Day one: The wonder of his word and the big picture
Introduction: One of the most famous events of Church history… was on October 31, 1517, when German monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This event has been recognized as the day that the Reformation began!
- What inspired Luther to
do this… was his reaction to the catholic practice of something called
indulgences! According to the catholic
encyclopedia indulgence is a remission
of the temporal punishment due to sin. And the reason why this was so
important is because the Catholic Church also believed in Purgatory which is a place
or condition of temporal punishment for those who, after death who were not
entirely free from minor sins had to work off their sin debt by staying in
purgatory. And unfortunately for some, sometimes this meant hundreds of
- The catholic hierarchy
at that time began exploiting peoples fears of hell by creating a practice
where people could buy their way out of purgatory or even one of their
relatives simply by buying a piece of paper called a indulgence which they were
told was their passport to heaven!
- This money then went
back to Rome to
help build the incredible cathedrals that we see today! Sadly, these mammoth,
gaudy buildings were paid for mostly by the poor who were exploited by priest
telling them they could buy their way out of hell!
- Of course, this really
upset Martin Luther, who unlike the rest of society at that time actually had
access to the Bible! You see the thinking back then was that the bible was so
complicated, even for a priest to understand; much less the common person, that
only the priesthood under the tutelage of the church had access to the
- But when Martin Luther
got to study the scripture himself, he discovered after reading the book of
Romans, that the only way a person could be made right with God was through
faith in Christ and nothing else.
- Rom 3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through
faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his
grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. In other words, that a person is
saved through faith!
- It is only through faith in Christ that our sins
are forgiven. And once you put your faith in Christ, he has forgiven you of all
your sins! Your debt has been completely paid for and there is absolutely
nothing else we can do! Sins were forgiven through the cross of Christ alone!
- So, Martin Luther began
to address what he considered religious tyranny through his writings which of
course drew a mixed reaction. On one hand you had the common people, the
scholars, and even some of the priest who loved what he wrote because it set
- For the very first time
in their lives, they began to experience the love of Christ! And this was especially
true of the German people, who after reading all of Martin Luther’s writings, found
themselves spiritually hungry like they had never been before!
- But the Catholic
hierarchy, the cardinals and the pope became incensed about this, because
people quit paying for the indulgences and the Catholic Church in Rome was
going into debt for building all these massive church buildings without the
support of their people! So, the Catholic Church labeled Martin Luther a
heretic and threatened to excommunicate him unless he recanted all his
- That all leads to a
head to head collision when the Catholic church demanded that he would recant which
led Martin Luther to make is famous quote… Unless you show me by scripture I
am wrong, I can not, I will not recant… which caused the German
nation to celebrate!
- Right after this event
Martin Luther went on to translate the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into German.
Soon all the countries of Europe followed his example by translating the Scriptures
into their languages through the recently invented printing press. For the very
first time in history, the Word of God was made available for everyone!
- When this happened, a wave of reformation swept
across the church! The Reformation theology which gave birth to not only the
Lutheran church, but the whole protestant movement, became identified by Four Pillars of truth:
- Christ Alone!
- The Bible Alone!
- Faith Alone!
- Grace Alone!
- And especially the phrase “The bible alone!” This
literally changed the church forever! Monks, priest, and even nuns, some who had
to break out of their convents, went all over the world with bibles, spreading
the truth of the gospel! But unfortunately, many of those were martyred for
having a bible. Why?
- Because wherever people began to read for
themselves the scriptures and began to experience the love of God freely, they
began to break away from the tyranny and control of a religion that had been
exploiting them for money all these years!
- Every year since then the bible has been the
most widely sold book right up to this year! This of course helped spread the
message of Christianity into every continent around the world!
- The impact that Christianity has had on our
world is truly amazing! Many people don’t realize that it was out of
Christianity our hospital system came into being. As well as our education
system and even the pursuit of science! The early scientist believed that the
way to get to know God was through the study and understanding of his physical
- Adding to all that, almost every organization
devoted to helping the poor and effort to send missionaries to every corner of
our world, came out Christianity! And of course, less we forget, our nation,
the United States of America was born out of and based on the biblical truths
- Sadly, only two hundred
years later, we have taken prayer and scripture out of the classroom. We have
removed the 10 commandments from pubic display and now are working on taking
the words… In God We Trust… off our money.
