but claimed in rose again. There is Pliny the Younger, a Roman governor who said: “[The Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds…Pliny added that Christianity attracted persons of all societal ranks, all ages, both sexes, and from both the city and the country. Late in his letter to Emperor Trajan, Pliny refers to the teachings of Jesus and his followers as excessive and contagious superstition. The Jewish Talmud—wrote that Jesus did “practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.”