- In some sense, this shouldn’t surprise us,
because we have seen this pattern occur time and time again. Like Israel of old,
when they moved into the promise land, they began to adapt to the culture
around them rather than making the culture adapt to them. This led to their
- Years later, the prophet Samuel was inspired to
make this observation of the spiritual climate of that time, which I believe reflects
where we are as a nation more and more!
- 1 Sam 3:1 Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD
before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no
widespread revelation. NKJV
- In other words, people were so out of touch with
God, very few were receiving fresh insights from God. And even what
understanding they did have of God and his word, they were losing. This then
led to this understanding…Judges 17:6 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed
right in their own eyes!
- Meaning that everybody had an opinion about everything, what was right,
what was wrong, what was the right thing to do, what was the wrong thing to do,
who was good, who was bad, and so on.
course, the problem came in is when people had contrary beliefs or convictions
with each other, so people turned to manipulation, bribery or violence to
resolve their differences. Rather than seeking God and his word for answers,
they were left to their own devices.
opinions became tantamount, or the same as the word of God, if not valued even
more resulting in great confusion and conflict.
- This is true today as well! As we elevate
people’s opinions over scripture, people lose interest in studying and
understanding God’s work, resulting in more and more becoming bible illiterate.
- This class is designed to address that issue.
And it is my hope that through this study you rediscover just how truly amazing
and awe-inspiring scripture is, thereby restoring a childlike wonder concerning
everything about God’s word!
The Wonder of Scripture
A. The Wonder of Its
The Bible is the most unique book ever written
for it claims to have as it’s author God.
It has been written over a period of 1600 years, on three continents, and by 40
different men. Yet it had only one author – GOD.
B. The Wonder of Its Formation (21 questions on the basics of Scriptures
everyone needs to know)
- How Many Testaments? Two. A more accurate word here is covenant. The bible is made
up of the Old Covenant, and the New Covenant. A covenant is an agreement which
brings about a relationship of commitment between God and his people. The
Jewish faith is based on the biblical covenants made with Abraham, Moses, and
David. The new testament is based on the new covenant we have through Jesus!
- How Many Book's in
the bible? 66. 39 in the OT and 27 in the
- How many languages
was originally written? 3, Hebrew, Aramaic,
Greek The 39 books of the O.T. are
written primarily in Hebrew, with a little Aramaic, and the 27 books of the
N.T. are written primarily in Greek.
- How Much Time
between the Testaments? 400 years
- Who Wrote Scripture? 40 different authors.
- What is the right Order
of Books? There are different orders depending
upon who you're talking to. There are three main approaches, each with it’s own
nuances: a) Hebrew approach b)Catholic approach c) Protestant approach
- What are the different Categories or
genres of literature that make up the Old Testament? Historic narrative, law or Teaching, poetic and songs, wisdom,
- What are the different Categories or genres of literature that make up the New
Testament? Once again, different depending
on who you talk to, but basically you have three genres: The first five
books are historic. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. The second part
consists of letters. And the third part, the last book of the Bible, Revelations.
Some people include this with the letters section because it is a letter. But
because the genre is Apocalyptic, many
classify it by itself.
- What Are the two
Categories of prophets and how are they different? Major prophets and minor prophets. These definitions are
not based on importance of content only on size.
- Who were considered the major prophets? Isaiah, Jeremiah,
including lamentations which he wrote, Ezekiel and Daniel!
- Who were considered the minor prophets? Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk,
Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
- Do you know what prophets that Jesus and the apostles quoted
more than any other? Isaiah
- What category of people wrote the Old Testament, and what category of people wrote the New
Testament? The Old Testament Was Written by
Prophets and the New Testament was written by the apostles. Eph
2:19-20 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and
aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus
himself as the chief cornerstone.
- How do the four gospels differ from one another? Three of the Gospels... Matthew, Mark and Luke are
considered synoptic Gospels because they tell their story parallel with each
other. And even though you have three very different people who have three very
different personalities who see things from three different points of view,
they still give us a unified, comprehensive perspective of the life of Jesus! For example, Matthew
who was a tax collector before he met Jesus, writes to the Jewish people in
hopes of persuading them to believe Jesus was Messiah! So he zeroes in on how
Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. Luke was a Gentile and a doctor who wrote primarily to gentiles
in hope of persuading them to believe that Jesus was the savior of all mankind. Mark, who many believe was a disciple Peter, wrote primarily to a
Roman audience. So, he zeroed in on things that Romans valued at that time such
as being powerful, and victorious in battle, whether it was over the demonic
entities, or human disease, or even nature itself. Also things like
self-sacrifice, who was a heroic servant who conquered the impossible. Then there is the Gospel
of John, which is unique because it is more philosophical. John was
considered Jesus closest friend. So that not only does he focuses on Jesus
heart... but more than any other gospel... he focuses on the divinity of
Christ... that Jesus was the Son of God.
- What nationality of people wrote the bible? All the different books of the Bible were written by Jews except
for the two books written by Luke, which would be Luke and Acts. And in the old
Testament, possibly Job. As a side note: The author of the book of Hebrews is a mystery, although we
are pretty sure it wasn't Paul because it doesn’t match up with the same style
of writing of his other letters. Most recent thinking among scholars is that it
was written by Paul's traveling companion Barnabas
- Did the writers of letters of the New Testament have
different callings? Yes! James, John, and
Peter were considered apostles to the Jews. And Paul considered himself an
apostle to the Gentiles.
- Which apostles were considered the pillars of the church? James, John and Peter! They were the apostles of the first
established Christian church founded in Jerusalem.
- Were any of the New Testament letters written by anyone
related to Jesus? Yes! Many believe James
and Jude were the half-brothers of our Lord
- Out of all the New Testament books written, which was
believed to be first? James!
- Out of all the New Testament books written, which was
believed to be first? Job!
- How would you category Paul’s letters? Most of his letters to the church, while three of his letters
went to his disciples who were his apostolic understudies. And Paul wrote one
letter we would view more as a postcard than a letter to Philemon.
C. The Wonder of its unity
- Remember when I said the bible had 40 different
authors? Think about this for a moment. 40 different authors, from every part
of society. Rich, poor, highly educated, to the literate. Some people well known,
politically connected, while others were completely unknown, from the far
reaches of the wilderness. Authors included Shepherds, priest, kings, prophets,
nomads, fishermen, doctors, tax collectors and rabbis.
- Yet these diverse authors each in their own way
present a unified portrait of who God is and what he is doing in our world. Their writings cover hundreds of
controversial subjects in perfect unity.
- And significantly, there is not one major
discrepancy concerning their portrayal of God. There is some question about
punctuation or numeric value here or there, but not any concerning their
understanding of who God is.
- Think about that, how could that be? How can you
get 40 different authors from different countries from different time periods
to agree on every single major doctrine of the church… when we can’t get two
politicians from the Democrats and the Republicans to agree on one thing
concerning the health reform?
- And as we all know, people from different walks
of life have different perspectives on life. Meaning, that the only way
scripture could give us such a unified message, is because it is the inspired
word of God! That God himself is the author. It’s unity, goes way beyond what
could be considered coincidence or by collusion.
- But not only does the Bible give us a unified
story, but also gives us, in some respects, a very simple message!
- The Old Testament –
Someone is coming
Gospel –--------------- He is here
Epistles – --------------He is coming again
- Read it cover to cover and you find:
- • One hero – the Messiah
• One villain – Satan
• One problem – Sin
• And one solution – The coming of the kingdom of God and salvation!
- Something both you and I have experienced as the
evidence of that!
- The only
reasonable answer to this amazing unity… is that there was one master
architect who designed the book. And the only one able to put a book together
that literally spans 1500 years… is God himself… the creator of all things… who
alone can bridge time and space and people. The Bible is God’s Word to the human race.
D. The wonder of its accuracy and creditableness
- One question you always must ask if you are
studying ancient manuscripts, is the text we have reliable? Is the Bible we
have today what was written by the original authors?
- First off, the integrity of any historical
document depends on the number of manuscripts we have to examine.
- So one must ask, when it comes to ancient
manuscripts, how does the bible stack up?
- • Plato’s writings - 7 (no one questions whether he
existed or not)
• Aristotle’s writings - 49 (Again, no one questions his existence)
• Homer’s Iliad 647. (Outside the Bible, the record for most manuscripts
belongs to Homer) That’s good… yet that doesn’t even come close to the bible.
- The Bible is the most documented manuscript
in civilization. Want to take a guess…? 38,000
Testament: There are 14,000 manuscripts and fragments of the Old
Testament dating from 500 to 800 years. And in those 14,000 manuscripts, there
is only one variation in ever 1,580 words. And 99% of the time the variation is
a spelling variation. That is amazing.
- It wasn’t that long ago when critics use to say
there was 1,300 years between the first copy of the Old Testament and the
copies we have. Critics declared that people surely made some serious mistakes
along the line.
- But then there was the discovery of the Dead Sea
Scrolls! In 1947 there was a young Bedouin boy named
Mohammad. One day while he was chasing his sheep, he tossed a rock into the Qumran
cave and heard a pot break. He investigated the cave and found what has come to
be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. They had portions of every OT book of the
Bible except for Esther. And it had the complete letter of Isaiah.
- Before the Dead Sea Scrolls the oldest manuscript,
we had was dated around 900 AD. But the Dead Sea Scrolls dated 1,000 years
- Interestingly, when they were discovered this
amazing fine, the skeptics said, “Ah ha, now we can see how much error has
crept into the Bible over the course of time.”
- What shocked the academic world, scholars and
skeptics a like, was that there were hardly any change at all. They found 95%
of the text was perfectly identical and the 5% that was different, were
primarily spelling variations. The content was essentially perfect.
Testament: Well, if you think 14,000 manuscripts is good. The New Testament
- There are 24,000 copies of the New Testament in
different languages from all over the world in Latin, Greek and various other
languages. In all of those manuscripts there is less than 1 variation in 1,000
words. Those variations are extremely minor and do not affect the meaning.
- Renowned archeologist,
Sir William Ramsey once said, “The Bible writers are of the first rank and
should be placed among the greatest historians that have ever lived.” You
may not like what the text says but it is what the authors wrote.
- Reality is, the Bible is the most documented
manuscript in the history of ancient civilization and the Bible has more
textual credibility than any other ancient document in history.
- Now while the text may have been preserved with
great credibility, that does not necessarily mean the text is true. How do we
know if the Bible is true?
E. The Wonder of God’s
NT Wright likens the Bible to a
- Creation: How the World
Got the Way it Is (Genesis 1-11) The first act shows how God created
the world out of nothing in order that human beings would image him as his co
regents throughout the earth. It also shows that the world rebelled and
produced the ethnically diverse and fractured world in which we now live
- Israel: God’s People for
the World (Genesis 1 2-Malachi) The second act chronicles the plan
of God to create one people, Israel,
as the people through which God would save the world and establish his glorious
kingdom (Genesis 1 2-Malachi).
- The Messiah: The True Israel
(The Gospels) In the third act we tragically find that Israel has failed to be the people
of God for the world. Into this plight God enters the world as a human being to
succeed where Israel
had failed and commission forth the redeemed to take the message of God’s
loving rule to all the nations of the earth (the Gospels).
- The Church: The New Israel (Acts-Rev) The fourth
act the book of Acts, shows how the redeemed move from one people (Israel) to
the other peoples of the earth until people from every tongue and nation and
tribe bear the image of God and rule the earth as his co regents. At the grand
finale of history the redeemed from all humanity will worship God with new
eternal bodies in a redeemed earth.
- Our Turn: The History of the Church So what about
us? We now are now living out the fifth Act of the play. But wait...we have no
script! What are we to do? Wright says that the key to acting our parts is that
we become so familiar with the first four acts that we can improvise our lines
in alignment with how the story goes. So hear the story, then. Perhaps when we are
done you will have whole new insight into why you get up in the morning and how
your personal uniqueness as well as the uniqueness of your cultural heritage
fulfills the global plan of God.
F. The Wonder of the unfolding revelation of Father’s Strategy…
since the fall of humanity, when sin
entering the world, humanities understanding of who God was, got lost. So, God
has since the beginning, been revealing his heart to us, a little bit at a time,
by raising up institutions that would show us the kind of people he was restoring
his people too!
- The first thing that Father God did, was raise
up Patriarchs. Through the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, he showed us both,
that he desires a people of faith, and what that looks like! The restoration of
his purpose was to begin with having a community of people who trust in his
- The second institution that God raised up, was
the institution of the priesthood. These were a people set aside to devote
themselves to God by first ministering to him and by teaching others about who
- The Priesthood were meant to be the mediators
between God and those who wanted to know more about God.
- From the very beginning it was God’s desire that
the whole nation of Israel will become priests! That it wasn’t enough for his
people just to believe and trust in him. But he wanted a people who were holy,
full devoted to him, and who had embraced his servants’ heart!
- Ex 19:5-6 Now if you will obey me and keep my
covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on
earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests,
my holy nation.'
- But Israel refused. Why? Because they lacked
faith and feared God!
- Ex 20:18-19 When the people heard the thunder
and the loud blast of the ram's horn, and when they saw the flashes of
lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance,
trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will
listen. But don't let God speak directly to us, or we will die!"
- Why did this happen? Maybe, because they had not
fully embraced the revelation of faith as revealed through Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob, leaving them fearful because they didn’t fully trust the Lord. Only
Moses seemed to have grasp that!
- The third institution the God raised up, was the
institution of judges. They were called to deliver God's people from the enemy
so that they would inherit the Promised Land.
- The promised land represented a life full of
fruit and peace and victory over their enemies! But before that could happen,
they needed to destroy all of their enemies left in the promised land.
- Joshua’s last words before he died was to
encourage Israel to completely annihilate their enemy!
- But didn’t. They left little pockets of
resistance who later grew to be their oppressors. So God would raise up judges
to help them overcome their enemy as long as they put their faith in God.
- But their faith was always short-lived. The
question becomes, why? Could it be because they didn’t fully embrace the
revelation of God that God showed them through the patriarchs and the
- The fourth institution the God raised up, was
the institution of Kings! God wanted Israel to be the light to all nations. Israel
was meant to be the very center of spiritual life and vitality to the world!
And that would happen because they were a people who completely trusted in God,
whose lives have become holy and desires nothing more than to serve the Lord by
teaching people about him. And that they were a people free of their enemies,
full of peace and the fruit of the spirit!
- Isa 49:6 I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will
bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
- But rather than focusing outward, King Solomon
began to focus is attention inward, only concerned in increasing the wealth of
Israel and its fame and prestige. The results of that, was he became seduced by
foreign Gods, so that God caused the nation of Israel to be torn in two!
- Why did this happen? Because he didn’t fully
embrace what God had revealed to Israel through the patriarchs, priesthood and
- The fifth institution that God raised up, was
the institution of prophets! God was looking to raise up a community of prophetic
people who would express and declare his heart to the world.
- But It became clear God’s people were not
capable of fulfilling God’s revelations to their lives! Need something more…
They needed something to happen within them that would enable them to respond.
- Thus, one of God’s main focuses for the prophets
became the coming of the Messiah who would usher in God’s kingdom, the solution
to the human dilemma.
- The sixth phase of God’s
plan didn’t come through raising up another institution, but the birth of
his one and only son!
- Matt 1:23 "Behold, the virgin shall be
with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which
is translated, "God with us."
- Jesus was the perfect picture of what God had
originally created us to be. He was the perfect model, he embraced everything
we see God revealed throughout the whole Old Testament. He walked by faith,
completely trusting God the father and everything.
- John 5:19-20 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can
do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because
whatever the Father does the Son also does.
- He was
completely holy! 1 Peter 2:22 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his
- He walked in complete freedom over his enemies! John 14:30-31 "I don't have much more time
to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power
over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will
know that I love the Father.
- Jesus came with the purpose of reaching the whole
world not just Israel: John 1:29-30 John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world!
- And lastly, Jesus came to be the prophetic
expression of God declaring that God’s kingdom has come! Luke 4:43 he said, "I must preach the
good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I
- Matt 3:2 "Change your life. God's
kingdom is here."
- Acts 10:38 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he
went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil,
because God was with him.
7. The Church...
- The seventh and final phase of God’s plan was
the creation of his church which was born on Pentecost!
- Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost came,
they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent
wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They
saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each
of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in
other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
- The same
spirit that filled Jesus, now filled his people! And this had to happen so that
their lives could be transform and embody the revelation God had given them
throughout the Old Testament. That they were to grow in character till they as
a corporate body of Christ reached maturity.
- Eph 4:11-13 It was he (Jesus) who
gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some
to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so
that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith
and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the
whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
- But not
only with the church reflect Christ in character, they were called also to
continue the ministry of Jesus: Matt
28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in
heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And
surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
- Mark puts a different way, he emphasizes the
fruit of those who truly believe in Jesus. Which are the same fruits that Jesus
exhibited when he walked upon the earth!
- Mark 16:17-18
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they
will drive out demons our; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up
snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt
them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get
course, the question then becomes how long the church is called to do this. And
Jesus gives us that answer in Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will
be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end
- In other words, we continue to do the works
of Jesus until the second coming of Christ, when Christ will set up his kingdom
and the fullness of the kingdom will be established here on earth are for ever
and ever! Amen